Monday, November 30, 2009

Here's one I prepared earlier

Here is the process I follow to make a felted Christmas ornament.

1. Knit
1.knit it
I knit these ornaments using exactly the same concept as my pod pattern. I vary the number of stitches cast on, the needle size, and the number and spacing of increase and decrease rows to suit the wool, and to get what seems like a nice spherical shape - allowing for a little more vertical than horizontal shrinkage.

2. Crochet a circle for the top.
2.crochet top

3. Felt both pieces.
3.felt in bucket

4. While it's wet, stuff with a plastic bag and spend some time rolling it into a nice spherical shape.
4.stuff to dry

5. Once it's dry, pull out the plastic bag and then apply decoration.

The embroidery technique in both of these pictures is couching. I use intermittent stitches in grey sewing thread to hold down the silver thread. You can only see the sewing thread if you look pretty closely. I decided to try couching because I knew from trying to cross stitch with metallic thread years ago that it can be a massive pain with all the fraying and kinking. I can put up with it to directly stitch simple shapes like the stars/asterisks in the picture below, though.
armytage pair

6. Fill with polyester stuffing. As planned earlier, I've also been keeping all my wool ends in a jar and using them as stuffing as well.

7. Poke a large jump ring through the top piece.
7.attach jump ring

Then I stitch the top piece inside the rim of the main piece, and use a few stitches to make sure the jump ring is held securely. Sewing felt pieces together is so satisfying because you can virtually make the stitches disappear into the felt.

8. Thread onto a silver ribbon. Done.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Still November, and more to come!

red pink
I'm still working on Christmas ornaments. Craft ACT has sold a few and asked me for more.

The red and green one above, on the left, is Noro Silk Garden Lite, which didn't felt as well as I'd hoped. I've since knit another one with a strand of something reliable and I'm hoping that will make a firmer, feltier fabric. The one on the right (another angle shown below) is a combination of Happyspider's Sour Raspberry (I have gotten a lot of mileage out of that delightful skein, and there's still some left) and that raspberry-coloured Cleckheaton Merino Spun again.
sour raspberry
Below, on the left, Patons Jet. The one on the right is Araucania Nature Wool (green/blue variegated) and Lincraft Cosy Wool (blue).

orange blue

And these are in the always wonderful Sean Sheep Armytage.
armytage pair

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I just stood there whistling

E felt beads

This is my sister's necklace which I mentioned the other day, made from a combination of the felted beads I made for her for Christmas last year, and some wooden beads she had from another necklace. The two types of beads actually work together really well - I think this photo makes them look more different in colour than they look in real life. And because it is threaded on ribbon - she has done this with a few bead necklaces - she can tie it to whatever length works on the day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

D.I.Y. traveller

Thanks for all the encouraging comments on the Christmas ornaments. I was happy with how they turned out, and the reactions I've been getting, especially as I charged into the project without being terribly confident about my embroidery skills. I'm certainly going to make some more soon.

This week I went to Sydney for a conference. I'm usually a fairly efficient packer but I was still in a bit of a daze from a busy bauble-making weekend. So the night before was a bit scattered. While wandering from room to room trying to figure out which clothes to take, I managed to put together my recycled luggage tag. I used a clear plastic piece cut from a dishwashing liquid bottle, and a patterned plastic piece that came with some hairclips. It didn't take too long - the most time-consuming part was punching holes around the edges with an awl. A hole punch would have been quicker, but mine was not strong enough to go through the plastic.
The really cute luggage tag my sister gave me broke a few trips ago, and in the time that I've been thinking about making this I've seen several that I could have bought at clearance prices. So making this didn't really save more than a dollar or two. But it was satisfying to make something from materials that were destined for landfill or the recycling bin (I'm not sure the hairclip piece was even recyclable). It may not last quite as long as a good quality commercial one, but it won't be hard to make another one. It survived this trip unscathed, anyway, which is a good start.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Apologies to those who don't appreciate this sort of thing in early November

I'm not usually in Christmas mode this early, either. But Craft ACT is launching new hand made products for Christmas this Thursday so I got into gear a few weeks ago.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Do you read what I read?

The rest of the trilogy

Terminator gene, and The life lottery, by Ian Irvine.

I liked both of these much more than the first one. I think I liked the characters more. Jemma's daughter Irith was more likable than the young Jemma in the first book (older Jemma is pretty cool though). Maybe I also got more accustomed to the author's style. All the people are pretty direct and straight-talking. It is unusal for such action-y books to really grab me like that but they sure did - I really enjoyed all the action, danger, and wondering where it was going next. I also found the near-future of severe climate change to be a very compelling scenario to explore. I am so glad I took a risk on continuing the series - I proabably wouldn't have on the basis of the first one, except I had already bought the third one, so I thought I might as well keep going.

Theme reading

Among other things, I seem to be doing a 'school shooting books' theme this year. I've read We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, The hour I first believed by Wally Lamb, and Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Still to come - Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, and the one that (maybe) started it all - Rage by Stephen King. I think I may well have read that long ago but I'm not sure. And I could also watch the movie Elephant by Gus Van Sant. Any other suggestions?

Shared reading

I still keep a list of each book I read, down in the sidebar on the right hand side of my blog. (I need to make that linkable, don't I?) I don't automatically review everything - since there's so much crafting to be done - but if you're interested in a particular book, especially if you've read it too, please drop me a line.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

You buckle with the weight of the words

necklace worn
My sister's Christmas present last year was a box of pink felted beads and a promise to make them into a necklace for her. It took maybe six months for us to get around to that. It ended up being ridiculously simple - we just threaded them on a matching length of very narrow ribbon and called it done. And any day now I'll get photos to show here.

Meanwhile, last Friday morning I was hit with the urge to make a new necklace, and to make it before work. It was a day when I had to walk the dogs, which usually leads to me being not particularly early for work. Who am I trying to kid, I am hardly EVER particularly early for work. Anyway I was walking the dogs, thinking about this necklace and how crazy it would be to make it to wear that very day, and how I would of course do no such thing. On arriving home I would hurry to feed the dogs and get dressed and get to work quick smart.

Next thing I know, I'm sitting at my messy home desk, all my jewellery findings scattered across it, with a length of chain looped around my neck, attaching things to the ends.

Well it is a very simple design. One end of the chain sports one of my favourite ever earrings. I lost its mate many many years ago and it has been sitting around waiting for a new purpose in life every since.

The other end has one of the leftover raspberry felted beads, with a little cube at its base.

Then I used a jump ring to attached the two hanging parts together. There is no clasp as it fits over my head. Done.
It's exciting for me because I have been wearing all my necklaces around the same length (short but not choker) for-EVER. I've been inspired recently by Erin from Work with what you've got with her long (and combination) necklaces that she often makes herself.