Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dispatch from the Workshop, Part 4 (Knitting)

Oven Mitt detail

I only knit two gifts this year - one was for my mother-in-law and the other was a commission for the son of a friend. 

For my mother-in-law I worked up an oven mitt, using the free pattern, Out of the Frying Pan, by Susan Anderson.  The bright blue worsted weight wool yarn made a fantastically dense fabric that was still surprisingly easy to embroider.  You can see the amazing shrinking properties of wool in the before-and-after-felting photos below.  I did use our front-loading washing machine to felt this mitt, but neglected to check on it at 5 or 10 minute intervals.  This mitt probably went about 5 minutes too long, but luckily it still fits well enough for a serviceable oven mitt. 

Oven Mitt, pre-felting

Oven Mitt, post-felting

And that embroidery?  Probably shouldn't have done it free-hand while bleary-eyed.  It most certainly came out crooked.  But when you hang the mitt from the loop it straightens out (smile).  DH was kind and said that it has that 'handmade' look, but 'not in a bad way'.  Ha.

I actually like this oven mitt so much that I am working on one for myself, using a bright, minty green.  It doesn't actually match, well anything, in the house, but the color makes me happy in the cartoonish-winterfresh-mint-green sort of way.

This next project I am particularly happy about.  A friend e-mailed me the pattern mid-December, asking if I would be able to make it for her third son by Christmas.  I said of course!  The pattern, circa 1940, comes from a collection of knit items from the V&A Museum I was lucky enough to get lost in that museum two years ago and knitting this toy brought back lots of pleasant memories. 

The pattern itself isn't difficult - there are 8 pieces (2 sides, an underbelly, 2 ears, 2 pieces of mane and the tail), and each is knit up in a straight forward fashion and then assembled for the final doll.  But, the pattern does require an intense amount of attention as there are new stitch counts for practically each row, and there are lots of rows that aren't accounted for (you are just supposed to know to knit those rows!)

Knitting the mane required learning a new stitch - the loop stitch - which was pretty cool.  I definitely see some future costume potential with a 'wig' made entirely of this stitch and some novelty yarn (fur, sparkly, etc.)

You can knit yourself your own lion if you like - there is even a companion tiger to go with it!

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