Cat Basket finished!

So the test knit worked!  Cat basket in dove grey arm knitting yarn, hot off the needles and approved by Larry.

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This yarn is acrylic, so it doesn’t have the woolly scent which attracts the furbags.  So I placed the basket in a high status location – kitchen table – location is everything – and sprayed it with catnip spray.  Took about 5 minutes for Larry to jump in it.

I’ve only knitted these in wool before, so wondered how the acrylic yarn would perform.  Well, it was perfectly easy to knit with, a consistent thickness, and pretty strong.  Like any yarn, you have to be careful not to split the fibres whilst working.

This particular basket was knitted from the top down, so the outer rim is the cast-on edge.  I used the long tail cast on, to make the edge neat and flexible.  Larry will stretch out in his sleep and flatten the sides, but this yarn is happy to be re-shaped afterwards and the sides hold up pretty well.

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Really loving the dove grey colour and find it goes well with the decor in any room in the house.  Grey is the new white!

I’ve listed the Giant Wool Cat Basket, and the pattern, on my website Knittingrev.com, and in my Etsy shop.

The pattern includes 2 sizes, and 2 methods.  You can work top down, as in the grey basket, or from the centre outwards – see white basket below.  If you work from the centre outwards, you start off with 6 stitches, and your cast-off edge is the outer rim.  You might prefer the look of this.

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For both methods, the basket is worked in the round, on circular needles, using the magic loop method.  There is no seaming – hurrah! – and only 2 ends to weave in.

Arm knitting yarn and 25mm circular needles from Woolly Mahoosive.  Many good suppliers for extreme knitting also on Etsy.

 

Cat basket in progress

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For a knitting pattern to be successful, it has to be thoroughly tested.  Just as important, it must be easy to find the tools and materials needed to make it.

My giant wool cat basket is knitted in the round.  I’ve always made it using large 20mm doublepins.  Back in 2012, you couldn’t buy oversized doublepins anywhere, so I asked my Uncle to make some for me.  Many cat basket orders later, and a change of wool supply, I am still happily knitting these on the oversized doublepins.

Since then, extreme knitting has come on in leaps and bounds.  There are lots of giant yarns available from specialist suppliers, in both wool and acrylic.  You can even get giant circular needles for making those eye-popping blankets and throws.  But you still can’t get giant doublepins.  So how was I going to make my pattern appealing to knitters, if the tools for the job were not available?

Then I discovered the Magic Loop method.  This is how you can knit even the smallest circumference on any length of circular needles.  I tried it and found it really simple.  I knitted the whole basket this way and it worked a treat.  Then I knitted the whole basket in reverse – from the outer rim to the centre.  That worked too!

Next is to test knit the basket again, using 1kg of easily available arm knitting yarn.  Step forward Dove Grey acrylic from Woolly Mahoosive!  Let’s see how the basket knits up with this yarn…watch this space!

Giant Knitting Cat Baskets are here!

…and they’ve been well and truly road-tested by all three crew members.  I think we have the seal of approval.

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It was useful to make two baskets.  One came out a bit tighter than the other, and that turned out to be the best one.  This is because, over a few days’ constant use, they stretch.  So the looser basket has ended up a bit on the floppy side, and the tighter basket is just about right.  Also, as I knitted the base more tightly, the sides appear taller.

The crew spent hours lounging around in their new beds, which enabled us to take lots of scrumptious photos of them.  My partner is a professional photographer (thesheffieldlens.com) – I am sure you can tell which are his pictures and which one is off my iphone!

I am excited to make the next batch.  I might try a different colour, or at least, a different sheep….

Giant Knitting Cat Baskets here soon!

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

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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.

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It’s not finished yet, Monty.

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Make your own giant yarn

Today I wet felted the whole batch of texel wool roving, to make my own version of giant yarn.  If it works, the cat baskets are back on.  This is a very exciting prospect for me, and worth the effort.

And it took quite a bit of effort too, transforming this

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into this

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and hanging it out to dry.

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Three and a half kilos of wet wool is really heavy, as I found when I lugged it down the stairs and into the garden.  It drips a lot, so that was the best place for it.

It took me about 4 hours to process the whole batch, including a couple of false starts and working out the best approach. There is nothing online that shows you how to do this (believe me, I looked!)  So it was a matter of trial and error.  I can see how my technique improved as I went along.  I needed to achieve an even thickness of yarn whilst not disrupting the fibres too much.  From about halfway through, I was happy with the result.

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The new yarn is a lot thicker than the yarn I used before, so I will need to re-write my patterns and possibly use larger doublepins than the set I have now.  Giant wooden knitting needles are easily available, as are giant circulars, but giant doublepins are rare so will probably need to be custom-made….

I’m very excited about getting my new yarn onto some needles soon!  Watch this space…