Monday, April 08, 2013

Up until now I've only knit triangle shawls and I was ready to try a  heart shaped one. Fortunately, for a brief period of time during the holidays, the designer of the Wholehearted shawl, Erika Flory, offered her version for free over at Ravelry. I downloaded the pattern and dumped all my fingering weight yarn onto the floor hoping I could find something from my stash that would work. Since I'm awful knowing what colors combinations work together I asked my husband to help me. David's first response when he saw the yarn pile was "This isn't all your yarn?" Hmmmm, I guess he may have an idea after all how big my stash is! I reassured him that this wasn't all my yarn it was just the yarn that could be used for this project. I'm so impressed (and a little jealous) that he came up with the winning combination in a matter of minutes. The self striping yarn was a gift from a friend and had been sitting in the stash waiting for just the right project and the black had been bought for another project that I haven't gotten to. Together they were perfect.

The details:
Needle size: 6
Yarn: Regia Hand-dye Effect (Pink, Purple, Blue, Yellow) & Knit Picks Gloss (black)

This pattern is easy knitting but there were a few problems with the written pattern. A couple of the errors are corrected on the Ravelry information page but as of this blog post they are not updated on the written instructions. In addition, my stitch count didn't match the pattern. At the end of the shawl body I had 303 stitches rather than 305. I did a row by row stitch count in order to check the math and it still came out 303.   At the end of the edging I had a stitch count of 351 rather than 349, now I was plus 2 stitches rather than 2 stitches short!  For the picot bind off I switched to color B and worked two more rows, as expected, I ended with 357 stitches rather than 355.  I double and triple checked the math (the pattern has 4 increases on the the right side rows and 2 increases on the wrong side rows) and I still haven't been able to reconcile the difference.  No one on Ravelry has noted this same problem so it might be me but, if so, I don't know what it is!

One of the design details that makes this shawl interesting is the picot bind off. I had never worked the picot bind off before but I had seen it demonstrated in a video and saved it with a pin to my Knitting Techniques & Tutorials Pinterest board.

I love this shawl and I'm keeping it for me!  I'm sure I'll be making more because this would make a great gift.

Felted Soap - Valentines 2013

Monday, April 01, 2013

Every once in a while the pieces needed for a project just come together with no effort. It doesn't happen very often. In fact, it's very rare! This years valentines project was one of them.

I don't remember how felted soap came onto my radar of interesting projects to try.  I can't even remember where I first saw them (the mall? Pinterest?) but the idea was floating around in the back of my head patiently waiting for its turn. I was out shopping for yarn when I found a bag of roving with subtle shades of pinks and streaks of light lilac (on sale no less!) and I immediately knew exactly what I was making for valentines this year.

I made glycerin heart shaped soaps and got ready to felt. Mostly I followed the directions at Mielke's Fiber Arts and this video from Neauveau Fiber Arts. I did not use a felting board but did cover and felt the soap using a nylon. It took a number of practice soaps to get the technique right but soon I was felting away. There were two major adjustments that had to be made for felting a heart shape. Bare spots tended to develop at the bottom point of the heart so extra roving was needed there. The soap mold I used didn't have a pronounced V shape at the top of the heart so I had to shave away soap at the "valley" in order to retained a heart shape after it was felted.

Any claims that you will “save soap” aren't really true. The amount of soap saved by being able to use the last bits are wasted in the beginning when you felt the soap. Plus there is a fair amount of water used in the process of felting. So I figure the whole thing is a "wash"! However, I wasn't really looking for a eco-friendly project, I was just looking for a cool and different one.

I found a great font called "Words of Love" and printed a band with these instructions:

Made with wool, which has natural anti-fungal properties, and unscented glycerin—it's your soap and washcloth all in one! When the soap is no longer, the casing can be reused by drying the pouf and making a slit to insert a new bar of soap or your favorite scented potpourri to use as a sachet!

Use a slotted soap dish to allow air flow and help the soap dry on all sides.

Felting soap was a lot of fun and I love the result.  I've even been using one in the shower and can testify to it's usefulness. I have yet to verify the validity of reusing the pouf after the soap is gone, either with more soap or as a sachet, but I'll update this post when I do.