Hi there. Wow it’s starting to feel like winter here. Today it will be 17 degrees maximum which doesn’t sound that cold but there is a chilly wind and it’s raining. Yesterday was the coldest day in 9 months. No doubt as the months go by it will get colder. Oh well; more time to stay indoors and do indoorsy type things like whipping up some felt and listening to podcasts.
THE EASIEST WAY TO MAKE FELT or what to do with an old jumper
God bless the person who invented washing machines. They wash our clothes without a fuss, spin wet pieces of knitting ready to block, and make felt-making easy. Don’t expect too much! If you want beautiful, artistic, picturesque felt, you’ll need to learn properly, use the right materials and use your hands. If you want utilitarian, strong, no-sore-arms felt, the washing machine is an excellent tool. Every house should have one! (I expect if you own a computer and read this blog, you have a washing machine, unless you are some kind of uber-greenie who runs the computer by wind generator and you hand wash your clothes in the nearest stream with soap-root extract.) Anyway…top loading washing machines are the best if you are felting a piece of knitting and need to keep checking it to see how much it has shrunk. We have a front loading machine because they use a lot less water so I don’t have the luxury of being able to open the machine and check my felt. However, my usual felting efforts involve taking a worn out wool jumper (or any garment really) and chucking it in the machine at 60 degrees and seeing what comes out at the end. Even wool that is supposedly machine washable will most likely felt at 60 degrees on a heavy cycle.
So…to get some nice firm felt that will be useful for sewing bags, toys, potholders, book covers, tea cosies and cushions, that will be very cheap and use up an unwanted or old knitted garment, follow these easy instructions
1. Put the knitted item (must be wool or nearly all wool) in the washing machine with the same amount of detergent as if you were going to wash the garment
2. Set the machine to a long, hot cycle and turn it on
3. Go out for an hour or two and buy some wool or plant some vegetables. If you are in a dry area, save the rinse water and put it on the garden. (Please don’t put the rinse water on your vegetables; fruit trees and shrubs are fine.)
4. Take your newly made felt out of the machine and let it dry flat
5. Cut the felt up however you choose and sew it into something beautiful or useful or both.
Here’s some I prepared earlier. The aran jumper made a wonderfully textured felt. I love it.
Old wool jumpers.
And here is my freshly made felt, cut into pieces and ready to use.
Over the last few months I have become a podcast addict. I love them. For the uninitiated, a podcast is like a radio program on any number of topics that you can listen to on an mp3 player or on your computer. There is a list in the sidebar of the podcasts I subscribe to. If you are a knitter or crocheter or a doer of craft, the podcast is a wonderful way to keep your mind active while you work on the less interesting parts of your work. Podcasts make the time fly while you work stocking stitch in the round on 250 stitches for 100 rows. You will churn out knitting (or whatever you do) and improve your mind at the same time. I learn all sorts of things as I knit. Knitting podcasts will keep you inspired and science, history or news podcasts will keep you informed. You only have to listen to the topics you are interested in and you’ll never have to listen to excruciatingly annoying talk back radio for some company ever again.
I only listen to a few knitting podcasts, but others listen to as many as they can. Lots of people like the Lime and Violet podcast but I find them annoying. I prefer the dulcet tones and philosophy of David Reidy of Sticks and String podcast and the vibrant and interesting banter of Guido 2skiens Stein of It’s A Purl Man. To cater to the gardener and frustrated farmer in me, I love the Alternative Kitchen Garden and Geek Farm Life. AKG is narrated by a lady who sounds like she should be narrating a British kids’ cartoon. She’s bright and friendly and makes vegetable gardening sound like fabulous fun. GFL is about two computer geeks who bought a farm in Indiana and keep animals for wool, meat and eggs and do their best to be self-sufficient. They record the show live in their barn so you can hear the goat kids baa-ing and the turkeys gobbling in the background. Well, they are probably my four favourites but Dr Karl certainly deserves a mention. He does a science question and answer show each week on Triple J Radio and is full of amazing information on the human body, nature and the cosmos. Learn about the wonders of the universe as you knit or work. Cast On with Brenda Dane is very popular and deservedly so. My husband Matthew, being a computer programmer, quite likes the Java Posse and the IBM Developer Works Podcast. I don’t get most of it, but the Java Posse intro song is cute. I use i-Tunes to download podcasts (they have gazillions of them).
If you have an mp3 player of some sort or a computer (and if you have a washing machine and are reading this blog, lets assume you have a computer), listen to a podcast today while you do something. Keep your mind active and inspired; it’s good for you.
Pleeeeeeaaassseee leave me a comment. I like to know who reads my blog. Thanks to those who have commented. I appreciate you and like making new friends. I hope I’ve been teaching you new tricks and keeping you inspired to make your own stuff. Yeah, Yeah, I know, I haven’t done a book or yarn review this week. Aren’t some podcast reviews enough? Anyway I am coming down with the dreaded lurgy and need a little rest.