Monday, February 28, 2011

Niagara Felters

For those local readers, we are having a workshop with the new Niagara Felters Group (find us on Ravelry or through the Fibre Garden in Jordan, ON). The information and registration is through either site. I will be showing those attending how to make balls and ropes with merino roving, and finish into bracelets and bangles. It is a good method to get a feel of what wet wool can do when soap and heat and agitation occur! Remember: when wool behaves like this on purpose - it is called felting, by accident: shrinking!

Cashmere progress

I know that I have been posting a lot of felting here, and it is easy to make a felt piece, photo and share as they are quick, on to two day, projects. Rest assured I am still knitting (can't take that away from me!) and I wanted to show the progress of my pink cashmere hoody pullover! I am on the last sleeve, and like many of my own designs, I sewed the shoulder and added the hoody, before starting the sleeves. I do this because a hood takes so much yarn and I can always rip it back or make shorter sleeves if the amount of yarn seems to be dwindling. This particular yarn is a batch from an ebay seller, and there is lots, but there is no more if I run low!

Here is the full shot, with flash that shows the accurate colour, a pink, fuchsia blend with white flecks.
The second shot without the flash better shows the striped eyelet pattern I am using.

I expect to be done, washed, blocked and posted here by the end of the week. Now is the time I start planning my next knitting project, hmmmmmm.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Felted Shawl

I have a series of photos that can take you through the stages of making a nuno-felt shawl. First lay the underlying silk on a large surface (over bubble layer - a pool cover cut to size in this case). The silk is hand dyed by me, and the rectangle is trimmed to curve 2 of the edges a bit so that the ends are tapered.

The next step is to lay out the merino roving into a balanced design... I used pink, purple and blue and accented with black dots. there are lots of areas of plain uncovered silk to keep it light and silky.

close up of the silk pieces and yarn embelishments.

This is how it looks after a thorough spraying of the water and soap mixture.

The wet wool is then covered in plastic and rolled tightly over a pool noodle (see the yellow peaking out). Tied with polar fleece bands, the fun begins. I rolled this tube by hand for about 3 hours... lots of breaks and lots of unrolling to check and roll in the other direction. It took me almost 2 days because it is tedious and hard on the arms and back.

Close up shot of the fibres after felting... but before the fulling (shrinking)

After hot washes alternated with cold, several times to shrink the whole thing, you get a slightly wrinkled silk/ wool shawl. Light and textured and kind of cool!

The photo of the finished shawl in front of the pool table I used for a nuno-table! You can see the sheer silk areas surrounded by the wool areas. It is very light and drapes well. This is my first BIG fabric piece and it was a LOT of work!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Catch Up

Very impressive big guy, but you should step away from the trash can!
Wow, busy couple of weeks, first I was in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for a week of sun, golf (and rum!). We stayed at the Melia Caribe Tropicale... I highly recommend this all inclusive resort. It is HUGE and great for folks who like to walk through wonderfully landscaped gardens and ponds, with water birds and peacocks roaming freely. The pools are massive (2 large ones) and the beach white and soft and huge. We walked for 45 minutes away (90 minute round trip) from the resort in each direction and did not run out of beach!
Huge palm trees constantly and swaying in the breeze.
You would think they would fall over standing on only one leg....

The food was varied (9 restaurants) and easy to book reservations, and the golf was included (very rare) and we just paid $37 each for cart (I know that's high for cart but no caddy or tip was required, so $37 was IT). We played every morning around 7:30 and had no trouble getting that time. They have 27 holes, so there was a bit of variety.
Shot of the pond behind the 8th green on the Bougainvillea 9. This bird was there everyday!

Since I have been back, I posted the Kimmee sweater, and caught up with work and with sewing projects. I did a couple of alterations for a friend and started a large felting project (photos will follow in a day or two). I have also joined a new Ravelry group for felters in the Niagara Region. We met at the Fibre Garden before my trip and discussed ways to develop a felting group, with the goal of teaching and sharing ideas and techniques. The first step is the Rav Group, and if you are a Raveler I would love to see you join the group.... If you live in the Niagara Penninsula area of Ontario, even more so, as we will likely have opportunities to meet up in person and try to felt together... SO much fun! See you there! (I am Chrissielou on Ravelry)

Susan showing her Nuno-felted vest (on black silk gauze) at the first meeting of the Niagara Felters.

Shop owner, John, modelling my tea pot cozy at the Fibre Garden.

I am also more than halfway done on my cashmere pullover... so soft on my hands while I am knitting! I only took socks with me to knit on my trip, and mostly only knit at the airports and on the plane, so finished 1.5 socks in one week... too much golf and sun and rum to knit there!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kimmee's Sweater

Kimmee's Sweater!
This is the pattern for the sweater I made for my sister's birthday. Made with my favourite self striping yarn, in a loose, comfy, cowl neck design.
Size: 40 inch chest, 27 inch length from shoulder.
Yarn: Noro Furin (Cotton, silk, wool, rayon) 10 balls (50 grams, 110 m) (Noro Silk Garden would work to this gauge too)

Gauge: 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches
Needles: 4.5mm for the main part, several circulars or double points for the cowl neck (see cowl below).
Back: Cast on 79 stitches, and work in knit one, purl one ribbing for 2 inches. On last wrong side row, increase 6 evenly across.
Change to stocking stitch (knit right side and purl wrong side), and work even until piece measures 17 inches from the start.
Cast off 5 stitches at the start of next 2 rows, then 1 more at the start of next 4 rows. (armhole shaping). Continue straight until total length is 27 inches. Cast off all stitches.
Front: Work the same as the back until front measures 23 inches. Shape neck: Work 28 stitches, add a second ball of yarn (I try to match the colour of the other side) cast off next 15 stitches, knit to end. Working both sides of the neckline, decrease one stitch at each NECKLINE edge every row 4 times, then only on the right side rows 4 times. Continue to work even until 27 inches total are done, cast off both shoulder edges.

Sleeves: Cast on 39 stitches, and work in K1, P1 ribbing for 2 inches, increasing 6 stitches in the last row of rib.
Work in stocking stitch, increase one stitch at each end of the row every 6th row. (until you have 84 stitches on the needle, then work without increases)
Work until total length of the sleeve is 18 inches.
Cap: cast off 15 stitches at the start of next four rows. Cast off all the rest of the stitches.

Cowl Neck options(please read both)
Straight needle instructions:
**** you could work the cowl on straight needles if you sew only ONE shoulder seam and leave a side seaming the cowl neck at the other shoulder. Pick up 76 stitches across the back and around the front and work back and forth instead of around like below. Every inch or so change to a large needle and work until 6 - 7 inches are done. Cast off VERY loosely. ********
Circular instructions: (my choice) sew both shoulder seams.
With double pointed needles (4mm) or short circulars (I used my Denise set, with the shortest length that could still turn to knit), pick up 76 stitches evenly from around the neck edge. Work in K1, P1 ribbing for the cowl neck. For every inch worked, you can change up a needle size (again easy with the Denise set, work your way from 4mm to 6.5mm) If you don't have that many, try 4mm for 2 inches, 5mm for 2 inches and 6mm for the rest. Work for at least 6 inches, but I did closer to 7 inches for really full cowl. Cast off VERY loosely (use a 7mm needle if that helps).
Sew in sleeve caps, then finish under arm and side seams.
Mail to your sister!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I felt like making tea...

The new cashmere sweater has started. Photo of yarn in the simple eyelet stripe pattern is here...

It will be a large tunic style sweater, knit on 4mm needles, so should keep me busy for a few weeks. Meanwhile I have a lovely mystery sweater to publish in a week or so. I cannot print photos yet, as sister must be the first to see it in person (birthday present!).

My fascination with felting has carried me to try a tea cosy. And not just a plain tea cosy (that would NOT do!). This one was designed in one continuous piece(no side seams) in a technique involving a resist shape laid in between the two sides of the cosy, and the roving wrapped around all edges except the bottom opening...
I had to design the plastic resist in the shape of the pre-folded, pre-shrunken felt that I wanted.

It was a first attempt and I think it turned out pretty good. The shrinking was very aggressive, to achieve a really sturdy fabric.

While it was still wet after shrinking, I molded the folded ridges, and pinned them where I wanted them to be. I dried the cover on the tea pot so that it would be a perfect fit.

I also made several blue wool balls and brown wool spikes to add after drying. Another piece of felt was prepared for the spout detail.
These I added with needle felting and a bit of hand stitching.

Anyone for a cuppa' ?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bubble Felt

I have been working on a really great new sweater, pattern to be posted in a couple of weeks, but cannot show you (hush hush) due to the fact that it is a special birthday present for a special (nameless) sister, who watches my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise!! (No peaking sis'!)
In the meantime....

I have been making small pieces of felt in the hopes of getting a feel for new techniques. This piece is wet felt, alpaca and merino in natural colours. Made the usual way with wetting and rolling, I got to the place where the small scarf was in one solid piece, but not yet fulled (shrunken).

At that point, while wet, I placed small stones on the back surface and tied cotton yarn around the pebble from the front to create a bump. It was tied fairly tight, with only a small gap showing at the back.

There were 15 'bubbles" placed near the ends only of the scarf.

Then I took it to the hot wash, (a sink full of hot soapy water) and alternated agitating in the hot bath with cold rinses and a few gentle throws in the other side of the double sink. I did this five times, then rinsed well in cold and wrung out in a towel....

While still wet, I gently cut the cotton yarn and released the stones (careful not to open the bubble any more than necessary to slip it out), then dried the whole thing.

You can see the pebble images are very pronounced and remain quite intact (although light and empty they hold the shape!)

Amazing how texture can add to the look of an otherwise mono-chromatic fabric. Just wait until I throw it into a colour mix!