Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stash Addition: Noro Sekku

My daughter and I spent Black Friday visiting Hillsborough, NC. I'd heard good things about the yarn shop there, Hillsborough Yarn Shop. It's a cozy little store that only stocks natural fibers. I always try to make a purchase when I visit a new shop, even if it's just a pattern leaflet or a ball of yarn. I bought 2 skeins of Noro Sekku in color 1 -- yellow, orange, lime green, brown, and shades of purple. It's a lace weight made of cotton, wool, nylon and silk that knits up on size 2 needles. Not sure what I'll make, but since I have 840 meters, probably a shawlette. It seems an appropriate weight for warmer weather wear. Guess I'll check Ravelry and see what others are making out of this yarn.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Off the needles: draw-string bag

Last year I talked my sister into giving up her yarn stash...almost as old as some of my yarns. She had a few tubes of cotton chenille. I crocheted myself a project bag out of the teal blue. Now she's decided to take up knitting again (socks! for her first project in decades). So I used the purple chenille and knitted her a bag for her projects. The bag measures about 15" from top to bottom.

Isn't is nice when you give away something and then get it back in a new, improved form? And I get one more thing out of my yarn stash.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Off the hook/needles: Baby Sweaters

I must have knitted or crocheted over 50 scarves for friends and the monthly Knit Night charity knitting group over the past 2 years. I am so over scarves for the time being and have started knitting baby sweaters (probably for Knit Night since currently none of my friends are expecting babies). They are more interesting to make, but don't take very long to finish so no time to get bored with them. Also, I don't have to worry about the size since babies are rarely particular about the fit of their garments. Here are photos of the first ones I've done. I still have to add buttons to all of them.

This yellow sweater is a Maddy Kids pattern called Girl's Smart Topper. It's knitted in a worsted weight acrylic yarn.

The pattern for the lavender sweater is from a Leisure Arts leaflet titled "Knit Lace & Leaves for Baby" by Jeannine LaRoche. What I really like about her patterns is that you don't need to swatch. The final size depends on the yarn weight and the needle size. Another thing I like is that the sweaters are all knitted from the neck down with very little sewing up needed. The sizes range from preemie to 3-6 months. I picked the smallest size which came out really tiny. It looks more like a doll's sweater. I used Lion Brand Baby Soft yarn which is a sport weight acrylic/nylon yarn.

The green sweater is crocheted out of Lion Brand Baby Soft and edged with leftover yarn from the lavender sweater. The pattern was originally published by Doreen Knitting Books, Volume 100, in 1950; I downloaded it from the Web. This is another sweater that is made from the neck down with little sewing required to assemble. I've seen a photo of an adult size version, but no pattern. My crochet & math skills aren't yet up to figuring out how to convert to a woman's size. But I (and others who've seen it) would love to have this in an adult size.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Felting leftover

This little 2"x2" square is a crocheted piece I did to test the felting properties of the yarn I used for the flowers on the felted bag. It's embellished with gold seed and bugle beads. Not sure what I'll ultimately do with it, but makes an attractive pin cushion right now.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Saga of the Felted Bag

This is my first big felting project. I like the results, but the project has been a learning experience and maybe an example of why I don't always finish projects. The yarn is Reynolds Lopi from my old that the price on these 119-yard skeins was $2.90; it currently lists at $6.95 for a 67-yard skein. The flowers are from a small amount of bulky wool yarn remaining from some long-ago project. The leaves are Lite Lopi that I recently bought. Beads are from my stash.

The bag started out as a crocheted rectangle. I test-felted a swatch and didn't like the results...too holey. So I ripped out and started knitting. The body of the bag is a rectangle in seed stitch. The handles are single crochet stitch. I like the firmness that crochet gives to the part of the bag that will take the most stress. I knitted the gusset in seed stitch.

The flowers felted up great, but the bag came out of the felting process really hairy. I was told by experienced felters that Lopi has a tendency to be rather fuzzy after felting, but this went beyond mere fuzziness. There were very unsightly longer strands of hairiness that I ended up removing with a razor blade.

Then the fun began (or so I thought): embellishing the flowers. The flower below is the 2nd one I embellished.

Below is the first flower I did, but it's the second instance. After doing flower #2, I decided I didn't like what I'd done with flower #1 so I removed all the beads and started over.

Here's what the flower originally looked like. I decided it was too disorganized and also didn't coordinate well with the 2nd flower.

After attaching the flowers to the bag, I decided that the holes in the center needed something so I added some Czech glass buttons. Then I thought the bag needed something more so I crocheted, felted, and embellished leaves. Ta-da, I thought, it's finished at last! But noooo! I had attached the flowers by sewing on the edges. This gave them a puffy effect and, along with the central button, I started thinking how much the flowers more resembled breasts! Now there's nothing wrong with this part of a woman's body, but this didn't create the effect that I was aiming for.

Once you get a thought like that in your head, it's hard to remove it. But, thankfully, I could remove the flowers and redo them. I ditched the button centers, took the flowers off, and restitched them so that the petals were not secured. This flattened the pieces and gave the flower effect that I was aiming for. Finally, no more fiddling and tweeking; the bag is finished.

Lessons I learned:
-- test-felt swatches before deciding which technique to use to get the effect I want
-- combine techniques (in this case knitting & crocheting) to take advantage of the strengths of each
-- better to rip out and redo as much as necessary to get a final result that I can be happy with
-- don't compromise with the design just to get the project finished

Knowing me, this won't be the last project where I learn the lessons only by ripping out and starting over. It seems that my usual procedure to get a finished project is:  knit/crochet/stitch/etc. correctly one time after ripping out mistakes 1 or more times.