Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's like being lost in heaven

This container was a felting experiment. It was meant to be for my crochet hooks. But I either overestimated the size of my hook collection, or overestimated the amount it would shrink. Possibly a little bit of both. The hooks kind of get lost inside.

It was the first time I've used garter stitch for felting. I've seen pictures in some books indicating that garter stitch ends up looking different to stocking stitch. The result here is a little bit different - it doesn't really show in these photos but the surface has tiny 'bubbles' of wool on both sides. I can't say for sure that this is due to the stitch - I suppose it could be the yarn (Paton's Jet) I used, but I don't think so. What had worried me in those books, which I don't see here, is quite a bit of stitch definition surviving the felting process. I thought maybe garter stitch just does this, but it turns out it doesn't have to. It's personal choice when you decide to stop the felting process - if it's a hat or other garment, of course you need to stop when it is the right size. But I like it best when the piece is 'totally' felted and you can't see the individual stitches.

It was also the first time I have knit garter stitch in the round.

Garter stitch is when you knit every stitch. It's the first thing you learn because you only need the knit stitch. When you alternate rows of knit and purl, you get a fabric that is smooth on one side - stocking stitch. But when you knit in the round, this is reversed - if you knit every round you get smooth stocking stitch. One of the advantages of knitting in the round, aside from not having to sew it up later, is that stocking stitch goes faster and easier for many people - no turning the work and no purl rows. So garter stitch in the round is a bit odd as you have to change from knit to purl every round.

I'm not sure where else I might use it, but it was great for this purpose. There was a sloppy line up the side where the wool changed each round from knit (back) to purl (front). No worries! This disappeared with felting. One reason I might use garter stitch in future is that the shrinkage is more even - stocking stitch shrinks much more lengthwise than widthwise. For my nephew's box this meant that I had to estimate the shrinkage differential, and sew a rectangular base into a square space by easing it. This time it was much easier to design and fit the base onto the body.

Another reason for using garter stitch is that I think it might result in a slightly thicker felted fabric. I've made several camera and ipod cases in the past and always used 8ply doubled (in stocking stitch) to ensure a nice thick protective fabric. I have yet to test this properly, as Jet is a thicker yarn than my usual 8ply, but I think garter stitch does come out a bit thicker - which makes sense as garter stitch eats up more wool.

It was also the first time I've used Paton's Jet (for any knitting, let alone felting). This is one full ball of Colour 4, on 6mm needles. The base is Panda Carnival pure wool 8 ply, held double. It certainly felted very willingly and nicely. I love the way the colours have blended. But the the felting seems to have left it more 'alpacy-y' on the surface - you can see in the photo below that it is very white and hairy in a certain light. I don't mind it, but would probably prefer that blend of colours without the alpaca content. Added to this is the fact that the jet is very lovely before felting. If you click on the pre-felting picture above you might be able to see how the colours mix - it makes me think of lines drawn in coloured pencil. I don't know if I would be inclined to felt it again.


Djaughan Zelmonde said...

Of course I think the end product is superb, but I LOVE the pre-felted look of that wool!!!!!

Bells said...

Olivia, you could post your felted work everyday and i would come here to just look and admire. I really love your work and that container is fabulous. Can you bring it to SnB so I can see it more closely????

Oh and I didn't know about using 8ply doubled - when I next try felting, I'll give that a go!

Taphophile said...

It's a lovely container and so soft courtesy of the alpaca. It stood beautifully on it's own, too.

Knit1 Blog1 said...

Hi Olivia, I loved your wonderful knitted and felted contiainers - in fact I think I have seen one before. I am hosting an exhibtiion about knitting and blogging and would love to invite you to participate. If you are interested check out our blog and you can email us. I would love to hear from you.

Knit1 Blog1 said...

Hi again Olivia, I meant to say that I think I have seen one of YOUR knitted felted containers before. And also that the exhibtiion is here in Canberra at Craft ACT.

Hope you are interested.