Undoing a bendy scarf

About four years ago, I decided to knit myself a striped cotton scarf. Carrying the three colours up the sides was a lot of fun and I was loving how it was coming together. Then I put it down one day and noticed it had developed a curve!

Obviously this was something to do with carrying the colours and one side had developed a much tighter edge than the other. Incrementally this had caused my scarf to curve.

With great sadness I began to unpick it…

Jump to a recent tidy up where I found the half unpicked project languishing in a bag. It was a sad sight. Three balls of unravelled scarf and a big tangle of yarn leading to the considerable amount yet to be unpicked.

the stripey scarf in blue, green and purple

Unpicking three colours is not so much fun, but I’ve been quietly doing bits and I’m almost done now. Once finished I think I’m going to use those balls to warp my loom and see if I can’t do an enjoyably stripey scarf that way!!

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Amigurumi – the cutest yarn craft

Super-cute yarn animals might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have to say I love making amigurumi! A couple of years ago I learnt some basic crochet stitches, and bought a bag of stuffing, so I could create these little guys and it was so much fun.

The best ones went under the charity tree at my office in the hope they’d brighten up the holiday season for a child somewhere, but I quickly had a surplus and had to stop. Here are some yarn friends that didn’t make it to the tree…

A cute yarn sheep and bearProbably the funniest thing about my amigurumi exploits is that you make them in many sections, so I have a leftover box of tiny ears, arms and legs. Gruesome and cute!

A knitter’s love of chunky yarns

A few weeks back my mum was talking about making herself a sort of ‘knee-warmer’ to keep her problem knee warm and I suggested she might use some chunky yarn I unearthed recently. It seemed like a good idea because it’ll knit up fast and be warm.

The funny thing was that she has many a set of needles, but none intended for 14ply. In contrast, when I went hunting through my needles I found no less than 5 sets!

So some of my needles are on agistment at her place (well not really but I do love that word) while she designs her knee warmer.

Why do I love the big yarns? Partly because they are quick to knit and that’s great for scarfs, but also they often have such a pluffy, lush texture.

Now that I’m weaving they aren’t featuring as often, though I did put one on the loom recently. It was something like good-planning that could do this because, in anticipation of my continued love of large yarns, I got a large dent reed when I bought extras last year!

How to felt wool

Felting is a remarkably simple process, though it does take time and therefore requires some patience. You also can’t undo it, so once your wool begins to felt you need to keep a close eye on it.

The essentials of felting are that you need something made of wool, some hot water and a way of agitating the piece. Very simple.

Some people put their wool into a pot and boil it, letting the bubbles do the agitation. Others put it in a bucket with the hottest water their hands can take and stir it. For more delicate felting you can apply hot water and then rub it by hand, with or without the addition of exfoliating gloves (or mesh like in the nuno method).

Oh, if you have the right kind of washing machine then you can felt that way too.

The basic formula for felting though is the hotter the water the less agitation required and the faster things move, but if boiling it appeals, remember that dyes can leach out and may not be great to breath! Also, you need to fish the wool out of the pot all soggy and dripping scorching water. If you’re me that probably means burns.

Whatever the method, it takes a while before anything starts to happen (the first sign is that the cloth will get looser). Once it does, the felting can happen quickly. The degree of felting you want will take a little practice to achieve, but the main thing to avoid is taking it too far when it’ll start to fall apart (or so the interwebs tell me).

How do you know when it’s actually felting? It’ll get a bit fluffy on the surface and visually the weave will start to blur. Though that’s just the start.

Really that’s it. Well, you do need to keep in mind that felting will cause the cloth to thicken and the further you take it the stiffer it will get. Of course that thickening also means it shrinks quite significantly (30% + isn’t unusual) and this is proportional to how far you take the process (thicker felt = higher shrinkage).

Not sure how much more felting I’ll do, but I enjoy thinking of it as extreme fulling!

The yarn hoarding instinct

I’ve never met a yarn-crafter who doesn’t have a slightly obsessive relationship with buying yarn. Most of us practice abstinence (i.e. yarn shop avoidance) as the only cure to this problem, to varying degrees of success.

This was something I was discussing recently with a friend who isn’t a yarn-crafter at all and she put it in a way that I thought was kind of lovely. She said that buying lovely yarn was like buying little balls of hope. That hope is that we will achieve happiness through owning/working with the yarn.

I think that’s true. Most yarn-obsessives I know take pleasure in both the actual yarn (colour/texure) and in the ideas for what to make from it. As long as you don’t fall into true hoarder territory where the yarn starts to take over your life, I think that’s probably fine!

Weaving with metal rings

I was wearing this handflower the other day and it got me thinking about how long it’s been since I did any chainmaille.

image of a chainmaille handflower

This weaving with metal rings is good fun, but takes a certain amount of concentration and dexterity. So, not as relaxing as weaving with yarn. I think that’s the main reason I do it periodically. Oh, and the fact I already have a handflower for each day of the week!

Because I always start big (and repent later)

Now, if you read the post on how I chose my loom then you might think I’m a bit nuts. As a friend put it:

You wanted to make scarfs – which you already do – and ended up taking up weaving. In the space of a week.

Yes. Okay, so I might be a bit nuts when it comes to crafts. For example, my second knitting project ever was a long-sleeved, calf length knitted coat. It was so big that I used it as a blanket during the latter stages of knitting it. (But Mr Kaffe Fassett does know how to catch a knitter’s eye – see image above from the book Gorgeous Knits.)

So I can’t deny that I like to jump in, boots’n’all and just try everything. Usually all at once.

Though coat example might lead you to wonder why went from a project like that to knitting scarfs.

Simple answer is, I can’t wear animal fibres near my skin. Acrylics are less of a problem but still a problem, and for a long time cotton was hard to get in any colour not meant for children too young to go “yuk” at it.

Bamboo improved things, but tends to split. Ditto silk + expensive.

So, for some time now, I have bought yummy wools and knitted them for other people. This is still fun, but knitting is slooooowwww and, as years passed, I lost the desire to spend so much time on each project. Thus the looking for a faster way to make scarfs. Which led to the loom.

The other thing you’ll realise if you read the blog (assuming fromthiscloth turns out how I hope) is that, I may have only taken a week to decide to start weaving, but that was a week of overdosing on YouTube videos and sites about looms and weaving.

[Part of deciding to blog was realising I needed to order all the info I’d learnt in such a short time. I learn best through explaining things to others = blogging it.]

In case I’m misleading anyone into thinking I have craft learning superpowers (I’m picturing a knitted cape, are you?) I should mention that, I didn’t come to weaving from a place of 100% ignorance. As a sew-er, I know cloth and, as a seed-bead-er, I know (tiny) looms.

That left a mountain of stuff to learn, but it was a start.