Sunday, April 17, 2011

Art in Pieces (Two)

In my last post, I mentioned I was done the "brute knitting" for my knitted square of my church's Easter project. I did manage to get it spun out in the washing machine and pinned to shape before going to bed that night.

The gauge was a little hard to figure out because the yarn really liked to shrink in the vertical direction and spread in the horizontal. If I didn't stretch it out, the piece was only about half as long as it needed to be. But a little persuasion with some pins, and I had it to size:
By the next morning it was dry. I left it pinned to the carpet while I continued to work on it. (Although I figured it would help, I did not trust the blocking to make the piece actually hold its shape. The yarn content was very high in acrylic and only 20 percent wool. That's not enough for the blocking to really hold up.)

First thing to do this morning was get the grid marked on the fabric. Obviously, marking the board it would be mounted on wouldn't do me any good.
Instead, I took some cheap craft thread and ran strands from side to side and top to bottom to mark the grid, anchoring them with just a back stitch (no need for knots).

Then I cut strands of wool left over from my February Fitted Pullover and roughly laid out all the shaping lines that I was going to add with needle felting.

Then I started punching with the needle felter.
That took a lot of time. For one thing, with the piece lying on the floor, I couldn't punch straight down. I had to push it through at a steep angle. (Only hit my fingers twice. The warnings are right--the needles are very sharp.) For another, with the base fabric being primarily acrylic, it didn't take very well. But it took well enough, and with a little patience and careful working, I got the lines "drawn on."

A little more time and a break for brunch and I had the piece done! Only thing left to do then was to glue it on to the mounting board. A little work with the glue gun got that accomplished:
Again, here's the picture I was given for comparison:

The colour looks a little off, but I'm thinking with so many people doing this, it's going to vary from piece to piece anyway. (We'll see...)

The knitting itself was finished relatively quickly. I knew with scale of the project (24" square) and just a week to get it done that bulky was the way to go. I purchased a bulky cream colour (Wool-Ease Chunky Thick & Quick) and held it with two strands of a variegated chunky (Deborah Norville Serenity Chunky). I used the largest needles I had (US15).

After knitting seven or eight inches I realized that it was was too thick and would take too much yarn at that rate. I took it out to the first row and then reknit it wrapping the yarn around the needle twice for each stitch. That made for a much better fabric. (That's a good trick in general, btw, if you don't have big enough needles.)

The black was also the Wool-Ease Chunky. I thought holding two strands of it would equal the three other strands, but something was off. I don't know if I bought an even bulkier weight of the same yarn in cream (I no longer have the label to check) or if the black just isn't as thick, but two strands was not enough. I ended up Navajo plying one strand of the black as I went and that resulted in four strands being knitted at once. That seemed to do the trick. (ETA: I found the label for the cream yarn. It was "Thick & Quick" so I did buy the wrong weight in the black.)

Final post-blocking gauge? 6.5 sts and 4 rows per 4". That's huge!!

When I dropped off the squares at church this morning I took a minute to flip through the others that had been dropped off. Besides paintings, there were paper collages, fabric collages and construction paper cutouts. They were all really neat and I can't wait to see how the whole comes out. But I'll have to wait until next week (as will you)...

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