Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Contiguous Sleeve Top Down Knitting Project

 Look at the smile on my girl!  She finally got to wear her new sweater today!

This is one that we designed together.  It is based on the Tomboy Cardigan by Elena Nodel, but has been modified.  The vertical ribbing was removed, a garter stitch waist band was added as well as a lace pattern for the bottom half of the sweater.  I was hoping to make this long sleeved, but my co-designer definitely wanted to keep them short!

The yarn is 100% mercerized cotton "Saucy" by Reynolds.  From a spinner's point of view it is an interesting yarn because it is cabled--three two-ply yarns were twisted or cabled together to make the final yarn.  It's roughly a worsted weight yarn and it knit well on US7 needles.

The neat thing about the construction of this sweater is that it is a top down knit (the cast-on edge is under the collar), but it has set-in sleeves.  By the time I got to the bottom of the sweater all that was left to knit were the two garter stitch bands on the sleeves and the collar.  That was it!  Top down knitting is GREAT!

I came across this type of top down knitting on ravelry.  Susie Myers developed it and a number of designers are making use of it.  Susie has a tutorial available if you want to try the method and make a doll sized sweater. 

I love the fact that this means I can use top down knitting techniques and NOT make a raglan sweater!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Wet Felting and Needle Felting

I recently stumbled upon the Feltmaker's List FAQ.  One of the many links on the page was information about sampling wools to learn how they felt.  I have three or four types of wool in my stash, and while I know they all felt, I was curious to see a side-by-side comparison. 

 The simple test was to take a length of roving, split it into two and lay the two pieces on top of each other in the palm of the hand with the fibers of each layer perpendicular to each other.  Add a little soapy water and light agitation, tuck the wispy ends in towards the center, and viola!  Felt happens! 

The Cotswold roving felted quickly--they all felted quickly; 2 to 3 minutes tops--and made a dense felt.  The Romney took a bit more work and is less dense and more springy than the Cotswold. The pin drafted Romney was more irregular and more poorly interconnected than the roving form.  The brown wool is a beautiful fiber and I think it's a Romney cross.  It felts nicely, but I'm not sure if it will end up being felted or spun!

Along with the samples, I took my new tool, a felting stone, and wet felted the purple hat I've been making. The hat was first needle felted, then wet felted by hand, but ended up being too big.  I repeated the needle felting, but had to work up the energy to do the wet felting again!   The stone sped up the wet felting process significantly! 

Here's the hat drying on a small beach ball on a plastic container (ok, so it's really makeshift, but it works! :)  An the blue oval with rectangles is the felting stone.  
Here's the finished hat.  It's been trimmed to length and I've blanket stitched the cut edge and turned up the brim. 

It looks great on my cone of yarn, but I can't wait to see if it looks good on it's intended owner!