I love how the creative process gets the mind working and ideas keep popping up, some of which actually turn out to be useful!
I have a new knitting project on the go which I am very excited about. This is my own design and I have been playing around with it for a while. It all started because a friends Mum asked if I could make her a pair of speciality gloves. She needed to have warmth as well as dexterity. I must admit I thought it would be very simple to do! just adapt a glove pattern and we are good to go….well that is mostly true, but I needed to factor in specfic measurements. Well I have made a few proto types and I think we are on our way to designing something worthwhile, more on this soon.
Now for something quite different, here in South Western B.C we have a hummingbird that stays all winter. That just amazes me, we have had surprisingly cold weather lately and this little bird will start nesting in February…brrr. The hummingbird is the Anna’s and here is some information about them from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
Anna’s Hummingbirds are among the most common hummingbirds along the Pacific Coast, yet they’re anything but common in appearance. With their iridescent emerald feathers and sparkling rose-pink throats, they are more like flying jewelry than birds. Though no larger than a ping-pong ball and no heavier than a nickel, Anna’s Hummingbirds make a strong impression. In their thrilling courtship displays, males climb up to 130 feet into the air and then swoop to the ground with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers.
This is the male Anna’s, isn’t he just spectacular! The female Anna’s has a stout body with short, straight black bill
central iridescent pink throat patch Some females show several scattered pink feathers on face. White above and behind eye.
We have a hummingbird feeder ( seen in the above pic, Anna’s female is on it !) in our garden and have such pleasure from seeing two of these wonderful birds daily. They are quite fiesty and do not allow each other to drink at the same time. By the way the sugar water solution for these birds is one cup of boiling water and 1/4 cup of plain white table sugar. Mix up and allow to cool before placing in your feeder. DO NOT ADD FOOD COLOURING to this….it is not good for them. Also do not change the ratio because you think they may need more sugar, it can be hard on their kidneys and could kill them. The sugar solution should be changed regularly I clean my feeder out once a week in the cool weather and twice a week in the summer. We have the Rufous hummingbird here in the summer more about them later.
Have a lovely day and take time to enjoy the small things 🙂
Felted wool birds are the latest items in my repertoire. I am having lots of fun making them, I use Merino wool roving in a variety of different colours. Sometimes I add silk threads or maybe a little tussah which is a fine silk mixed with wool, it adds a lovely sheen to the item.
I also use some of my knitted UFO’s you know the ones …unfinished objects ! I felt them, then create a small wool bird from the felted fabric. I stuff some of them with polyester fibre fill and others I stuff with pure wool. Many of the wool coats and sweaters that I have purchased from the thrift stores make great birds, I even dye the fabric to make it more interesting.
What I love most about them is that no matter what I use to create them they all have their own character, sort of like our children. But I am not selling my children to-day ! Just wool felted birds. I do hope you will take a look at by bird family on etsy. More will be along soon.
Wishing you happy creating with love, remember Valentines Day is just around the corner and a little bird friendly company maybe the perfect gift.
At last I am wearing my creation. Although with all the work and effort I am a little dissatisfied with the end result. I really do believe that I enjoy the process far better than the results. Funny ‘eh!
I know that there are things I would change, for example one sleeve is slightly longer than the other and the same goes for the front bands which I knitted in moss stitch. I think if I knitted the front bands with a slightly smaller needle then I would not get the “drag or pull” on the front. The reason the sleeve is longer is that I knitted one sleeve separately because I wanted to be sure I had enough of the different yarn choices included in it. I should have transferred the knitted sleeve stitches again as I added it to the last side. Instead I just joined it on with a three needle cast off. Experiments….that’s what this is all about.
The cardigan is lovely and warm and I love the colours. I used two yarns that I would not use again or better still I should have used doubled, they were to thin on their own. I love the moss stitch collar front bands BUT not the way it drags downwards. On my next one I will change this part of the design and only use the moss stitch for part of the collar and front.
I look forward to the next one or even two !
The many yarns that I used in this project : Cascade 220 Heathers and Plain. Chunky Mochi by Crystal Palace Yarns. Ella Rae Classic. Patons Classic Wool. Ultra Alpaca from Berroco. Tekapo Pure New Zealand Wool by Ashford.
Have you knitted anything similar? do you have any helpful suggestions?
My latests de-stashing project is a knitted cardigan using various odd balls of yarn. I used to buy yarn one ball at a time, I would see something great and think OH! goody what can I make with one ball from this gorgeous colour. Also it was affordable BUT not very economical or smart. Nevertheless I have a few balls to use! so begins my side to side knitted cardigan. I have admired other knitted side to side projects that I have found on Ravelry and thought surely I can do this too ! I have knitted from the top down, making a sweater with Barbara Walker’s helpful guidance. So I felt sure I could use a little help from Debbie Bliss to make my side to side cardigan. This is it so far…
Are you inspired by your surroundings ? what have you made ? would you like to share ?
January 2011 More Knitting and Felting from Woolbrain
This year I would like to share a little more of how I make the things I
do so for my first item I have chosen my felted change purse. This, of
course, is not its only use as it can be used to carry an i Pod or cell
phone, cosmetics, knitting paraphernalia, guitar picks and strings or
woodwind instrument reeds. Perhaps the most popular item to place inside
is a gift card for a friend or colleague therefore giving two gifts in
one! Each purse can be personalized to suit the recipient.
How to make a knitted and felted purse with a zip closure.
The body of the purse is knitted either flat or in a round with a yarn
that is 100% wool that can be felted. The felting process is quite simple
and involves your washing machine and some laundry that needs a good hot
wash. I always place my felting items in an old pillow case and fasten the
end with an elastic band. Load the washing machine with the laundry and
filled pillowcase, don’t forget to add the soap and make sure it is on the hottest wash cycle then set the timer for ten minutes.
Using rubber gloves, remove the pillowcase and take out the purse to gauge
the felting. Some yarns take longer than others to felt so setting the
clock for ten minutes helps achieve a perfect piece. Experience will make
this task easier and quicker. The trick is to not make the purse too small
by leaving it in the hot water for too long!!
Once the felting is to your liking remove from the washing machine and let the washing cycle continue with the laundry. Rinse the purse in warm water and re-shape it as necessary.
Let it air dry on a flat surface, making sure it keeps its shape. Avoid a
rack or ridged surface as this can leave an imprint on the purse.
When the purse is dry, hand sew in a colour co-ordinated zip using two
strands of strong buttonhole thread. Now is the time to decorate the
outside, if you wish to do so. Choose a suitable cotton lining; I have
several fabric scraps from which to choose as only a small amount is
needed. Measure the purse and add about a quarter inch seam allowance plus
a little more for the top edge. This extra seam allowance allows the
fabric to stretch around the corners at each end of the zip. Cotton
fabric has a little give in it and so this works quite well however
t-shirt fabric works very well and because it has more stretch, does not
require the extra seam allowance at the top edge.
If you require an inside pocket, add this before sewing up the side seams.
A bottom seam can be avoided by folding the fabric along this edge thus
making a long rectangular shape. Adjust the lining to fit the purse and hand
stitch it in place, just above the zip stitching making sure that your
stitches do not show on the outside of your purse.
Ta Dah – your purse!
Although this picture shows the flowers on the table at this point they SHOULD be securely sewn to the outside of your purse.
I hope this helps those of you who would like to make your designer purses
for carrying small items from cell phones to jewellery. They are lots of
fun to make and give as gifts. Adding beads and trims will make each one a
Thank you for your support this year and continue to keep being creative whatever you enjoy doing.Wishing you all a very healthy, creative and peaceful year for 2011.
I have been busy bottling peaches and apricots for the winter and will do some plums later. We all enjoy fresh fruit crumble/crisp during the long wet wintry months so this is my chore during the summer when all the fruit is abundant. Most of the fruit is grown in the Okanagon Valley here in B.C. The jars of fruit lined up in the larder look very pretty and I am always thankful when the job is finished. I sometimes give a jar of fruit as a gift and my friends are very pleased.
We enjoyed a quick trip to Oregon last week, literally a flying visit. We dropped off our daughter and her friend in Eugene then headed out to the coast. We stayed in Reedsport and travelled around the area going to Winchester Bay, Coos Bay and Cape Arago. We hired a dune buggy and went for a drive on the dunes near Coos Bay. My husband had a wonderful time driving me around the dunes but I was squealing most of the time because of the steepness of the dunes and the speed we were travelling. On the last day we headed up to Florence before collecting the girls from Eugene and heading back to Canada. We travelled the equivalent of the length of England at least once on our long journey over 600 miles in one day ! Thank goodness for knitting projects, some of which I was able to complete. Of course, I just had to go into the fantastic yarn shop in Coos Bay and yes, I bought some yarn!
My latest work is a lovely hand-knitted, lace-edged, wool shawl made with 100% Canadian yarn from Briggs and Little, a company in Nova Scotia. I chose a very pretty lilac colour and used two skeins to make this size which is approximately medium to large. I knitted the main body in garter stitch and finished the edge with my own lace design which is a combination of crochet and knit stitches but using knitting needles to do them both. I have a few smaller shawls in the making but would like to finish them with a lace edge so wanted to finish the larger one first. Now that I have worked out how to do the lace edge, I can get them all finished for my Fall sale.
I have done very little spinning since my last blog post but hope to start again as soon as I have knitted a baby gift for a friend who lives in Australia. I am thinking of knitting a little fruit cap; you know, the cute ones that look like strawberries and cherries. I made a pumpkin hat for my her first baby so think I will choose a blueberry hat for baby number two; they are both boys!
Summer weather is here and the warmth feels good. The garden is flourishing and I need to keep up with daily watering. Thank goodness we saved the rain water in a barrel from all those rainy days back in the Spring but it is nearly used up. The carrots look as if they might be worth eating soon and the broccoli spears look like leggy cabbage! They were planted a little late so I don’t hold out much for them – we shall see.
I have been washing sheep fleece which is quite time consuming and labour intensive. I purchased two Romney fleeces and have managed to wash and dry them, thanks to the warmer weather. I washed them in an old bath tub set up in the garden. I fill the tub with hot water, add the soap but don’t make any bubbles then add the fleece and gently squish it down under the water making sure not to move it around too much so it doesn’t felt! I found using a toilet plunger works quite well and keeps my hands out of the stinky water! After letting it soak for a couple of hours with the occasional plunge I lift out the fleece and let it drain on a rack; I use an old old baby crib side. Apparently sheep fleece water is good for the roses! When the fleece has stopped dripping, I fill the bath tub with clean hot water and rinse, using the toilet plunger to move the fleece gently in the water. After several rinses until the water comes clean, I spin it in my washing machine.
Drying the fleece in the shade is now all that is required. According to the books I have read, drying a fleece in the full sun makes it brittle as the natural oils have been removed by the washing process. I have plenty of shade in my garden but it did take longer to dry than I thought it would.
Now I am using my Patrick Green Picker. This looks like a medieval torture device with some very evil-looking nails with lots of sharp pointy parts. The picker does what it says, it picks the fleece apart, gets rid of the debris and makes the fleece more fluffy. The next stage is to spin the fleece. A friend has lent me her spinning wheel and I hope to learn how to use it very soon.
It all feels very ‘back to the land’ in a good way. I have a couple of books that I have found useful; “The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book” by Rachel Brown and “Knit to Spin” by Shannon Okey.
All this has kept me busy during the first weeks of summer, combining it with work and family commitments. I hope to enjoy more sunny days outside in the company of friends including a few days at the beach.
I hope you are having a good summer as well, doing whatever you enjoy.
The lighter evenings are here now and making me stay up longer to knit! I am having fun making knitted shawls of all shapes and sizes. I do, of course, have a stash of yarns from which to choose. My goal is to use as many as I can BEFORE I buy any more! We will see how that goes!
Yarns are so addictive; they come in so-o-o many different colours and textures. I like to support my local weavers and spinners by buying their hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns. Hearabouts they usually have a sale twice a year but I really should use up my stash first!
The colours of these hand-crafted yarns are much more subtle and muted and I prefer these to the commercial dyes. I would like to learn how to dye yarns but for the moment, I shall support the local artisans.
Markets and craft venues abound and people are looking for that unique, reasonably-priced item. Oh, how I wish I found it easy to price my work. I so enjoy making things but pricing them is always a challenge. Some shoppers believe that if an item is hand made then it should be cheaper than a mass-produced one however, those who know a bit about making unique and beautiful hand-crafted items understand the amount of time involved in their creation.
I have been given a formula for pricing hand-crafted items:
Hours spent on a piece x Hourly wage = Labour
Cost of materials plus labour = At Cost
At cost x 2 = Wholesale price
Wholesale x 2 = Retail Price
One of my small knitted and felted pouches takes me about four hours to knit, felt, sew in the lining and zip plus embroider so using the formula above, it would cost $32 if I calculated my time at $8 per hour. Even though I receive positive feedback, unfortunately shoppers are willing to pay $16-20. I wonder sometimes if it is worth my while making these specialised items.
Another suggestion for calculating a price is:
Cost of materials x 3 = Selling Price
I am pleased to say that I have been accepted to sell my work at a local craft venue in the Fall and it has been suggested that I make shawls and bigger bags to add to my repertoire. My latest shawl, the Purple Petunia, took over six hours to make so the labour alone would be $48!!
In the meantime, I shall be very happy knitting and knitting and knitting then think about pricing later!! Maybe I will have a brainwave and reach a happy medium before the Fall!
Most of my inspiration comes from the natural world, our garden and the surrounding beauty of Western Canada. We are fortunate to live near the ocean which can be a place of great serenity and chaos. I love colour and texture.
Knitting for me is a kind of meditative therapy that enables me to quiet my mind and explore my creative abilities. No matter what happens creatively, I feel a little magic comes into each design. I make every effort to create earth-friendly items for my shop. I like to use re-purposed, gently loved t-shirts and re-cycled natural and sustainable materials wherever possible in my work.
My favourite yarn is wool of any weight depending on the project. One day I hope to learn to spin and weave.