Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Boiling Cotton

I've been playing with Lion Brand's new Cotton Ease yarn. I love the bright colors for Spring and Summer, and knit up a clutch style purse alternating three different colors (terra cotta, maize and lime) for a striped pattern. Here is what the right side looks like.

But the "wrong" side looks wonderful too!

The cotton-acrylic blend is easy and soft to work with, and has a lot of stretch. More stretch than I want in a purse. A friend suggested I try boiling it so see if it would shrink or tighten up. So I knit up a small swatch with a little of the leftover yarn.

I put boiled it for 10 minutes, then ran it through the dryer with a load of laundry. It did shrink up a little bit, but nothing like what happens when felting wool.

To make the purse usable, I could make a lining for it. Then the weight of the contents wouldn't stretch the purse's knit fabric. I'm kinda bored with this project though. I'm not sure I've got enough interest in it to knit it several more times as would be needed to write up the pattern or teach this project as a class. I may frog it and use the yarn for something else. This yarn would definitely make a very comfortable t-shirt or tank top!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

eZine: For the Love of Yarn

has just released it's Spring issue, and they've expanded it to include Loom Knitting articles, patterns and book reviews to complement the crochet and knitting sections. Be sure to check it out!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Making a Center Pull Yarn Ball

I've been working on some pieces using two strands of yarn, and switching skeins for different colors. It's been messy, since I'm carrying the yarn on the inside of my knitting instead of cutting the yarn with each color change. I've been using the beginning and ending tails of each skein, and learned my lesson to not do that anymore. I've spent more time untwisting; it's just not worth it!

I don't have a yarn ball winder, but I found an excellent description online on how to make a center pull ball by hand. I can't find it again, but here's how it works.

Step 1. Leaving the tail hanging about 6", wrap the yarn around your fingers about 10 times.

Step 2. Remove the yarn from your fingers, and grasp the folds in the palm of your hand.

Step 3. Hold the yarn secure with your ring and baby fingers, and pinch the upper part with your thumb, index and middle fingers. Wrap the yarn at a diagonal around your thumb and upper fingers 6-10 times. Wrapping around your thumb and fingers prevents the yarn from being stretched when it's wrapped, even if you stretch it unintentionally when you are wrapping.

Step 4. Remove your thumb and fingers from the wrapped yarn, turn the yarn in your hand about 1/5 turn, and pinch it again. Wrap at a diagonal again.

Step 5. Continue wrapping diagonally and turning the yarn. Allow the folded ends of the yarn to stay uncovered. If the ball gets really big, you can wrap over the folded ends at the top. But make sure the starting tail remains free.

Step 6. When you get to the end of the yarn, wrap it under a few strands a couple times to secure it.

To use the yarn, pull on the long starting tail that's hanging out. The folded yarn that's sticking out of both ends will be used right away.

I now have the two balls of each color in their own zip top bags. After I've changed colors several times, I just reposition the bags to undo the twists that occur each time I pick up a different color. It is so much more manageable, and was definitely worth the time spent.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Felting Again

This bag turned out closer to my vision. I knit it on a smaller gauge loom with more pegs, and kept the color stripes clean. I liked the color contrast edging I added to the blue bag, so included that in the knitting process. Here's the bag after it came off the loom, and the bottom seam was sewn. I was a little concerned with the rolling of the bound off edge, but it turned out not to be a problem. There is definite biasing again. I rarely have that problem when knitting in the round, so I'll attribute it to the twist of the yarn.

This time I felted it with just a pair of tennis shoes in a small load on the heavy duty cycle. I checked it after 5 minutes, and the felting was well on its way, but still had distinct columns of knitting. After 5 more minutes, it seemed just right, though a bit small. I let it go through the rinse and spin cycles.

Orville Redenbacher came to the rescue this time. That box is slightly bigger than the Cream of Wheat box I used on the blue bag. I had to stretch the bag a little to get it to fit, which was fine. The corners of the box were helpful to remove the biasing of the knitting.

And here is the finished bag, with the button-tab closure and real handles. I would have liked it to be a little wider, and the tab could be longer, but I'm still pleased with it.

The original piece of knitting was 11" x 11". The finished bag is 7" x 7", with a 3" bottom. Again, the knitting shrank more side to side than it did top to bottom.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Easter Eggs

These clever eggs are a quick knit on the orange KK flower loom. They take about 1/2 hour each to make, and have a plastic egg inside. I found it easier to use a single strand of yarn for the beginning and ending gathers. The gathered cast on is alternating flat knit and purl stitches.