Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Finished with the stitching!

The stitching took a few days but it was Superbowl weekend so lots of tv time made it go quickly. Notice the lavender and purple seed beads in the center?

 The next step was to wet the waste canvas to soften the glue, then pull out the threads with a pair of needle nose pliars. Best done with a towel on your lap and a wet paper towel covering the canvas where you're not working--because it dries out QUICKLY.

Finished stitching. Then on to the stitching on the tea cosy.

Tea cosy with waste canvas basted in place

Tea cosy stitching finished

As you can see in the second photo, I dyed the final skein. It was evenly and tightly spun and would make the perfect stitching yarn. It went into a crockery pot I use for microwave dyeing with some water, vinegar and purple and raspberry food coloring. Cover with plastic wrap, punch some holes for steam to escape, microwave for five minutes and allow to cool for several hours. The water in the pot was clear which meant that all the dye was absorbed. The skein has a nice kettle-dyed effect because there is some variation in the twist AND because I allowed some bits to stick up above the water.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The stitching commences...

I decided to start with the hotpad since it was flat and less lumpy than the tea cosy. I chose matching pansy patterns from a book I had in my reference library in the studio--Elizabethan Cross Stitch by Barbara Hammet. Since it's stitched on a square grid and knitted fabric isn't square, I had to cut a piece of waste canvas and baste it to the hotpad. The canvas is 5" square, so that gives an idea of the total size of the hotpad. It's original size was probably about 6" square.

The stitches are worked over the canvas, then you wet the canvas and pull out the threads of the waste canvas. Easier said than done, believe me! The canvas dries quickly which means that the glue hardens. So there I am, sitting in a recliner with the hotpad on a towel and a wet paper towel covering the parts of the canvas I'm not working on with a small pair of needlenose pliers. Once you get half the threads pulled out, the rest goes easily, though.

Finished stitching, waste canvas trimmed away
And just for fun, I added a few lines of lavendar and purple beads to the center of the design. Next up, stitching the tea cosy...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fulling the tea cosy and hotpad

Fulling a knitted item, especially flat items, is very easy. I had a load of cotton slacks to wash, not very dirty slacks so they needed only a short agitation cycle. Throw the slacks, hotpad and teacosy in the washer, add the usual amount of detergent, select the Regular cycle with a short agitation time, and start the machine. I left the lid open so I could watch the proceedings and pull the pieces out if necessary. They fulled perfectly in the 10 minute agitation time!

Yanked them out of the washing machine, closed the lid and let the load finish itself. Meanwhile, I filled the sink with water of the same temperature as the wash water and threw the pieces in to soak for a minute. Swished them about to make sure everything was rinsed out and laid them on the furnace vent in my dining room to dry. I have to mention that I live in an old house and the original furnace vents are very ornate ironwork--this particular one is flat on the floor, and my family has always used it to dry wet mittens and hats and to warm ourselves on cold mornings. It's amazing to stand on the vent in your flannel nightgown and let the warm air turn you into a bell! Until your mother yells at you for hogging all the heat, that is.

Hotpad, unfulled

Hotpad, fulled

Tea cosy, fulled

Tea cosy, unfulled

You can see that there's not much shrinkage in the pieces, but the fulling did fill in the gaps and lock the knit stitches together. Which is exactly the foundation I needed for the stitching to be applied. Here's the hotpad with waste canvas (10 per inch) basted in place:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

First step, knit the items

I have decided to knit and full a tea cosy and matching hot pad, as there isn't enough of any one yarn to do a purse or clutch. For the tea cosy I used US #13 needles and the art yarn, since that was the most yardage of all the skeins and also a good bulky yarn for quick knitting and easy fulling.

I started with the Felted Tea Cosy pattern by Janet Renouf-Miller which I downloaded from Ravelry. However, I found that it would be too small, was knitted in 2 pieces and seamed--I hate seaming and avoid it like the plague! I had to make some radical changes to fit the yarn available, so I ended up knitting in the round and doing the top as double decreases at 4 points to give it a rounder shape. I would have liked to make the cosy longer but have only 4-5 yards of yarn left. Here's the result, although I really wish I'd thought to throw a ruler in the photos for size reference:

Dang those curling edges...

I then started on the hot pad, using US #8 needles, the worsted-spun singles tog and the semi-woolen thel. The pattern is Felted Coasters, Hot Pads, and Beverage Jackets by Knitting at KNoon Designs, again downloaded from Ravelry.

Singles tog yarn
2-ply thel yarn

First I needed to ply the tog so it would be of a similar weight to the 2-ply thel. And in case you needed light conversation for your next cocktail party, tog does not like to be plied. It fought me every step of the way, trying to unply itself despite the light amount of twist I ended up using. It IS the long outer hairs of the sheep and naturally doesn't like being twisted in any direction. Plying it more tightly resulted in hairy thin rope! I started with the now-2-ply tog for the center of the hotpad and finished up the purl edging with the 2-ply thel since I had less yardage in that skein. Again I have about 4-5 yards of tog and 8-9 yards of thel left over. And here's the hotpad, waiting for a good hot wash:

Top view

Side view. Look at that curled edge!!

Next, we full the knitted items.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A new--challenging--project

Since I finished my chemo caps and my treatments, I had to move on to the next project which had a deadline of Feb. 6. I know I will not make the deadline but I'll give it my best shot.

As VP of our guild in 2012, one of my responsibilities (along with my good friend Babeth) was to see that there was a program each month. In the spring, she came up with the idea to have volunteer spinners work with identical fiber and report on the results. The guild loved the idea and added further embellishments. The end result is that 4 members carded fiber. We weren't to tell what we were carding, and we needed to make two 4-ounce batches of fiber. Then 8 spinners would take over, each spinner receiving one of the 8 batches of fiber. Remember, there were only four different fiber types so that there were pairs of spinners with the same raw material. We wanted to challenge the spinners and also see how and why they spun the yarn they spun.

Then the yarns would be passed on to 8 more volunteers, who would create a finished product. I was one of the carders and I'm now one of the finishers. I received my yarn in late September but with surgery, the death of my brother, the holidays and radiation treatment, there just wasn't time to consider what to make or even find a chunk of time to work on it. I now have a plan.

Here's the yarn I was given by Babeth, who did a lovely job of spinning:

It's local Icelandic raised and carded by one of our members into batts without separating the tog and thel (long outer coat fibers and short inner coat fibers from this double-coated breed). Left to right:

1.  45 yards of 2-ply tog combed out of the batt, spun worsted
2.  130 yards of singles tog pulled out of the batt, spun worsted
3.  40 yards of 2-ply thel combed out of the batt, spunsemi-woolen
4.  100 yards of singles 'art yarn' spun from the batt pulled into strips, spun woolen and fulled slightly

What would YOU do with these 4 yarns? You'll have to wait to see what I came up with (if I can manage to finish it by next week), because the guild unveiling is tomorrow and I don't want to spoil the surprise by posting publicly.