Tuesday, March 25, 2008

By way of experimentation...

Dave has been safely returned from camping at the Maelstrom event last night and many thanks are due to Sarah who gallantly stepped in as his substitute lift, after his first ride had repeated car trouble. I was on the verge of going to fetch him myself (shoes on, directions from website in hand) when she kindly stepped into the breech, which saved me a two hour round trip. Dave himself is slowly recovering, no longer looks so plasticky (ye gods, the horrors of makeup!) but has a cold to show for his exploits.

Myself, I spent the weekend pottering around the house, running errands and experimenting in a fibery way.

I bravely dodged snow, sleet and hail showers to visit Coventry market in search of frogs. The habberdashery stall there does a range of very pretty, if horribly expensive, frogs and was where I found the originals I'm trying to replace, so it seemed a logical place to start. Sadly, it wasn't to be with nothing even remotely suitable on offer and so I'm preparing to canibalise the jacket I made last year so I can repair my kit in time for the next Ascendancy event.

I'm thinking of stealing the frogs under the arms and replacing them with plain black ones, which shouldn't be too jarring to the eye should I ever wear it again. Looking at the forums, it seems I'm going to have to make an amulet of some sort as well, so I anticipate I will be doing a spot of sewing next weekend.

Feeling an urge for experimentation, I decided to have a tentative first stab at felting knitted fabric. I've been curious for a while now as to how easy it is to hand felt as opposed to machine felting and I wanted to know if an acrylic/wool mix would felt or not. I've not been able to find a definite answer on this one, with opinions being varied and so I decided there was nothing for it but to resort to the swatch...

This rather dashing green Katia Azteca is a 50% Wool/50% Acrylic yarn of about Aran weight...

It knitted up into this 13cm square on 6.5mm needles as everything I've heard suggests that felting is more likely with a looser stitch guage...

The result was actually quite nice; while the stitches weren't overly tight, they weren't terribly loose either and felt good in the hand, with a very soft drape.

For the felting part, I set to work in the kitchen sink alternating between hot tap water, cold water and occasional input from the kettle, as I attacked the fabric square with my agitator (a whisk). It took about two minutes for the first sign of felting to appear and I stopped after about 30 minutes, satisfied the little square did indeed look like felt now...

So to answer my own question, yes, a 50:50 acrylic/wool mix will felt.

Although in this case, I also discovered that I don't particularly like the result.

Unfelted, this yarn produced a nice fabric but felted it looks like nothing so much as one of my kitchen scouring pads - which is of course a good thing to find out now before I try to use it in a proper felting project!

My plan for this little square is to give it a trim, as it may look a bit tidier with fewer fluffy, straggly bits and then I may needlefelt on a spiral or something similar... After which I should have a coaster.

On a more positive note, I finally seem to be getting somewhere on the spinning front!

After Mandy mentioned the 'park and draft' method of spinning, I googled and hit on this tutorial. I gave it a go and this is the result!

(As always, click on the images to see bigger versions.)

6 comments:

Mandy said...

Brilliant spinning! Beware though it is addictive (so is fibre buying - curse you, Etsy!. Oh and a tip Claire gave me was to wind your spun yarn onto the spindle with the majority of it close to the base, so that you get a triangular wedge look to the yarn. This gives the spindle a lot more stability when spinning.

Back at Cov Knit-Wits next Wednesday (2nd April) so will duly bring along my spindle and we can compare and play!

Richard said...

I thought it was Park and Drive method ;)

Its a shame that you can't find matching frogs, but knowing how difficult they can be to find in the 1st place... well at least it a solution.

Frizbe said...

Tag, you've been Tagged! see my blog for details, but you've gotta carry it on!

Frizbe said...

Good felting, I always used to accidently felt jumpers in the wash....or shrink them to fit my friend also called Julie, she received 3 very nice jumpers that way........

Esther said...

Have you tried the Singer shop for frogs? I believe they normally carry a range of them.

I've not knitted or crocheted fabric to felt as yet though I have done several jumpers from charity shops etc.. However M&S do something to their wool even at 90% it doesn't felt!!!

Esther said...

Oh 'Strom wise Tom went over Thursday as normal to get the group tents up and then came home. Friday morning we get phone calls telling us the big tent had fallen down. It ended up being taken down and brought back here as it got ripped, the frame tent he had to sleep in and as an IC office was fine but there was a lack of larger tentage for IC stuff. Other groups also lost party tents and the like which are normally communal types so not only did they have bad weather but there were less places to shelter too.