Friday, October 28, 2011

When we knit we do it right

Hanging out at home for a couple of days, and I got the opportunity to spend a bit of time out in the studio with my dad.

I was thinking about big ass knitting, knitting with huge needles and recycled T-Shirt yarn. One of the biggest deterrents that I have regarding this is the expense of the needles (which are often short and only available in plastic), and the availability of t-shirts to destroy.

Well, Dad took care of the former quite easily. We stopped by Home Depot and picked out a 3/4 inch dowel that was smooth and lovely, grabbed some furnace filters for the house (gotta make the trip worth it) and ran out to the studio.

Dad started up his amazing lathe, and turned out two perfect needles in under 30 seconds.

Mom then advised me that she actually had a bag of t-shirts out in the trunk of her car that she had been meaning to donate. I haven't turned them into usable yarn yet, but I'll probably be getting that done relatively shortly.

Not a bad few days at home! Still plugging away at Christmas presents, as I finally received my final shipment of yarn from Patons. A lot of the gifts are the same pattern, just to make my life simpler, but they're all knitting with the tender loving care my family has come to associate with my gifts.

Barely said that with a straight face.

Seriously, I came home to a box of lovelyness, and it was everything I could do not to squeal the entire bike ride home. I love knitting gifts for people.

Now, I'm off to buy some rubber balls to go on the ends of my amazing new knitting needles. Far too excited about having sparkly, bouncy and completely handmade knitting needles.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beaded Felted Bracelets

I've finally come up with a way to make felted bracelet that makes me happy with the finished product. I 've spent the past 3 days at the Toronto Bead Oasis Show and found some really lovely beads that actually fit on the yarn that I'm working with. I really love the 6/0 beads from NLM Glass Arts, the colours are simply stunning and I love how consistant the beads were.

I strung about 60 beads onto my yarn, and knitted them into the 8 stitch i-cord wherever they happened to fit. I made the i-cord about 9 or so inches long, used a kitchener graft to connect the bracelet and felted it until I couldn't see any of the stitches. I absolutely love the results.

I went back to the bead booth and bought more beads, I'm in love with the colours. I may need to write up a tutorial on knitting with beads, there were a lot of little things about the knitting that drove me crazy for the first little while. Now that I've got the technique down, the next couple will go a lot faster. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Felt and Silver

Just trying a new concept here, as I have to man the booth at the Toronto Oasis Bead Show this week. I have some little leftover scraps of felt from my previous felting experiment, and I decided that I needed a new set of earrings for the show.

These earrings were made out of sterling silver chain, Swarovski crystal beads, and two hand felted beads. I did the felting by dumping some small felt scraps in hot soapy water, and rolling the felt between my fingers until the felt turned into little beads that I could wrap wire around.

They're very cute and light, and I like that I can mix up the colours if I feel like it. The only other colour that I really had was bright pink, and I just can't justify it. Redheads just weren't ment to wear pink.

Sorry Ariel.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Felting again

Just working on a quick little side project with the leftover wool I'm accumulating from making all of these presents for people.

The picture here is of two knitted i-cord bracelets, the one on the right has been felted.

I'm pretty sure it isn't felted enough though, it didn't shrink very much. It's very comfortable to wear, nice and light and soft. I tied a knot into it... but I'm not really sure why. I don't think I'm going to do it again.

I really like the look of these, but they aren't quite as BIG as I wanted them to be. I'm also having some difficulty finding beads that have a large enough hole to allow me to embellish the surface with beads before felting. I'm picturing the black bracelet with pink, or silver beads. It would be quite lovely.

Side note on the felting process, turns out that using my brewing bucket is outstanding. I can put the lid on (which has a hole to allow for an airlock) and bash away without spraying water anywhere. Very nice to watch TV while I'm felting, although I will say that my arms are killing me.

I remember at the gym, that my trainer told me that the reason my triceps were aching so much was because it isn't a muscle we use regularly. Well let me tell you Ms Trainer, I've found an activity that abuses the hell out of them.

I've ordered more yarn for presents, once I have some more leftovers I can play a bit more with this bracelet idea. How funky would it be to have 3 or 4 different coloured felted bands on your arm? I can't wait!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bathtub fun

I really wish that I could say that this post is as entertaining as the title suggests.

Oh well, you're here now! So now you get to listen to my Thursday night adventure: Felting.

Basically, while working on my christmas presents for people (these two colours specifically made beautiful presents for my sister and her roommate), I realized I had two tiny balls of leftover yarn that were destined to roll around the bottom of my yarn countainers until I got mad at them and used them to stuff cat toys.

My mother noticed this as well. She told me I should try making some felted cufts with the leftovers.

Well.. Why the hell not?

Except I've never felted before. What stitch do you use? How much shrinkage is normal and expected? How can felting even be economical when I live in an apartment with pay-per-use laundry, and my mother has a front load washer?

I discovered the solution in my bathtub. Specifcally, at the bottom of a bucket, with a plunger and those little balls you throw in the dryer to fluff up your towels.

I filled the bucket up about half full with water as hot as the tap could give me, chucked in my knitting and the dryer balls, and went at it like a butter churner on speed. Whenever the water went lukewarm, I threw my littles sqaures into cold water to shock the fibers, refilled my bucket with hot water and a squirt of shampoo, and went at it again. I called my sister to help pass the time, and ended up losing about 40 minutes. I probably didn't need to do it that long.

And I have felt! I notice that the stockinette stitched sample shrunk MUCH more then the garter stitch sample, but only lengthwise. Widthwise, they seem to have acted much the same.

You can't see light through them, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to cut them with scissors and not have them fall apart on me.

All together though, this went pretty well, and I really won't mind doing it again with my other samples. My downstairs neighbour might get upset though, going at it with the plunger sounded like I had a stairmaster going full speed in the bathtub, even with the towel underneath cushioning the blows.

The next step is going to be embellishment. I'm thinking silk ribbons, silver.. maybe some decorative stitching? I'll sleep on it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Keeping warm in the AC

Just a quick update of a pair of mittens/fingerless gloves that I'm knitting for a coworker.

So very cute on the needles

But so much cuter once it's on!
I'm very much in love with these. They're a tight knit, so they'll be quite warm when they're finished. Once I've got one done, I can start trying to find buttons to suit them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Clearly I belong in Trees

Looking around today, getting some work done, got an email from an organization that I remember was filming one of my volunteer fruit picking expeditions.

(If you don't already know, Not Far From The Tree is one of the best volunteering groups I've ever been involved with. If you live in Toronto, volunteer!)

Turns out, I'd completely forgotten that this pick had been filmed for the organization Good Evidence which produces videos for non-profit community initiatives around the world to showcase the work being accomplished on social, economic, and environmental issues

How cool is that? I'm the video preview!

Cleaning out the Moths

I've run into a problem that is both literal and figurative.


I've been running around my apartment trying to kill these evil little things for over a week now. I've lost a pair of socks (that were still in progress), and the cuffs of my favorite pair of mittens, but nothing else very important. Truth be told, those socks were never going to be finished anyways.

I'm still incredibly upset though. It's horrible to know that somewhere in my apartment, these little flying devils could be munching into my stash, of my hard-won finished projects. Bad enough I found them in my kitchen, when I noticed them in my closet something HAD to be done.

These little guys have really brought to light a current problem that I've been having in my life as well. I've left some of my creative thoughts and processes go stagnant for so long, that the moths are eating all my dreams away.

Visiting my parents on the weekend really made me realize how many of my designs and thoughts are going unheeded. I'm so caught up with the day-to-day runnings of my apartment, my job, and taking care of my pets that I keep forgetting that I really need to plan time away for myself and my crafts. I haven't carved any new jewellery projects in months, I'm only knitting again because Christmas is coming, and I'm not letting all of my creative new thoughts out of my mind into the world.

This weekend, I thought of several new projects that can combine both my jewellery arts and my knitting, and I've yet to sketch them all out in my notebook. My dad has given me a new small notepad that will hopefully make it that much easier to keep all those lovely thoughts from getting lost.