12 December 2011

Ornamental owls

I'm not a big one for following knitting trends or the must knit project of the week/month. I'm not oblivious to the trends but unless they interest me for some other reason other than being the latest thing, I'm not likely to be putting them on the needles.

So a large number of the everyone's knitting one projects have come and gone before I gave more than an " oh that's the latest thing I'm not doing" notice of them.

One of those many must knit projects in recent years is the
Owls sweater. Which is a lovely design with a clever use of cables in a yoke sweater.

But is is a yoke sweater and even if I was tempted, I'd have to find some one worthy of my knitting love because I still have the memory of my broad shoulders and the Fair Isle yoke sweaters of uber preppy period burned in my brain -- eek.

Still, I like the cable and how I could truly see an owl in it.

This year, owls played a role in my life. As things turned out, not as much the role I would have liked but still they played a role.

So while casting about with various designs and projects I spent an afternoon or two fiddling about with my take on an owls ornament.

The first try involved a cone of fine gauge cotton (origins unknown) and 3mm needles. The initial goal was a globe.

On the 1st pass I tried the plush fibre fill mode but I wasn't getting a controlled shape.

On the 2nd pass I tried the balloon and starch/stiffener route but I couldn't get the balloon to stay inflated enough to form a non-baggy bottom.

So I soaked the hades out of it to soften up the stiffener, undid the top, removed the balloon and regrouped.

In the 3rd pass I turned the still saggy/baggy bottom up into the piece forming a bell shape and allowed it to dry over a rubber ball to get the sag out. It took a couple, three coatings of the stiffener to get a fairly solid base but having done that it seems to give a structurally sound foundation.

I experimented with two sizes of google eyes before deciding on the 7mm

I've come to the conclusion using this construction that I'm only going to get a good globe shape if I'm willing to stop, stiffen the bottom and resume knitting. That probably is the best option but it is incompatible with the snack food nature of these sorts of projects.

As I type this a second ornament is drying.

Again, fine gauge cotton and relatively small needles but I formed a pentagon bell rather than a generic globe/egg shape.

I also worked it as an open ended bell shape rather than a globe. It was easier to force into a bell shape because it is open ended but the bottom edge is a bit ruffled.

Overall the piece may not have good long term structural integrity without the inverted base. I'm considering experimenting with a thin mix of plaster instead of stiffener/starch and some wire forms to produce a sturdier ornament that can hold up over time and not require restiffening.

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