6.19.2006

Experimentitis


Last minute Father's Day gift-making began at 11 pm Saturday night. I had some of Llannie's fleece my mom had spun, but not much of it...and some of the roving (blended with 30% black lambswool). I remembered a woman who made slippers by knitting directly from roving, then felting the finished slippers in the washing machine, and figured I could switch to the roving when I (inevitably) ran out of yarn.

Well, I already made Dad needle-felted Llannie slippers for Christmas, so I decided to try making a glasses case. I will preface by saying that I really enjoy needle-felting, but have never tried wet felting. (Wet hair--ugh.) But throwing something knitted in the washer, although a gamble, is, at least, not as gross as felting loose hairy fibers in a soapy tub.

I didn't have a pattern, but I took a glasses case of my own and used that as a guide. Of course, I had no idea how much it might shrink in the felting process. (Answer: Not as much as I'd hoped.) Knitting with roving worked--in the top photo you can see it on my needle (as well as how much plant life was in the fleece to slow me down). I just drafted it a little as I went along.

To ensure that the knitting wouldn't shrink too much in the wash, I basted the case I used as a model inside of it. That's what this crazy burrito is. I learned two things. (1) Don't try to felt dark-colored things with light-colored towels; use something non-linty (as I read somewhere and ignored) like jeans. (2) Murphy's Oil Soap, which I'm told has the right pH balance for felting, smells really odd in laundry but rinses out fine.

Despite two run-throughs in the washer (whose spin cycle I somehow managed to miss both times, you probably don't want to spin your knitting like I did, either), the crazy burrito barely shrank. And this was hot wash, cold rinse. (Maybe this is because llama fleece isn't very shrinky?) After two dryer cycles, I took out the shape-holding eyeglasses case, and gave it one last dryer cycle.

If you plan on felting any of your knitting, I would recommend getting a felting needle or two. They're really inexpensive, and invaluable for tucking in loose ends, tightening up seams, straightening edges, and generally fine-tuning any other weirdness that happens during shrinkage.

All in all, not bad for a last minute project. I might actually try more knitting from roving, because I really liked the resulting texture (unfortunately you can't really see in the photo where stockinette-with-yarn switches to garter-with-roving, but it happens on the bottom of the case a little below the button). The main problem--as with any wet felting--is shrinkage prediction if you're trying to make something that is size-dependent. (Yet another reason I like needle-felting: wysiwyg.)

Suzanne Pufpaff is the woman I mentioned above who does a lot of knitting from roving, then felts her projects. She has some patterns here. Maybe I'd like them in other colors (you know how I am about the pastels). Although the clogs are pretty cute. You can't go wrong with clogs!

Isis and Morgan (a.k.a. Squirrel and Moose)

9 comments:

mrspao said...

I really like your glasses case. I'm going to try my first felting project soon too.

The kitties are rather gorgeous! They look like they are ready to pounce.

Chris said...

I think the glasses case turned out nicely, although I REALLY like the slippers you'd made him previously.

Carrie K said...

The glass case did turn out well! Shrank enough, and at the last minute? Sweet. And I'm with Chris, I LOVE the slippers you made him.

Midnight Purls said...

The glass case turned out great! And those slippers. They're beautiful. I never thought of knitting with roving or of felting roving. But I think now I'm going to have to give it a try!

Severina said...

There was an article in an old Spin-Off with a pattern for gloves or mittens knitted from thin, pre-drafted roving. They felted with wear and I've been tempted to knit some but I've got seven pairs of handspun gloves/mittens that I don't wear as it is.

Maybe I should do slippers that way since I don't have any and I've run out of small spinning projects.

Obsidian Kitten said...

The knitting-from-roving felt like cheating, since you skip the whole spinning part, but it was fun--and came out really soft and silky (partly the 70%llama/30%lambswool blend, but partly just that roving is so soft).

Slippers are perfect to do, too, because they felt so well with wear (warmth + friction + moisture-wicking = felting).

RheLynn said...

I agree with Chris - the black slippers look really professional! The eyeglasses case is great too :o)

Oh how I love those expressions you captured there -- so, Morgan is the moose, right? I can just imagine Bullwinkle's antlers on her with that 'really now' glare she's giving the camera. Such pretty girls -they are getting along really nicely now?

Obsidian Kitten said...

Actually, Isis is the big black moose, bumbling around with her huge feet. Plus she has a good half pound on Morgan already, even though she's a week younger.

Morgan is the graceful one, leaps like a gazelle (or a little flying grey squirrel), and does indeed have the funniest expressions...

RheLynn said...

Isis sounds like she is going to be a big cat when she grows up!