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Winter Comes: It's Lit to Knit

Looking for a new pastime? How about the forgotten art of knitting? Sounds old-fashioned? Well you can make it trendy! Let us tell you a little bit about knitting. It is a method in which a yarn is manipulated using two needles to create a textile or fabric. It is not very hard to master; my mom knits as if she holds a degree in it but she doesn’t, of course. My two aunts also know how to knit and crochet. Not only them but also many others in my family knit like experts. With winters upon us, why not try our hand at this art and fill our wardrobe with some unique pieces that people can admire, and maybe what starts as a hobby can become something more. Yes, there is potential here! This can prove to be a good business prospect for women who do not have the capital to start a big business. Food for thought!

Here are a couple of techniques that one can easily learn and practice at home to bring oomph and flair to your new favourite hobby (and prospectively business). 
Felting
One thing I can never get bored of is felting. It is a process that causes a natural fiber like wool to fray slightly and fuse with the other fibers around it, creating a more solid appearance. It adds such playfulness to textile projects and can be used in a wide variety of craft activities. 
There are three methods for felting yarn at your home:
With Your Washing Machine
In this process, you place your desired clothing inside a zippered mesh bag with very small openings or a sealed pillowcase to prevent loose fibers from plugging up the washing machine’s pump. Wash in hot water and rinse in cold. You can add a tablespoon of gentle detergent and a fabric softener, if you so desire. You may need to repeat the wash cycle several times to reach the desired level of felting. Once achieved, remove the item and lay it flat to dry. Felting causes shrinkage, therefore, it is done after completing knitting, crocheting or weaving your yarn. 
With Hands (Wet Felting) 
This is accomplished with water, temperature fluctuation, soap and agitation. It begins by layering a roving of wool by gently pulling the fibers apart and placing them on a large surface with the fibers all facing the same direction of the layers. One layer runs horizontally, the next vertically, until we have at least four layers.
Next, we add hot water mixed with a small amount of hand soap or dish detergent, then, slowly wet the wool while applying pressure firmly with hands. Continued pressure and hot water flow will make the wool solid, after which, we place it onto an uneven surface (e.g. bubble wrap) and rub it against the uneven surface. Rubbing will speed up felting. Once the wool is fully felted, we gently rinse it with cold water for several minutes. In the end, we roll it up in a towel and apply pressure to squeeze out remaining fluid and lay it flat to dry.
With Needle (Dry Felting)
Needle felting is a way of transforming wool into 3D objects using a barbed needle. We begin by rolling up a small amount of wool and stabbing it with the needle over and over so that tiny scales on wool locks together. Continued stabbing and turning results in a firm round shape. Once there is a basic shape to start with, we keep on adding wool where needed to form a sculpture.

Wool Dyeing
The second technique that can make your pieces unique is dyeing. Have you ever heard the expression ‘dyed in the wool’? Well, it means that dye is permanent or firmly established on wool. When wool is dyed before being spun into threads, the colour is less likely to fade, wash out or change. 
But how to dye wool? Before dyeing wool, a few things need to be kept in mind.
Dyes
All animal fibers are made of proteins, which can be dyed using many substances. These protein fibers are sensitive to high pH. To avoid damaging your wool stay away from high pH soda ash recipes that are used to dye cotton. Acid dyes (most popular dyes), natural dyes, Lanaset dyes (longest lasting and most wash-resistant) and vinyl sulfone dyes work very well on wool.
Dye Pot
Textile dyes are unsafe to be used in pots that are used to cook our food, so a dyeing pot is necessary for dyeing purposes. Aluminum is a bad choice. The best choices are stainless steel and enamel-covered canning pots.                
In order to let dye mix freely in the water for smooth, solid-color dyeing, use a sufficiently large pot. An excellent way to dye small quantities of yarn or fabric in different colors is to use quart-sized canning jars.
Shrinkage and Felting
Wool is subjected to shrinkage. However, the fibers do not shrink themselves in length, instead, they become more and more closely interlocked. To prevent shrinkage and felting, one must avoid agitating wool while it’s in the hot dye bath.
Safety Equipment
Mask, gloves, plastic or trash bag, goggles
The Process
First, soak the wool in a bowl of water, then put it in the dyeing pot, fill the pot with water and boil it. Then, add the dye into the pot and leave the wool to dye for half an hour to one hour. Some people add the acid in the start (if using the acid dye), but for a consistent color, don’t add the acid until close to the end. When done with dyeing, remove the pot from the heat and let the wool cool down at room temperature. Once cooled, grab a bowl and fill it with lukewarm water adding tiniest splash of wool-safe soap and a fabric softener (optional). Lastly, set the wool out to dry. Once it’s dry, it’s ready to knit! HH


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