Thursday, June 30, 2011

This Summer's Knitting: Felted Pothholders

After knitting a hat for Adam for Valentine's Day, I remembered how much I enjoy having a portable project.  I can't read in the car, but I am able to knit without nausea.  I can knit and visit at the same time.  I have the chance to be moderately creative without using my full attention--a good thing, as I feel a bit scattered these days!  :-)

I really want to start knitting socks, but that will NOT be mindless, so for now I'm back to potholders.  Three summers ago I felted an entrelac (diamond patterned) potholder.  Over our Smoky Mountain vacation, I finished a matching one, using most of the remaining yarn.

Felting always seems a bit like magic.  Knit something big and floppy with 100% wool (not superwash),
soak it in hot water with a little bit of detergent,
and agitate with a pair of jeans
until it shrinks and thickens.
Rinse in cool water, roll in a towel, and lay flat to dry.  Voila!

To make the best use of water, I felted four items today.  Below is an eraser for our dry erase board:

This potholder is made with two separate yarns.  (The blue above is one yarn with long strands of each shade.)  It's a different brand (and maybe animal--can't find the label right now), and took FOREVER to shrink!  I had to keep resetting the washer so it would agitate rather than drain.
I didn't much like this piece while it was a work in progress, but it turned out very well.  The squareness of it pleases me, too.


Squareness?  Huh?  Well, during the felting process, I can check the progress of each piece, pulling and stretching to help shape my item.  The entrelac potholders are pretty easy to keep square, I think because of the stitch directions and shapes.  The log cabin style potholder below (inspired by Mason-Dixon Knitting) has blocks of color knit perpendicular to each other, and didn't shrink evenly.
It took a lot of intervention (some hand felting, lots of pulling and stretching) just to create what you see below.
 
It doesn't look awful in a photo, but in real life it's less satisfying.  I had planned to gift it, but now I'm not sure it's nice enough.  Worst case, I have a new mostly cute potholder for myself.  Not so bad . . .
And here's one more photo, to give you a better perspective on the shrinkage these pieces undergo.  I know I showed everything next to rulers, but I think it's more impressive to see how much floor tile this fills up before and after felting.

I've got lots of wool left, so there are quite a few potholders in my future!

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