It’s summertime in the northern hemisphere and I’ve been told it a great time to knit lace. Lace knitting projects, even larger items such as shawls, take up so little space in a suitcase, beach bag, or market bag that they’re easy to take wherever you are going.
And we are on the go in summer, aren’t we? Even if it’s just to the back yard, patio, or pool, we like to take our knitting along. As I’m not much of a lace fan, and maybe you are unsure if you are too, let’s start with a simple, very small project, a knitted lace cloth.
Dishcloths, dish towels, and facecloths are wonderful ways to try out different lace patterns. When you find a dishcloth lace pattern that works for you, knit it into a dishtowel and a face cloth too. Then package them together with some dish soaps/hand soaps/lotions use your imagination and you’ve got gifts ready for bridal showers, baby showers, birthday or Christmas gifts
Perhaps you think that a softer cotton yarn is in order if you’re knitting a face cloth, while a coarser yarn will do for the kitchen sink? I prefer a one-yarn-suits-all choice, and KnitPicks Dishie Yarn does it for me. I love the price as well as the colors, stitch definition, and the softness. It’s 100% cotton and machine washable and dryable, of course.
Classic Knits At Home by Erika Knight
The words that come to mind when describing the knitting projects in Classic Knits at Home: 15 Timeless Designs to Knit and Keep Forever are cozy, tactile, warm, timeless, classic, and every day. These knitted gems are simple enough for beginning knitters with enough pattern interest to keep more experienced knitters coming back time and again.
Each project is one that can find a place in any home and will be put to use as soon as it is completed. The yarns used are natural fibers in neutral colors, and this is why I took this book off my bookshelf to share with you today.
Yesterday I wrote about the homespun-like qualities of Shetland wool. The patterns in Classic Knits at Home: 15 Timeless Designs to Knit and Keep Forever came to mind as I wrote about that yarn. This seems to be a match made in heaven and there’s a pattern which would be lovely in Elemental Lace a lace throw. The pattern calls for mohair lace yarn knit on size 8 needles, but I prefer a less fuzzy wool yarn. The shawl is knit in four sections plus an edging, making it a great summer project since the pieces are small and oh so featherweight.
The patterns run the gamut of rugs, throws, pillow covers, a doorstop, plant pot covers, slippers, wash mitt, and all are simple and charming. Of particular usefulness are the descriptions of each yarn used at the end of the book, making it much easier to substitute of similar thickness, weight, and texture. Website addresses for the recommended yarns are also given.
How to knit and felt anything these instructions are a Do-It-Yourself version of how to change a knitting pattern if you want to felt the finished product in a top loading washing machine. Since felting shrinks a knitted object, you will have to alter the pattern to make the object larger. Basically, you need to knit the object approximately 25% larger than the end result you want.
Example: I’m looking at a hat pattern with a finished circumference of 19. If I want to change this to a felted hat, I have to knit it so it will measure 23.75 before felting.
This can be done in one of two ways, or a combination of both ways. It is up to you the knitter to experiment and figure out how you wish to do this with whatever pattern you are using.
One way is to experiment with larger knitting needles while knitting gauge swatches. First, knit a swatch using the needles recommended in your pattern. My pattern says 17 sts and 32 rows = 4/10 cm in garter stitch with size 7 needles. If that doesn’t work out quite right I use bigger or smaller needles until I get it right; then I knit another swatch with needles two sizes bigger. So if size 7s work out to be the correct gauge, I knit another swatch with size 9s. I continue adjusting my needle size until I get a swatch that is a 5 square. Now I know I have the right needles.
The second way is to adjust the pattern itself. If I am knitting placemats, for example, or something as simple (without complicated shaping), I may simply increase the number of stitches I cast on by 25%, and knit a total of 25% more rows. More complex patterns, such as those for a jacket, can be altered for felting, they simply take more complicated mathematical calculations.
Now for the yarn selection. I highly recommend 100% wool for felting. If you must use a blend, it must be at least 60% wool. Less wool usually means more washing time.
There are 3 things that felt wool: heat, agitation, and soap. For the proper agitation, it’s recommended that you wash and dry your object to be felt along with an old towel or two or an old pair of jeans. I’ve never had any problem with colors bleeding or fuzz clinging to the towels, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
I use the smallest cycle possible and hot wash/cold rinse/hot dry settings. I put a small amount of laundry detergent in the wash, maybe 1/4 of the usual amount. Usually, one wash and two dries do the trick. What I do is run the objects through the dryer once, and then check the measurements. If the object is still too big, I spray it with water to dampen it thoroughly, shape it a little if necessary, then dry some more, checking now and then until the size is right.
If you experiment first with your test swatches, you’ll get the hang of this felting method quickly. I’m always available to answer questions if you need help. Enjoy this fun process and happy felting!