Tag Archive | felting

Mystery gifts: In-law Edition

Today you get two (two!) for the price of one! This post should have gone up Wednesday, but the power went out and kind of messed up that plan. But the extra day of waiting didn’t kill you, did it?

So, the next two mystery photos were this:

And this:

The first photo is of wool dryer balls that I made for my mother-in-law.

Put them in the dryer instead of dryer sheets to cut static electricity without any questionable chemicals. Bonus! I’ve been using a set that I received in a craft swap a year ago and I love them. My mother-in-law lives in Spokane which has a fairly dry mountain climate. She tries to avoid having to use dryer sheets, so doing laundry there can get awfully prickly. I thought these might help her out. They aren’t too difficult to make, but they do take some time.

First, wind a small core of wool yarn into a grape-sized ball. Then, put the little balls into an old nylon and knot the top and throw them into a load of wash, preferably hot water.

All ready to go in the washer

The balls need to move around enough to mat and felt the wool, but you still want to keep them contained so that they don’t come unwound. After running through the washer, throw them into the dryer with the clothes to continue felting.

Core wool ball

From here, you could continue wrapping yarn, or save a little time and wrap the core ball in a bit of wool sweater like I did.

Run it through the wash again in the nylon. Then keep wrapping with yarn and felting it up to the size you like. The balls I made were about the size of a tennis ball by the time they were done. It’s not an exciting process, but wrapping the yarn balls is actually kind of therapeutic.

You can see the separate strands of yarn, but they won't come apart now.

Next up is my sister-in-law’s gift. She had asked for something warm in the way of an afghan, hat or scarf. I didn’t have time to whip out an afghan, so I decided to make the most of her hat/scarf request and made a hooded scarf.

Bulky yarn hooded scarf

I actually had to unwrap the scarf to take a photo of it because some overzealous wrappers had already gotten a hold of it. Mr. Gren was downstairs, chomping at the bit to get to the post office, so I had Granota take a quick photo of me modeling it.

You get the idea.

What can I say? She’s four.

Here’s hoping it provides my sis-in-law many warm outings this winter.

That’s the end of all the mystery gifts! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week. In other words, next week will be full of other random and seemingly unconnected projects, just like always. I completed another blouse for myself the week before Christmas; finished knitting a sweater this afternoon that now needs to be sewn together; I’ve begun a multi-colored block afghan to use up a bunch of Red Heart yarn that I’ve had forever, and who knows what else I’ll pick up in between.

The Woolen Rhombus

Shortly after my son, Konik, was born and still had that fresh newborn smell, I decided I would crochet him a pair of woolen diaper pants. They would serve partially for warmth on those cold autumn nights and, after being felted down, would also be a nice waterproof barrier to keep any potential diaper leaks from leaving the little guy with soggy jammies. Happy for an excuse to leave the house by myself, I went to the fabric store and perused the yarns. Lingered over the kitchen cotton. Caressed the bamboo blends… What was I here for? Oh right, wool. Oh, lovely wool, look at all the marvelous colors you come in! After several more minutes of visualization-through-osmosis (that means I have to touch it all), I finally selected Patons Classic Wool in the Harvest colorway.

Looking back on this decision, I can now see that it was heavily influenced by postpartum hormones. In my right mind, I avoid orange like the plague, I shun red, and I steer clear of lime. Oh, sure, there are times when each of those colors serves a purpose, but, in this case, they combined to exact a mischievous revenge. I blithely bought two skeins.

A year later, I’ve got an itch. An itch to try something new. I’ve been hearing about Tunisian crochet (it’s not just for afghans anymore, kids!); I saw a book in a catalog: Tunisian Crochet, by Sharon Hernes Silverman. I must have this book! No matter that the internet is probably littered with free patterns and instructions, the book is it. So I bought it. At this point, I didn’t have a single Tunisian crochet hook, but I still enjoyed flipping through my brand new book, admiring the patterns.

Christmas came and oh! what joy! One of my nephews sent me Tunisian crochet hooks! Once the flurry of the holidays was over, I set out to teach myself this new craft. Facing a move in June, I resolved to bust through as much of my yarn stash as possible. Rummaging through the bin (and the other bin, and the large bag, and the smaller bag, and that cloth bag), I found a full skein and a half of the soon-to-be infamous Harvest wool. Why not use this stuff up? This was going to be fun! Except… one and a half skeins of yarn doesn’t go very far. Well, there is a pattern in the book for a pillow; I suppose that will suffice. Except… I don’t really like that stitch, so how about… Ooh! This honeycomb stitch is pretty cool! So I Franken-patterned and got to work. A couple of rows in and I realized, as I looked around the living room, that the last thing this house needs is another pillow for the kids to throw on the floor. I’ll beat them to the punch and make it a rug! Pleased with this decision, I kept plugging away. Tunisian crochet is not quick.

75% of the way through its formation, we had a couple of trips to take, and my Harvest colored wool rug was set aside. And with it, everything that I had learned about the honeycomb stitch. My confidence in my abilities, however, was still intact. Pride, you are a wicked imp. When I finally picked up my, um, creation, I struggled through the last few rows. Try as I might, my brain could not wrap itself around the honeycomb stitch. A mighty battle between my perfectionist nature and my desire to Just Be Done With It ensued. Impatience was the victor, so I chose to ignore the badly formed rows and stitched and stitched and stitched until a mere six inches of yarn was left. Ha, Patons Harvest Wool! I have vanquished thee! But my celebration was cut short by the underwhelming appearance of the finished product:

It barely measures 20 inches “square” (as it were), which makes a rather paltry rug. Its dimensions are too odd to even sew together into a pillow, and it is pretty obvious where the stitch pattern took a turn for the worse. That portion also has the annoying tendency of rolling up like a scroll. Again, not a particularly rug-like characteristic. I have dubbed it The Woolen Rhombus and, while it didn’t turn out quite how I had envisioned (ok, nothing like what I had envisioned), it is useful: it stores one and a half skeins of Harvest wool until I have time to rip it out and make something else!!

You may be wondering whatever became of the wool diaper pants. After felting, the wool came together nice and tight and Konik got to wear them for all of about a week because they shrunk down to such a ridiculously small size; my daughters don’t even have any dolls for these to fit.

Those are one inch squares.

Harvest wool hates me.