Finger Knit Basket

Finger Knit Basket 8

I know, it’s been a long time coming.  I promised to show you what I ended up doing with those long felted strings of finger knitting I made back in October.  Well here it is.  So my carpal tunnel in my wrists right now is so bad I can’t actually do real knitting for longer than ten minutes before my fingers go completely numb.  I’m getting massage therapy for it and it’s helping, but the road to recovery is slow.  As a result of this, I still haven’t finished the Atlas blanket that I was making for Krystopf and Atlas for their wedding.  I needed a sort of stop-gap present to keep them appeased (not that they even care) until I was ready to present them with the real thing.

After I felted that one ball of finger knit merino wool, I went on to do five more; in total, I had two black strings, two maroon strings, and two olive green strings.  The Pie actually finger knit one of the green strings all by himself, grumbling and complaining the whole time.

Then I felted each one by chucking it in the washing machine — and then the dryer if it was needed.  The green ones felted differently from the rest, despite being the same wool — so there was a longer string of green than anything else.

Finger Knit Basket 1

I tied each matching string to its partner and rolled it up in a giant ball.

Finger Knit Basket 3

Then I braided them all together.  This took a very, very long time, because I kept having to move the balls around while I was braiding.  I found it was easier to keep the balls from rolling all over the place and unraveling if I put them in saved produce bags from the grocery store.

Finger Knit Basket 4

Finally I had a huge thick braid. The idea is to coil it all together, like so.  This would be the bottom of the basket.  Then sew the braid to itself, like you would a braided rug, or that doily I made last year.

Finger Knit Basket 5

When I got enough of a base going, I started to loop the braid on top of itself, to form the sides of the basket.

Finger Knit Basket 6

I kept the basket relatively narrow, not letting it get too wide (though that would be neat, too), and so I was left with a lot more braid once I’d gotten the basket to a size I liked.  I just tied it off and sewed it down and that was that.

Finger Knit Basket 10

And that leftover green string?  I actually finger knit the felted finger knit, forming this tight little braid, the perfect length for a handle  Tada!

Finger Knit Basket 7

I sewed that into the top of the basket and now we’re good to go!

Finger Knit Basket 11

Finger Knit Basket 13

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Have you tried Finger Knitting?

Finger Knit

Seriously, have you?  It’s fun and super easy and you get some really quick results.  Definitely something you can do with kids.  It produces a long chain of stockinette-like loose stitches that remind me of what used to come out of that weird plastic crochet-tube thing we were given as kids.  Remember?  Maybe not.

Finger Knit

Anyway, if you’d like to try it, get yourself some yarn.  A huge chunky knit will give you the best results, but I am planning on felting my strings so I’m going with some merino wool.

Finger Knit

Find the end and drape it over the space between your thumb and forefinger.  You may need your thumb to hold that tail in place for the first few rows, but you can let it go after that.

Finger Knit

Take the yarn and bring it in front of your index finger, behind your middle finger, in front of your ring finger, and around behind your little finger.

Finger Knit

Then bring it in front of your little finger, behind your ring finger, and so on, until you’ve woven it back to the beginning.

Finger Knit

Then pull it around your index finger and do that again, so you end up with two loops of yarn on each finger.

Finger Knit

Now take the lower loop on your little finger and pull it up and over the upper loop.

Finger Knit

Repeat that with all your other fingers until you’re left with one loop on each one.

Finger Knit

Take another full pass with your yarn, in, out, in, alternating on the way back.

Finger Knit

Then pull the lower loop over the upper loop again on each finger. Keep going. Eventually something like this will start coming off the back of your hand. It will look a bit different depending on the size of your fingers, the tension and thickness of the yarn, and all that jazz.

Finger Knit

If you get tired or bored while you’re doing this or you need to do something else, just jab a pencil through your loops and put it down. Come back to it later.

Finger Knit

Finger Knit

When you’ve got a chain as long as you want it to be, you can cast off. After doing your last row of loops, leaving you with one row only of loops on each finger, take the loop on your little finger and put it above the loop on your ring finger.

Finger Knit

Pull the lower loop on your ring finger up and over the one you just added.

Finger Knit

Take the loop that is left and put that onto your middle finger.

Finger Knit

Hook the lower one up and over, and put the remaining loop onto your index finger.

Finger Knit

Hook the lower one up and over and then you’re left with one loop!

Finger Knit

Then it’s a simple matter to thread the end of your yarn through and tie a knot.

Finger Knit

This is a finished chain. You’ll note I’ve reinforced the knots at both the beginning and end. Next to it is one that I felted by running through the wash and then the dryer.

Finger Knit

Here’s a closeup of the loose weave of the chain I made versus the tight string after it’s felted.  Dog hair may or may not be included.

Finger Knit

Here’s a very long chain I made as well. You can see how easy it would be, especially with a chunkier yarn, to sew the chain together to form a block, a blanket, or a rug. Or whatever. I’m still debating what I am going to do with mine, but I’ll keep you posted.

Finger Knit

Heeere, Piggie Piggie!

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

Isn’t this cute?  I made it for my new baby cousin.  I have another one in the works for Doodle’s new nephew, but I didn’t get it finished before we went to Portland so I will just have to mail it.  I also didn’t finish Atlas and Krystopf’s blanket before their wedding, either.  Seems deadlines are not my thing this summer.

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

Also whenever I hear the word PIG I think of that scene in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when Napoleon is at the Ziggy Piggy restaurant and he finishes off that mammoth sundae and the servers present him with a special badge and they chant “zeeegy peeegy, ZEEEGY PEEEGY, ZEEEEGY PEEEEGY!” and then they oink a lot.

I love eighties movies.  Fashion, movies, politics … all those things really sucked in the eighties.  But the movies?  They were choice, as Ferris Bueller would say.

This is a Martha Stewart pattern, and I followed her instructions here.  You may remember the stuffed chicken I made from this same project a while back.

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

This one was a little trickier to sew than the chicken, what with all the limbs and all.

Plus there were pipe cleaners involved.

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

And I stuffed it with scraps of felted wool instead of cotton batting.

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

And I think I messed up the ears.

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

But it’s cute, right?  You might recognize the pattern of the wool from the “keystone” in Doodle’s afghan.

Heeere Piggy Piggy!

Doodle’s Afghan, Completed

Doodle's Afghan

And about time, too!

Doodle's Afghan

My sewing machine actually broke during the final stages of putting this together.  I found the one sewing machine repair guy in the whole city and took it in to get it fixed post-haste. It was a good thing I did, as the repair guy went on a two-month vacation the day after I picked it up.  Phew!

Doodle's Afghan

After I had everything in nice discrete blocks I had to start sewing them together, which meant that I started to get things with weird corners and strange protuberances — more of a challenge to sew, but I got it done.

Doodle's Afghan

It’s amazing how much smaller the finished top is when you take seam allowances into account.  This used to be the exact size of the box spring and now it’s shrunk significantly.  but it’s nice and thick and cozy.

Doodle's Afghan

The Pie and I decided that two sides of wool pieces would be a little bulky for this blanket, and that all the seams would mean the blanket wouldn’t lie flat.  Not to mention that it would probably be itchy against your skin.  So we went with just a cotton backing, just like we did with the wool patchwork quilts a few years ago, but without the flannel lining.  Because the blanket is large, we decided to do the back in three separate panels of different colours, just for visual interest.  The Pie did the colour picking. It’s definitely funny to watch us wander through fabric stores because we are both so out of our element.

Doodle's Afghan

Doodle's Afghan

Now you see this particular square, with its row of buttons?  Not only does that add a bit of visual interest, but it’s a strategic choice.  I can undo those buttons and then pull the blanket inside-out through it and do them back up.  That way when I sew the lining and backing onto the top piece I can just do all the sides at the same time, and not worry about seams showing later on.  I know.  You can say it.  I am a bit of a genius.

Doodle's Afghan

So I sewed the back onto the front, which took quite a bit of effort and some muscle, too.

Doodle's Afghan

Then I opened up that little buttoned up section and carefully pulled the whole thing through.

Doodle's Afghan

Button it back up and no one’s the wiser.

Doodle's Afghan

Phew. That is one hefty blanket.

Doodle's Afghan

I can’t wait to see if it will fit in my luggage, together with my bridesmaid dress and a million pairs of shoes. Because that’s all I’m bringing to Oregon.  I can’t see anything else fitting in my suitcase.

Doodle's Afghan

Phone Cozy

Phone Cozy

This is another felting project, but a quick one.  I know.  Two felted things in one week.  It’s almost too much to handle.

The last time I purchased a cellular (mobile) phone, nobody spoke of phones in terms of 4G, 3G, or even 2G.  Not even just G.  Blackberries were phones for people who had trouble leaving their work at the office.  And the iPhone, and its subsequent smart phone progeny, was just a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye.

At the time, I bought a Motorola Razr, which was, back then, the thinnest phone you could buy and the height of fashion.  Mine was pink.  I loved it and used it faithfully for several years.  Unfortunately, at my going-away party before I left Ottawa for Newfoundland, my boss’s husband picked me up and threw me in the pool, and my phone was in my pocket. And that was the end of my phone.

For four glorious years here on the Rock, the Pie and I have lived without the constant connectivity of a cellphone.  Once we got used to it, we came to relish the freedom it afforded us.  Recently, however, we have come to discover that not being able to reach our friends (or each other) when we are out is more of a problem than it used to be.  So last weekend, we both bit the bullet, and with the friendly and knowledgeable guidance of Rick T. at the Telus store in the Avalon Mall, we both purchased our first cellphones in several years.

Phone Cozy

Mine is an HTC Amaze, a rugged little smartphone that uses the HTC Sense Android operating software.  I can blog on it, check my email, the weather, the news, and send messages to people all over the world.  It’s also like a Swiss Army Knife: it gives me cooking conversions, has a flashlight, a bubble level, a metronome … I haven’t actually used the real PHONE part of it yet, but Cait tells me that that’s not what phones are for anymore.  It’s a little odd to think that I have more technology in the palm of my hand than was on the first ship that landed on the moon.

Phone Cozy

The thing I like best about my new phone is actually old technology: if I plug a pair of headphones to it to act as an antenna, I can get FM radio!

Anyway, as you know, I am the world’s clumsiest person, which was why I picked such a durable little phone.  Because of its construction, there aren’t a lot of cases out there for the HTC Amaze, but I do still want to protect the extra-thick glass screen from unfortunate scratches.  So I thought I’d make it a little pouch.

Phone Cozy

I made one for the Pie’s iPod Touch two years ago.  It has a little extra room in the top of the fold-down flap to hold headphones.  You can make these as quick and easy gifts.  They don’t take long.

Phone Cozy

You will need a rectangle of fabric that is a little bit wider than the object you want to cover and a little bit longer than twice the length of it.  Felt is a good one to use, because you don’t have to hem it, but you could use any fabric.

Phone Cozy

I prefer felted wool here, because it’s thick enough to provide a bit of a cushion, and the stretch of it makes it easier to get the phone in and out of the pouch.

Phone Cozy

Place your object on the fabric and shift it around until you have it where you want it.  You want it to be wrapped up so that when it’s all sewn you end up with an overlapping top flap.  See my clever use of the sleeve ribbing here?

Phone Cozy

Pin that in place and remove the object. I left plenty of room on the side for my headphones.

Phone Cozy

Now you can sew.  If you are using felt, you don’t have to worry about seaming or seam allowances, so you can just sew on the outside.  This means that you can use a contrasting thread, which will look pretty. I used a thick embroidery floss here.

Phone Cozy

Feel free as well to add embellishments, like buttons or badges or ribbons.

Phone Cozy

Whatever you like.  It’s so easy you can just go crazy. This may very well be the girliest item I own.

Phone Cozy

Doodle’s Felted Wool Afghan

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

I feel kind of bad.  Here I am, third-place winner for Best Blog About Crafting and I haven’t put up a crafting post in an age.  Sorry about that.  But rest assured I’m working hard on two major projects.  They’re just the sort of long-term ones that don’t make for exciting blogging.

Two people who are very dear to me are getting married this summer.  My eldest brother, Krystopf, ties the knot in early July, and my high school best friend, Doodle, gets hitched in mid-June.  I am making both of their wedding presents, and both of them are blankets.

Doodle and her soon-to-be husband, The Cyclist, live in Portland, Oregon, a place with weather very similar to what it is here in St. John’s.  By that I mean, windy and rainy.  So an ideal present would be one that encourages cuddling and coziness, right?  And we know from previous experience that felted wool is the coziest of them all.

When we were in Ottawa over Christmas, the Pie and I scoured the local second-hand stores to acquire as many genuine lambswool, merino, and cashmere sweaters as we could, in a specific range of colours.  Doodle and I agreed on red, white, blue, and black, as sort of a combination of Canadian and American colours (and black goes with everything).  I wanted to do something a bit different with this blanket, and have the colours sort of blend into each other, rather than have a pattern of alternating coloured squares.  So it’s going to be a bit trickier than normal.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Here you can see our initial haul (and Gren).  This is the colour scheme I am going with.  You can see that the main colours are represented at the corners, and then they blend through the other colours in the middle.  Like a square colour wheel.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Now, if you feel like undertaking a similar project, I just want to give you a heads-up first.  A lot of up-cycling and recycling projects are economical and a good way to save money.  This is not one of them.  A 100% wool or cashmere sweater, even second-hand, will run you between $9 and $14, depending on the quality and size, and for this project, we will be using approximately 25 sweaters.  So you can do the math there.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

I felted all the sweaters while at my parents’ house (to take advantage of the fact that they were footing the power bill), and we mailed the sweaters back to ourselves in St. John’s.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Then I dismantled them.  I carefully cut out all the seams, so all the pieces of sweater lay flat.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

I’m saving the seams.  I think they would make good toy stuffing material.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Here are all the sweaters, officially laid out in their colour wheel.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

The sweater in the middle will serve as my keystone, if you will, and then I’ll use the rest of it to construct some baby toys for some wee ones I get to meet this summer.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Now I have to start cutting out the pieces.  I want to do it more as a puzzle or interlocking oblongs than as simple squares, so I’m going to have to work out some ratios so that all the pieces will fit together nicely.  I will keep you posted.

Doodle's Felted Wool Afghan - Part 1

Baby Boy Blue Blanket

Here is yet another project courtesy of the felted wool sweater.  It’s a present for the newest addition to Kª and Kº’s family.  We shall have to see what young Il Principe thinks of this.  Being an only child is pretty sweet.

Il Principe, in the flesh.

Here I took four sweaters, two gray, one navy, and one black.  These sweaters were of the softer, thinner natural fabrics, such as cashmere and merino.  They felt a bit differently than regular sheep’s wool, with less fuzz.  I cut those suckers up into tons of 3″ squares.

Then I laid them out into a pattern and, like in our other wool patchwork quilt, started sewing them together in long strips.

Because of the nature of the wool I had to do it all by hand, with a needle and thread, using the blanket stitch.

Then I sewed the strips together. 

It looks rather nice, don’t you think?

This is the back of it.  It’s kind of cool, too, but it will be hidden from view.This is the soft cotton I am going to use as the backing.  The blue and the gray match perfectly with the colours of the wool.

Then with great care I pinned the top to the backing.  

The backing is a grid pattern so I was careful to line things up properly. 

I folded over the edges of the cotton to guard against fraying.

Then, with great difficulty owing to the stretchiness of the wool, I machine-basted the two pieces together.  Next time I would probably do this by hand, just because of the way the wool bunched and stretched.

To bind it, I used blanket binding, which I folded in on itself to make smaller.  Shockingly, I had to actually PURCHASE the blanket binding from Fabricland.

It was a simple matter to fold it towards its own centre …

… and then iron a new crease.

My mother was kind enough to sew the binding onto the blanket for me, in exchange for my making of kumquat marmalade.  She has more patience for such things.

The corners are a bit tricky.  You can see here how Mum pins flush across the corner.

Then folds the fabric over the pin as a guide.

Then pins it in place before sewing it down.

Its pretty slick.

You can see at the end she just folded it under itself again before sewing it down.

Embellishments are always important when it comes to babies, but you have to be careful.  No buttons, or anything that babies can eat.  Colourful yarn is a good option.  I thought the orange would look great next to the gray and blue.

The yarn here also serves to anchor the top of the quilt to the bottom so it doesn’t shift around.

I threaded a tapestry needle with the yarn.

Poked it through and back out again.

Here it is back through.

And tied a double knot.

This is what it looks like on the back.

I did that at random points all through.

Here is the finished product.

All ready to be gifted away!