Saturday, June 30, 2007

A break

Thank you for all the comments on the butterfly bag! The green Lopi bag is felted and drying and waiting for embroidery. She is going to have to wait for quite some time since I'm off tomorrow morning to Joensuu and the Nordic Knitting Symposium. After Joensuu I will have very special friends visiting for a few days. So it will be two weeks before I'll be writing again.

In the meantime enjoy your knitting, and even thought it might be too hot to say this, I'll say it anyway

Wool with You all!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I see butterflies!

This is how the adventure starts... (yes, this one is green - a new one...). When doing a felting/knitting project you have to be able to foresee, because the item is not nice to look at when knitting and I must admit this phase needs a special kind of determination to get through. Here she is felted and embroidered waiting to get a lining. I found a cardboard box that would fit inside the bag to be able to measure the size of the lining.Here I pinned the lining to the bag to see and correct the fit.
When I was happy with the fit, I unpinned the whole lining and did the sewing by machine. And then finally attached it to the bag by hand sewing. (I'm hopeless in tutorials and find them very difficult to do. There are plenty of good tutorials online, found one very good bag blog few days ago with lots of tips.)
And here she is in all her beauty! No birds, as so many of you suggested, but little butterflies!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Another French Market Bag on the way

I have been checking on the yellow French Market Bag every now and then to see if the love is still there… because sometimes when the excitement of something being finished wears off, the love somehow disappears and you see the finished object in a different light and very often that light brings to surface few facts that brush off the love. But the love is still strong.

I finished knitting the blue bag (Lett-Lopi number 9418) and it is in the washer while I’m writing this. I’ll take a picture before I sign off. This time I tried to take a more scientific approach, I measured the bag before throwing it into the washer and wrote down all the details and needle sizes used and had full intentions to take a picture before the washing but I forgot. I cleared the table and organized everything for the picture taking, but the bag just flew into the washer without me noticing what I had forgot. This time I used a little bit smaller needle size for the bottom of the bag, I knit the bottom with 4 mm needles and the rest with 4,5 mm. I wonder if I’m able to see any difference. (edited later: no, I can't see any difference where the needle size changes but this bag is a bit smaller than the yellow one, but this might be due to a different colour as well)

I have been thinking this knitting-felting business for the past few days. I suppose that it is possible to get better in this field and to be able to tell prior felting the outcome of the felted object with further practise. It is probably possible to get to know one’s washer and its abilities and it is possible I hope to be able to realize when a good felting fibre crosses one’s path. I guess a few swatches would be a good idea. I have been all over internet searching for felted bags. I came across the Noni bags site and not only the site has beautiful kits but also a very informative pages about the process of felting, finishing and lining the bags. I have ordered one Noni bag from the spring 2007 collection. I just ordered Cascading Fuschias Market Bag so it will take a while before I have it in my hands.

I will take pictures when I get to the lining part of this new bag and can show you what I did, but again, I jump ahead with my projects and when I come across a problem, I try to solve it the best possible way, so my doings might not be the best advise there is.

I have been using Lett-Lopi for these bags. The yarn comes from the stash what makes me very happy. The colour blue is coming off a blue sweater that has been on the making for a long time and thus has been ripped. I’m getting rid of ufos and using stash yarn!!! There are lots of odd balls of yarn and yarn that has not had any appeal to me for a long time in the stash, but at what I’m looking with great interest at the moment thinking maybe it will felt nicely... I don’t think I have knit the last bag yet. Lett-Lopi felts nicely but it has its downsides; it is very hard on my hands and my hands are all sore and itchy again.

I will not cast on anything new before I see what tomorrow’s mail will bring. I ordered HF kit last week and it just might be in tomorrow’s mail. Someone else mentioned the very same kit in her post today! And the design being as beautiful as it is, it would not surprise me to see many more in a few weeks!

The washer seems to be taking forever... First I did a shorter cycle with the bag in a separate little laundry bag with towels but the outcome was not good enough, so I continued the process and threw the bag without the laundry bag into the washer with sheets in a higher temperature and longer cycle. I think this is what I did the first time around as well. I’m poor in keeping notes of my doings thus making it almost impossible to do something similar again. And I can't remember the next day what I have been up to...
I finally finished with the bag one in the morning feeling that it was way too late to post and I was not very pleased how the bag looked after washing and felting. It was way too fuzzy. It did not look at all sophisticated, well, I’m not sure if a felted bag can look sophisticated and chic but this blue bag was looking very homemade last night.

So this morning I got razor and scissors and have been trimming the fuzziness down and now it looks so much better.
What to embroider or what embellishment to use? I’ll be distracted now for the rest of the day, making it difficult to have a conversation with me, because I’m focusing on the bag and the hunt for a perfect item to decorate it with. But my family is used to it by now. They have been looking at me carrying the bag around and looking at it in different places and they have had a few suggestions for embellishments, some of which sound like they are making fun of me and my bag. (Someone even hid it for a while.) I’m fine with it. I do realize that I get carried away sometimes…

And here a picture of a rose that is growing by my main door in a pot, just because I love roses and it is summer and as a reminder to myself that if I raise my eyes from the blue felted bag, there is a whole world out there...

PS. When I dyed with birch leaves as a mordant I used aluna. I will try birch leaves agian later on in the summer to see if the colour stays the same.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The French Market Bag

No, this is not the dyed yarn from few posts back but the poor Lett-Lopi colourway 9264 that was first destined to come a cardigan. The cardigan project went long ago ashtray and the yarn was buried in the back of the stash.

I don’t quite remember what brought me to the pages of Knitty this time and why I happened to set my eyes on the French Market Bag (designed by Polly Outhwaite) but the moment I saw it, I HAD to try it.

I have never been keen on knitting first and then felting. I like to have some control over my work but it is impossible almost since I have a washing machine of which cycle cannot be interrupted and throwing something that you have been knitting for few days to a cycle that can take up to an hour and a half has not had any appeal to me so far. But the bag was so very beautiful in the picture that I decided to take a chance. So what - never mind - if it never comes out right…

I knit according to the pattern, used the recommended needle size and used up a tiny bit over 4 skeins. Did only one minor change, I knit the handles about 10 rows longer. I did not take a before-picture, I sort of only half-knowing that I was actually working on a project threw it into the washer with towels and without pictures I would not suffer if it did not work out.
But it did! It did!
I only had to pull here and there and the bag was what I had envisioned. (I hope I’m able to do that again, I’m knitting blue lopi at the moment.)

I love details. I’m all about details. The bag did not feel finished. It needed something. I got out my little tiny embroidering needles and embroidery yarn from Renaissance Dyeing and set myself on the long stretch of embroidering small flowers.
I cannot describe how good that felt and how happy each one of them made me feel.

This morning the bag had a lining.
If you saw me know, you’d see me radiating with good cheer. I’m so in love with this bag.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy times

I have been in love with this yellow little thing! It has been almost impossible to put it down at all and it is almost done. Maybe tomorrow or the day after I can bring you the details... but now I will go and embroider a few more little flowers so you have to excuse me!
But this is not all --- I have really been having good and happy times in more ways than one, go see Jo's blog!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Midnight sky and beautiful yellow

The sun is still up although it is almost 11 pm. This must be the best time of the year up here. The amount of light is growing daily and the mosquitoes are not in full force yet. The two weeks after Midsummer are the worst ones and then the amount of mosquitoes slowly drops. Mornings are the best time of the day, usually one can enjoy outdoors without too many of them around until afternoon. My husband went canoeing with one of the girls today, they won’t be back until late tomorrow. The water in the lake is gradually warming and the kids have all been swimming already… me??? I’ll save my first dip when the water is really warm. The lake is quite shallow and by mid July the temperature of the water is nice.

As a child I was afraid of the dark as most kids are I guess. I enjoyed summer and sleeping in the summer was heaven, that was the time when I was never scared during the night. I never had any trouble sleeping and when the sun really hit my face in the wee hours I slept best. Now that I almost suffer (I’m not ready to admit it yet, but I think I’m slowly coming to that point) from lack of light during the winter months I find it very difficult to waste these precious light hours to sleeping. I sleep less and don’t seem to need very much sleep during the summer. I just took this picture. This is the colour of the sky… and it is almost midnight.

I love this country and this barren land but what I did not realize was that I live in a yellow dye pot. We have many birch trees around the house and this is the colour that came out when I boiled birch leaves… Not a pale and weak yellow, but strong and lively. This really calms my heart, I will never run out of yellow now.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This and that

Italy was beautiful: the scenery, the food, the wines and the culture and art that was present everywhere. We stayed in Lago di Como in northern Italy for a few short – too short – days. My DH spent his days in meetings while I got to do some sightseeing. One day I visited the Educational Silk Museum of Como, which was very interesting and educational. Another day I took a sightseeing trip on a boat around the lake and saw a grand old villa called Villa Carlotta what had absolutely fantastic garden. One morning I went to see the works of Renoir, Corot, Toulouse-Lautrec and Sisley – to mention just a few – in Villa Olmo. My soul is now filled with beauty and my spirit is freshened with being away from the normal surroundings. While away the summer had come to my part of the world. It is warm, the birds never seem to shut up and the sun is up in the sky for almost 24 hours a day.

I have been very busy ever since homecoming; have been working outside long hours and all the outside work just can wear off all the extra energy. I have not knit much once inside late at nights. I bought some embroidery silk from Italy and just few bits of silk fabric and I have had to fight against the suction from my work studio; I guess I should not call it a studio; it is so messy at the moment that it is more like a pig house. I go in and drop off stuff where there is free space and then just close the door and I’m running out, or really have run out of free space some time ago so the stuff is just piling up towards the ceiling… Yarns are calling me as well. I did not buy any from Italy. I surprisingly did not hunt for yarn shops and sort of wanted to be away from the knitting to build the desire to knit again. The little bit of energy that has been left after a day’s work outside has been spent knitting Monkeys. And I managed to finish these Tangerine ones (my third pair!). I love them. I love the colour to no end. And I have cast on for a new pair. I’m afraid that this summer is going to be a Monkey one.

Other than Monkeys I have been working with the Rovaniemi mittens a bit. The Nordic Knitting Symposium is held in Finland in Joensuu in the beginning of July and I’m teaching three workshops there on the mitten, so there is quite a bit of work to do on that front.

On the way back home from Italy we had a long wait in Helsinki and we took a small break from the airport waiting and went for shopping in a near by big mall. DH was shopping for canoeing stuff while I went into a bookstore and found a book on soap making. So far I have only been reading the recipes and trying to build up the courage to try one recipe with olive oil. But really I have been too tired to try it yet. I will though, the craft seems very appealing. Today I gathered a big bucket of birch leaves and have them simmering in a kettle. Hopefully tomorrow I have time to dye some wool or yarn with the outcome dye. And while DH was cutting down few trees I collected the lichen from them.

So there is little bit of this and that to keep me entertained in the fiber front. But what I desire right now most is just to go to bed and rest. Tomorrow will be another hard working day outside. The cut down trees need to be cleaned off branches and need to be chop into firewood and then to be taken into shed to dry... Country life at its best. Or at its worst.