Friday, 28 December 2007

a tea cozy of a different kind

I was looking for a small handmade gift for my friend, as all the others (sounds grand, but they are of the small kind:)) have been bought. one of them is a "sheepy" tea mug, so I decided that a tea cozy might be nice for this. I saw several designs, but the used mugs had very different shapes, so I decided to make my own. the mug is wider at the bottom and the top rim, so I had to take this into account. I have done quite a few things out of a lambswool single that I dyed with natural colours of all kinds. actually I think I must have dyed about 5-8 kg in 50 g hanks over 2 years or so, and there are lots of small amounts of different colours left (no wonder that I still have a fair-isle bag in knit-felt on my mind.....). the problem is that the natural colours do change a lot when felted with washing powder in the machine, but I didn't want to felt this tiny piece alone! so I tried to stay on the safe side - and chose light yellow (dyed with gorze flowers) and a slightly muted orange (dyed with dahlia flowers). I counted out an old knitfelted sample in the hope that it might fit after felting.

with hindsight I should have done the bottom part differently - maybe a circle done with short rows would have been a good idea, but I didn't want to take up stitches on the side. so I cast on 9 stitches on dpn and increased every 2nd row until I had the necessary 68 stitches - which sounds a lot, but as I said the pot is as wide on the bottom as it is on the top! I then knitted several rows of stocking stitch in a single colour to form a ridge. after 5 or 6 rows I picked up the stitches from the back of the knitting further down (the last row of 2 colour-knitting) and knitted the live stitches together with those - to form a "fold". then I continued knitting in rows with two colours until I had to do short rows for the area where the drinker's mouth will be during use. I finished it all off with an attached i-cord that I grafted together over the handle of the mug. it looks far too big to ever fit - a bit like a too large sweater on a child:))

after felting - the whole thing fits like a glove - lucky me, it worked on the first try:)) the light yellow didn't change at all during the felting, only the orange became more intense! now I am thinking "spring" and "flowers" - and I think I'll embroider a few simple flowers on to it. of course the warming effect won't be perfect as most of the heat of a cup of tea will probably escape through the open cup - but I figured that it might not be so nice to add a woollen lid - as fibres in the tea are a big put-off, at least for me!
after christmas means all presents are done - and I can finally start something new and (hopefully) exciting! well, I still have to do the next birthday present of course, but I am going to start a sample right now, a shawl pattern in lace, where I have to test if I should use the yarn single thread (very fine) or doubled up. just enough for an hour of knitting or so - no more "knit allnighters" for me for a little while at least!


a simple yarn said...

Very cute, Bettina! Love the lip-dip!

Helen said...

I love it.
With regard to the colour change of natural dyes have you tried using Ecover washing powder which might be more neutral?

Bettina said...

Helen, I sometimes felt without any washing powder, or I use woolite, which doesn't change (as long as the colour doesn't bleed out, but that happened only once, with a very dark logwood dye!)the colour at all! but sometimes it's just plain fun to stuff something in and see, what comes out! esp. with bland beiges or light yellows the changes can be quite dramatic - and usually for the better. one of the things I love about natural dyeing - all the variety!

Leigh said...

That is so clever! What a great idea.

Helen said...

Hi I agree! I like that element of surprise or the unexpected result!

Dorothy said...

That is fun! A good piece of design and knitting. It wouldn't do for my tea mug though, I have bad circulation and rely on a hot mug of tea to get my finger bones warmed.