Friday, 7 March 2014

The good, the bad, & the ugly...

Hello hello and welcome, especially to my new followers!
Hubbie and I have been off on our travels again, a couple of days in Edinburgh and then a week exploring the pretty Lake District. I will have a load of photos to share with you as we went to the quilt show in Edinburgh *squee!*, but I promised you some yarny action last time around didn't I? OK then, first I would like to share something I have learnt a lot from, my biggest yarny disaster to date...
Back in May last year I shared the start of my knitting journey with you. This was the start of a HUGE learning curve for me! This project took me from pure enjoyment to frustration, from confidence to "oh what the heck did I ever start this for?" and back again. Several times. But eventually I finished it, sewed the buttons on (about the only bit I had known exactly how to do before I started!) and actually wore it!!
It was very warm & snuggly, overall I was happy with it :-)
Then I needed to wash it. I checked the yarn bands (I keep one band from every ball I use with a wee sample of the yarn tied around it), it said it could be machine washed at 30 degrees so I figured it would be perfectly ok in my machine on a cold hand wash setting and popped it in. BIG MISTAKE!!! To my horror it stretched & came out looking like it would fit a very long armed gorilla :/ I asked a wise yarny friend who suggested a couple of options to me. Well three actually... 1 - I could try wetting it in cold water again and then blocking it smaller, 2 - I could try washing it with a little warmer water & then block it smaller (after all it said up to 30 degrees), 3 - I could pull it all out & start over.
I thought this through over & over, putting off making a final decision & chickening out from actually doing anything to it for months. In the end I couldn't face number 3, and I figured it was so stretched that number 1 wouldn't be enough, so I opted for number 2... the other week I put it back in the machine & crossed my fingers (and everything else!) Unfortunately that was the wrong choice :/ This is what greeted me when I opened the door of the machine...
Not only had the red completely felted but the color had run badly too & the creamy white was now a horrible pinky peachy color :/ The light for photos has been terrible but I took another picture of it with an ordinary white envelope so you can see a little bit "better" (I still don't know what part of this is "better"!)... 
So friends... what I have learnt from this...
1) I will NEVER be tempted to wash merino or anything like it in a washing machine even on cold no matter what the ball band says!
2) Even if the fibre content is supposedly identical there can be a big difference between how different brands of yarn will behave. The red & green yarn (which felted) is Sublime merino & the cream & pink yarn (which didn't felt at all) is Wendy merino. Both yarns had the same washing instructions on the bands & the same fibre content but if this had been made of just the Wendy it would have survived the second wash! Maybe it wasn't even those parts that originally stretched? Maybe it was just the Sublime that didn't like the washer? We will never know now...
3) I think I am going to play it safe & stick with acrylic yarns in future. I have had no problems washing any of my blankets made with a variety of brands of acrylic yarns in my washing machine on the same cold water setting as I originally washed this cardigan on. So if I am going to spend months making something I am not going to be seduced by a clearance bargain no matter how soft it is, I am going to stick to what I know works! 
I could've unpicked all the "cream" and pink and kept it for using in a future project but it was such a weird color that I couldn't think what on earth I would want it for & it would take hours of work. Plus the way it looked now I couldn't bear looking at it so I cut the buttons off & it went in the bin. (Yes, that's how bad it was folks, I actually put something in the bin!!)
Well lessons learned & on to the good...
In your travels around the internet have you come across Stacey at Fresh Stitches? She designs cute & cuddly amigurumi & writes a fun & informative blog here. Last year she designed a GoRgEoUs unicorn ami which I spent a lot of time admiring, so when she had a birthday sale at New Year I could resist no longer & bought the pattern! I needed to finish Yoshi first, but once he was with his new owner I got out the unicorn colors... I had never bought a pdf ami pattern before & if, like me, you are a little wary of buying a pattern in this way (as opposed to buying a book in a store where you can have a good look at all the instructions) may I recommend Stacey's site? I can honestly say that this comprehensive and clearly written pattern was easily the best ami pattern I have ever followed! I am going to be going back for more...  I have been doing a bit here & a bit there, thoroughly enjoying the process, and I finally attached her last strand of tail the other night. Would you like to meet her?  


Meet Sofluffy, or Soph for short. (If you have seen the movie Despicable Me this will make sense - "It's SOFLUFFY!!!!" If you haven't seen it you really should, it's a brilliant film!) I'm now making a second unicorn for a special someone who has a birthday a little later in the year...
Once Soph was finished I gave in and also started a new crochet blanket! This time round I am making a mixed stripe blanket, inspired in a great part by this  blanket. I will take a few photos of my version soon to share this new blanket journey with you :-) Thank you for visiting with me today, I hope to be back with some stitching, scenery, and quilt show photos soon, until then have a lovely weekend folks!

10 comments:

  1. Aww Helen your post made me giggle today!!
    First of all, I really can't wait to see your pictures from the Lake District. I love this part of the UK & so wish I could live there.... Views are stunning!
    Then I read about your cardigan adventure and I laughed. Sorry, I know I shouldn't because the situation is awful. You spent such a long time on this beautiful piece and now it's in the bin... I don't blame you really because, even though I know nothing about crochet/knitting, it looked like there was not much you could do to save it. However, a picture & letter to the wool manufacturer could have been a good idea. You have done nothing wrong & followed the care instructions. So sorry about this.
    Your little unicorn is sooo cute & I love the name Sofluffy!! I've seen the movie & each time I touch something soft I always refer to it :D Looking forward to see your crochet blanket. I so wish I could crochet... Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hi Mii! So glad I brought a giggle to your day :-) Thanks for your lovely comment, it made me laugh too (yes you're totally allowed to laugh at that mess of a cardigan!) I'm viewing it as a learning experience from start to finish, your idea about writing the yarn manufacturer is a very good one - wish I had thought of that! I bet you could crack crocheting, but it does cut down on your stitching time ;-) Have a lovely weekend! Helen x

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  2. I love Sofluffy! He is absolutely adorable. Great Job!
    Mary

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    1. Thanks Mary, she was great fun to make :-) Have a lovely week,
      Helen

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  3. Oh my goodness....I couldn't believe how your gorgeous cardigan had changed in the wash.....talk about being heartbroken! I bet there were a few choice words spoken then ;)

    LOVE your unicorn,,,totally adorable. I love the colours you chose. And I love her name....loved the movie too...one of my favourites.

    Well, I'm off to check out the links....hope you realize that you'll be getting the blame when there's no housework done today!!! ;)


    Have a great weekend.

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    1. Hi Rhona, I think at the time I was even too shocked/sick for the choice words ;-) Thanks, I'm really pleased with how Soph turned out, she has a lot of character! Enjoy the links, happy to take the blame - after all even in the dictionary "crafting" comes before "housework" ! ;-) Enjoy your week,
      Helen

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  4. Love the unicorn!! Fabulous. So sorry about the cardigan though, that's absolutely gutting :-( Laura x

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    1. Thanks Laura! Well as long as we learn from experiences like that it's not a total waste is it?! Have a great week,
      Helen x

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  5. I am mightily miffed for you about the cardi!! All of that hard work....tis no good now, but you could maybe have done some upcycling and turned it into a cushion....but if you hated the sight of it perhaps it's best it's just gone!
    I have told you a million times...so what's one more...I LOVE Soph ^_^ XOX

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    1. As long as I learn from it it's not a wasted experience right?! Thank you, I'm rather in love with Soph myself ;-) XOX

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