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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Felted bags finished!

The felted bags are done - and the small ones off to good girly homes.

I devised a clasp for the small ones, consisting of a button attached to a loop of hat elastic stitched inside the top back edge of the bag, and a large button fixture on the outside front of the bag. The elastic loop can be pulled over the button on the outside to hod the bag closed.

The elastic slots between the frills when in use an barely notices on the stripy bags.

On the apricot bag the elastic notices a little, but is, I think OK.

When not in use the loop hangs inside the bag.

This is the large bag with the handles realigned and embellished with ceramic buttons at each end. I cut each handle from the bag at one end and stitched it back on. The felting is sufficient to prevent unravelling. You can see a slight raise in the top edge where the handle used to be.

The buttons are decorative rather than utilitarian, but the bag is now both attractive and fully functional!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Felting Bags

I had 100 grams of apricot wool left over from Brigid's hat and gloves, so thought I might use it up on another bag for felting.

I used the same pattern as the last two bags - by now I know it by heart. No problems with twisting using this wool.

The finished photo, with i-cord handles - is truer to colour than the one below.

I now had three small bags ready to felt and thought I would do the large bag again for good measure while I am using the water and heat.

A good breeze and a bit of winter sun, so I embarked on felting my bags. I used my washing machine with a few jugs of boiling water added to the wash cycle, since our hot water service does not heat above 50C.

This time I put them through three cycles of the washing machine. I hung them on a tree in the sun, then moved them around as the sun moved around the yard. They dried in the day - much faster than the last one I did.

I was very pleased with the results. The large bag has benefitted from the extra felting. The small bag with the twist in the knitting is the one on the right.

I decided to give it another go, to reduce the size still further and remove the last of the knitting lines.

The next, and hopefully final, step is a closure on the small bags and realigning the handles on the large one.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Small bags in Murano wool for felting

In the weeks before going to Kangaroo Island, I thought I would have another go at knitting a bag from Murano wool, this time trying a small bag and using shade 022. I chose Ronaldsay Beach from Alison Underwood & Sue Parker's Felted Bags. The challenge and interest with this bag is a frilled top.

It knitted up quite quickly and easily.

I had my eye out for any emergency of the lean-to-the-right-hand-of the-knitter syndrome that had plagued my large Murano bag. I wondered if this was only a symptom of large projects and thought it worth giving it a try - I had bought 4 balls of this wool to play with.

Sure enough, after about 20 rows, the lean appeared. I think I can now conclude this is a problem with the wool.

I have been unable to any reference to this online but it is very hard to search for -'twist' 'lean', 'skew' and similar terms all bring up a range of standard knitting techniques.

This bag takes 100gms of wool - half the ball I have, so I decided to finish this one knitting as normal, then knit another one into the back of the stitch to see if that solves the problem.  Hopefully felting will remove the distortion.

The bag has two rows of bobbles around the top, just below the frill. I enjoyed finishing the bag in this way. The pattern is very easy, so I can keep it in my head. It's a good project to carry around, as the ball goes inside the bag!

 This time I determined where the handles went by using my eye, rather than counting rows from the marked corners - the problem I got into with the larger bag, as the distortion in the direction of the knitting leads to misalignment.

Here's the second bag - knitted using same wool, same pattern, but knitting into the back of the stitch. Perfectly straight! Many thanks to Katherine who suggested the remedy!

I am enjoying this pattern, so decided to make one bag before I started felting.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Textile Art and Craft on Kangaroo Island

Quite a few businesses close for the Winter on Kangaroo Island, so we were limited in our choice. We visited three galleries, however, with a good range of local textile work.

Granny Sterling's in Penneshaw had, amongst other things, a great range of knitted hats, like this one from their website - really inspiring.

The Kangaroo Island Gallery in Murray St Kingscote displays and sells work of Kangaroo Island Artists. I didn't take photos there, but they had a interesting textiles amongst their work, the most exciting of which, for me, were a great collection of felted cloche hats by Jean Schaefer, using Kangaroo Island grown and spun wool, and some felt and silk scarves by Patricia Verwaal.

The other attraction for stitchers in Kingscote is Heather's Designs, operating from The Bay Window in Dauncey Street. Her designs and kits - including the birds of Australia series which I admire a lot are available here. 

We visited the Kangaroo Island Artworks Gallery at Baudin Beach several times. This gallery is a cooperative of artists from the mainland as well as KI. It had a really good range of art and craft work, including textiles. I asked for, and received, permission to photograph some of the textile work on display, including more by Patricia Verwaal.

I really, really liked Patricia's work. She used to work with large scale welded metal, but now does some  fibre work. This amazing felted giraffe is hers as are the beautifully soft and textured shawls below. She has a terrific eye for colour - inspiring.

Unfortunately, I didn't make a note of the creators of the other textile work in the gallery. There is clearly a thriving community of artists on the island - well worth following up when lucky enough to visit. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Men of Skyros Chair Panel One

Stitching the first finished panel on to the chair cover was an exercise in pinning, adjusting, repinning - and manipulating a lot of fairly bulky fabric under the sewing machine and over the chair. Originally I intended to stitch the embroidered panels on to the chair itself, but changed my mind and bought a cream cover for the chair, with a view to stitching the panels to the cover. I'm glad I did this - more secure than hand-stitching to the chair, and much easier for cleaning.

I didn't take photos of the process - couldn't really see what to photograph that would show anything but bundles of fabric. Ironing was also a bit of a waste of effort - impossible to manipulate the bulk without creasing again. I'm counting on the fabric straightening itself as I use the chair.

I figure if I were never to finish the chair, the single panel looks OK.

However, I am inspired to keep going, so have traced up the next panel, to go to the left when sitting in the chair. This time I have used pencil rather than archive pen. More men coming up!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Men of Skyros Panel One

Since returning from Kangaroo Island, I have been working in daylight hours to finish the first Men of Skyros panel. I had four small motifs to go when I went away.

I began with the two-headed bird, using the recommended darning stitch.

Worked my way through the two rounded flowers

 and finally, the fuchsia-like flower.

Now to put the panel on the chair.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kangaroo Island Apron Project

We flew to Kangaroo Island for our recent holiday, and hired a car there. This restricted our luggage to 15kg. I couldn't conceive of running out of stitching on a holiday, so I took a pre-printed cross-stitch apron of cups of coffee and an "It's a good day" motto, with back-up of cross-stitched Christmas gift bags and two shawl knitting projects - same pattern, same two-ply wool, different colours.

In retrospect, this was madness, but I was well within the luggage limit, no harm done - and what if we had been stranded there for some reason?

I did quite a lot of stitching - and almost finished the apron. I got nowhere near the rest.

I was attracted to this apron by the colours and its cheeriness.

While it requires reference to a chart and counting, the patterns are easy to grasp and improvisation possible, making it a good option when travelling or socialising.

The colour variation is enough to stave off boredom at what is, in fact, a colouring-in task.

I also found myself working this rather like a prayer shawl, thinking about friends who are, or have been, ill, and meditating on their recovery and wellbeing.

Here is the just finished product and the washed and ironed version. I think it will make a good gift - and I have another one in my stash to stitch next time I need a straightforward project, or a cheery gift.

I also visited a few art and craft galleries on KI - more on that next time.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blue Vest

In the evenings of the days I have worked on Men of Skyros, I  knitted a sleeveless pullover for my grandson, using some Bendigo Woollen Mills' Harmony that I had in my stash. It is lovely to knit and will be comfortable worn against the skin, as well as over other clothes.

I had about 300 grams of Wisteria - a suitable blue colour, but not quite enough if I wanted to knit it long (as I did). I ran the risk on dye lot, and ordered another two balls to be safe.

I chose a pattern from Patons book 1253- Zhivago Kids  - a simple cable.

It has been a great knitting project. I find cable quite soothing and requiring just enough concentration to prevent the knitting from being on automatic pilot.

This is the first time I have tried plastic cable needles. I tried both the hooked ones and the 'kinked' ones. I settled on the 'kinked' ones as a bit easier to manipulate. I really like the little ridges in the plastic that prevent them falling off the stitches - quite an improvement on the straight metal ones I have always used.

It has knitted up well and been very soft to handle. The new dye lot has blended well. I can pick the change, but it is not obvious to the wearer or the casual observer -  a keen-eyed knitter would, however, spot it!

I needed less than 100 grams of the additional 400 I bought, so while using up 300 grams I had in hand, I have created another 350 grams or so of yarn for another project!

My habit of making children's garments a size larger than their age paid off in this case.