Thursday, November 29, 2007

felting by hand.

I had some trouble when I first felted this bag today. It may have been the result of an overloaded washing machine or the too-small garment bag I was using, but from the look of my poor project, I was fearful to toss it back in, so I decided to try something new. I googled 'felting by hand' and got some great tips on how to do it. As this helpful tutorial points out, felting has been around a lot longer than washing machines, so why not trust felting by hand?

I began by filling the bathroom sink with a few inches of VERY hot water and a drop of detergent, then put on rubber gloves and started swooshing (yes, swooshing is the technical term for this). This is a LOT more time consuming than just throwing the knits in the washing machine, as I've always done before, but the results from hand-felting are just wonderful! I worked away with my hands in the sink and got to shape the bag myself, so that it came out just as I intended. I pressed and squeezed gently, constantly keeping it in motion so I could cover every inch of the bag. Every so often I would drain the water and do a quick cold rinse then back to hot. The process uses a lot less water than the machine, especially since I always wash my things on cold cycle. And it takes hardly any energy... just my own.

This tool became very useful when my hands got tired of swooshing.

I then shaped the bag and lay it out to dry, stuffing it with old plastic shopping bags to give it some shape.

The whole process reminded me so much of when I was in school (at AIB) and used to process rolls of my own film everyday. All the agitation, draining, rinse, repeat, whew! And then that satisfying surprise when you are done and see your results there in black white. Or, in this case, blue and grey.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

before & after.

Felting is really fun. Basically it's just washing wool so that the fibers shrink together. If you've ever put a new sweater through the hot/cold cycle accidentally and it came out pint-sized, well then you've felted! But the art of felting is not just a happy accident. The knits are first done at a looser gauge so that they shrink to the size that you want. You can see how before they are felted they are loose and floppy. Once they are done you can't see the stitches. I really love that difference in textures.

I've tried a bunch of different yarns, but have found that I like working with Paton's classic merino wool, in either a double or a single strand, the best. It has a nice texture and felts well, plus it is common and they sell it everywhere, so if I am traveling and run out of yarn it's not a problem!

This is a bag I started last spring and just felted recently. I don't think I ever posted a completed photo of it, so here's a before and after.

The green squares are knit with instarsia technique and the color in the images just looks different because of the light inside verses out.

This was one of the first bags I made...

I am currently finishing up some shoulder bags, since there has been request for those. This is an example of a tote-bag style with two straps was made a few years ago. It still remains one of my favorites.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

New Handbags... More Buttons!

It's funny when things come together really well. Like this pink bag I knit and felted last year. I made handles for it that just didn't work out, so I thought the bag would never have a chance of being toted around the way a real handbag should! Then last week when I was on Martha's Vineyard I came across this odd, faded little pink woven bag in a thrift store that looked completely useless except for it's handles. I had to put the bag to rest, but I salvaged the plastic orange handles from the wreckage and voila... they went perfectly with my unfinished tote, giving it a vintage, eclectic sort of feel.

Plus I added buttons. I'm just about to add this bag to the store as well as another felted tote I completed, a 'green' inspired super-soft wool that also features a one-of-a-kind accent. This one is a little more... au naturale.

Again I added a bundle of buttons, like I seem to do to everything. I've got another bag to finish knitting and felt today, along with some Christmas gifts on my to-do list and a few other accessories I want to make for knotty dog. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 23, 2007

2007: musical goodness.

Wow, what a good year for music so far! It seemed as if every band I like put out a new record. There were also a lot of great artists to discover. Here's a list of what I liked about 2007:

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
Dr. Dog - We All Belong Together
Feist - The Reminder
Iron and Wine - The Shepard’s Dog
Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature
Justice - Cross
Kanye West - Graduation
M.I.A - Kala
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Radiohead - In Rainbows
The Darjeeling Limited Soundtrack

Have I left anything out? Notice I did not include the new Wilco or Rilo Kiley. Good artists in the past, but this years records just weren't worth highlighting to me.

You can vote for your favorite here on the all songs considered website.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank you Thank you!

I should be thanking more people individually right now, but I am simply too stuffed with turkey and pie so a simple blog post will have to do. Mostly I want to thank all those who have made recent purchases from my store and have made it's brief existance a successful one. Oh, and there are more goodies to come! I just can't exclaim how happy I am to be making things that others can enjoy. I have a lot of fun doing what I do!

Please keep supporting the many talented artists and crafters whose handmade work is for sale on or shown at craft fairs throughout the country. And maybe you will feel inspired to make something for somone, too!

Monday, November 19, 2007

"The Cold Swedish Winter is Right Outside"

I love the cute berets all these Scandanavian fashion bloggers are wearing and was inspired to knit one myself. I used this really wacky Bernat Max yarn and size 11 needles for ultimate texture and the end product came out a little less like I expected. But it was still fun to make and will definitely keep me warm as the days get cooler and cooler.

My signature lately seems to be adding buttons to things. I have a huge stash of random button from old sweaters, craft projects and generous donations. Recently I was going through some more of my mom's things and found a giant container filled with buttons as well. Tons! All colors, shapes, sizes and purposes. Some match, some don't. I am tempted to sew them on everything, and when I get the chance, I will.

Knotty Dog on the Indie Collective!

Knit, too and Knotty Dog are both listed in the Indie Collective shopping directory! Check out things I've added to my store, as well as the abundance of others who are making things as part of this great independent artist and crafters community.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Where were you in '92?

Last week, Stacie and I were talking about how odd it was that Chloe Sevigny had a clothing line when she always seems to look like she got dressed in the dark or from a discarded pile of little boys clothes (did I just say that?) But I do recall a time when she actaully was best-dressed and appeared in Sassy magazine as their 17-year-old intern! Thank god I never threw out my November 1992 issue so that I could scan it now for reference! Just look how cute, fresh-faced and stylish she is!

You can sure see how my 11-year-old scissored-hands took to the pages of this magazine that I was waaay to young to appreciate. Flipping through the vintage issues I still have tucked away in my bookshelf, I am currently fascinated by all the DIY clothing ideas, feminist book reviews and 90210 bashing that I exposed myself to. Oh, Sassy, if only you were still in publication, or if it were 1992 again. Would young girls today even care?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Beauty of Handmade.

So I finished knitting this baby hat last weekend when I was crafting with my friends, and I expressed some sincere disappointment in how it came out. It just didn't look right to me, fresh off the needles and full of odd bumps where I had miscounted sts and decreased too soon or slightly loopier sts where I changed yarn color. These imperfections seemed visible only to my eyes, but they bothered me none the less and I hid the hat away so I wouldn't have to look at it for the rest of the night. It's hard when you work on something so tediously and get this image in your head of what the final project will be. Well, it's going to be perfect! Flawless, not a stitch out of place, a thread too loose or a smidgen off. Especially when it's a gift or when someone else will wear it, you want every detail to be right! of course, but....

Sometimes I forget what marks the beauty of handmade items. The slight imperfections that, well, make them more perfect.

A handmade item should not look like it was made by a machine, but by a simple human being. That is not to compensate for sloppy work or mistakes of course, if you know how to fix it, do. A dropped stitch can be put back in place, a loose button made tighter. You don't want your garments to fall apart or fit incorrectly, but they can reflect some character and personal charm. I thought about all this and started to ease up a little. I was being way to hard in this teeny baby hat! People wear, buy and enjoy handmade items because they reflect the person's touch, the time they took and the uniqueness of the work. Plus I want the item to be worn, loved, touched and know it can't stay pure and pristine forever. So favor the flaws of your handmade items, embrace the imperfections! Know each stitch was made with love, even if it's a bit smaller than the one knit before it.

Buy Handmade this Holiday Season!

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh, You Pretty Things!

Today I had fun adding some embellishment to felted bags that I made last spring. A little hand-embroidery and carefully selected buttons never hurt anything!

I'll be adding them to the store soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Vineyard Visit.

Almost as good as living on the Island, is going back to visit. This past weekend I headed down to Martha's Vineyard for a little quality relaxation, a chance to see some good friends and an afternoon of knitting with the cats by the fire.
rosie preparing her fabric to sew.

briana's embroidery.

midge looking smug.

What's better than crafting and cats? Oh, a delicious roasted chicken and pea risotto dinner made by Rosemary and meeting all our friends at the Art Cliff Diner for breakfast. Anytime you have to take a ferry to get breakfast it has to be good.

our similarities.

But mostly it was just fun to be back on the Island and see a lot of the people that make that place so significant to me. I had several serendipitous moments where I ran into people who I really wanted to see but hadn't planned to. I love that magic of a small island.

Thank you again, Rosie, for sharing your Grandma's beautiful house with us! It's a very special place. It was fun to see you and let the craft night tradition live on.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

oh, baby baby

I found this pattern in the book Knitting for Baby and it's exactly what I was looking for! (I mentioned last week that I wanted to make a baby hat as a gift for a friend) This one has little ear flaps with ties and is just toooo cute! Here are some in-progress shots.

The ear flaps are knit first and supposed to be sewn on later, but I didn't really like that idea, so I left the flaps on their own double pointed needles and cast on the sts in between to join in the round. Make sense? It was actually wasn't as tricky as I thought it would be to do, and I like the seamless, continuous look of knitting directly from the flaps.

Working with this organic cotton yarn from Lion Brand is a dream. It is sooo soft and will wash easily, which will be good for baby stuff. I had trouble choosing the colors so I decided to add a baby blue stripe to accent the light, oatmeal brown. mmmm, I sound like a commercial. Lion Brand should be paying me to write this! Too bad they aren't.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

This Old Hat.

I made this hat about a year and a half ago, or sometime long ago. I feel like it was before this type of slouchy, oversized beret became very stylish (but then again I wasn't really paying attention to when that happened either.) I knew this artist who showed at the Gallery where I worked and always wore a loooong slouchy black beret. Very 'artist'. It suited her though. I only got to meet her a few times before she passed away in 2006. When I started working on this hat, making up the pattern and shaping it to be a wide, drooping beret, I thought of her.

The finished hat's not all that big and droopy. It has a perfect fit. It's just a little large for my small head. If anyone has a head that's a little bit bigger than mine (or a bit more hair!) than it will fit them correctly. So I have decided to add it to my online store!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Coming Soon.

I'm very excited. I've been working on setting up an etsy store for my hand knit goods and during a test spin I sold my first item! I have spent the last two sunny days photographing the other items I have to sell and will be editing those images today to add to the shop by the end of the week. Then next week it is back to knitting because the projects are piling up! It's about time to get started on Holiday gifts. If you are having trouble thinking of gifts to buy or make, then give etsy a look. They will have tons of ideas for your shopping list and wish list!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Stormy Weather.

I didn't take these, but I am equally excited about them.

Grant Hamilton shoots sx70's in a very unique style. I like his site, too. As simple, clean and bold as his work.

Well, lots of projects getting started here, but nothing getting finished! I'll post pictures of what I am working on soon. As soon as I am done watching The Breakfast Club for the seventy millionth time on tv! Oh, stormy, rainy saturdays....

If anyone is looking for a birthday present for your favorite, polaroid freak friend, here's an idea.

It's a 'plusharoid' from!