Saturday, May 27, 2006

Shibori scarf tutorial

Shibori is a Japanese technique for pleating and resist dyeing fabric, it results in beautiful textures and colour effects.

This tutorial will give you a basic experience in Shibori felting techniques, to give you the basic skills to move on and experiment with the techniques yourself.

Please read the instructions through prior to commencing.
Make sure that you have the time and space you require to work, you don’t want to be called away half way through the felting process!
Trust your instincts, change the pebble layout to suit your self.

Step 1.

The scarf – I usually machine knit this, as I like to do things NOW!, but handknitting shouldn’t take too long as the gauge is loose.
With the standard gauge machine I cast on 60 sts and work 400 rows at a tension of 8 with 1 end of Handpainted yarns laceweight, if you are going to handknit I would suggest the same number of sts and rows on size 4mm needles, or larger if you like – we are looking for a piece of fabric approximately 50 x 14 inches.
You must use a yarn which will felt, pure wool or at least 80 % wool, not superwash.
If the label says that it can be machine-washed - it cannot be felted.
(you could also cut up a garment from goodwill, or that no one will wear)

Step 2

The ends,
I usually wrap a rubber band around the ends of my scarf, approximately 2 inches in from the end, this gives a ruffled look to the end, alternatively you may leave it as is, but note that the end will become angled, due to the weight of the pebbles, I like this look also, but it is good to know what will happen.

not tied
The pebbles,

Layout your scarf fabric, wrong side facing, press it gently under a damp cloth if it is very creased.
The felting process means that your scarf will shrink by approximately half.

Place the glass pebbles in areas, I have suggested layouts, but feel free to choose your own.

When you are happy with the layout, use the rubber bands to tie the pebbles into the fabric, the pebble should be on the wrong side, and the rubber band on the right side, wrap the rubber band 3 x, and make sure the fabric isn’t pulled too tightly over the pebble.

Step 3
The pleating

In Shibori, the pleated areas stay pleated once felted, and the colour stays original if over dyed

Using your fingers, gently pleat the fabric widthways as shown in photo, the pleats should be about 1 cm (1/2 inch) you can use a bulldog clip or peg to hold the pleats in place. 1 at each end of the pleat.

(omit the pleating step if you wish, you will end up with a scarf similar to the blue one above)

Step 4
Embellishment – sew on beads or buttons if you wish to, I use the same yarn as I knitted the scarf with, when you sew them on prior to felting the yarn felts into the fabric, and the beads bed down slightly into the felt.

Step 5
The felting
Washing Machine:
Fill the machine to the medium level with hot water ( I usually fill it, and add a jug of boiling water – as my hot water temperature is low, as we have children in the house) add 2 T pure soap and agitate to mix, place the scarf into a pillowcase or lingerie bag and secure with a rubber band, place in the washing machine with a couple of old towels, or anything else that won’t be affected by the small amount of dye which will run. (a friend of mine washes her sneakers with her felting!)

The time taken to felt the scarf will vary, depending on temperature, time, and the mood of the yarn on the day, take it out after 5 minutes and have a look, if it is barely felted leave it in for a few more minutes before checking again (you may have to add time to the wash cycle), if it is looking pretty close but not quite, then check it every minute, I have noticed that in my top loader it takes a full wash for my scarf to be perfectly felted. Once you are happy with the felting (it is always better to UNDER-felt) place the scarf in warm (not cold) water to rinse, gently squeezing until the soap is gone, rinse again in clean water, roll in a towel and sqeeze out excess water, place flat on top of a dry towel, adjust the look by pulling at the fabric gently ( don’t remove any pebbles, or rubber bands yet, you can remove the bulldog clips , if the felting is too tight there, GENTLY prise apart in the middle, leave the ends as this is where the pleats are secured. If you are planning to overdye the scarf DO NOT remove the bulldog clips.

Hand felting:

(use rubber gloves) fill a basin with very hot water, add 2 T soap , fill another basin with very cold (use ice) water. Place the scarf in the hot water, agitate and squeeze water through the fabric, squeeze out and place in the cold water, alternate between the two until sufficiently felted. Rinse in clean warm water.

Now, if you are going to over-dye the scarf, you can do this in a couple of ways:
- Kool-aid, or food colouring,
Fill a medium sized saucepan with warm water, mix in the dyestuff, stir well, place the scarf in the pot, and the pot on the stove, heat over a low to medium heat until it just starts to boil, remove from the heat and leave to cool ,(overnight if possible) when cold remove the scarf, rinse gently in warm water, roll in towel to remove excess water, place on flat towel to dry. (as before) remove clips if desired, and adjust pleats.

- Fabric dye – follow the instructions on the box, if it calls for heat, just be sure not to agitate the scarf during the process.

- You can also handpaint the scarf with more than one colour and set in the microwave.

When dry:
Gently remove the rubber bands, you can snip these with scissors but be careful! Alternatively, save them for next time.
Then remove the pebbles by popping them gently out of the little hole at the back. Cute huh!

As before you can gently prise the pleats apart, to get the desired look .

now just wrap around your neck and fasten with a decorative pin!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

finished objects

The Anniversary socks are finished! They were completed yesterday afternoon, so they took exactly 2 weeks, pretty good going for me at the moment.

anyway, here they are, and yes they are loved.

A few observations:

when I knit Holly a pair of socks using Opal sock yarn, I start with 98 -103 grams and end with 12-16 grams. As Flash's socks were much bigger, I figured I would need 20-30 grams extra, thus the denim mix used on the heels and toes.
I wound off two balls, 1 weighed 48 grams, the other 50.
When I had finished the leg sections, each leg weighed 32 grams, I then knit the heels with the blue yarn, and knit the gusset and foot with the brown yarn again. The leg and foot section are the same length, so I figured I would use approx 125 grams of yarn total, but I ended up with 10 grams of brown left over, I am baffled. I didn't change anything, the only thing I can think of is that ribbing weighs more than stst!

post script:
my Mama is in London, she has social engagements up the wazoo, but managed to get to Liberty for me, she of course called from the store, I have a feeling that crack silk haze is in my near future, anyway, if you were in Liberty yesterday, and noticed a breathless, elegant woman with an accent you couldn't quite pinpoint, if she asked you for assistance as though she had known you for years and still appreciated you...that was my Mum

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yarn bath

Kudos to Emily for my gorgeous "Baby Jussi's yarnbath"

Monday, May 22, 2006

a cordial affair

Flash and I were halfway to Wollongong on saturday afternoon...bound for the SNB exhibition and tapas at Ailsa's.

The phone rings, it is Blaise "ummmm, something bad happened"
the something turned out to be raspberry cordial, which found it's way into a power point, and shorted, blowing a fuse...we won't go into how the cordial got there, suffice is to say that you couldn't repeat it if you tried.

We backtracked and arrived home, all was actually well, Flash cleaned out the remains of the cordial, and the girls were told to pack their bags and pillows, surprisingly they were exceptionally compliant...must have been the shock of almost frying the new flash fridge.

Joining us at Ailsa's were Donni, Donna, their husbands and kids, Sharon was excused due to childbirth (we were half expecting her to turn up...that woman is a legend) Bronte Violet is gorgeous - just like her big sisters.

Tapas night was a roaring success, the men bonded over their shared experiences " the courier driver has become a mate" said one, " the mailman is on the christmas list" echoed another, " we had to move into the small bedroom, because the yarn has taken over" whispered a third. We laughed...and let slip a bit more about what has gone on the visa lately...Flash told everyone of his plan to make it big in New York with the "yarn store bed"

yarn storage shelf during the day, pull the shutter down to keep yarn in, pull bed down from wall...voila!

Suffice is to say, knitting discussions, comparisons and debate continued into the wee hours.

The next morning, hangovers assuaged with much tea and breakfast, we popped in to the exhibition, I have no photos, but the others do/will do, it was expertly hung and curated (the amazing Sharon) and well patronised on a beautiful sunday morning. Blaise had work so we had to hurry home, but I managed to squeeze in a quick cuddle with the beautiful Bronte. Well done Sharon and effort.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

skeining my life away...

we are a bunch of sickies here in the terrarium at present, Flash is still recovering from his trip to Delhi, but has gone to Melbourne again, I ka-dunked my head against the bedroom wall (concrete) yesterday morning (thought the wall was a lot further away than it evidently was) and have a lovely goose-egg - other than that I seem fine, but am not taking any chances, I had a delayed concussion 11 years ago, and it was not pleasant - I remember standing in the hallway in the hospital reading the eye chart outloud, I thought I was doing very well, but the people sitting on the chairs which lined the hall were sniggering to themselves...I had it completely wrong and was hauled off for a CT scan - as I had had a concussion 12 months previous to that.
I still remember the pamphlet they gave me which stated that " if you have experienced 2 or more concussions - you may want to re-consider your lifestyle" If I want to avoid bumps, bruises and concussions I would have to literally wrap myself in foam, I am THE clumsiest person, I walk into door frames, tables, bench corners, cannot look under a sink without bashing my head or knocking my knee, recently I wondered where the straight line bruises I have on each forearm came from...Flash solved it.. the doorhandles, which I bash prior to opening almost everytime I walk into a room , it's a combination hangover from being a tall, coltish, gangly girl (wish I still was!), and a mother in a rush...I really should take my husband's advise and slooooow down.

To this end I have decided to spend the day pottering around and tying up loose ends, and lots of those loose ends seem to be skeins of yarn, the only drawback to the fun that is dyeing is the utter boredom that is skeining, you skein off the balls or cones, dye, wash,dry, and wind back into balls.I kind of lose interest after the drying stage, the skeins are pretty and decorative, and I'm usually so bored with the whole process by then that I want to move on to something new (oooh - shiny!) so I have a pile of skeins waiting to be wound into balls so that they can actually be USED!

an hour or so curled up on the couch with some Ginger Spice tea from T2, and finish reading the extraordinarily amusing "Is it just me, or is everything sh*t" (I particularly like this excerpt) I'm not going to do a book review, the brain is not up to it, but basically, if you like "Grumpy Old Men" you will like this, it it the perfect book to read when you don't really feel like reading a book.

Stripey I do promise to get out of my jammies this morning and walk up to the Post Office and express post some things to you. I am a bad knitter.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Knitting for Victory!

In New Zealand the daily grind is a perfectly brewed espresso...

Wonderful article from the Auckland museum about this gorgeously bright knitted blanket celebrating the end of WW2.

I am loving the New Zealand Now site, smart, savvy and full of all of the information I could have done with prior to moving to Oz. often electricity is billed, how to get a decent phone service etc. Arts, Culture, Lifestyle, info for the interested and the expat. No knitting content as yet though.

Knitting catalogue time again, and interesting how many of the "big" spinners are trying to knock off Noro type colourways - I found this one particularly frightening! a giant ball of polyester/acrylic Noro wannabe yarn,imagine knitting in public with THAT!, however the same catalogue did include this so I will be stocking up with sock yarn next time I am home.

The perfect antidote to giant synthetic zombie yarnballs - Touch yarns - I saw a lot of their yarn when I was in Christchurch, beautiful colurs, delightful textures, not cheap, and don't look at their pattern page, but truly inspired colour.

The anniversary socks are over 1/3 finished! I am so glad I decided to knit them at the same time, seeing the progress is very motivating, Flash has huge feet, so I have employed a a half skein of denim mix opal for the heels and toes, fingers crossed that I will have enough yarn!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy Anniversary Baby

Anniversary socks - Opal Elemente, can't remember the number, browns,taupes and blues - I am loving the way this is knitting up. Flash is away on business so we are celebrating our 3rd anniversary together-alone, and even with the extra knitting time, I don't think they will be finished by the time he arrives home tomorrow night.
I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I’d be without you
The Beachboys

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Arrows socks - finally

Specs: Yarn - KnitPicks sockwool in Hollyberry colourway
Pattern - my ordinary sock pattern (customised for Holly) with a 10 st repeat lace pattern - little arrows from Mon Tricot, placed on each side, and a toe of 4 stars (from Nancy Bush - Vintage Socks book)

Finished while watching "The constant gardener" the socks are probably still a little damp - thanks for the review Jason, Flash was happy to watch it because it was a "spy" movie, and I just blubbed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Book review

a number of new books have found there way into the house recently, the result of amnesia, Amazon, and the odd visit to Kinokuniya. I love my library of craft books, there is so much inspiration and promise on that shelf, even if I never make a garment out of the book, I have still learnt so much from the author, whether it is a new finishing technique, or how knitting changed their life.

I have to start with The Yarn Harlot's latest offering - Knitting Rules! this book is, like Stephanie's blog - a great read, I curled up on the couch and delighted in it for an afternoon. The book is set out in logical progression; first the madness, then the addiction, then the rules, moving through knitted garments from the easy (hats) to the more complicated (sweaters) there wasn't much in it that was new to me, but given the Harlot treatment it was extremely entertaining, and I love the way that she makes the reader feel that they are not alone in their awkward geekiness, and that sticking wool down the front of your top in public is normal (to test for itch)
I will be passing this book on to Holls, as I felt that the way it presented knitting as "know the rules - then you can break them" will help to create fearless knitters, and that is what we need to keep the craft alive and growing. I love the little highlighted comments sprinkled through the book - There are no knitting police!
( I have to remind myself of that often, maybe I'll embroider it on my sock knitting bag)
as well as Steph's take on buttons and buttonholes, I always wonder which side the buttons should go on for babies ( having had only girls, I didn't realise there was a LAW! - just kidding) and her solution is perfect - if the person wearing the garment will be dressed by some one else, put the buttons on the right - cool, now I don't need to ever think about that again!
So let's hear it for the Harlot, the pop princess of wool.

Then there was The curious knitter's guide from the Mason-Dixon team, sweet as all-get-out, these girls are charming! I was induced to go buy cotton within minutes of opening this book, and everyone I know is getting a dishcloth or knitted hand towel in their Christmas present this year.
The book contains a number of rug and afghan patterns,and loads of great ideas and ways to transform them to your own taste, I had always steered clear of knitting strips of fabric, but these two make it look so tempting that I might give that a go as well. I liked the way the author's personalities came shining through, just like on their blog.

Finally ( not because I limited myself to three books, oh no, when I looked at my recent account at Amazon the list is much longer than 3, it's my husband's fault , he asked me to order a DVD for him...and well... but because I have to save something for another blog entry)
here is the Vogue knitting stitch dictionary volume 1 - knit and purl, like anything from Vogue (well except maybe the latest issue - but that's my personal feelings) it is well set out, beautifully photographed and very clear. The hardcover book lies flat for ease of use and there are 265 stitch patterns, all easy to understand, and unlike many stitch dictionaries, you get a good sized sample to look at, so if you do go wrong you can see where the problem may lie. (usually the problem lies with me not reading the instructions)
This is not a desert island book, if finances dictate then you are better off with a copy of the Mon Tricot stitch dictionary (mine was 50c at an Op shop) but it is nice to have in the library.

I am inspired by Mary at the Wool Palace to start having a "knitting book of the month" so each month I will choose a book and knit something from it, this month it will be the Mason-Dixon book - and you guessed it - dishcloths! However, unlike Mary I will probably forget and crap out half way through June.

gratuitous "fo" picture, my knitting from SSK on saturday.
My handpainted merino, using a vintage Paragon bootee pattern - see she does knit.