Saturday, February 28, 2009

When it's hot and everybody smiles I can't help myself

still life
I like real pears too, as long as I remember to eat them before they get too soft. I had just washed this one (hence the drips of water) and a few minutes after this photo was taken, I had eaten it too.

Disappointingly, the last lot of pears, those little ones, never ripened to be edible. I did try one just in case.

new stuff

New wool lines are appearing for Autumn, and I'm thinking that Cleckheaton Kaleidoscope could go some way towards filling the gap left by Sean Sheep Armytage. It has the long colour repeats and it test-felted nicely. The price is a bit steep for a cheapskate like me, so I'll be waiting til the end-of-season markdowns. I'm ridiculously patient sometimes. The Moda Vera stuff is 50% acrylic and testing shows it might felt ok, but with stitch definition still showing, I suspect.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's my party and I'll try if I want to

L 2008 socks

Finished (and handed over, months ago) socks for a size 11 foot in The Knittery's merino slim sock wool, on 2mm needles. I am so glad I have a few skeins of this stashed, because it made the most lovely, fine, slinky fabric.

The previous socks for my brother-in-law ended up being quite a success. He's not the easiest person to find presents for - though chocolate is always welcome - so I planned to make socks for him again for last year's birthday. Since it's pretty hot around here in January (yes, January 2008), I didn't feel too bad giving an IOU. I knit a single tiny red sock and stuck it to a card.

I can't even remember now precisely all the ins and outs of getting these socks done! When I was actually knitting on them they didn't take too long, but for various reasons there were some long breaks. One of these happened because the twins were on the way and I was knitting for them instead of their dad. I know I had a fair bit of guilt about taking so long.

I ended up with the first finished sock being several rows too short in the foot when K (similar sized foot model) tried it on. I had already done some ripping and reknitting and was determined not to go there again. Well, really, all that ribbing had been done last - these were toe-up socks, as always. I had also finished the second sock, at the right length, while thinking about what to do with the too-short one.

I decided to see if I could get away with:
- cutting a hole
- picking out a row
- knitting the extra rows required
- grafting the two pieces back together

Sure, I knew this might take almost as long, and would definitely be more fiddly, than just ripping it out and reknitting. I knew that my grafting might not be up to scratch and the finished result might not look good enough. Still, I wanted to try it. Sometimes I am just like that. 
Before I cut the hole (picture below) I threaded pieces of wool through the row before, and the row after the one I would be picking out.
arrow cut a hole
So I ended up with each piece ending in live stitches neatly threaded.
picking out
Unfortunately one lot of stitches was twisted, and I had inordinate difficulties getting them the right way around as I transferred them onto the needles. I don't know why - I mean there is really only one right way and one wrong way (except for multiple twists, I suppose but that would be really obvious).
This photo might look a little familiar to some of you. Alwen's post last week actually reminded me to get on with this story. Of course, she was on a slightly different reknitting adventure.

It all worked out ok in the end. I did have to do the grafting twice, but that's pretty standard for me! The first graft had lots of twisted stitches and was also too tight, causing a hard ridge inside the sock. The second time didn't look perfect, but it smoothed out quite well after a wash. It's nothing a non-knitter is likely to notice. (I guess saying that is just begging for a comment from L saying he did notice) I also ended up with a lot of ends to weave in because I had to attach new wool for the grafting - the yarn from the picked out row was very tired looking after the first grafting attempt. It was all a bit risky and not an ideal strategy for a gift sock. But in the back of my mind I knew that I had another skein of the same colour and if worst came to worst, I could chuck the sock and knit another one.

I'm really very glad I didn't have to, though.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Little sis dress_2

I recently made this dress from Tora FrØseth's lovely pattern Little Sister's Dress, for my little niece. I was determined to make it in secret, but this made for some stressful times as I sweated over whether the size and fit would be right. Not to mention the usual button selection dramas. Luckily, my sister put it on her straight away and I was so happy to see that it fits well.

The photo above shows the colours a bit more accurately than the one below. Neither is quite right though! It's a dark pinky red.
Little sis dress_1
I followed the pattern as written, except it was intended for 3ply wool and I used 4ply cotton - Yarn Bee something from Spotlight, and two balls of the red was not quite enough, can you tell? Using thicker yarn meant I could knit the '6 months' size and end up with something between 6 and 12 months size. The only other change I made was to continue side increases in the ribbed bottom edge, so it wouldn't draw in as it does in the original pattern picture. The designer notes that it could also work as a vest, but I did really want it to be a dress that flares out.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

If I were you I'd end my days in a field of stupid sheep just grazing the grass, so succulent and sweet

group shot
Before Christmas I had some felted pears and bowls in Craft Act's 'Exquisite' members show. Along with some sales - still a new enough experience to be a thrill - this lead to a commission as well. Based on the work that was in the show, I was asked if I could make a different shape, a beaker, to fit in with a specific collection.
I was given some photos and suggested dimensions. I made a few as it was a new design, and to provide some choice of colour and shape - some are tapered and others are straight-sided. Luckily 'slightly skewed' was explicitly ok - felting is an imprecise science.
beakers 3

beakers 2

beakers 1
And two of them now live in this lovely collection.
new home 2

new home1

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

gonna shine like a spoon


This is another fruity variation on the felted bead. My sister got one of these roughly life-sized strawberries along with her little pear. Two other friends each received one around Christmas time too. I thought they would work as pendants or just a fun ornament either for Christmas time or any time really. One recipient quickly decided she would wear hers among multiple long strands of pearls for a dramatic look. I can't wait to see a photo of that!

In the background of the photo above (and another below) is a postcard with a gorgeous strawberry photo - I'd love to name the artist but I can't track it down at the moment. I'll get back to you.
Edited to add:
It's 'Projektion 3 (F) (Flowers)' by Swiss artist duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss.
strawberry spoons

So far, I really don't like needlefelting. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Putting the little green leaves on top was the most frustrating part of the process. And I ended up stitching them on as much as needling them there. I enjoyed the beading though.
wrapped strawberry

Monday, February 02, 2009

Taking the shape of the thing in my mind

mini pear
Those are inches on that ruler.

The whole pear thing started with a trip to Sydney with my sister. In a large chaotic clothes & jewellery shop in Balmain, she saw a pear pendant - I think it was enamelled - and agonised over whether it was worth the price or not. She didn't buy it. It was nearly her birthday, and later as we wanderered further up the street, I had an opportunity to sneak back and get it for her. And I didn't.

It stayed in my mind though, and a few days after that I had the idea to try a felted pear. On a much bigger scale of course, and since then the felted pears have just kept coming. I've only just remembered that at the same time I also tried to needlefelt a little pear for a pendant much like this, and it didn't work out - both the materials and the skills were lacking.
mini pear 2
When I did that felted bead course I didn't know if I would ever use those techniques again. Well, they came into play for this year's Christmas presents. First up was this little pear pendant for that same sister, about the size of the original one that we didn't buy. It started as a standard round bead, and I started to shape it while it was still quite soft.
mini pear chain
I wasn't sure if she would wear it - though I knew she would like it - but she does! (wear it, that is)
mini pear chain2
These pears, on the other hand, are not made of felt.
real pears
They are real pears - I found them at Choku Bai Jo, the farmers market shop at North Lyneham. And about the same size as the little pendant. I haven't tasted one yet but they have that lovely fresh pear smell.