Monday, June 29, 2009

Knit and Felted

... never felt so good! Before I show off the finished piece, I want to show you the second to last skein I made for my Entrelac Bag. I started with a Falkland wool top called "Sangria" from Cloudlover69 on Etsy. I filled two bobbins just full with singles and plied them together. It's about 4 oz. and 90 yards. I only used half of this skein to do the two rounds of squares in this color. What I learned: I've been carding myself rolags (little rolls) of wool before spinning, changing how I blend colors in the carding process. So, I learned how various ways of carding blends colors together. I think the sangria ball is a little too blended, too uniform. This is in stark contrast to the first rounds of purple and green where the colors were very separated. At the beginning of this project, I was using a spindle, and I used three patches of color on each rolag, where the first and last were the same, like blue green blue. When making that yarn, I made sure to keep the repeats together when plying and the finished knit fabric has patches of color because of this. But I stopped carding this way when I got my spinning wheel and started spinning longer skeins. By the time I got the the sangria yarn, I was really blending the color together with a lot of combing. Most of the rolags were well blended, and looked pretty much the same. On the last skein I made for this project, a green one, I found myself a perfect balance between blending and keeping colors separated. What I did is make each rolag it's own color, at least mostly one color. Some are lighter, some are darker, some are more blue. You can see this in the last photos of this post and in the handles just below.

And now for the bag... It's done! Well, except the lining. I finished all of the knitting last night, and felted it in very hot water for just over an hour in my washing machine; I added a couple pairs of pants to provide some friction. I stopped the machine about every 10 minutes, and most of the time, at least one of the two handles had knotted itself, so I had to keep unknotting them; this wasn't a problem. Also, I used that time to enlarge the holes at the top of the bag where the handles weave through it. Good thing, because the handles barely fit without cutting the holes larger. What I learned: (1) An hour and ten minutes of machine wet felting is enough to almost completely felt very thick knit fabric. It's hard to imagine that this could be much more felted. (2) Most of the sparkle I spun into the yarn is not very visible except in direct sunlight. I like the subtlety. (3) Felting takes dimensionality out of stitches. You can see this by comparing the basket-weave effect in the pre-felted picture above with how smooth the felted fabric is here. (4) I read somewhere that felting shrinks fabric by 10% to 15%. This must be linear shrinkage. So, volume-wise, it shrunk by probably more than a third since (0.85)^3 = 61.4 and (0.9)^3 = 0.73. My finished bag is not obscenely large any more. Yeah. But it is really thick, about 3/8 inches (7 mm).

Although I absolutely adore this pattern, I changed the bottom, adding that last purple round in the center (I also omitted two rounds of large squares, which is my version is shaped like a pumpkin). The purple circle isn't part of the original pattern. When I got to the end, and it said to tie together 24 stitches. This is a lot of stitches to tie together without leaving a hole, and I realized it wouldn't lie very flat, which was something I had noticed in the photos I'd seen in other people's bags on Ravelry. When you have an arrangement of squares in concentric rings like this, the squares generally converge to zero size before filling the space. In this case, the edge length of each decreases linearly from one round of squares to the next. The next round in the sequence (after the littlest green one) does not theoretically exist. In other words, you can't add any more rounds of squares, while still keeping the pattern. So I added more rounds like this instead (all in purple)...

Round 14: With RS facing, pick up 1 st on RH needle. Slip to LH needle, K2tog into back of st, K2tog. Repeat a total of 12 times.
Round 15: K --24sts.
Round 16: (K2, K2tog)* --18 sts.
Round 17: (K2tog, K1)* --12 sts.
Round 18: (K2tog)* --6 sts.

Fits nicely; I recommend it. What I learned: This pattern provides beautiful examples of sequences of finite sequences. In particular, you have where to pick up stitches on each round of squares:
There's also the number of stitches remaining the right needle after every other round.

Here's the artsy shot. Thanks kids.

1 comment:

  1. The bag is absolutely beautiful! I REALLY love how the bottom looks!


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