Yarn Addiction Thursday: Baby Fish Slippers

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Fish Slippers

A friend had a baby and I decided to make some baby slippers. They knit up quickly and are fun to make. I use a pattern by La Droguerie (of course). The original pattern is for frogs but I didn’t have enough green left over to make two slippers. I had some nice blue so I decided I could convert the frog into fish by using some felting wool in a lime green. So not only a gift, but a stash-busting project!

I drew a quick sketch and then drew out a template for the fins. I needle felted the wool, traced the template on top, cut out the fins then finished the fin edges with the felting needle. I felted the wool with soap and water just to be sure. The eyes are felted, too. This way, I’m less worried about small parts that could end up in a baby’s mouth.

Each slipper took about an hour to knit and sew up. This was a project where it was actually fun to sew on the embellishments.

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Materials:
La Droguerie Surnaturelle
Hamanaka felt wool

Mission Inspiration: Helsinki

City and Sea

Photos from walking around Helsinki in January. I convinced my husband to walk around Helsinki for hours by luring him with the promise of food at Hietalahti Market Hall. It was a loooong nice walk and the food was good.

I really enjoy scandinavian food. The bread is always good and hearty, there are lots of sandwiches with vegetables. I’m totally into sandwiches since I got back.

Shops

For some reason I didn’t take any pictures of the Marimekko shop. I love their prints but the clothes just don’t work for my body type. There are many Marimekko shops in Tokyo. I like the simple, minimalism design I saw. The clean lines make me feel really relaxed.

Some Helsinki winter color palettes:

Mission Yarnpossible: Tallinn

Our trip to Tallinn was a complete surprise and totally unplanned. We read about the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn in a brochure in our hotel room. The Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia is a UNESCO world heritage site for its architecture dating back to the 13th century. Since it was January 1st and almost everything in Helsinki was closed, we figured we might as well take the trip. It turns out that Old Town had lots of stores open and a Christmas Market in the Square. I was also keen to go because when I think of Estonia, I think of knitting

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I made these 4 years ago and gave them to a friend.

I love multi-colored Estonian patterns. I’ve made a couple pairs of mittens using Scandanavian patterns. I discovered this through The Mitten Book: Traditional Patterns from Gotland, by Ingrid Gottfridson. My multi-colored knitting suffers from tension issues but I do it anyway. I’m sure there are differences in the colorwork knitting styles between Finland, Sweden and Estonia but I’m not clear what those might be. I was hopeful that I could find some yarn or some nice pieces to take home.

One of the first things I saw was a yarn-bombed bike in a window! Very encouraging! I love looking at yarn-bombed objects. How they do it is a mystery to me. One I intend to continue to enjoy as a mystery.

Yarn bomb that bike!
Yarn bomb that bike!

I found great looking at a couple of folk-art boutiques in Old Town. The yarn was really interesting but it was thin which means lots of work to knit; and coarse, which means really itchy-scratchy products. I can see how this wool would be great for blocking snow out, but I don’t like scratchy. But there are many wool-based souvenirs in Tallinn’s Old Town. My husband got a sweater, I bought a balaclava hat for a friend, and a pair felted mouse slippers for myself. The amount of felted work for sale was almost staggering.
Best Slippers Ever!


rattirattoI completely adore my mouse slippers. I call them Ratti and Ratto (sort of playing on the Finnish word for rat or mouse, even though they are Estonian). They were 20 euros which was on the cheap end for what was available. They have suede soles. The wool looks scratchy but the pink insides are very soft on the feet. The pink insides aren’t attached very well and one eye fell off on the first day. But they are still fun. I have plans to make Ratti a pi-rat by putting on a black eye patch in place of another eye.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Novelist Gesozaburo Ikamura

Ikamura-San is busy writing his latest opus. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have already seen one of these photos.

In my interview with Ikamura, he stated that the squid’s point of view is poorly represented. He notes that International Cephalopod Awareness Days (October 8-12) is a great start. Action ever being Ikamura’s watchword, he is already taking steps to remedy the dearth of cephalopodic literature written by Cephalopoda.
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I suggested that his work so far is a little too Clash of the Titans but he informed me his inspiration was actually Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman.”

So come on and support Ikamura! If you have a squidly yarn, tale or link, share the inky squid love.

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Some inky links to get you started:
International Cephalopod Awareness Day on Facebook
Nat Geo video of giant squid

Note:
Ikamura was designed and made by (me) Lori Ono. You can occasionally see his adventures here. I posted this under Yarn Addiction Thursday because he is handmade and the suckers were needle felted.

Froggio Froggeddabaddit

Froggio Froggeddabaddit is based on a La Drougerie pattern with a few modifications. The pattern is very similar to the one I used for Kitijiro Nekowski so it was really easy to make this one up.

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The first modificiation is in the feet. Sewing up the fabric for the footpads really annoyed me. It was the least fun part of the cats and Froggio so I made my own needle felt footpads. I put the number 2 and 9 on the feet because the 29th is my birthday. If you notice the back paws, the dice show two and a nine as well.

The second modification is the addition of a mouth. My favorite part of a frog is that the tongue can lash put and nab an unsuspecting bug. And the fact that the long tongue fits in the mouth? Any frog of mine had go have a tongue that could go in and out.

I had some scrap pink fabric and made a little sack. I made a needle felt tongue, sewed it into the mouth then sewed the sack inside the frog. The tongue rolls up and fits inside the little sack or can stick out and be long. I toyed with the idea of putting Velcro on the tongue but since Froggio is made of easily snaggable wool, I nixed the idea.

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I still made some little felt bugs for him to eat. There is a little pocket for the belly where his dinner goes.

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They ended up being a little larger than I originally envisioned. They just became fun to make.

These are two bugs I needle felted for Froggio.

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Kitijiro Nekowski’s Cousins: cats with a fish in a bag

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These are the cats I knitted my my nieces and nephew. They are the same pattern as Kitijio Nekowski, from La Droguerie. When I finished the cats, I felt that they needed a little something more so I gave them accessories. What does the modern cat want? Fish! And little bags to carry them in.

The felted fish (I love that alliteration) are my design. I’m really happy about them because they look exactly like my pencil sketches. What surprised me is the feedback that the fish are more interesting and popular than the cats.

I made little satchel bags out of mandarin orange nets and bias tape. In theory, it should have been easy. Making them was more challenging because the plastic net is really stretchy and hard to keep it in place with the bias tape. Plus it would have been easy if I hadn’t threaded the sewing machine wrong. This was the second time for me to use it so the learning curve hasn’t been mastered yet.

To complete the gift I made little sleeping bags for the cats. I sewed the initial of my nieces and nephew on the outside of the bag to mark who got which cat. The sleeping bags were another part where theory didn’t live up to practice. By the time I made the third bag, I had figured out the machine and felt confident enough to rip out the seams of the first bag and do it over.

The photos were done at my local post office before I sent them off. I almost forgot to take any photos in my rush to get them to Canada I’m time for Christmas. Happy to say, the package made it in time.

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Snowmen Fight: Samurai vs Ninja. Get Your Winter War Mittens Here!I A Post in 2 Parts. Part the Second.

recycled sweater into mittens
Recycled sweater with my own felted design. Fighting snowmen. Ninja vs. Samurai

Today, I finish the article of the making of the Fuyu no Jin Mittens. As I wrote in the previous post Fuyu no Jin means a winter war in Japanese. Traditionally, it’s army against army in winter but my mittens are going small scale. Yes, I’m taking a lot of liberties.

The previous post was about the designing process. This is about the construction process.

Materials

100% wool sweater to be recycled
Felting wool in 5 colors

  • White or ivory
  • Grey
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red

Embroidery thread
4 tiny black beads for eyes
Needle Felting Gear

  • Felting Needle
  • Sponge (for underneath the needle and project
  • Liquid soap
  • Water (warm to hot)

Sewing Machine or Hand Needle and Thread
Needle for sewing details
design for felting
Mitten Template (made from tracing hand or a template you like)

Pattern to Sewing
1.  Make a template to trace out the mittens.

  • I searched the Internet for a nice template but never really found one. It seems like thumbs are the trickiest part. This time I added thumbs separately.  I ended up tracing the outline of my hand with a 1 cm allowance I wanted tighter mittens rather than loose and the sweater I was recycling has a lot of give.

2. Trace or pin the template to the sweater and cut it out. I traced one side then flipped the template for the back reverse side then traced, cutting the body of the mitten as one piece and one seam. Thumbs were not part of this template. I added thumbs by draping material over my thumb.

  • If I had to do it again I would trace the whole hand, thumb included then just flip the template. I did that with a second pair. Construction was easier and it didn’t feel different to wear.

3. Sew the mittens up. I hand-sewed these and it took a couple hours for each mitt. I used a sewing machine on a second pair and it went much faster.

  • I first tried to felt the seams. That didn’t go well. It might have worked if I’d allowed more than a .5cm. The seam felting was wasted time.

Adding the Design
1.  Put the mittens on the hand and mark out the part the design will fit into.

2.  Trace the design onto the mitten.

  • I redrew the design from the sketch on the mitt rather than trace. I used disappearing fabric marker which became a bit troublesome. As time passed, I had to redraw on the mitten. This happened several times so the design morphed a bit. Rather than getting upset, I just consider this transition part of the process.

3.  Put the sponge inside the mitten and under where you will needle felt.

4.  Needle felt the design. I followed the instructions from this website for how to felt a design onto a surface. I think their instructions were good. Rather than repeating them here, I recommend you check out the link.

Felting
1.   Hand-wash the design using hot water and liquid soap. Gently rub the design to felt the fibers. You might want to wear rubber gloves if the water is hot but still be careful about burns.

2.  Roll the mittens the mittens in a towel and allow to dry flat. Be gentle!

3.  Check the design when dry and use the felting needle on loose parts or tidy up the design.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 if needed.

5.  If the design is secure and you are happy with it embroider embellishments.
On these mittens I embroidered a mouth and sewed on two onyx beads for eyes.

Care
These mittens might survive a machine wash, though I wouldn’t care to test it. I recommend gentle hand-washing and drying flat.

Use
I’ve used the mittens for daily wear and bike rides and they worked well.  When I made felted seams, the seams opened up during a bike ride. So far, the hand-sewing has been durable and no problems with the designs.

If you have any suggestions of feedback about making the design or construction process easier, I’d love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed the two posts.

Snowmen Fight: Samurai vs Ninja. Get Your Winter War Mittens Here!I A Post in 2 Parts. Part the First

recycled sweater into mittens
Recycled sweater with my own felted design. Fighting snowmen. Ninja vs. Samurai

Time: 10 hours (depending on skill and gear)

Materials

100% wool sweater to be recycled
Mitten Template (made from tracing hand)
Felting wool in 5 colors
Embroidery thread
4 tiny black beads for eyes
Needle Felting Gear
Sewing Machine (or Needle) and Thread
Needle for sewing details
design for felting
(for a more complete materials list, check out part 2)

Process

Brainstorming

I attended a local Stitch and Bitch but I hadn’t any current, portable projects to work on. I showed up because it’s a nice crowd and I decided I’d work on an idea of something to make. I had an old cashmere sweater that was just too short for me and thought I’d recycle it. I’d recently seen some needle felting and it occurred to me that I could felt a design onto recycled mittens. I had no idea really what I wanted to sketch so I just let my pencil wander.

I was a bit surprised that this is where I ended up. I love to draw snowmen (in Japanese they are called yukidaruma). I wanted the snowman to have a little bit of character and something Japanese-styled. All I can say about the ninja is that I must have seen something on TV around that time. The way I drew the mask is a little bit like the female ninja character, Nezumi Onna (mouse woman) on a jidai-geki.

The snowflake above the head was supposed to be a shuriken/snowflake. I loved the idea but I quickly gave up the shuriken idea as being too difficult to for felting and the size.

I’m not sure how authentic nunchuks are for Japan and ninja.  I don’t think they are very authentic but they were fun and easy to do, so I used them.

So I had one hand done, but didn’t want to have ninja vs. ninja. So a samurai was the next logical choice.

I had this idea of them fighting on a bridge with a castle in the background and snow falling. Then I had a reality check. This was my first needle-felting design project and I wanted it to looks good and be simple. I still like the idea so I might actually do this as a drawing someday.

I was really happy with how I got this snowman to appear to have more dynamic movement but still be round and weighty. His chomage (the samurai hairstyle) at this point looks ok. The clothes are suggestive of Japanese men’s kimono rather than representative.

That’s a Fun Sketch, but Can You Felt It?

So I had two simple designs that I really liked. Before I started to make the mittens, I wanted to make sure that I could felt the design well enough to satisfy me. This was my first time to felt a 2-D pattern, not to mention one of my own design. I didn’t want to go through the work of making mittens only to mess them up with shoddy work. I needed practice. In all honesty, the project languished at this stage for a few months.

I started with the ninja.

I did a bit of research and found this site for felting designs with a felting needle. I checked out a lot of sites but this was the easiest for me to understand.

Felting test #1. Ninja

I cut out a strip from the sweater and drew the design on the wool. It’s not easy to do a good sketch with a fabric marker on wool. I made an underbody of the snowman before felting his clothes on. I don’t know if I would do it that way again. I didn’t with the samurai and that was easier and less bulky.

When I finished I was pretty happy with it. Since I liked it quite a bit and didn’t want to waste the effort, I made it into a bookmark. The pink border in needled felted from some felting wool I had so that the sweater background wouldn’t unravel.

 

Next up was the samurai.

Having learned my lesson from the ninja (taken out of context, that sounds much more interesting than needle-felting), I didn’t put an underbody and felt clothes on top. The effect is a bit different. It gives the work a bit of a pieced effect, more pronounced lines between the colors. Sometimes it made a bit more of a gap than I would like but maybe that’s just the medium and I have to live with it.

Felting Test #2: Samurai

This time I didn’t make a bookmark. The piece I cut was just large enough to test my design. I felt confident with the felting technique after the ninja. I wanted to practice the samurai before doing the mitten. Now I regret not taking a bigger piece to make a bookmark of the samurai. I’ll maybe felt it onto a larger piece someday.

Which brings us to the end of the design and practice portion of this entry. Check out part 2 on Friday.
If you have any suggestions of feedback about making the design process easier, I’d love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed it.

Felt Your Way to New Characters with Needle Felting.

needle felted jam, camera, matsrushyka and a needle charm
From lumps of fluffy wool to unique characters. Kit by Hamanaka.

This is needle felting mixed together with a photography, lomo-esque feel. Crafting and photography in a happy union!

As you may have noticed from my previous post, Dreaming of Imaginary Dragon Fish, I’m really interested in character creation. Fimo is a great option for 3-d shapes, but I’m not keen on baking it in my oven. It’s a poor example of the appliance, but it’s the only one I have. Since I live in Japan, I’m constantly surrounded by cute little things and that led me to needle felting.

People who are really good at needle felting can create incredible detail. Check out this example from feltedmice’s photostream at Flickr:
Needle Felted "Gumdrop" a 2-1/2" Baby Bunny By Barby Anderson / Helen Priem made the Owl
The bunny is by Barby Anderson and the owl by Helen Priem.

Incredible, right?

I jumped in with baby steps and started with a kit. The kit maker is a Japanese company called Hamanaka. The kit cost ¥700. Here is a link for the kit on Amazon Japan. This lomo-inspired kit leapt right off the shelf and into my shopping basket. My own felt camera? Oh yeah! The jam jars were cute and I loved the colors for the matryushka. The kit even called for making a spoon! The instructions were ok. They were written in Japanese so my comprehension wasn’t perfect, but the diagrams made up for it. It took me about thirty minutes to figure out the Japanese instructions. Each character took from one to two hours. Also, if you’ve been having a bad day, poking the needle into a bunch of wool is kind of therapeutic. Just be careful. The needle is very sharp and if you poke your finger, it will hurt.

I plan to develop some skill, then, someday, design my own characters.

The snowman at the back is my creation not from the kit. It’s not spectacular but it was good practice. The snowman is also practical as a sewing needle charm. By needle charm, I mean something like a pincushion, for sticking needles in while working on stuff. I also made a bunny head needle charm, but I gave it to a friend before photographing it.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to start making my own characters yet. There are still a lot of cute kits from Hamanaka. And there is something to be said for being able to follow instructions and end up with something that looks like the example.

If you have any favorite kits or favorite materials for character creation, please share!

Until next time, happy creating!

L.

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