Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Turning a Failure into a Success!

I bought the book, French Girl Knits, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. I love the designs, but the pattern writing leaves something to be desired. I started the Wrenna Cardigan. I used two balls of Wool Ease Thick and Quick blue, and two balls of Wool Ease Thick and Quick black. This was a stashbuster project!

I loved the horseshoe lace and the fact that it's in super bulky yarn, so I knew it'd be quick. I followed the directions for my size, using two sizes smaller needles (I couldn't find any that large). It was still absolutely HUMONGOUS! I frogged it and started over, this time using a size small (I usually wear an XL or a 1X). It was still TOO BIG! I mean, HUGE! I figured that I must have misunderstood the yarn size, maybe it was bulky. Nope, it really called for super bulky. I frogged it...again. This time I cast on about half the stitches that it called for, followed the pattern for the shoulder increases, then just winged the rest. I couldn't do the horseshoe lace pattern because there just wasn't enough stitches to even try, so I did a simple cable instead. I wish I had done more increases at the hips, but it fits.

Overall, I'm happy with my sweater; I am not happy with the pattern. It's also really, really, really difficult to capture a cable pattern on black, but it's there and looks great! (You'll just have to trust me!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Eeeyyyyzzzz!

Summer's end is quickly approaching, which means it's almost time for my favorite season. I am making Kathleen Roger's Vitreous Humor Scarf, and was inspired to make these great little Halloween decorations. These little eyeballs are a perfect project for kids who are just learning needle arts. The majority of this project is extremely child-friendly.

What you need:
Fisherman's wool in a natural white/ivory (or any other suitable for felting) OR roving (I used the leftovers from my first spinning class)
Cherry and orange kool-aid (or red food coloring)
crochet hook
Undyed wool roving

For the optic nerve:
The yarn version- chain until your chain is approximately 15 inches long (or longer!). Feel free to make "mistakes" as you go! In fact, the more mistakes the better. You can always add a few extra chains inside previous chains. Felt. (Washing machine cycle, or in the sink with soap and water.) Or not. I ended up not felting because I liked them as is.
Roving version- using a drop spindle, lightly spin into a really rough yarn. Make sure to have a lot of thin and thick spots. You can make these as long or as short as you want, but this is the final length of your piece. (What a great first spinning project!)

When you're optic nerve is chained or spun, it's ready to dye!
You'll need:
A wooden spoon
 a non-reactive pot
Hot water (if small children are helping, hot tap water will do)
Cherry and orange kool aid packets

Stir the liquids well. Put your wool in the orange dye bath, leaving little bits sticking out of the water, just a smidge. You can stir, or not. If you boil the mixture, the dye will set faster. You can always pull it out and keep checking until it's a shade or two darker than the desired color (which will lighten a bit after rinsing and drying). Do the same thing with cherry, but leaving even more out of the dye. Wait till it cools. Rinse carefully (unless you want a bit of felting) in tepid water.

For the eyeballs:
Take a small amount of roving, place in the palm of a wet, soapy hand (Dawn dish soap is best, any will do), and rub and roll until you have a nicely felted ball, you can add bits of roving as you go. Rinse and dry. Now you can decorate your eyeballs with some fabric pens (even sharpies).

Final step: attach the eyes to the optic nerves. I did this with sewing, but needle felting is another good choice (every one of my felting needles broke at once, so it wasn't an option for me). This part is obviously not child-friendly.