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

Felting Old Wool Sweaters

As you may know, I’m doing a DIY Christmas this year.

Many of the projects that have come to my attention recently have involved re-using and re-purposing old things you don’t want anymore.

Some of those particular projects involve making items like mittens and hats out of felted wool, which is easy to make and fun.  When natural fibres such as wool are washed and rubbed against each other, the fibres shrink and separate, tangling with other fibres, creating the thick, durable material we know as felt.

Take yourself some old sweaters.  Sweaters that are 100% wool (or merino, angora, cashmere, etc., all the natural animal fibre ones) work the best, but I experimented with two orange sweaters which were 90% wool and 10% nylon.  I picked up most of these at Value Village.Chuck them into your washing machine and wash them in HOT water.  Just make sure you turn all the knobs back when you’re done so the next person doesn’t accidentally shrink all their clothes in the next load!

I managed to produce a large ball of wet sweater babies when I cleaned out the washing machine.Pop them in the dryer when you’re done and when they’re dry they should be felted.  You may have to do this more than once if your sweaters are loosely knit, just to get all the fibres tangled up with each other. If you can cut into the sweater without it unraveling or fraying then you have successfully felted your wool.

You can see how much smaller the sweaters are now.  This used to be a medium-sized adult man’s sweater, and now it would maybe fit a two-year-old.

I removed all the stuck-on sweater babies with a fuzz comb.

Stay tuned for all the fun things I plan to make out of these!

Touque-tastic Tea Cozy

Oh, this?  This is my favourite hat.  In Canada we call such a thing a touque (“tuuk”) but no one can agree on the correct spelling.

I knit it myself.  It was the first hat I knit (knitted?) that came out the size I wanted it, and the first hat I made with ribbing.  While not warm enough for the extreme temperatures of Ottawa, it got me through two long St. John’s winters, and I loved it.

But then I washed it.  Normally not a big deal, but this time.  THIS time.

I wasn’t paying attention and it ended up in the dryer, and, being wool, it felted a bit and of course, shrank.

Now it doesn’t fit on my head.  Unless I want to look like I’m trying to encase myself in a sausage.  A green and white sausage, yes.

But it does (with some encouragement) fit over my teapot (what does that say about the size of my head?).  And I could really use a tea cozy.  This way I get to keep my favourite hat, and so we all win.  It’s amazing that such a simple invention as a wrapper for your teapot keeps your tea warm for longer.

Before we go any further, I swear to you that I am actually twenty-eight years old.  Not ninety.  Honest injun.  Hot tea is important when you spend all day locked in your office doing graduate student-y stuff, and tea cozies save you from having to turn on the microwave for reheating, which accords with the starving student lifestyle.  It’s all really a very cunning plan.

Anyway.  The hat.

The hat, in its previous incarnation, was knit all in one piece, with one side seam.

It was a simple matter to unpick that seam with a crochet hook.  The selfsame crochet hook I used to stitch up the seam in the first place.  How convenient.

This is the side where the handle will stick out. I ran a string of blue wool along the seams, trying to make them as large and uneven as possible, to give it a homely look.

I did, however, need to actually create a seam on the other side for the spout where there was none before.  While the wool is slightly felted, I was worried about it unraveling when I cut it.  I was therefore quick to reinforce the seams after the cut so as not to encourage the weave to go to pieces on me.  I was also careful to ensure my scissors didn’t cut into the intricate top circle I had made when knitting the hat.  That would be bad.

I decided to cut all the way along the spout side, instead of just cutting a little hole for the spout, first for seaming symmetry, but also so I could get a more accurate idea of where the spout was supposed to go without unduly stretching the material and skewing my results.

I reinforced both seams in navy blue wool (using a plastic wool needle), to match the pot.

I measured the cozy on the teapot to see where the seam should open up for the handle and spout and I marked them with pins.  Some tea-cozies, I know, cover the spout and the handle (and are actually better at keeping the tea warm) but my head is really not that big.  Honestly, people.

Then I sewed it up.

I also put a line of blue along the bottom edge in blanket stitch for colour.

Then, flushed with my success, I attempted – wait for it – a pom-pom.

Again, I’m 28.  Not 90.  For real.

I went with the age-old technique I learned from me auld grannie (LIES – I got it off the internet).

Cut yourself two circles out of cardstock or cardboard, and cut a centre circle out of those circles to make rings.

Take your wool and start winding it around and around the rings.  You’re going to eventually cut this so you can use different pieces of wool if it makes it easier for you to thread it through.  You can even use different colours if you wish.

Keep going, overlapping your wool, until you can’t get any more wool through. 

It takes FOREVER, and about 80 metres of wool (exaggeration, people).

Cut your losses.

Take a pair of sharp scissors and carefully cut the wool around the edge of the circle.

Once you get all the way around, you should be able to see your two cardboard rings.  Tease them apart a little.

Take another piece of wool and wind it around your new bundle, between the rings, maybe twice.

Knot the wool a couple of times.  I left the strings from this long so I could integrate them into the weave of the touque (I mean cozy), but you can cut them to match the length of the other strands if you are planning on sewing it directly to something.

Cut into the cardboard to break the rings and remove them.  Don’t forget to recycle!

Fluff out your pom-pom and trim the strands so you get a nice uniform ball.

Blamo kablam!

A touque for my teapot.