Thursday, October 15, 2009

Housewarming Oven Mitts

I love making felted oven mitts for gifts. Why? It's a gift you can be fairly sure your friends will use, the knitting goes quickly and is not tedious, and, let's face it, felting is fun!

I have stocked up on a lot of KnitPicks WoTA over the last few months from other projects, and I've been wanted to play with felting smaller stripes. The problem... I have a lot of left over red and purples and my pals prefer blues and greens. I therefore decided to use some undyed WoTA, and use my food coloring to beef up the color selections. One 100g skein of the worsted weight wool became 7 new, vibrant colors!

The Mitts Colors - Day 1
  • Pale yellow: I dissolved one packet of KoolAid Lemonade into warm water, and dyed the yarn on the stovetop. I used the same water for each additional color, since the citric acid that helps with the dyeing process stays behind in the water.
  • Grey: To cleared water, I added ~6 drops of my concentrated black dye solution (from Wilton's paste dyes). My fingers were crossed for fun color separation... but alas I got grey. I am destined to get whole colors where others have failed... go figure! I know that this time I did not over-saturate the yarn with dye.... I added 1 more mL of dye to make the color a little darker.
  • Blue-green: The black did not absorb 100%. I added 3 drops neon green, 3 drops neon blue to make this pretty teal.
  • Blue: To the cleared water, I added 2 drops neon blue, 1 drop blue blue.

I was so excited to get started that I knit with WET yarn! It shows the staying power of the dye since my hands are color free! The next morning, I realized that I still wanted more colors in the mitt I was making. I decided to dye the remainder of the wool.

The Mitts Colors - Day 2
  • Purple: So my previous attempt to get purple with WoTA fingering wool was successful. No color separation (to my disappointment), but a very vibrant (almost glowing) purple. I used 1 packet ice blue raspberry lemonade, and some drops of purple. The water looked purple, but the yarn was VERY blue. I added more purple drops until I got to a total of 17. The final product... blue, blue, BLUE! How did I get purple before using this same dye mix? Well, I used vinegar as the acid last time, not KoolAid. I see an experiment coming up in my future.... So although I was hoping for a paleish purple, I got a blue which is different from the other ones I'd made, so the color was welcomed to the project.
  • Green: To the cleared water, 6 drops neon green, 2 drops yellow.
  • Pink (pale brown attempt, *achem*): 5 drops brown... it is pink. I don't have a pale pink that I"m using, so I'll use it. I found the other day that brown is good to mellow out the brightness of the food coloring dyes, but I figured that I could get a tan from it.

The Mitts

I have used this pattern before to make oven mitts. I wanted to play with mixing many colors through stripes. The pattern is random, with stripes ranging from 1-5 rows. Each time I would switch a color, I would do an "overlap." For example, if I started with 5 rows navy, I would knit 1 row grey, 1 row navy before starting the 3 rows grey.

My first oven mitt next two the un-felted housewarming mitts.

Felting on the Stovetop

I had never tried felting on the stovetop before. Since I only have access to front-loading washing machines, I usually felt in the sink... ruining my hands in the process. Stove top got mixed reviews... but I figured that before I do a lot of hand agitation I could get the fibers good and loose.

It worked better than I had expected. Yes, I did do hand agitation with dish soap, but my hands were not in hot water for a long time while I waited for the mitts to shrink. I think that overall, this process was easier on my body. You just have to be patient.

In the end

I'm very pleased with my stripes. The colors have dulled a bit (I noticed some yellow coming leaching out in the felting process) but I think that it helps the mitt as a whole. The white yarn did not felt very well, although the area has shrunk the stitches still have definition. (I think that white yarns tend to be bleached, so this may be the cause...?)

I am knitting for the 3rd annual Pine Street Inn Knit-a-Thon on November 8, 2009. Please show your support with a donation.