Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Felting knit and crochet garments

Felting can be a lot of fun, part of the fun is that until you have actually felted the item you can never be certain just how it is going to turn out. For a start the fiber texture will change, then of course the shape will (or won't) form and this can be a little different that expected. Whether you knit or crochet the basic technique is the same. First you make the item, usually using a larger needle/hook than the yarn would normally call for, then you throw it in a washing machine on hot. Sounds simple enough!

The key to success is often in choosing the right yarn. Pictured above is Ivy Brambles Sausalito Felted hat. Ivy Brambles doesn't have a suitable feltable yarn so they chose Acacia Yarns Supersoft Merino. This is a self striping yarn, single ply, and very soft. Idea for felting projects. The yarn is normally knit on a 7-8 needle but this pattern calls for a significantly larger size 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) needle. Before felting the hat was very tall and the brim quite floppy. We are pretty sure that if we were to take a survey at this point very few would have said that the hat would turn out the way it did, which was pretty much exactly as designed.

Sausalito is a knit hat and was made using easily feltable yarn. So what would be the difference if it were crocheted or if we used a blended yarn, like an acrylic or silk blend? Crochet items will indeed felt, although not as much or as easy as knit items. Part of the reason for this is the knots in crochet which reduce the friction during washing. Similarly a tight knit garment will tend to felt less.

When crocheting an item for felting anticipate less shrinkage than when knitting, allow longer washing times, and don't be surprised if you can still make out the stitches, you usually can't with a knit item. Most important of all use a yarn that will felt really well, the best yarns are soft single ply yarns, like Supersoft Merino from Acacia Yarns!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sock Knitting - What's your poison? New 9 inch circular needles.

Only a short while ago socks were all knit on double point needles. More recently new techniques have been introduced, like small circular, then magic loop, and more recently the small 9 inch circulars. Until recently we hadn't tried the new circulars, favoring magic loop or double points, so we thought we should give them a try. Pictured above is a new yarn, Funky Monkey Sock Yarn, a very soft hand dyed sock yarn. We chose the Monkey Princess colorway which knits up quite beautifully, as can be seen from the above picture. To knit the socks we chose Clover's brand new 9 inch bamboo circulars in size 2. The quality of the bamboo used is very high, and the result is a very smooth needle which is very easy to knit with. It took a while to get used to the small needles. The short length doesn't give a lot to get hold of but not having to keep pulling the cable through, or switch needles makes progress a lot faster than competing techniques, provided you can handle the small needles. Our verdict - definitely worth a try. We have both the needles and a full range of Funky Monkey Sock yarn available on our online store.