Am I crazy?

OK – This story is making me take a serious look at my life – more specifically my love for knitting and for my pet.  The Willis’ here are modeling hand knit sweaters made by Ms. Willis from custom yarn; custom dog hair yarn, that is.  Read the full article here or see the video.  She spent years painstakingly saving their dog’s shed hair and had it spun into yarn for these sweaters. 

So, as you can see,  the media take on this is  “Ew..look at these weirdos, isn’t that gross?”   So I’m wondering if I’m crazy for thinking  “I wonder how dog yarn would knit up?”   Now don’t get me wrong – I have no plans to start saving the tumbleweeds of dog hair in every corner of my house for yarn making.  But, the more I learn about fiber arts and  yarn, the more I realize that hair is hair.  You know, that angora sweater is just rabbit fur that’s been spun into yarn. 

So I say –   Bravo Ms. Willis.  Your patience is to be commended and your white cardigan is lovely.  This is re-using at its best.  And to Mr. Willis – I wouldn’t wear your sweater during hunting season.  Better safe than sorry.

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Felting Inspiration

I heart felted balls.  And they seem to be the hottest trend going right now.  I’ve looked at a lot of other wet felted projects but nothing seems as practical or playful as the felted ball.

I’ve collected some wool roving from Shepherd’s Cross and the Fiber Festival in the past weeks and I’m planning to roll up my sleeves and get felting this weekend.  From everything I’ve read – it seems pretty basic…get wool wet and soapy and roll it into a ball.  (Stay tuned for the inevitable post  “failures in felting”) But those simple wool balls have endless possibilities….

Merry Christmas indeed!  The fabulously creative Norwegians over at Pickles designed this amazing felted ball wreath.  I adore it.   If I could only summon the patience to make one for myself.

Speaking of patience,   can you imagine making enough balls for full sized rug?  A colossol undertaking for sure, but you’d have the world’s most beautiful rug to show for it.

Unfortunately, at my house it would become the world’s most beautiful dog bed.  Oh well… a girl can dream.

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I’m thinking my first project will be some felted beads to string into a necklace.  Sort of the Wilma Flinstone look.

After that, who knows?  I’ll just take it one ball at a time.

The Big Sister hat

Maddox became a big sister last week.  As you can see,  she’s pretty excited about it.  Well, I made a hat for the new baby brother (we’ll see if we can get some pictures when he grows into it).  But it’s only fair the the new sister get a hat of her own.

Maddox’s hat is from the book Baby Beanies by Amanda Keeys.  The pattern is called loopy pixie but instead of a loop on top, I added a great big pom pom.  I used Lily Sugar and Cream yarn so it should be easy to wash and dry and wear during the spring and summer.   Maddox loves the camera almost as much as she loves her new baby brother.  Here are a few of her best shots…

Have fun with that new brother Maddie! You’re going to be a great big sister.

Activist Alpacas

Those of us who have knit with it know how soft and absorbent alpaca  hair is.  That’s precisely why the people at Matter of Trust  are using it to fill ‘booms’ that will be used to soak up oil from the Gulf Coast oil spill.    Alpaca farmers across the country including this one are donating their unused fleece for the cause.  Weirdly enough,  human hair works just the same way.  Hair salons are being asked to collect their clean hair clippings to donate as well.

It got me thinking – I don’t have nearly enough loose fibers to help much now; but if I started saving all of my wool and alpaca scraps in one place, in the unfortunate even of a future environmental disaster  – I could be part of the solution.  Just a little food for thought.

T-Shirt Scarf

I saw this scarf online for $28 and thought, “hey – I could make that for nothing”.  So, I did.  The only thing it cost me was one of my husbands old T-shirts.

Here’s how I did it:

Cut the top off an old t-shirt just below the arm holes.  The older the t-shirt, the better – and use one that doesn’t have any text.

Next, fold it over with the right side facing out.  Cut off the bottom hem and cut 3/4″ strips from the bottom.  If you like the thinner fringe, cut them about 1/2″ wide.

Finally, stretch each one of the fringes until the fabric curls back on itself and voila!  You’ve got yourself a fun 80’s throwback that will be as comfy as  your favorite old t-shirt.  So hit the thrift stores or start your spring closet cleaning and get fringin’.

Silk Bandana Scarf

Remember that recycled silk yarn I bought from thehungersite.com a few weeks ago?  Well,  here is is – all grown up and ready for the summer bandana scarf trend.  It’s a mitered triangle knit on large needles that makes it a really quick knit.  And, the recycled silk has so many colors that this bandana will match almost anything.  I’m already getting a lot of wear out of it.

Thank you to Gibson for helping out with the photo shoot this morning.  He adds a real sense of nobility to the piece, don’t you think?

Well, here’s the pattern.  I’ve written out every row even though it’s a repetitive pattern, because I never could figure out how to place the markers so they’d stay in the middle.  If you figure it out – please let me know!

Materials:  1 skein of recycled silk yarn & size 15 straight needles.

Cast on 91 stitches

Row 1:    Knit          (91)

Row 2:    K1, K2tog, K41, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K41, K2tog, K1  (87)

Row 3:    Knit

Row 4:   K1, K2tog, K39, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K39, K2tog, K1  (83)

Row 5:    Knit

Row 6:   K1, K2tog, K37, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K37, K2tog, K1  (79)

Row 7:    Knit

Row 8:   K1, K2tog, K35, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K35, K2tog, K1  (75)

Row 9:   Knit

Row 10:  K1, K2tog, K33, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K35, K2tog, K1  (71)

Row 11:   Knit

Row 12:  K1, K2tog, K31, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K31, K2tog, K1  (67)

Row 13:  Knit

Row 14:  K1, K2tog, K29, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K29, K2tog, K1  (63)

Row 15:  Knit

Row 16:  K1, K2tog, K27, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K27, K2tog, K1  (59)

Row 17:  Knit

Row 18:  K1, K2tog, K25, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K25, K2tog, K1  (55)

Row 19:  Knit

Row 20: K1, K2tog, K23, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K23, K2tog, K1  (51)

Row 21:  Knit

Row 22:  K1, K2tog, K22, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K22, K2tog, K1  (49)

Row 23:  Knit

Row 24: K1, K2tog, K20, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K20, K2tog, K1  (45)

Row 25:  Knit

Row 26: K1, K2tog, K18, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K18, K2tog, K1  (41)

Row 27:  Knit

Row 28: K1, K2tog, K16, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K16, K2tog, K1  (37)

Row 29: Knit

Row 30: K1, K2tog, K14, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K14, K2tog, K1  (33)

Row 31:  Knit

Row 32:  K1, K2tog, K12, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K12, K2tog, K1  (29)

Row 33:  Knit

Row 34: K1, K2tog, K10, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K10, K2tog, K1  (25)

Row 35:  Knit

Row 36: K1, K2tog, K8, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K8, K2tog, K1      (21)

Row 37:  Knit

Row 38: K1, K2tog, K6, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K6, K2tog, K1      (17)

Row 39: Knit

Row 40: K1, K2tog, K4, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K4, K2tog, K1      (13)

Row 41:  Knit

Row 42: K1, K2tog, K2, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K2, K2tog, K1       (9)

Row 43: Knit

Row 44: K1, K2tog, S1, K2tog, PSSO, K2tog, K1                     (5)

Row 45: Knit

Row 46: K1, K2tog, PSSO, K1                                                       (3)

Row 47: Knit

Row 48: K1, K2tog, PSSO, Tie Off.  Weave in loose ends

Top Ten reasons Why I Knit

Instant gratification.  A finished knit is work of art with no framing necessary.

I’m honing my secret agent skills.  Because deciphering knitting patterns is much trickier than any decoder ring.

Because it just feels so good to answer “I made it.” To the question… “I love that,  where did you get it?”

It makes you look busy during awkward social situations – like the doctor’s office waiting room, the office Christmas party, or a bad blind date.

In case of emergency, I am always armed with at least 2 long pointy sticks. And, I’m not afraid to use ’em.

Because I’m picky.  And when I make it myself, I get exactly what I want.

You can take it anywhere.  I mean, have you ever tried to fit a pottery wheel and 1 ton kiln in your carry on luggage?

Whip up some handmade booties and matching cap and you are the ROCK STAR of every baby shower you attend.  Take that, diaper genie!

It helps me keep my girlish figure.  Because it’s hard to stuff your face with Doritos when you’ve already got your hands full of needles and yarn.

Because turning a ball of loose jumbled string into a beautiful, wearable garment with your own two hands is a kind of satisfaction you can’t put a price on.

How about you?

Racing Stripe wallet

My first felted pattern!  A new camera calls for a new camera wallet – and this one is a workhorse.  It’s been beating around in my purse for weeks and it still looks like new.  It would also work great as a credit card case, a pouch for your sewing needles and buttons, or a little cosmetic bag for your lip gloss and powder.  Here are a few more pics of the finished product:

This is a great project to use up extra wool.  I made this one entirely from my scrap drawer – and in one night.  It’s a great project for the first time felter.  The finished size is 4″ wide by 3″ high and about 3/4″ deep.

Here’s what you’ll need:  2 colors of 100% wool – way less than one skein.  I used Paton’s classic wool because it  felts so easily.  But, any worsted weight wool will work.

Size 15 straight needles; 2 velcro dots; needle and thread.

Here is the pattern written out in a .pdf Racing Stripe Wallet

This is the before picture.

And after.  Once it was felted, I decided I really liked the way the ‘wrong side’ came out, with the dotted lines along the strip.  So, I stitched it up with the wrong side out.

Sew on your velcro dots (sorry, no sticky back shortcuts) and you’re ready to go.  Try knitting it with some wild colors or fun buttons and make it your own.  Happy Felting!

To infinity…and beyond.

I know what you’re thinking….Isn’t that nice that you made those cute matching cowls for your 4 friends.   Well, don’t nominate me for friend of the year just yet.   What  you’re looking is my single biggest failure as a knitter.

And when I say biggest, I mean that literally.  I was doing a little spring cleaning in my closet and came across the ‘scarf of shame’.  And while my first instinct was to shove it back into the dark regions of my closet,  it made me realize how far I’d come.  And, how far this scarf had come – believe it or not, this is the second ugly product I made with this same yarn. It began life as a saggy weird bolero jacket and when it became apparent I could never wear it and be taken seriously,  I decided to set out to make an “infinity scarf”.

I knew how to knit, I was young and naive,  I didn’t know anything about gauge, or needle size, or circular needles.  Here’s what I learned:

1. Knitting is a science.   Needle size x yarn weight is directly related to the overall size of the finished product.  And I’m not too proud to do a sample swatch when it really counts.

2. Circular needles are a tricky species.  And when the stitches don’t go on straight, neither does the scarf.   This one ended up horribly twisted and was a huge pain to knit.

3. And lastly – grey, black and white stripes look a lot better on a skunk than they do on your neck.

So, it’s back to the drawing board with this yarn.  But, that’s the beauty of knitting – you can take a perfectly good ball of yarn, knit it into an ugly bolero, an even uglier ‘infinity scarf’, and, through the magic of knitting … someday a perfectly adequate pair of socks…for an entire soccer team.

Live and learn.