Monday, December 28, 2020

DIY Rose and Pom Pom Garland

Five years ago I blogged about how to make singed roses out of inexpensive nylon lining fabric. It’s been one of my most popular blog posts, possibly because they are so effective and realistic, yet simple and cheap to make. I did actually start writing this blog post shortly after the singed rose tutorial, but never got around to finishing it properly. I was struggling to get a good photo of the garland in situ, with the lighting available to me, and then I just kind of forgot about it.
Please do take look at the singed rose tutorial - they really are easier than they look!

I eventually made 15 of them and turned them into a garland to decorate my daughter’s bedroom.  

Well she’s now a very grown-up 12 year old and wanting to put her own mark on her bedroom.  The rose and pom pom garland has come down and she’s wanting to put posters on her bedroom wall and move away from the sugary pastel colours.  Before I pack it away, I thought I’d finish the blog post I started about how I made the garland all those years ago.

As fun as they are to make, I must admit that by the time I'd made 15 of them, the repetition was getting to me a little so I started to look around for something else to fill up my garland.  

I looked through my stash and remembered that I had quite a few pom poms left over from when I made my Pom Pom 'Up' House Mobile and many of them toned in with the room.  I really like the juxtaposition of the roses with the pom poms - the colours and textures have a real carnival feel to them.

To make your own singed rose and pom pom garland you will need:-

Firstly, decide on the order that you want your roses and pom poms to sit on the garland.  As I only had three different colours of roses I felt a repeating pattern was easier than a random arrangement, so I laid down all of my roses first and then dotted the pom poms in between.

Cut your beading thread to the desired length, plus a little extra to allow for the threaded needle.  I wanted my garland to span the width of a single bed, and then hang down from the ceiling, so after a bit of experimentation I worked out that I needed my garland to be at least 450cm.

Thread on a crimp and take it to the very end of your thread.  Secure it in place by squeezing it tightly with the pliers.  Now start threading on your roses and pom poms on in order, but add two crimps between each and every rose and pom pom, finishing with a single crimp.

Once everything has been threaded on it is time to start securing it all in place. Forgetting about the pom poms for now, secure all of the roses in place by squeezing the crimps shut with the pliers on either side.  I used a tape measure to make sure that my roses were all about 31cm apart.

Finally, it is time to secure the pom poms in place.  Space them out fairly evenly between the roses and then squeeze the crimps shut as close as possible on either side of each pom pom.

To hang it on the wall I used just three decorative Command clips to secure it all in place.  Some of the roses had a tendency to hang facing downwards and so I secured them with a little white tack.


When it came to packing the garland away, I wasn’t ready to part with it just yet and so I relocated it to the spare room/craft room.  

Unfortunately, it became extremely tangled, just on the short journey from one room to the next and so I ended up cutting it, which is why I have a few errant roses and pom poms hanging from the centre.  

I think I prefer it this way!

This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links to similar products that I purchased myself to make the Rose and Pom Pom Garland. If you click through and purchase anything from Amazon, I may receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

If you have enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in some of my other blog posts - 

Singed Rose Tutorial

Easy Needle Felted Flowers

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Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Bohemian Wreath - Loop Stitch Knitted Christmas Wreath

Last month I wrote about a 22 ply yarn that I made by dividing up a 2.2 kg cone of chenille yarn.

I've wanted to have a go at knitting a loop stitch Christmas wreath ever since I accidentally designed this one while I was knitting a snowy fringe for my daughter's jumper.  

It was only after beta-testing the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter that I realised that this would be the perfect gadget for making the task of measuring multiple equal lengths of the same yarn a whole lot easier.

Loop stitch is perfect for knitting fur trim as you can combine as many plies as you can handle to speed it up and then when you cut the loops, the knitting is virtually hidden under a layer of wild, yarny fur.

I've watched several videos on working the loop stitch and I think that I knit it slightly differently to most people, so I've made this video to show my technique for knitting the loop stitch.

I've got an embroidery hoop that I covered in a knitted tube last year, with the intention of knitting some kind of wreath.  I think that I struggled to muster the inspiration to finish it before Christmas last year and so this will be perfect to go inside my furry wreath.

My hoop is about 33cm wide, so not massive - I think I'm going to have an awful lot of yarn leftover!

Using size 15mm knitting needles, I cast on 6 sts, working the loop stitches every other row on the central 4 stitches.  If you wanted to make a similar wreath, it might be helpful to know that my 22 yarn strands created a 3wpi yarn - 3 wraps around a ruler or gauge tool measure 1 inch.

There are very few items that I manage to knit in a day, but this was one of them.  It was so satisfying to see all of that fur building up steadily with each row!

I have a couple of tips if you decide to attempt a many stranded loop stitch to get a furry, tasseled effect.

Firstly, don't stick to wrapping the loop just once around your thumb.  Wrapping it many times would give you a much longer fringe, which you could always cut to length later if you wanted to.  I wrapped mine twice so that it neatly covered the stitches below.

I also found that it was significantly easier if I cut the loops just after I'd worked the stitch.  This was because the yarns were only very lightly twisted together and so if I left it too long to cut them, they all separated and I had to cut them individually, rather than 22 at once.

Once my knitted fur was a little more than half the circumference of my embroidery hoop, I switched to knitting in garter stitch.

This section was knitted over just 4 stitches as I wanted it to be much thinner than the fur section.

When my knitting fitted around the embroidery hoop, when slightly stretched, I cast off.

I then just sewed it closed around the hoop with a length of green yarn and a large needle, making sure that the stitching stayed at the back.  At this point, I was glad that my hoop was already covered in knitted fabric as it gave me something to sew through and fix the wreath to, ensuring that the stitching didn’t twist around to the front.

I could say that it’s finished now, but I fancied adding a little Christmas sparkle.  I have a technique for turning copper wire fairy lights into “spray lights” that I used to decorate my guinea pig cage for Christmas -

I hoped that the sprays of lights would complement the modern, asymmetrical effect of my slightly Boho wreath.

To make the lights, I just used a wire twisting tool that I’ve had in my tool drawer for a couple of decades.  It’s the most basic of tools as it’s just a hook screwed into the end of a stick, but it does make the job significantly easier than doing it by hand.

My fairy lights have 100 LEDs on them and I wanted 5 sprays of lights.  I worked out that I needed about 16 lights in each spray, which would leave me enough lights to wrap a few around the thinner, garter stitch section of the wreath.

I’ve made a little video to show my technique for making spray fairy lights from copper wire lights.

When the lights were finished, I spent a little while arranging them on my wreath, moving the sprays around, trying to position them so that they were evenly spaced.  

I pinned over the wire and then stitched the sprays in place, securing them on either side of the base.

All that was left to do was to wrap the remaining lights around the wreath and sew a felt pocket to the back to hold the battery pack in place.

If you've found this post useful, please Pin it for later - it makes a big difference!

This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links to similar products that I purchased myself to make my Bohemian Wreath. If you click through and purchase anything from Amazon, I may receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.

You may also find these blog posts interesting - 

Rag Heart Wreath

DIY Christmas Crackers

How to make an Extreme Knitting Yarn

Serendipitous Knitted Wreath

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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Making an Extreme Knitting Yarn using the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter

As a serial crafter, I’m constantly making, and each project seems to inspire several more and so I’m always buzzing with ideas of things that I haven’t got time to make...

This project was inspired, both by my recent beta testing of the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter, and a serendipitous wreath I accidentally made several years ago when I was altering a Christmas jumper for my daughter.

I’ve been wanting to purposefully knit a Christmassy loop stitch wreath for a few years now, but I knew that I wanted to use a large number of yarn strands and I’ve always been put off by the monotonous winding and measuring or weighing that would involve.  Once I’d tested the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter, I knew that this gadget would make the task of measuring several equal length balls of yarn significantly easier and less laborious.  
It effectively makes the task of winding off your own jumbo knitting yarns using leftover stash yarns a real possibility!

I have a large cone of 4-ply gauge, cotton chenille yarn that I’m hoping should be perfect for this project.  It was a bargain £6 purchase from a factory shop that was too good to pass by. I didn’t really have a project in mind when I bought it, which is why it’s been sitting in my wardrobe for the last 12 years.  I’m not sure exactly how much yarn is on there, but I’m estimating that it’s well over 2 kilos.

The first thing I needed to do was to work out how long the yarn on my cone was.  For a brief moment I contemplated winding off the full cone for a more accurate measurement, but I quickly gave up on that idea, knowing how much my back would complain afterward... 

I can get a rough guesstimate of yardage by weighing it, guessing the weight of the plastic cone, subtracting that, and then weighing 10 metres to calculate the length of the whole.  It’s the quickest method I can think of: it’s likely to leave quite a bit of waste yarn at the end, but I can accept that for the time and effort saved.

Calculating the length of yarn from an unknown cone

Using simple maths, I can work out approximately the length of yarn I have on any mysterious ball or cone.  My yarn and cone weigh 2335g.  I'm guessing that the plastic cone inside weighs maybe 60g, which leaves about 2275g of yarn.

I measured off and weighed 10m of yarn, without cutting it, and it came to 2.35g.  From here I can work out how much 1g of yarn weighs - 

10m / 2.35g = 4.2553m

So if I know that 1g of yarn measures 4.2553m, I can multiply that by my suspected weight of 2275g of yarn to get a rough idea of the length of the whole cone.

4.2553m x 2277g = 9,689m

So, I estimate that I have over 9.5 km of yarn.  Wow, I'm glad I didn't decide to wind all of that off!

Several years ago I blogged about an extreme yarn that I knitted on my knitting machine.  This was from the same batch of bargain chenille yarn that I'm working with today.  I'd like to wind off enough plies to knit a similar gauge yarn, so I'm guessing that I need to wind it off into about 23 separate balls.  Goodness!  Thankfully this isn't going to take as long to wind off as that one took to knit!

I divided my estimated yarn length of 9689m by 23 to get just over 421m.

So all I needed to do now was to set the target length on the yarn counter to 421m and wind off 23 balls - simple!

Unfortunately, it seems that I wildly underestimated the weight of the large plastic cone inside all of that yarn...

It turns out that it weighed nearly 118g, rather than the 60g that I allowed, so unfortunately I only managed to get 22 balls, rather than the 23 I calculated for, but that’ll be fine.

Knitting from 22 balls of chenille yarn would very quickly result in a hot mess of tangles, knots and frustration, so I decided to split it and divide it into two big balls.

There were two reasons that I decided to split it in two - mainly because I wanted to use this lazy Susan and tray to put a little twist into my multiple strands (and I can only fit 12 on there), but also because I knew that if I didn’t split it, I would eventually have a 2kg ball on my hands.  I really didn’t fancy having to hold that for too long...

Here’s a little animated gif of my makeshift set-up that I used to twist all of my yarns loosely together.

To start my ball off, I used a ping-pong ball wrapped in leader yarn that I usually use when I’m pre-chain plying. I knotted all of the ball ends onto the leader and then started wrapping.  The yarn came off significantly smoother pulling it from the centre of the ball, rather than the outside.  I briefly tried the latter but I soon learned that it was not the way to go.  To hold my yarns together a little, I gave the lazy Susan a little kick every so often.  I didn’t want a lot of twist, just enough to bring the yarns together and make knitting multiple strands easier later.

The twist built up from the ball downwards and so when enough twist had built up to make it resemble a loose yarn, I reached down to wrap it onto the ball and then carried on spinning the tray until the twist built up again.

I made a YouTube video that shows my technique for making an extreme knitting yarn here -

So here is my 2.2kg of extreme knitting yarn.  I’ve got much more here than I need to knit a wreath with, so hopefully, I’ll manage to get a couple of projects out of it.  Christmas is less than 4 weeks away so please check back for an update on my wreath...

Incidentally, if you're interested in how much yarn I had leftover from the remaining yarns once the first ball had run out - 

This is what was left.  It wouldn't be fair to use this as a test of the accuracy of the Electric Eel Wheel Yarn Counter as I was hand winding it using a very unorthodox method, but I can tell you that the balls had between 1 and 20m left on them, with an average of 6.75m.  That’s a discrepancy of between 0.2 and 4.75%.  I’m sure that’s significantly better than I could have achieved by weighing alone.

Incidentally, I later wound it all together into one big ball as I was getting in a mess with two and the difference in length between the two balls was about 24cm.

That was extremely satisfying!

If you liked this article, you might be interested in some of my other spinning related posts - 

Testing the Electric Eel Wheel
Yarn Counter Prototype

Making Super Chunky Yarn
from Crushed Velvet Fabric

Update on my Extreme
Knitting Yarn


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