Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Felting Fairy administers the Smackdown

So I had this idea to make a felted cat bed. Not an original idea by any means, but I've been wanting to make one for a while and finally decided to do so with some Noro Big Kureyon that I got for a great sale price. But I didn't want just a regular, small cat bed---I wanted a bigger cat bed!

I have knit many a felted basket in my time---granted, most of them smaller than what I was planning, but most turned out successfully nonetheless. Now, logic would tell you that I should take the methods I've used to make many successful small baskets in the past and transfer that to make the bigger cat bed. Yes, that would work! But did I take the path of logic and use what I already knew to make the big cat bed? No.

I thought I would try somebody else's pattern, because of course they must know better than me, right? Then, I would modify said pattern by adding just one more increase to make it a little bigger than the stated finished size! Yes! What's a little extra increase between friends? What possible harm could come of it? You can see where this is going, can't you?

So, I happily knit the popular Kitty Pi Bed pattern (based on the EZ Pi Shawl pattern) with my Noro, slipped in my little extra increase modification and some extra rows, and even cleverly added many rows to the side wall structure to make sure the sides would be tall enough to accommodate the extra width of the bed. After 3-1/2 skeins and feeling that the bed had reach ginormous-enough proportions, I further expressed my creativity by trying a new s-t-r-e-t-c-h-y bind off I recently found! (Sometimes with felting the upper edge can draw in too much, even if the bind off doesn't seem tight, so I thought I'd try out the new bind off to help eliminate that problem.)

It was after the bind off that I began to think that something was just not going to turn out right. Perhaps it was that first little tap of the Felting Fairy's wand on my shoulder. With the Pi pattern, the sides just flopped out sideways and could barely be detected before felting---not a good sign. Ginormousness aside, pre-felted baskets always show some structure of the side walls before felting. But the whole thing just lay there like a flounder. I tried to keep the faith and believe in the pattern, including what seemed like my very slight modifications, hoping it would all come together in the felting wash.

Here's what it looked like pre-felting (minion actual size)...

My little Toebi loves it! Sweet Toebi.

Slightly small cat on a very large mat. No problem---it will shrink tons when felted. See those slight little curls on the edges representing about 12 inches of knit side walls for the bed? Um, no problem--when it tightens up in the felting process they will stand up tall and firm! (second bigger whap from the Felting Fairy wand). Remain in denial about that new stretchy bind-off you included that might actually work. (Now being soundly thumped on the head by fairy wand...). We must have hope until the end, though, so let's move on to the actual felting and all will be fixed---Thump!! (That Fairy broad is really starting to piss me off now.)

So, fresh from the always-forgiving felting process (thump), I present to you for your amusement, the Minion Mat! (Thump, whomp, thump). Far better than an actual cat bed, and useful for all manners of cat repose,....

minion wrestling matches,....

and Felting Fairy smackdowns---and all unemcumbered by those silly, unneccessary side walls! Whomp! The Felting Fairy smites a death blow to the knitter who dares to get creative with a strange, untried pattern! Ouch. Well at least the colors are pretty, and it has that nice little lip to distinguish it as a handy cat mat rather than an actual cat bed or a throw rug!

Go ahead---mock at will the thoroughly beaten and smacked-down knitter. I'll wait while you run to the bathroom because you've peed yourself laughing at my folly. After all, it was only 4 skeins of Big Kureyon, countless hours of circular knitting, eleventy-seven repeats of dragging it out of the wash cycle to check the felting, and endless sniffling while my tired little fingers worked to form something resembling a curled lip on the edges as it dried...

Well, at least Toebi likes it---he's an easy customer to please. And what are the lessons have we learned here today, children?

  1. The Felting Fairy is a bad-ass beeyotch who will whup the life out of you if you think you are getting all independent and creative-like with felting untested patterns, especially those of a large scale.
  2. Don't use (or modify) someone else's pattern if you already have a method that has worked a zillion times before---you will certainly be smited a blow by aforermentioned fairy for believing that someone else's ideas must certainly be better than your own.
  3. Don't use Noro to felt objects that need some structure---it turns into a fuzzy, floppedy, floppy thing. (I should have known better when a Booga Bag felted out of Kureyon was sort of mushy and soft and needed a reinforced bottom added---but I thought the bulky version would be so much stiffer after felting---silly me.)
  4. If you have a yarn you have used successfully for past felting, think about using it when moving up on the felting project ginormousity scale.
  5. Always post your felting disasters in an open forum for public mocking as payment to the Felting Fairy, so hopefully she won't open a can of whoop-ass on your next felting attempt! The felting process is time-consuming and uses a lot of precious yarn to make a shrunken object, so you don't want to risk getting smacked down again!
  6. Cats are beloved creatures who pretend to love what you made for them, even if it turns out to be a mat and not a bed, and only laugh at you on the inside.

I guess that simple example of a "true" statement from my first intro to logic class really IS true----"The cat is on the mat."