Wednesday, April 30, 2008

no longer a bowl

Do you still recognise it?

What can I say?

The felted bowl has morphed itself into a handbag... ta da!

(click here for the before shots)

Lined with red gingham, and sporting an obligatory felted heart. Yes, I am addicted to adding felted hearts at the moment...


here's the view from the back...


and the inside looks like this...


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

just not feeling the love

Really not feeling the love for this felted bowl. It has finished drying, but remains floppy... and I really don't like the shape of it. Plus I'm finding the grey colour to be very drab.

All is not lost though... I am working on a makeover for it... next time you see this boring floppy felted platter, you might not recognise it

felted bowl (bricks)

Just a couple of photos for those of you not familiar with the effects of felting... or 'fulling' as the purists would call the technique. Some before and after close up shots which show clearly what becomes of your stitch definition.

felted bowl (before stitches)

felted bowl (closeup)

Monday, April 28, 2008

ugh... what's that dreadful smell

Wet wool... is there anything that smells worse?

How about hot wet wool... definitely much worse!

For those of you not familiar with the felting process, I'll give you a quick rundown of how it works. Basically you take your beautifully knitted project and subject it to hot soapy water and lots of agitation. Treat it as badly as you possibly can, until the wool becomes matted and you can no longer identify the individual stitches. Then shape it a little and allow it to dry.

I use a front loader washing machine. Of course front loaders are renowned for their gentle delicate washing motion. I don't want gentle. I don't want delicate. I want ABUSIVE. But my machine doesn't have an 'abusive' cycle, so I improvise by adding a pair of gumboots and some old jeans into the load. (Don't make the mistake of including clothing you would ever want to wear again.) I set the water temperature at the highest setting. You need to pop the item into a separate wash bag or you will clog your filters with lint and destroy your washer. Add the soap and away you go. Important not to let the machine go through its spin cycle, or you will ruin the shape of the item.

When the washing is done, you remove the hot, wet, stinky mass from the machine. Ugh. It does not smell good. Reminds me of high school on a cold wet day. The smell of wet woolen blazers. Ugh. Everyone crowded around the heater trying to warm up, and the smell of that wet wool fills the room. Makes you feel claustrophobic. Ugh. Funny the memories that come with particular smells. Suddenly I feel like an awkward teenager again. Ugh.

Pat dry. Shape. Allow a couple of days to air dry thoroughly.

That's where I'm at at the moment. Making use of a couple of large pasta serving bowls. I'll keep the felted bowl sandwiched between them to try and give it some shape. It needs all the help it can get. I think it's going to be a very floppy bowl. If I was using this pattern again I would definitely use double stranded yarn for extra stability.

felted bowl drying

felted bowl drying (sandwiched)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

felting again

Decided to have another bash at this whole felting business again. I find the process fascinating. The very idea of mistreating your knitted work so badly that it destroys the stitches and felts to itself seems ridiculous. And yet it is so very popular at the moment. I'm always curious to compare the 'before' and 'after' photographs which people take of their work.

This project is a felted bowl. It is going to be very shallow and flat. I've worked it according to the pattern, but I don't particularly like where it's heading.

But you never know quite what the post-felting look will be... so I'll stick with it. Even if I don't like the end result, I'm sure I will be able to add embellishments until it is no longer recognizable!

Wish me luck...

felted bowl (before)

and just to give you an idea of the actual size... here it is pictured with a DVD

felted bowl (before with dvd)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

back in the saddle again!

Not quite sure what happened to me this month. I started out crafting like a mad woman, and then dropped completely off the radar. I think I just got distracted by life. My mind was busy with all sorts of other issues... and the craft just didn't happen.

I have had so many wonderful people helping to test my new patterns for me. So when I heard Adriann, a fellow Ravelry member, calling for someone to help her out, I figured it was time to return the favour. Or 'pass it on' as it were.

It was good timing really, because it put that little bit of pressure on me to jump in and finish a project. I think I needed that. There has been too much 'starting' and not enough 'finishing' around here of late. And it gets disheartening.

So to jump in and complete a project was just the boost I needed. The pattern was for a simple crochet hot water bottle cover. I plied together a medium green and a salmon coloured reclaimed cotton. The resulting yarn reminds me of watermelon. It has that fresh pink and green thing going on, but didn't quite photograph true to life.

Of course I had to embellish the pattern a little, just to make the project 'mine'. I added a twisted cord made from kitchen string to the neck, which makes it a more snug fit for my bottle. Also a felted heart... you know I love my felted hearts at the moment... so I had to add one of those too!

warming the heart

test pattern (close up neck)

test pattern (closeup heart)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

bag born from bags

Work has finally begun on the 'bag born from bags' project.

Remember the plastic yarn (plarn) I was plying recently? Well, it's time for it to become a plastic bag again!

In the past, when working with plastic, I have stripped it and used two strands at a time to crochet. The resulting material almost looks like a plastic raffia. The stitches blend together a little and there is still quite a bit of stretch. The plied plarn (starting to sound like a tongue twister here) is much stronger to work with. There is greater stitch definition. The material is still very pliable but not so stretchy.

I have been experimenting with a wide range of alternative yarns this year. So, if anything my hands seem to be toughening up a bit. But I'm struggling with the plied plarn. It is so harsh on the hands. After about an hour or so of working with it my poor hands have had enough. I have to down the project until the next day.

Anyhow... here is the progress to date.

bag born from bags (progress)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

still thinking

I adore these little clogs. You might remember I picked them up on my travels a few months back. Not that I was in Holland, more like the local second hand store. I had no immediate plans for them, but I had fallen in love with them and I knew I had to have them! One dollar later and they were MINE.

They have been sitting on my desk all this time. Sometimes I feel as though they are taunting me. Teasing me about my creative block. But I know that if I keep them close by then I will be able to find them when inspiration strikes. Every now and again I pick them up and play with them. Right clog... left clog... together clogs. Walk them up and down the desk and then pretend to tap dance with them. I'm far too easily amused!

Or sometimes I just stare at the decorative detail on them and get lost in a daydream. Who owned these little wooden shoes before me? Were they a gift? Were they treasured? Were they proudly on display for all the world to see? Or were they hidden away at the back of a sock drawer? So many questions. So few answers.

I had always thought I would use them to adorn something red. Until I found this fabulous teal coloured stuff. I say stuff, because I'm not sure exactly what it is. One of the joys of op shopping is that you don't always know what you're getting. It feels a little bit like jute, but not so harsh. All I know is that there was plenty of it, and the going rate was fifty cents. I claimed it as my own and the colour is a perfect match for the blue/green paint detail in the clogs.

clogs and aqua

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

thinking about 40

Is 40 really the new 30? Whatever does that mean?

We tell ourselves some quite bizarre tales sometimes. My dear friend is hoping that as many people as possible ask her in the next week or so, how old she is. That way she can honestly answer that she is still in her 30s! I totally understand, but as Professor Julius Sumner Miller would ask, "why is it so?"

I can clearly remember my Dad's 40th birthday party. I was in my final year of Secondary School and thought I knew it all. Forty seemed so old. I was NEVER going to be 40! On the other hand, none of our children will remember Mr Goldfish's 40th birthday. They weren't even born then! Maybe forty is not so very old after all.

Back to craft. I'm reaching about the half way mark of the afghan. Spending as much time on it as is practical, and loving the results. I'm wondering if I can make it so that there are 40 bands of colour appearing through it? That would be especially appropriate I think. Of course if I had planned this out it would have been handy, but such inspiration comes when it's ready... not when you want it to!

Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement. One of you mentioned that often we work so much more effectively when we are under time pressure, and I'm inclined to agree. If there is a deadline, then you force yourself through the 'pain barrier' and get the job done. Not that crafting is painful (unless of course you are crocheting with telephone wire, which I haven't YET tried but I believe is blisterously painful). It's just that in almost every project you reach a point where the novelty of seeing a new yarn and pattern united has worn off, but you're not yet on the homeward straight. You need to push yourself on through, otherwise it becomes an eternal 'work in progress' which haunts you forever. Ah... the ghosts of projects past. I'm sure you are familiar with them.

kd40 (halfway)

Monday, April 7, 2008

I heart sunshine

Beautiful, magnificent, wonderful sunshine! Barely a cloud in sight.

It meant I was able to do my unravelling outdoors, which I love. It can be quite a dusty and messy task. Lots of airborne particles flying around and an ever growing pile of yarn droppings which fall at your feet. Working outdoors is ideal. Fabulous fresh air to enjoy, and no vacuuming when you are done!


So I partially unravelled a number of different jumpers. That gorgeous sunshine allowed me to get them dried nice and quickly, ready for balling... and more importantly, hooking


Sunday, April 6, 2008


Well, I launched right into this afghan and was loving the results. Then I realised how much yarn I was using up. Since this was such a spur of the moment project, I just grabbed some yarn from my stash and started hooking... without really thinking it through. I'm not going to have enough yarn in the desired colours.

Just buy some more?

Well, there's the problem. I'm dedicated to using reclaimed yarns. I love their character and history. Buying new yarn would just feel so... well... NAUGHTY! So I have some jumpers waiting in my unravelling stash which will be perfect. But now I have to frog them, skein them, wash them, dry them and then ball them before I can hook them!!!

So today will be spent preparing the yarn. It looks like good 'drying' weather too, lots of sunshine and a nice gentle breeze. Then I can get back to the task at hand.

Here's the progress to date:

kd40 afghan (progress2)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

drop everything!

A very dear friend of mine is turning 40 in a few weeks. I absolutely have to make her an afghan. It will be the perfect gift for her. Every time she visits my home, she compliments me on the afghans I have on my couches. They are very plain and simple but she adores them.

So I know she would LOVE one. Of course I know her favourite colours, and what will compliment her home beautifully. And I am more than happy to put the time and effort into making her something extra special.

Problem is... I have only just realised her fortieth is coming up. I actually thought she still had a few more years to go yet! So I am under some time pressure here...

I've started... working with two strands of yarn, and a large hook. It's going to be a large afghan... suitable to drape across a queen size bed and keep both occupants warm.

So I'm going to need some encouragement. I need to get this done. Started on it last night. Now I just need to build up momentum and go for it!

kd40 afghan (progress)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

defining insanity

What is insanity?

I quite like being odd, even eccentric and a little bit quirky...

I'll happily spend hours scouring the local op shops for the perfect jumper. Take it home and air it for a couple of days in the sunshine. Undo the seams, unravel the jumper, skein it, wash it... then hang it out to dry. Ply it, then wash and dry it again to set the twist. Then roll it into a neat little ball and add it to my collection of reclaimed yarns. One day I might even knit it into a jumper again!

It's a long and fiddly process. Not for the faint-hearted. But intensely satisfying, and therapeutic. Way more enjoyable than buying ready-balled yarn from the store.

But have I crossed the line?

For months I have been collecting plastic bags and cutting them into strips. Supermarket bags, bread bags, fruit and vegetable bags. Collecting and cutting. Collecting and cutting. Then I spun two strands together, and plied those with another two strands I had spun together. I ended up with two balls of plastic yarn. Much less than I would have anticipated. A little disappointing, but an interesting experiment all the same.

Now what will I do with this plastic yarn... or 'plarn' as those in the know would call it?

Why, I will crochet it into a plastic bag of course!

Insane? possibly