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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Owl teacosy from salvaged wool

I had a request from friends for a teacosy. After looking through the patterns I had,  they chose an owl - the one I made for one of our own teapots a while back. This was on my list of things to make, but when the first large egg-basket felting failed, I realised that the wool I unravelled unscathed would be perfect for an owl. So this is the result.

I had some cream acrylic left from the Failynn Fox cowls. I mixed that with some grey two-ply for the breast and used the unravelled mixture of Bendigo Classic Java and the variegated Shepherd Colour4Me .

I used a few oddments of  brown and white alpaca for the beak and eyes. Here are the assembled bits.

The Bendigo Classic Java and Shepherd Colour4Me mix is remarkable - no sign at all that it went through the felting process - just lovely thick, even wool - great for keeping tea warm.

Here she is completed, and minding one of our smaller teapots.

Friends are happy and so am I. The owl looks a bit sad - but will no doubt cheer up on the larger teapot for which she is intended.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Big Egg Basket: Success

The Murano wool to replace the disaster basket arrived as I was heading off to Melbourne for 2 days, so I took it along with a large circular needle. I began the base of the large basket while awaiting my flight out of Adelaide.

I worked out the size and shape as I went along - casting on 25 stitches, increasing to 39, knitting straight for about 20 rows then decreasing at same rate as I had increased until I returned to 25 stitches, then picking up stitches all around the edge of the base.
It was a perfect project while away - I could pick it up and put it down at short notice and stitch without too much thinking. And, yes, I did have to correct for the slant by stitching into the back of the needle!
I cast off the rim of the basket and knit the handle while watching TV the evening I returned home two days later - perfect timing.

It seemed huge when finished. I wondered if I had overestimated the size. I liked the way the stripes played out, however, with that rim of blue around the top. When I ordered the extra ball to do this project I ordered colour CK23. Although CK 27 is my favourite so far I couldn't resist trying another colour to see the effect.

I felted the bag the next morning, boiling it up first to get the heat,to cause the dye to run and blend a little, then adding the boiling water and the bag (in a pillowcase with a tennis ball) to the washing machine. I put it through the longest cycle twice.

 This time, I am pleased with the result - and so are the egg-collectors!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lessons from a felting failure

I don't think there is any other way to describe this except as a failure. I can learn from it, and even create from it, but this day I created a mess.

It began with my daughter's idea for a larger felted basket to hold the little egg baskets and gathered eggs. I had very little Murano wool left, but got the idea of using up a variety of left-over wool in creating a basket.

I began with the little bit of Murano and some of the Fuel left from the Lakota Hood. Combined, these made up the base. So far, so good.

I then knitted in some Bendigo Woollen Mills' Classic 12 ply wool in Java, combined with a ball of variegated Shepherd Colour4Me 100%wool to give it some link to the base and the top.

For the top of the basket I planned to use this hank of Moda Vera Sorbet I bought about 5 years ago from Spotlight. The label says 100% Australian merino wool. I bought it to make a hat for a small child have never got around to it. I was always surprised it was wool. Other similar yarn I have of a different brand is wool and acrylic. I figured it was thick and loose, so should felt up OK.

All seemed to be going to plan. It knitted up well and, I thought, would blend well when felted.

That, of course, was wrong.

The Murano base felted beautifully.

The blended wool in the middle felted not at all - in the face of being brought to the boil in a saucepan, put through the longest and hottest washing machine cycle, it came out much as it went in. It really IS machine washable!

The worst, however, was the Sorbet. It came out much as acrylic comes out - thin and shedding.

I gave it one more go in the washing machine to make sure - but the result was fit for the bin.

However, my waste-not-want-not forebears helped me through.

First, I cut off the Sorbet mess and put it in the bin.

I unravelled the middle section and set it aside to dry.

Then I cut and blanket-stitched the edges of the base and turned it into a pot-holder - really effective!

Finally, I set about making the owl teacosy I have been promising a friend, using the wool unravelled from the middle section - but that's another post!

Oh, and I should add - I ordered another ball of Murano to make a proper basket to replace the mess!

I then

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Felted Egg Baskets

I was quite excited about felting my egg baskets. The first round in the washing machine, with a jug of boiling water added to get the temperature up a bit from our 50C hot water system, was a bit disappointing.

I thought I would need 3-4 goes to get what I was looking for.

I decided to see if I could speed things up by boiling them in our pasta pot.

I boiled them for about 10 minutes. There was some advance on the felting - but also a lot of very dark dye leaching out, so I reverted to another round in the washing machine.

This time I added a tennis ball to the machine - hadn't tried this before.

The result was really pleasing. I'm not sure if it was the tennis ball, or the pre-boiling, but this time they were well felted.

They have felted so well I clearly didn't need two handles.

They have been warmly welcomed - and used - by the egg collectors!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Egg Baskets

My daughter was looking for small baskets for the children to use for collecting eggs from their chickens. I have long wanted to try knitting and felting small bowls or baskets so thought I'd have a go at using up the left-over bits of Murano wool in an egg-basket experiment. I had three partial balls in different colours.
I checked out a few patterns to get the guist of it, then worked it out as I went along. I constructed a base that was roughly circular - began with 20 stitches on straight needles, increased one at the beginning of each row to 30 stitches, knitted 10 rows straight, then decreased one per row to 20.

I then swapped to a circular needle and picked up about 26 stitches down each side and 20 at the starting end.

Of course, I had to factor in the 'lean' of Murano. It is possible to use it to make patterns!

I knitted in the round until it was about one and a half times the height I wanted to end up with, then put two sets of 5 stitches on to stitch holders and cast-off the remaining stitches. I used the two sets of five stitches to knit I-cords which I joined to the other side as handles.

I was tempted to only do one handle, but thought the top might gape and the eggs fall out.

I then knitted up a second one, slightly smaller.

As there was still wool left over, I thought I'd keep going and experiment with even smaller ones with a single handle. After all, I might as well felt four together!

I began the smaller bases with 15 stitches, increased to 22, knit 10 rows before decreasing.

They still seemed fairly roomy inside and one handle looked as if it might be adequate. I did not need to combine my bits of Murano wool - each bag came out of a the remains of one of my balls - knitted as it came in term of colour.

At the end, however, I did manipulate my remaining scrap to get an orange edge on the final basket.

This is all the wool I had left when I finished.

Here are my four Murano egg baskets ready to be felted.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Skyros Man 9

I traced up my third chair panel of Skyros Men as soon as I finished the second one. By careful manipulation, I managed to get all four men following the slope of the arm of the chair without putting them very far across the grain of the linen.

I then added the edges and mounted it into my oval frame. This time, however, I tried the oval frame in my all-purpose floor stand, rather than in the stand that came with the oval hoop.

I have had some difficulty with the clamps on this general stand but my friend Alan Bevan made some adjustments and adaptations for me. This is the first chance I have had to try it out since he made them, and I am hoping it will give me more flexibility than the stand that came with the oval hoop.

The general stand is rather better suited to roller frames that have straight sides, but I managed to arrange the hoop in the stand using the clamps on the top of the oval where the curve is minimal.


So far it has worked well. It allows me to have the work at a more upright angle to my body. The original stand puts the work between 90 degrees and about 75 degrees to your body. This allows me more like 60-45 degrees.

I am working, as before, largely in darning stitch, but using Bokhara on his pantaloons.

I am also working up a scheme for the cushion of the chair - but more on that later!

Here he is finished.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Last Cowl of the Season!

There was one more cowl from Cowlgirls that I really wanted to make this Winter. It is hugely long, in four brown/black colours and patterned, rather like an amazing necklace.

I had enough dark blue and black fleck from two cowls I knitted earlier this year and wanted a  rich brown to put with these. I was really out of luck. Nowhere could I find a chocolatey brown wool. What I ordered in the end, thinking it would be dark brown turned out to be quite pale. In the end I used this and used a little bit of cream acrylic, left over from the Failyn Fox cowls, as the fourth colour.

Once the colours were settled, it was fun to knit, although I quickly gave up keeping all four balls in play at the same time, thinking I could weave the colour changes up the edge as I went along.

The colours have, I think, worked quite well.

It is a bit late for wearing this year, but get good wear next season.