Day 6 Ravelympics Update

It definitely pays to have a good sense of humor when felting – or more appropriately, fulling – knits. Today’s finished project definitely left me feeling slightly shell-shocked, but much wiser than before. I now believe that there aren’t a lot of givens in this art.

So, here’s the story… Having had a marvelously successful felting experience when I made my slippers last December, I decided to make a basket for stashing the loose odds and ends on the sofa – A/C remote, Sudoku book, scissors, lip balm, to do list, current reading… Conveniently enough, I also bought Folk Bags at that same time, and it didn’t take much to convince myself that the Shigra Bags were the perfect concept – except I wanted something a little more subtle for my Victorian home. My Alice Starmore Fair Isle book provided just the right fuel for my creative fire, and by the end of the day, I’d ordered Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks in an assortment of subtle colors, eager to begin my first Fair Isle knitting project.

My slippers shrank very little across the knitting, but about half in length, so based on that and the info in the Shigra pattern, I picked the 126 stitch bag, changing it to 128 stitches to accommodate the Starmore chart. After one false start, I was knitting round and round on my circular needles, brown yarn on my left hand and colors on my right, steadily getting the knack of changing colors, but annoyed to constantly have to stop and twist my yarns on the longer carries. The knitting grew steadily until the remodeling began, then it was pushed aside. By some miracle, when I picked it back up again, I discovered a way to lock my yarn into the back of the stitches without missing a beat on my knitting, so the last third or so of the Fair Isle fairly flew, and I actually started loving what I was doing. I turned the corner and worked the bottom, using the sock on circular needle concept to work right into the very center without even pulling out my DPNs. I was even cheerful working in what seemed like a few hundred ends, as they didn’t have to be pretty, due to the felting.

Enter, the washer… I measured the piece before plunging it into a viciously agitated washer, steaming with hot water. Height was 17″ and circumference was 36″. Hmmm… Perfect, I thought! if that goes down about a third around and half the height, I’m going to have a just right basket about 8″ tall. I could scarcely wait to see the end results and load it with the bits of clutter I’m so tired of trying to keep corralled. I went fishing in the water so many times, impatiently checking the progress, that I managed to scald my fingers quite nicely. About the third time I pulled it out, I started to get an odd feeling though. The fabric was getting quite firm, but my basket wasn’t looking anything like my expectations, and after another 5 minutes or so, I had to admit that I was definitely not in charge of the project any longer. A spin and a rinse in cold water, left me with the expected 26″ circumference, but the height had barely changed at all. My short “Stuff Basket” was shaped just like my bathroom trash can, only 4″ taller! In fact, it was shaped SO much like the trash can that I used it for a mold for my wet felt, folding down a cuff at the top, which I stretched out just a bit for the sake of style. Needless to say, it’s not going to be my little sofa sitter basket. I like it very much, but what to use it for??? At least the colors will go with most of the rooms in my house…

Project notes: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (which I used double-stranded) sheds a whole lot more than the Lion Brand I used for my slippers. This was too big to put into my laundry bag, though I don’t know if that would have helped much. I ended up scooping a substantial amount of fiber off the top of the water, and every time I handled the basket during the felting process, I was instantly covered with fur. Other than that, it was fine to work with, and it felted quickly and easily. Finished circumference is 26″, height with the cuff up is 14″.

Today’s gold medal…

In other knitting, I worked in an entire skein of chenille yarn, so my fuzzy green afghan groweth larger. I believe it was skein 5 of eight, perhaps, so still a ways to go, but I know that if I stick with it, I can do a ball in one evening of Olympic watching fairly easily. I also finished another project, save for a few minutes with a steam iron, and I nearly finished a second one, but I ran into a problem when I couldn’t for anything find a single one of my tiny mother of pearl buttons. I know I have several dozen somewhere, but with the current state of upheaval from all the remodeling work, 45 minutes of searching didn’t unearth even one – and I’m going to need a fair number more before I’m through. I found a compromise for tonight’s project, but will have to start digging again when I’m fresh and less frustrated, or I’m not going to be finishing nearly as much as I’d hoped.

Actually, frustration hit a double high, as concurrent with the button problem surfacing, my book on tape hit a bad section, which lasted for the entire last third of the disc. If anyone wants to take pity on my, I’m reading Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon right now, and I don’t have a print copy. The disc went bad just as Roger and Bri walked out of church on Christmas Eve, thoughts of marriage (and other things) dancing through Roger’s head. The first few sentences on disc 14 involve Jamie and Ian starting to build a shed. I’ve obviously missed more than a little bit that I’d have liked to have heard, but it would really help if I at least knew the basic outline of what transpired between church and a shed being built two hundred years earlier on land that wasn’t even Jamie’s the last I’d heard. If you care to fill me in on that section, I’d be very grateful! Either way, disc 14 tonight, and seams, seams, seams!

Ugh! ;o)

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh dear–what a day!

    I wish I could help on the felting part, but I’ve only done a little felting with one hat pattern, so I don’t have much [intentional] felting experience.

  2. Unfortunately, the lesson you have learned is that you have to swatch and felt each swatch – different yarns felt differently.

    Your basket is beautiful, though!

  3. Toni, thanks for commiserating, at least. You made me laugh with the “intentional” comment. I actually feel terribly wicked tossing wool into a washer full of hot water on purpose, and I love every minute of it!

    And, fiberlicious, thanks for the compliment. :o) I’m wondering now if the floats on the back of the knitting affected the felting process. The one good thing about me not swatching this particular project is that I actually ran a couple of colors down to inches or nothing left, but you’re right… If I’m doing something that really matters, I have definitely learned I’ll need to swatch.

  4. I have had a less than happy felting experience or two as well! I learned that a large part of fulling is dependent on the amount of space between the stitches — If you’re using one strand of worsted weight you probably want to use 10 1/2 needles, whereas if you’re using 2 strands, you want 13’s, at least. The “holes” in between stitches is where they fuse together — if something is knit tightly it won’t felt much at all…

    Still, your knit is very pretty — perhaps you could make it a cozy for a plant holder?

    Oh, and if you still need that missing piece of DOA, drop me an email & I’ll look it up tomorrow. 🙂 All my books are in the room with the sleeping baby & husband… 😉


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