Saturday, January 05, 2008

A New Year, and our first installment of "Ask Ms. Kitty!"

Happy New Year, everyone! Toe-cat and Technocat had a little party, and of course the paparazzi captured the following candid drunken picture (I know they had to be drunk when this was taken, because no self-respecting minion would ever be caught on film with a bow on his head unless he was crocked)...

Intervention followed when they recovered from their hangovers and they have promised to go into rehab in 2008, as well as get a job to replace my fine wine stash. I mean, those boxes of wine with the spigots on them were vintage and we got them on sale---very hard to replace!

I know it's been a while since I've posted---lots of gift shopping and cookie baking, as well as socializing and just general laziness has been occupying my time over the holidays. There was also some knitting, but due to the above-mentioned laziness, the pictures are still in my camera awaiting uploading and editing. So I'll save the knitting and received Christmas gift bragging until next time.

Since it's a fresh new year, I thought I'd introduce something new here on Knotty Kitty Knits. This new feature was brought about by a lovely reader, Carlene, who dared to ask moi, a well-claimed non-expert, for some knitting advice. I have been asked for advice before by the unwitting who come here and believe I have any good advice to offer, but on those occasions I have chosen to answer in private, so as not to expose my lack of expertise to public scrutiny. But hey, it's a new year and why not throw caution to the wind and offer help to those who solicit it in my own public forum. [And there is also the fact that Carlene is blogless and left no email address, thus forcing me to answer in public because I want to help (yep, I'm a giver) and she left me no other choice!]

That being said, I bring to you the first (and possibly only) episode of "Ask Ms. Kitty!" The feature where you can ask Ms. Kitty for advice on any subject in which she is not an expert, which covers everything, including and especially knitting, and she will give you an answer, utilizing her many years of non-expertise! Advice not guaranteed and to be taken at your own risk, don't try this at home and usual disclaimers, blah, blah, blah....

There! Now that I've covered myself legally, on to our very special first (and possibly only) installment of "Ask Ms. Kitty!"

Carlene writes:

Hey Knottykitty,
I stumbled across your blog while looking for some help with a crochet bowl I made. The yarn is 75% wool and 25% soy and I am struggling to get this stuff to felt. I have tried hand felting in the sink and using the washing machine. So far the bowl hasn't shrunk at all and merely looks slightly fuzzy on the outside. Do I need to try different soap? More washes? (I think it's been washed 10 times so far.) Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Dear Carlene,

Without seeing your yarn and your actual bowl, I can only offer some suggestions that I hope might help. I don't know if you've done any felting before, so excuse me if I offer any suggestions that are too basic. Of course, Ms. Kitty is not an expert, so these suggestions come only from my own haphazard felting experiences:

1. Are you positive that your yarn is only wool and soy? I'm not sure if the percentage of soy might prevent it from felting, or make it take longer to felt. Sometimes yarns are treated in such a way that can delay or prevent felting. Have you seen any other felted projects from the yarn you used?

2. Is the yarn white or off-white? Sometimes these colors of yarn, even if 100% wool, are treated chemically in such a way that they will not felt.

3. Did you crochet the bowl on a large enough hook to leave some "air space" between the stitches? I know crochet can be very dense, so if there isn't at least a tiny bit of room for the fibers to move about and attach to each other, there will be less felting, or felting that goes very slowly. I always try to use a larger needle or hook size than would look good for an unfelted project, so the stitch fibers have plenty of room to move about and felt.

4. How long did you actually felt the bowl? Some fibers are just plain stubborn! For instance, I made a felted bag out of 100% wool called Donegal Tweed, which took, literally, over three hours to felt. I thought I had gone insane (that day) because I was doing everything the usual way and couldn't figure out why it wasn't felting. Found out later (of course) that they treat this particular wool in a way that makes it very slow to felt (Thank you LYS who suggested this yarn and left out that little bit of info until afterward--teehee).

5. Are you using at least warm water, and adding a couple of towels or pairs of jeans, or tennis balls to add friction? Felting needs friction to move along well. It also needs a softening agent, like a few drops of dish soap, or better yet, some non-rinse wool wash added to the felting water. This helps the yarn soften and release the fibers to tangle with each other! I think warmth of the water counts too, though some experts say that's not as important as the friction. Without one of these three---friction, warmth and softening agent, felting may be more difficult or take much longer to complete.

Hmmmm.....that's about all I can think of to help you right now. I hope something I've mentioned helps! If you can tell me what yarn you used, and tell me exactly what you did when you tried to felt it, perhaps I can give a little more non-expert advice! (i.e., Did'ya wash it 10 separate times, or 10timesallatonce?) There is the possibility that you might just have to process the bowl for a longer period of time in one session for the felting to get going. Or worse (and I hope this isn't the case) there may be unlabeled ingredients in your yarn or manufacturing treatment that will cause it to be unfeltable. If in doubt in the future, try felting a swatch first. (Of course, I never swatch because I like to learn the hard way).

There is one one wool/soy yarn that I use frequently for felted projects that I absolutely love---Paton's SWS. It felts beautifully with a solid structure and a nice, bumpy texture throughout, probably from the soy part of the yarn.

Please let me know---I'm really curious to hear how things turn out for you, and if any of the suggestions help! Good luck, Carlene!

And that ends our episode of "Ask Ms Kitty!" If you have any questions about anything about which Ms. Kitty is not an expert, which is everything, please post them here on my blog as a comment, or send by email to twominionsatyahoodotcom.

Oh, and by the way---for any future episodes: Ms. Kitty prefers to be addressed in polite inquiry as "Dear Ms. Kitty,..." "HEY Knottykitty" will do, but may not get you an official response in a future episode. The advice won't be any more reliable, but I'm just sayin' is all....