Giant Knitting Cat Baskets here soon!

The new yarn is on the needles, and the cat basket is in progress…

IMG_0688

Wow this yarn is even better than I expected.  It’s bigger and thicker than the yarn I used for the original baskets.  And it knits up fine using the needles I already have.  So I don’t have to order a load more knitting needles to be custom-made in bigger sizes.

I have amended my pattern slightly to accommodate the thicker yarn.  I was a bit worried that I hadn’t maintained an even thickness and twist on all of it.  After all, the wet felting was a bit of an experiment.  But working the yarn, it doesn’t seem to matter.  There is enough twist and felting to give it a bit of structure.  In fact, I think it performs even better than the old yarn.

 

It’s easier to get a flatter base.

It’s softer, less like rope.  More like a big, squishy soft strand.

It’s got that characteristic, fleecy scent.

The stitches are massive, with loads more visual impact.

And….the cats love it.

IMG_0692

It’s not finished yet, Monty.

IMG_0699

 

 

Advertisements

Wool has arrived…

…and it really is, actual, wool.  One continuous length of clean, combed, white fleece.  I even know the breed of sheep it has come from – the texel.

igb-1102566-at-5-months-of-age-1382882035

A pedigree texel sheep

It feels wonderful and has that typically woolly scent, which is very evocative for me.  I realised as I opened the package and handled the wool, that this is what my Auntie’s house used to smell of, and it took me right back there.

IMG_0643

I adored visiting her as a child and some of my happiest early memories were made at her house.  She was brilliant at most hand crafts, and always had some wool at some stage of processing for me to get involved in.  I remember handling greasy, bitty raw fleece, preparing wool for hand-carding, and even had a go at spinning on her spinning wheel (I was rubbish at it).  I tried to knit up my hand-spun yarn and it was hopelessly uneven.  But such fun to try.  So in a way, embarking on this project feels like a home-coming.

Finding the ends of the strand took a while.  I had to tip the wool out of the bag and run my hands along it until eventually one end appeared, and then another.  I marked each end with a coloured tie.

IMG_0665

Now I have to experiment with preparing the wool for knitting.  Although it’s surprisingly sturdy in its unprocessed state, and I could go ahead and arm-knit with it, the kind of structured pieces I intend to make will need a firmer, more ‘finished’ yarn.

Friction felting is not that effective and takes too long, especially with a large batch of wool.  Wet felting is probably the way to go, but must be done gently by hand.   So I think I’ll be filling the bath tub, swooshing it around, and then trying to get it dry.

The resulting yarn will be thicker than the yarn I used before, so I will have to knit up samples and work out how to adapt my patterns.  There may be other advantages which I haven’t discovered yet.  What’s really exciting is that there are all kinds of wool tops available, from many different breeds of sheep, some of which are different, natural colours.  So I could work with beautiful shades of brown and grey – all undyed, all from the sheep’s natural colour.

If my Auntie was still here, how I’d love to tell her about this!  She was, and still is, my inspiration, and there’s a bit of her in all of this.

I just took the plunge…

…back into knitting, big time.  I had a word with myself, and went and ordered a load of natural wool tops from World of Wool.  I don’t know if it’s right for my project, so I will need to experiment, but this is the start of a creative journey, something that’s been missing for too long.

T200_main_656x538

Why on earth I chose to do it now, when I am busier than ever, I don’t know.  I checked back at my last knitting notes, when I was trying to source some alternative giant natural yarns, and I was shocked to find that I wrote them two years ago.  The article I stumbled across the other day, about knitting being really good for you, was undoubtedly needling away at my subconscious.

I can’t wait for my new yarn to arrive.  Actually it’s not even yarn yet, I will have to make it into yarn myself.  I will felt it into the size I need to fit the needles I have, and then test its strength and softness.  I’ve never custom-made my own yarn before so this is another dimension.

It’s time to stop prioritising everything else, get something on the needles and see where it takes me.

 

Giant wool at the Knitting Show

Knitting with super chunky oversized yarn in the UK just got a whole lot easier!

At the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate (on till Sunday) I met Andrea of the superbly-named Woolly Mahoosive.  Giant merino wool and 2 acrylic alternatives are her speciality.  All the yarns are super-soft and come in a range of gorgeous colours.   They are for knitting on massive 25mm – 40mm needles.  They are also perfect for arm knitting!

Check out the display:

Woolly Mahoosive pic

See the ginormous chunky wooden needles with signature cubed stoppers?  They are beautifully made from tulipwood and rosewood, and come in different lengths.  These needles are just what I was looking for when I started extreme knitting.  There were none available commercially at that time, so after I got lucky on ebay with a pair of wooden 25mm, I had my uncle make me a set of double pins and circulars in 2 big sizes.

So how did Andrea get hold of this array of giant knitting needles?  Does she have a helpful relative beavering away in a workshop? No, she made them herself.  Yes indeed.  Having no experience of woodwork, she informed herself, got hold of the equipment and set to work.

This kind of initiative and dedication is truly impressive.  Their prices are utterly reasonable too.  Bloggers, I would urge you to pop over to Twitter and give them a follow. They deserve it!

My head is now popping with ideas about what to make with these fabulous yarns.  Inspiration – that’s what the Knitting show is for!

Till next time

L x

Mad Cat Baskets are finally here!

Whew! It’s taken me long enough to finalise this design, but here it is.  Listed and live on Etsy and Not On The High Street.

I’ve even updated my profile to show them off.

Mad Cat Baskets in 5 funky colours

Mad Cat Baskets in 5 funky colours

After getting to grips with the quirks of t-shirt yarn, I’m really enjoying working with it. Many, many hours of working and reworking and unpicking and re-calculating have gone into these five cat beds. Because the yarn is totally unreliable – could be super-chunky, or just a bit chunky – each basket comes out a different size.

Yellow with pink n purple 2

But they will all comfortably accommodate a small or medium-sized cat.

And Herbie, at a push.

All tucked in!

All tucked in!

Till next time,

L x

Purple and yellow cat baskets

Some fab new colours have arrived from Hoooked Zpagetti.

New arrivals

New arrivals

So far I’ve made a purple basket

Herbie purple basket 1and a yellow one. But Herbie has chosen purple.

Herbie purple & yellow basketI love the bright colours and how the light makes the giant stitches pop out.

Herbie purple basket closeupMore colours coming soon – and a cat cave!

Till next time

L x

Uncle Herbert is pretty in pink

How about a shocking pink knitted cat basket?  I think so!

Herbie pink basket

The basket is normal-cat-sized.  It’s just that Herbie is BIG.  Still, he’s happy to model for me.

DSC00460

The pink basket is going to be part of my new range of cat beds in all the colours of the rainbow.  I’m using upcycled t-shirt yarn, and it has many little quirks.  One of them is that each cone of yarn is a slightly different thickness. Which means that every time I start a new basket, I have to assess the thickness of the yarn and decide whether to use a double strand or not.

On the plus side, the range of colours is glorious and never-ending, so inspiration is never far away!

IMG_4025

Oh, and Monty likes the pink basket too. But he kind of flattens it.

Monty pink basket

More yarn, bigger baskets!

Till next time,

L x