Sunday, November 4, 2007

Its getting to be that time of year.

I tried to convince myself that I didn't need to knit and test-felt a swatch before plunging into the Bunad Mukluks - I am mostly using Cascade 220 (a well-known yarn in my stash) and have usually found with socks and sock-like objects that actually starting the project is so close to a swatch that I can wing it without a formal swatch. I actually usually love to swatch - I can get a fascinating dialogue going between myself,the yarn, and the stitch pattern that I really enjoy. But the Bunads were calling my name in such a sweet siren-like fashion that I nearly succumbed. The realization that I was intending to incorporate some stranded knitting into the Bundads is what called me to reason - I've felted several items using Cascade 220, but never something that had stranded work. Plus I was sneaking another yarn into the mix that wasn't a known quantity - some Dale of Norway Heilo in light grey.

So I plunged into a swatch (a real circular swatch on even stitches to be able to measure it flat, no less) and was amply rewarded for the trouble. Sometimes those knitting goddesses do indeed smile benevolently up on us. As can be seen be the ugly little wrinkly thing in the photo, the floats of yarn behind the knitting felted and shrank at quite a different rate than the knitting itself, resulting in puckers, wrinkles, and other horrors. The photo shows just one trip through the felting process, and I find at least 2 is usually needed. So I did another test - I clipped the floats in half of the swatch, and left the rest as it was, and sent it through the wash again, hoping that once released the knitting would felt up as it usually does without being hindered by the floats. The end result wasn't really any better than the first, albeit more solidly felted. So now I understand why the pattern was designed with embroidery on it instead of a stranded knitted in design. Since I still have the problem of not quite enough yarn I think I will resort to using stripes in selected areas of the leg and maybe foot, and still leave room for some embroidery. Stay tuned for more. (By the way, the colours are much better than in the picture - everything turned out much greyer and darker than it really is)

And what have I been doing with myself while I have not been knitting on the Bundad Mukluks? Getting ready for the annual holiday sales, of course! The museum where I work holds an arts and crafts fair for staff to sell their handiwork to each other every November, and I must say, I usually do quite well with my esteemed colleagues purchasing my wares. This is what I have ready now for the fair, which will be next Friday. My good friend Ms. MmmYarn likewise sells her handiwork at the fair; she makes lots of fabulous baby things such as booties and hats, along with handwoven scarves made by her husband. We try not to carry the same types of things so as not to compete too much with each other. While we both have scarves, I usually only bring the ones using my hand spun yarns. My biggest sellers are fingerless gloves which I first developed for myself while commuting on BART (the subway equivalent for the San Francisco Bay Area). My hands would be so cold while waiting on the platform for the train to arrive, but as I needed to get my ticket in and out to enter and exit the train any kind of fingered glove was too clumsy for handling the ticket. Plus, I can't knit in gloves and what kind of life is that if I have 15 minutes to wait for a train and I can't knit???? While my hands aren't nearly as warm without fingers on the gloves, it's a lot better than nothing and I can wield my needles with ease. My co-workers like them because their hands and wrists stay warm while typing on their computers in freezing cubicles.

I've also had loads of fun making miniature elf stockings as ornaments, package decorations, or just little things to make someone smile. (There's a quarter on the floor in the center of the photo for scale). Several people have suggested them as cat socks, but when I mention what the possible consequences of actually trying to put them onto a cat on might be that usually ends the conversation. They're an actual tiny sock; I just don't turn the heel , going right from the heel flap to picking up stitches for a gusset, and then decreasing until all the stitches are gone. Each one is the same number of stitches (16) - just the yarn and needle size changes. I think I'll just keep making these until I am sick of them. Right now they still make me smile a lot.

1 comment:

hovercrafteel said...

How timely that you should post this now! Just last week I knitted a stranded purse to be felted. I read your post with a bit of dread, but sent it through the wash last night and can confirm that a stranded bag made of two colors of Cascade 220 felts beautifully. It even covered up the slight puckering I had in some areas becaues of the long floats.