Thursday, January 25, 2007

MD Felted Bag

I decided the other day to play around with MD knitting and felting*. I used the same MD squares that I've posted about before but worked them using stockinette st. I rationalized that the stitch/row differences could for all practical purposes be tamed by felting. I remember reading in many places on the web and having some experience that items generally felt more in one direction than the other (although I don't remember which way that actually is, nor do I even now! lol). I was hoping that this uneven felting would take care of the st/row discrepancies. Plus the fact that I was going to be felting this by hand I would have better control------remember my washer is not felting friendly.....sigh.

Thus began the knitting:

I used one entire ball of Lion Brand 100% wool blue, and about 2/3 of a ball of pink. This piece was, as I said, made using the same manner of the MD squares I've posted about before. I used # 10ish needles and 12 stitches per side in stockinette.

Then I seamed it. A quickie whip stitch, nothing fancy.

The plan was to put the handles on the outer peaks and a magnetic closure on the center peak, creating a not too deep but longish bag, on the small side for sock knitting and such. Then I felted it.

Don't you just LOVE my kitchen sink!?! Gillian calls it the bathtub in the kitchen, but I couldn't love it more. For anyone interested I'll include the sink spec below.

....back to fiber stuff..... I prepared for a work out but the felting time was really only 10 minutes!! (hmmmm not bad, I think I might make some FT clogs for me and felt them by hand)

All things considered I like the shape of the original bag, but I wasn't pleased with the proportions (sorry no photo). So I cut out the seams I had made and re-seamed it into this bag:

I'm liking it. Next time, and there WILL be a next time I'll work the squares so they'll run up and down, like they did in the original design (see pre-felted photo). It's a nice size "bucket" bag. I know this pic is crummy, but I'm prob'ly not going to spend anymore time on this bag. I'm not planning on lining it, nor even bothering to put straps on it. It's really not up to my standard of bothering to finish, but it's a grrrreat proto-type! :-) I'll prob'ly use it as a project basket, just fold and tack the upper points down and ta da it's a basket!

The kitchen sink specs:
I LOVE LOVE LOVE my kitchen sink!!!!
It is a single basin that measures 42 x 24 and is 8 inches deep.
It is made of Terrazzo Marble. Think of those mosaic-like/chip marble floors you see in really old schools and that's what it is. My sink is in the green colorway, which means that the color of the marble chips span the spectrum from nearly black to the palest touch of green you can imagine. Those chips are then tumbled into a mixture of white portland cement and the sink is molded into one piece. It weighs a ton. OK I'm exaggerating but the it does weigh over 400 pounds.....nearly a quarter ton! :-P

Oy the trouble of getting it here out in the middle of nowhere plus installing it!!! OMG another Crazy Lady story to tell someday. Suffice to say, it took two trucks, a semi, and another beast of a truck, a fork lift, a farm tractor and 6 men not counting drivers and operators to get the sink into it's final resting place. Joe has since stopped cursing and it's only been two years so I guess it wasn't that bad! LOL

* felting vs fulling....I'm not going there. I know there's a difference, exactly what, I don't care. So I have, and prob'ly always will, use the word felting in regard to many types of wool manipulation that involves the meshing/tangling/and so forth of tiny wool fibers to create a cohesive no-warp, non-raveling fabric. :-)

Food Coloring Trials

Here is a pic of the test dyeing I did over the last couple of days. Reading the color sets clockwise from upper right, neon blue, regular blue, regular green, neon purple, and neon green. All samples are 5 yards of 100% wool (from recycled Irish Aran Sweater). All were soaked in lukewarm water before being dyed. Dyed solutions were 1/2 cup water, 1/4 tsp vinegar, and various amounts of dye (see below), set in a water bath on the stove top.

The blue specs:

L to R: 3 drops, 6 drops, 9 drops neon blue.

L to R: 6, 9, 12, and 15, drops of neon green.

L to R: 12, 9, 6, 3, drops of neon purple.

L to R: 3, 6, 9, drops of regular blue.

L to R: 3, 9, drops regular green.

All in all, I'm thrilled with the new colors. They are bright and saturated. The regular dyes yield some really good colors but are much more muted and toned down, which is what I expected on both counts. The regular green 9 drop sample is pretty perky though.

Still not overjoyed with the neon purple. Nice colors, but not of the same caliber as the neon greens and blues. The dyeing was inconsistent too. As you know the red components of the purple dye are absorbed first then the blue, this is normal, but it also gave a more mottled effect rather than a blended true purple than other types of dyeing I've tried. The resultant mottled effect in the less saturated samples is very pleasing and gives the sample great depth.

Oh, and btw, I wouldn't call the color I got as being true purple either, but that of course is tainted by my personal point of view of what is "purple". It's not that I don't like the resulting colors, I do, the 9 drop sample is nearly identical to my livingroom walls. :-) The paint was called cabernet, I'd call it black mulberry. I did try the recipe for dark purple that was given on the box of the neon dyes. The result was pretty yucky for purple. Not much different than the color you get when you use blackcherry koolaide. I didn't bother with that pic.

In conclusion, I'd have to say....if you're interested, try it yourself, I think you'll be pleased with new neon dyes. This is all so subjective, biased with my tastes, my poor photographic skills, the amount of available sunlight, and puter monitors etc. To put it in a nutshell, the neon food color dyes are very different than the regular food color dyes so if you ever wanted more out of your food color dyes, the good people at McCormick have given it to you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wavy Feather Wimple

My first lace.

Pattern particulars:
Wavy Feathers Wimple by Caryll McConnell

Ms. McConnell's website describes the stitch pattern as:
"...uses a variation of traditional Shetland Isles Feather and Fan or Old Shale patterning that Barbara Walker calls "Japanese Feathers". The banded rows of predominantly knit stitches separating the lace patterned rows keep the edges from “fanning” as is the usual custom, while the lace sections lean first in one direction then the other creating beautiful waves."

I worked this on #5 needles, and used approx 300 yds of Daphne by Tahki Imports Ltd. (vintage estate sale stuff) 60% wool 40% silk. Next time, if there is a next time, I think I should #4 needles.

I had LOTS of fun doing this. Now the search is on for more. I so admire Mim's lace,

but I'm no where near that caliber.....yet...:-)

This how I blocked it. I was stymied how to block a circular piece of lace on a flat surface. To my delight the towel/bolster pillow thing seemed to be just right, didn't even use any pins!! A three minute block-job! LOL
I employed my usual way of keeping track when working a stitch pattern that is more than a few rows long. Yes, I know that some people can memorize rows and rows and of pattern, and maybe I will be able to at some point when I'm better at reading lace stitches, but I'm not there yet. And given my weird eyesight anomalies charts are a real problem.

I use 3x5 note cards and make a little "stacked booklet". I usually have general info on the first few cards and then I write out the pattern using one card for each row. I even include the plain rows. I add a couple of blank cards to the bottom of the stack and then either clip or rubber band them together tightly so they can't shift. Next I grab the drill or the dremel, which ever is handy and drill a single small hole in one of the top corners. Doesn't really matter which one, and if I happen to make a boo boo while I'm drilling the hole there is always the top corner! :-)

I suppose you could make the hole in the center too. I never have cuz I usually only screw up once. lol I find it's best to put the stack of cards on a sturdy box and just drill straight through. I use one of the those small rings they put on key rings to hold the cards together. When working the pattern, the appropriate row is top card of the stack.

The thing I like about this stacked booklet is that it's small, but with only one row per card I can do my knitting with my glasses off and still be able to read the pattern. I don't have to search for lost pens or pencils to make notes or cross out rows, move post-its/magnetic strips around and it's portable as can be. I use to use those little pocket notebooks and do the same thing, but the cards are more durable and the "pages" don't rip out as easily. I can use the stack over and over again, and the number of "pages" is customized on an as needed basis.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Felted FO's and Grey Sweater

As promised...a day are some pix of the clogs and the cat bed.
The clogs turned out well. Obviously they weren't for me, that is my shoe in there. :-) They fit Joe well, but he's a little skittish walking around in them on the hardwood floors. I've thought about using puff paint on the bottom and other stuff along those lines but given Joe's gracefulness, or lack thereof, and the fact that the man just learned how to walk in flip-flops this year (!) I don't think that would be much help. I also considered sewing some vinyl on the soles, again not enough for this man I'm sure. Next time I'm town I think I'll go to Big Lots or some such place and see if I can find a pair of cheapy flip-flops and attach those soles on to the bottom of these clogs....that should work, something really sturdy.
The bottom is crocheted, just cuz, you know, I didn't want to spend forever knitting this.
Here's the finished product, still stuffed and drying. Obligatory cuteness photo with kitty all snugly to come.
Felting notes: Both pieces were made with vintage Bear Brand wool. From that same lot of wool I bought eons ago at an estate sale and did the major red dyeing job of the graduated peachy to orange colors. And yes there is still LOTS more of it left!!!
I learned that I cannot, under any circumstance it seems, open my washer once it has been started. I figured I wasn't going to be able to open it in mid-cycle (duh, it's a front load), but I thought I'd be able to do so between my felting days, other than with things like this, in which I don't fear the dreaded spin cycle crease, are over. At least until Summer when I can cajole Joe into hooking up the old top load washer in the basement. :-)
Then again.....I'm making a new felted bag. Just a tiny bit to go and then the felting. I'm considering felting it by hand with my wash board. Yes, it will be a work out no doubt, but I'm thinking having my hands in soapy hot water sounds like a good thing right about now! If not I'll take it to town with me when I go looking for soles for Joe's clogs and use my sister's washer.
The Grey Sweater aka Tempting the Gods
The sweater is done, has been for a while, but the gods weren't tempted and the yarn never came. I'm assuming the yarn company forgot about me.....sigh.
Sweater recap:
Used some OK vintage orlon (?)'s as OK as this kind of fiber goes I guess. I reversed engineered an old fav Gap sweater, but modified the original funnel neck to a stand up open neck. I made the sleeves extra, extra long. One because of my ape-ishly long arms and two because my hands get soooo cold. (lack of blood flow all the way down there? lol) I added thumb holes in the cuffs so I basically have fingerless gloves attached to my sleeves. Love it, especially when I'm sitting in my chair, with my hands up in the air for hours on end...... oh I don't know, knitting maybe (?)........gotta love my life!
The lace wimple pix tomorrow maybe. I don't want to post it without a link to the designer's pattern.
Maybe tomorrow some pix of the new neon food color dyeing experiments. Was planning to do those yesterday, but had a granddaughter in tow. Usually on her visiting weekends there are lots of fibery things going on, but this weekend she was into it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007



Found McCormick's "Neon!" food coloring today.

The box says, purple, pink, green and blue. WOW real purple??? Could that be true?? The cap on the bottle is more fuchsia than purple in my opinion. Is the blue really blue blue?? The cap looks turquoise. I wonder how long these colors have been available. I haven't looked at the food coloring section for years.

I wonder if this a good thing or a bad omen........we're suppose to get another 3-5 inches tonight. Now for anyone who is use to a REAL winter season this much snow is perhaps, at most, a nuisance for a hour or two....BUT....out here in the middle of nowhere, if there is wind too, this much snow could mean being snowed in for days until the wind stops. Only time will tell. Not a problem for me though...I've got some new dye to play with!!!

Tonight I will gather small jars, cut lengths of wool, and draw up a dye chart. It's been a while since I've done any experiments. :-)

Sorry there are no pix. There will be plenty soon. This past week I made a pair of FT clogs, a felted cat bed, and my very first lace project. I made that free wimple pattern that is out there. I don't have the link cuz I'm on the wrong laptop right now.....(that's also why there aren't any pix in this post) Pix and links tomorrow.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Midwest Ice Storm

I did another Crazy-Lady thing last night.....

Ida needed to go out about 11PM.

After taking her harness off and putting it back on her at least 7 times before I finally got it right....cut me some slack I'm sick.....I opened the door to find the entire porch and steps coated with about 1.5" of ice, and her cable was at the bottom of the stairs. So being the rational clear thinking person I am. I reasoned that given my somewhat weaken state (I've been sick in bed for days) I figured that I probably did not possess the strength nor the balance needed to walk across slick wet ice. (I honestly thought walking on water would have been easier.) Plus the whole wrestling with a harness-and-a-dog-that-HAS-to-go thing seconds before had just about done me in. So I put on Joe's shoes that were in the hall, went outside and sat down on the porch in my oh so stylish Farm King thermal long johns. Then proceeded to scoot my butt across the porch and down the stairs to retrieve the cable.

Granted attempting to walk on probably would have resulted in a lot of slipping and falling down the steps, but it would have been quicker, not nearly as wet and cold and perhaps even more graceful. I'm also pretty sure that slipping and falling down the steps, albeit not as safe, would not have resulted in the full moon that I flashed the neighborhood. Ah yes, unknown to me at the time but very quickly realized was the simple fact that my warm long john clad butt sitting on top of barely frozen ice would fuse my pants to the step. You get the picture don't you? I stood up and my pants stayed put. Ahhh yes, the cool crisp breeze of Midwest ice storm.....mmmmm Another Crazy-Lady-Kodak-Moment. I quickly yanked my now ice encrusted pants back into place, and untangled the cable as slivers of ice pelted me. I scaled the steps and crossed the porch on my hands and knees with my sodden backside turned toward the world.

Once in the house I hooked up IdaMae, opened the door and let her out. She wasn't out there long. With Ida back in the house and untethered I let the cable drop to the porch floor just outside the door as is my habit. The damn thing mockingly slipped and slithered it's way across the porch and down the stairs as I watched helpless. I shod Joe's shoes once again and made another trek (can one "trek" on ones butt??) out onto the porch and down the stairs, remembering the lesson I had learned just moments before regarding warm butts and barely frozen ice. Although you could scarcely say my butt was warm at this point.

I wonder what Joe thought when he got up this morning and found the front door tethered to the dogs cable???

Lessons learned...

Farm King thermal long john clad butts will freeze to icy steps (as do tongues to steel poles see "A Christmas Story").

Dog tie-out cables are vengeful buggers that will mock you and will only tangle during ice storms and downpours.

Whenever the dog wants out wake up Joe.