felting failure, and a contest

Believe it or not, I have finished my Christmas knitting! Granted, there wasn't all that much, just those two fair isle stockings, something for my mom (she wants it to be a surprise so y'all'll have to wait a few weeks to see), and a couple hats for our 1yo niece and 2.5yo nephew in North Carolina (which will be blogged as soon as I figure out how to use my new pom-pom maker.) After the holiday knitting, I was planning to get going on some sweater projects for myself and maybe the kids, but I got completely sidetracked by the new book Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson. Now, I never was much of a toy-knitter. We have a couple jumbo-sized soft blocks I made long ago to use up some cotton leftovers, and somewhere there's a stuffed pig for whom I never bothered to attach eyes or a tail...and that's it. Itty-Bitty Toys is so full of clever little projects, though, that I just couldn't resist.

I started with a felted bouncy ball, and I think that might have been a mistake. Oh, have I mentioned I'm not really a fan of felted knits either? I have made exactly one felted project - a bag for my mom - and it turned out fine, but still. Chucking a hand-knitted item into a machine full of soap and hot water just to see what would happen hasn't ever appealed to me. But the felted bouncy ball? How could I go wrong? You just knit a pouch, stick a bouncy ball inside before the final decreases, and felt the dickens out of it. Cute as can be!


Attempt #1 got trashed before I bothered with a final picture, but here's a progress shot:

The problem, I think, was that it hugged the ball too tightly, so it couldn't shrink enough. So I cast on again and did some extra increases.

ETA: This picture was taken approx. 2 hours before the snow began to fall. We now have a couple inches on the ground and more to come!

Yeah, not so much. See all the extra room in there? I guess I increased too much. This little project knits up really quickly, so for my failed attempts, I haven't lost that much time, but it's still frustrating that I can't get this to work. I'm not ready to give up yet. I need either bigger needles or thinner yarn for the fabric to felt down enough. Fortunately, the plastic ball inside doesn't get damaged, so I can just cut off the pouch and re-use the ball until I get it right.


And now for the contest! Below is a picture of my last 4 attempts dyeing sock yarn with Kool-Aid and Wiltons food coloring. Even though some took a couple tries, I'm basically happy with how they turned out.

The base yarn is Knitpicks bare merino/nylon fingering weight. Each skein is 100g, I think about 440 yards. That's enough for a pair of socks for an average adult.

Here's the contest part. Leave a comment by 9:00pm Central Time Sunday Dec. 6 with answers to the following questions:

1) How long, if ever, have you been a sock knitter?
2) What is the next knitting project - any project, not just socks - you intend to finish in 2009?
3) Which color above is your favorite, and what would you do with it?

The winners will be the first commenter plus three others chosen randomly. I don't usually get many comments on this blog, so you've got a pretty good shot at winning! I'll announce results Sunday night or sometime Monday. You may or may not get your pick of colors; that depends on what y'all like, I guess.


katie said…
can't resist!

1. i've been knitting socks for, oh, about 10 years or so.

2. next project to finish is a new technique i'm stoked about. it involves felted mittens, and sewing stitches onto a knitting needle and knitting cuffs that are nice and snug on the wrists. will blog it eventually.

3. blue, blue is always my favorite. socks, of course.
Anonymous said…
I always enjoy the contests that are more than just comments.

1. I knit my first pair of socks this past January.

2. I've got way too many WIPs on the needles right now, but my goal is to finish a sweater I started for my husband.

3. I like all the colors, but I think the teal is my favorite. I think I'd go with a great lacy sock pattern for that since most of my sock yarn tends to be striped or otherwise colored so that it wont show patterns very well.
Jen said…
I finished my first pair of socks February 07.
If all goes according to plan my 3/4 sleeve cotton sweater will be done by the end of the year.
The slate blue under the orange would make nice socks for someone in my life who deserves them.
Dee said…
I'm always game for free yarn.

1. The first pair of socks I knit was about 4yrs ago.

2. I have a color work sweater project in line for 2009. It may get bumped if I knit sweaters for my nieces first.

3. I like the blue best with the green a close second. I don't like to knit socks so I would probably make gloves or a cowl or something?
trek said…
Knit my first pair of socks in October 2005. Next on my to finish list is either a cardigan (needs sleeves) or some slipper socks (depends on how much waiting room time I get vs peace and quiet time at home). The prettiest color is the darker blue, which would become a pair of socks :o)
Jessi said…
Please feel free to disqualify me for not being a knitter, but I thought it would be fun to answer the questions anyway:

1) I crocheted socks once. Just once. I found it horrible. I sometimes make baby booties, but not much, because they never seem to come out the same size.

2) I have about four projects racing for completion, so I'm not sure. And most of them I can't mention online because they are surprises for people.

3) I love the lavender and I think I would make a skinny, lacy scarf with it.
Caffeine Girl said…
1) I've been knitting socks for three years.
2) I'm trying to finish up a pair of Lacy Mock Rib Socks.
3) I've been on a tear with orange this year; can't get enough of the stuff!
Rosemary said…
1. I've been knitting socks since college--at least 15 years, maybe more.
2. The next project I finish will be either Rosamund or socks for a friend. Both are within a couple of hours of being finished--I just don't know which one I'm more likely to pick up tonight and tomorrow.
3. I like all the colors. Dyeing is such fun.
Anonymous said…
1. I knit my first and second pair of socks for my then boyfriend, now husband, in uh, 2002 and 2003 - both Christmas presents. I then forgot all about sock knitting until last year, and now I can't for the life of me understand why. I love socks! They are small and quick, and simple or complicated as you want to make them. They don't get put aside for months like sweaters. I just love them. Maybe it was the double points. I'm not a fan. Now that I've leared the magic loop method, and two at a time socks, I love to knit in the round. Before, not so much.

2. Next project to finish will either be a pair of gloves for my father in law for christmas (not yet started but a priority) made out of my own recently finished handspun . . . or a pair of gloves for me (already 3/4 of the way through the first glove after only 2 days but not a priority at all) made out of some lovely purple berocco ultra alpaca. Any bets on which one I'll finish first?

3. I LOVE the orange. Such a happy color. The others are nice two. I'll be honest, I'm currently on a glove kick, rather than a sock kick, so I might make some cabled gloves for my mom. http://www.freevintageknitting.com/mittens/617-gloves-pattern.html for which I think the purply one (which I also like quite a lot) would be just perfect, rather than the orange. But she'd have a harder time losing the orange!
Anonymous said…
1. I finished my first pair of socks just in time for Christmas last year--a pair of Red Sox socks for my brother in law.

2. The project I am closest to finishing is a pair of seamless argyle socks.

3. I like the green best for the project I'd envision for it: either the Rivendell socks by Janel Laidman, or as the base color in Eunny Jang's "Chuck's cabled socks"--for my wife in either case.

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