Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Friday, May 23, 2003

A Friday Quickie

I've had some serious fun of late doing some designing and stuff. One of my recent simple creations is here for your download and use. If you're a regular in these parts, you'll recognize it as the Cascade Fixation sock I showed here a few weeks ago. It's not that wizard of a pattern, but it's free, so you get what you pay for, I guess. I have done some additional designing and you'll see the sock in a rather public venue in just a few days. More soon, I promise......hehehehehehe. And I plan to do some serious designing in the coming days and weeks, as I have some REALLY fun yarn coming from Cascade Yarns for two different projects--one for them and another for a very fun, very funky online knitting publication we all know and love.

I'm nearly finished knitting another daypack using Noro Kureyon #92. You've seen another one just like it in a previous entry, prior to the art fair two weeks ago. This one is for a special friend and fellow artist (HI ERIN--if she's reading) who makes really fun, really nice jewelry. She likes my stuff alot and has a great sense of whimsy and experimenting, so I know she'll like this bag. I'm down to just the straps, so it will be finished this weekend and possibly felted. We'll see what else I can toss in the washer with it. Pictures to follow.

We've been doing some experimenting and ordering and playing with new fibers, new colors, and hand dyeing in an effort to bring you unique and exquisite things at our usual great prices. We were supposed to be invaded by some of our friends, but between busy schedules and a surprisingly-early holiday weekend (that some didn't realize was THIS weekend), they're postponing until late June or July. That means I have time to dye wonderful fibers. I have a special order to knock out for someone who wants some non-baby baby afghan yarn and I plan to do several other things while the equipment's all out. Also, some of the new fibers we'll be stocking include the most delicious sport-weight alpaca in several natural shades. Just think, eight ounces of soft and beautiful alpaca will be yours for under $20 (I think we figured it to be $18.90). Now who can resist that? I didn't think so.............

Be well, be safe, and be in touch. We love to hear from you. Schnizz out!

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Return of the King of Felting

No, I’m not self-aggrandizing here, as many of you refer to me with that moniker. I don’t mind, really, as it’s kind of an earned title. We’ve knit and felted and finished hundreds of bags, hats, clogs, and more in the 18 months since ThreadBear started as a company that produced finished hand-knitted goods for sale in retail, consigned, and wholesale venues. And oddly enough, it’s that finished goods business that’s morphed into the yarn shop side of ThreadBear. We originally estimated it would take us three to five years to get there, and thanks to you, our readers, supporters, customers, and most importantly FRIENDS, we're there. We owe it all to you folks, both local and far away. And we’re grateful.

So now I have to continue to earn that title in your eyes. And we’re back—with a vengeance. Keep your eyes here for all kinds of ideas, tips, tricks, inspiration, and more in the coming weeks and months and years. We’re not going away, so please don’t you! And now for today’s ideas and ramblings……………

Here’s a couple bags that I knit recently and felted on Monday. They’re both made using the same stitch count, row count, and otherwise identical directions. The only difference is that one is made with Noro Kureyon (a fantastic way to incorporate TONS of color into your knitting, whether or not you’re felting) and the other is that tried-and-true favorite, Cascade 220 in a wonderful turquoise heather.

If you knit and follow most directions that call for worsted-weight, feltable wool, you’ll knit with a single strand of Kureyon. The bag will finish larger, as Kureyon is a heavy worsted/aran-weight yarn, which means it knits at about 4.5sts/inch (18sts/10cm for our non-American readers). Beware, however, of making your straps to most patterns’ exact lengths--Noro Kureyon straps don't felt down alot, and they tend to come out large-ish. You can see the difference in the picture. And it is significant.

Kureyon is an amazing yarn--we have about a dozen colors on hand right now (not yet on the website--need some? e-mail me). The color repeats change approximately every 18 yards (16m) and the combinations are not anything I’d consider putting together, but they work. Very well. But if you’ve ever handled this yarn, it has a certain coarseness to it, despite it being a single (one ply). I’ve talked with others, and they agree with my idea that the wool must be abused prior to spinning to the point where it is partially felted when it is spun (maybe it’s in the dyeing process, and they take it from HOT to set the color to COLD to rinse, causing the fiber to seize; maybe not). So, since it’s a little pre-felted, you’ve got to alter your plans to get your bag or hat or ?? to felt down appropriately. I used Kureyon for my own (scroll down to Rob M. in Bloomington, IN) Fuzzy Feet back in January, and they felted quite easily, but bags are an entirely different matter. (I’ve also seen it used in hats and as one of the two strands to knit the upper in the FiberTrends Felted Clog project).

When you felt, you'll have to take extra measures to get it to shrink up like you want it to. It will start to shrink and do so a little bit in the first couple cycles. Then it will seem to STOP. That's when I employ the ice bath technique--we have a half bath off our laundry room and I fill the sink with ice water (literally--lots of ice and tap water). I go from CHILL (in the sink) to HOT (in the washer) between each full cycle. It will seem like nothing's going on for two cycles (even with the shocking). Then it will begin felting again, and after about six full cycles (16 minutes each on our washer) it will be felted---and there's a wonderful halo on the yarn when it's done. But the overall bag is much larger than if you just used a simple wool like Cascade 220.

So that’s the musings of Dr. Knit (another title I’ve held, since I’m somewhat overeducated and teach knitting now). Or of The King of Felting. Or Jerk-Man. You be the judge on what you call me. No matter what it is, I’m alright with it, as I’m ecstatic to be doing what I’m doing and honored that you turn to me and these pages for ideas and knowledge.

Be well, be good to each other, and KEEP ‘EM CLICKIN!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

A Certain Knit-Along Project Has Been Postponed

We were working in conjunction with others to support a knit-along project that starts June 1. Unfortunately, today we were contacted by some of the folks involved in the original project and we won't be using the materials they created for said project, for a variety of reasons.

For those of you interested in a project of this sort, be assured that all connections to this former copyrighted project are severed (the page we posted is now taken down) and Matt and I will design a new sweater pattern appropriate for an 18-inch stuffed animal (or doll) and offer various colorways and combinations and yarn. This is a setback, not a death sentence. And we'll just have to design something equally or more adorable for you to use. Maybe a ThreadBear Island Knit along? (grin)

If you have a button on your page that supported this new knit-along, please delete it. Matt (or someone else that's talented and makes buttons....Leigh?) will make a new button for our new project.

Where's Rodney King when you need him (the one that said "Why can't we all just get along").