Tuesday, 1 November 2011

You lose some...


Old jumpers are one of my favourite crafting materials. In fact, I find it takes some discipline to keep wearing (and repairing) a jumper until its time to be felted and cut up has really come. A rather desperate moth problem in our old house hastened the demise of a few poor specimens, and I've sometimes found ready-to-craft second-hand cashmere jumpers on Ebay (there's also a lot of very wearable second-hand cashmere on there). Cashmere hot water bottle covers are easy and seriously luxurious - £89 from Brora, or about £5 if you make your own from an old jumper (and you'll have plenty left over for other projects). Pure wool knitted felt is also luxurious and nothing like the little synthetic felt sheets you get in craft shops. You can easily felt any 100% wool jumper in the machine, provided it's not the "machine washable" type - goodness only knows what they do to that stuff, but it absolutely will not submit. I find a 60C wash hot enough, with my normal eco laundry liquid and usually some towels to fill up the machine and provide a bit of friction.
This bright red pure wool cardigan, bought second-hand on Ebay for wearing rather than crafting, shrank every time I carefully hand-washed it, so eventually I gave in and felted it once and for all in the machine. It made lovely smooth, soft felt, not too thick and still with a little bit of stretch. Perfect for mittens, I thought...



Alas, the mittens are a bit of a failure. I cut them from the sleeves of the cardigan, keeping the cuffs intact. This was probably a mistake because it forced me to make them too narrow (particularly the thumbs). Elizabeth Zimmermann suggests knitting children's mittens with the thumbs right on the sides, rather than putting them towards the palm, so that they'll fit either hand. I did the same for simplicity's sake - it meant I could make each mitten in one piece and have minimal sewing to do. But it makes the mittens twist round in an annoying way when you wear them. I thought the felted seams of the cardigan would make a nice feature on the back of the mitten, but try as I might I couldn't get both sleeves to behave the same so the seam is at a different angle on each mitten.

I think the main problem, though, might be the colour. They're very bright red. Perfect for semaphore, I would imagine. I like red and I enjoyed wearing the cardigan, but somehow the glowing gloves seem to make my arms look even longer than they are (in fact, the colour also appears to have been too much for my camera - sorry about the pictures). Hmph. These will either be cut up and turned into little Christmas decorations, or stashed away for mitten emergencies. On the plus side, there's plenty more of that red felt for other uses; also, on this project I used my sewing machine's stretch overlocking stitch for the first time and it seems quite promising.

And at the opposite end of the creative success/failure spectrum, another thing I made recently moved someone to tears of joy, apparently! Details in my next post...