Friday, May 29, 2009

FO Frenzy

Felted items
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I've had a couple of WIPs sitting around for a while, and of course a nice sized stash marinating with yarns that have been around for over a year now (which is a darned long time for my project-oriented mindset) and I finally figured out what to do with them and got to it!

First, I sat down and finished off my Gift Box. I've had this lovely handspun sitting around for some time, but there just wasn't much of it. It's very pretty and squishy, but not really one that I want to save around for displaying as a skein. So I took my Mardi Gras Rose yarn, and some black 3-ply that I had already spun, and started a box.

My intention was to create what would essentially be wool wrapping paper. I wish I could remember who or where it was, but on something that I read (a blog or board), Furoshiki was mentioned. It's a method for using a large square of cloth, folded different ways, as a universal bag and it's being revived as part of the Green movement in Japan. I thought that a box that I knit (or even several boxes), might be a really fun way to use up some of my odds-and-ends of handspun yarn from Spindlers' Challenges each month.

I cast on and knit a square in black using seed-stitch to give it a little more structure. Then I picked up around the edges and knit upwards, switching to the Mardi Gras yarn at an inch or so in, and switching back to black when I ran out of the Mardi Gras skein. Near the top I purled one round, and then knit a length that would fold shut at the top like wrapping paper would. I created "creases" in the cloth by strategic placement of yarn-overs so it would naturally fold along those lines. Then I stretched it over a plastic toy and tossed the whole thing in the washer to full.

Gift Box
It went pretty well, but apparently the blades of the washer tore holes on the hard edges of the toy. So I ended up stitching them shut with nylon thread and re-washing the whole thing without the toy inside. Luckily it didn't shrink enough that I couldn't get it back over the plastic box in the end and let it dry there.

A Twist on This
I also finished off my daughter's socks. I was using these as a test-knit for an idea for my own socks. I can't decide what I think of them. The spiral band is just darling. It is also (as many people predicted and complained on Ravelry) extremely tight and hard to get over her heel. Once on the socks look adorable! Getting them there, however, is quite a pain. I think I may possibly frog them to the ankle and knit the twist straight up one side of the leg. Or I may just do that for the next pair.

Last, I pulled out a couple of skeins I bought on sale with no real plan other than "make hats" and found patterns for them! The light brown skein had always been scheduled to be a "Clem" hat from "Hip Knit Hats" by Cathy Carron. I had even purchased a matching skein of mohair to strand with it (as the pattern requires). Am I allowed to say "darn, this is cute!!" if I made it myself? Well, I will, anyway. This is the second time I've knit Clem. The first time I used two strands of the same yarn and no mohair. The hat shrunk more than I expected in the felting (fulling) and it has never fit quite right. I didn't bother to do the embroidery for it, because it was too short. This time I was careful to knit the hat longer, but I ran out of yarn in the end. The mohair ran out first (that's what I get for not paying attention to yardage requirements) about an inch before I used up the last of the Manos del Uruguay. That's fine, because you can hardly tell in the final product, and the lack of mohair is pretty nice to show off the embroidered edge. I'm also not a great hand at embroidery, but I did a passable job this time!

Quick Clutch
Last, I dug through my 101 Designer One Skein Wonders book and found a pattern for the "Two Hour Bag". This looked like a great match for my darker skein of Manos del Uruguay, and boy, was it ever! It surprised even me. I put the two together with little thought, mainly wanting to use up the yarn. But as I knit, the colors of the Manos came into play and all of a sudden it didn't look thrown together, it looked quite purposeful and lovely. It just looked even better the more that I knit. And after a round in the washer, the colors tightened up together and it is simply stunning. The bag wants one of Janice's raku buttons (from Dyelots) so bad it isn't even funny. I'm going to have to sneak out of the house tomorrow and go purchase one so I can get it completely done.

As a final comment, I want to mention that I may have said "felting" in a couple of places. Technically, when working with a knit project with heat and agitation, the process is called "fulling" and the object is "fulled". An object is felted when you do the same thing, but start with un-worked fiber. In the end what you have is felt cloth (fulled cloth?) and personally I like the sound of "felted" better. I don't know why, but I do. So any slip-up is mine, and I do know the difference. Sometimes, I just don't care.

You can see more pictures of everything on my Flickr Photostream or check out the projects under "TinkerTots" on Ravelry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I spend a lot of time thinking about Alanis Morisette's song, "Ironic". Probably a lot more time than it deserves. But it all stems out of a big debate I had with a friend as to whether or not any of the song actually is ironic. He held to the opinion (apparently related to him by a rather strident professor) that there isn't a single example of true irony in the song and that really only things like O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi" express real irony.

I hold to the opinion that irony isn't quite so very narrow. Happily, the dictionary and Wikipedia both agree with me (neener neener!).

But when I was the random-winner of the Spindler's Challenge for February, I was placed in the position of choosing the next theme. It's rather a fun little "prize" for participating and being the "winner" in a completely arbitrary contest. My yarn was also displayed on the main page for the group for the month so people got to see my pretty (and you can, too, because it's right here).

The group moderator has a general request that the themes NOT be seasonally inspired. I had a small problem with this as I stared out my kitchen window at the perpetually-gray skies and falling rain that marks our winter months. "Heavy Cloud, No Rain" (by Sting) ran through my head, and then of course Alanis' song in competition. Sting's song is easily the more ironic of the two, and seasonally appropriate, but I didn't know that I wanted to bring everyone down with "rainy" yarn. And really, isn't that seasonal? I didn't want to get into April Showers or May Flowers or all that. Bleh.

So, "irony" became stuck in my head. What is an ironic yarn? Something that isn't what it says it is? Something that looks soft, but feels rough (or vice versa)? Amusingly enough when I discussed it with other spinning friends, they questioned if it ought to have metal in it or be grey or red, which confused me greatly until they explained they were thinking it was "iron-y". Maybe it should be ribbon yarn.. flat and "ironed" out.

After much personal debate my imagination settled on that story, the only example my friend could ever manage to explain what irony "ought" to be, "The Gift of the Magi". Della's hair is perfect here, dark long locks shorn off and sold for a watch-chain. One of my LYS's had washed Romney locks, ready to be spun along with a thread of gold that could represent the watch-chain.

Spindler's Challenge - May
I was thinking I'd spin the locks thick and fluffy and have them spiral around the gold cord, but nothing worked out quite that way. I didn't comb out nearly as much fiber from the locks I purchased as I thought (there were quite a few short-cuts and just tangled masses). It didn't want to spin fluffy and thick, it wanted to be thin and worsted... probably because I've been spinning three-ply sock yarn for almost two months straight now. My gold-lame cord was almost more trouble than it was worth. I found 2-ply cord which I decided to un-ply to double the length available. That alone took more time than everything else I did to make the finished yarn: processing the Romney locks, spinning and plying everything back together again, and washing, whacking and drying. I will never, ever again un-ply synthetic cord like that.

But in the end I still have really lovely yarn. I think in the spirit of the story, I will knit this yarn into a small pouch and felt it for a coin-purse... to save up my pennies for gifts.