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L’heure de Square Est Arrivee

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Dear Ann,
Salut, cherie! Look what just arrived via Carrier Husband. Michel, the husband of my friend M.J., also known as the Afghanalong’s French Mail Drop, is here on a business trip. His valise was stuffed with gorgeous squares from nos amies les belles tricoteuses francaises.
Sacre bleu! In one whompin’ parcel, we got 13 squares from Anne and 4 from Marie. Some of the 13 are pictured above, and here is:
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….a clever square done in self-patterning sock wool, and:
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…four in jazzy chromatic stripes.
We also got these two from another French knitter, Florence:
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…which made me think: Lily Pulitzer meets Peppermint Twist!
Meanwhile, M.J. informs me that she just received a luscious shipment of squares from Belgium! Merci mille fois!!!
Since You Asked
Yes, it’s true: I have a secret felting habit. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it.) I find felting so mysterious, so drippy, so addicting. It all started when I was toying with the idea of making felted Easter Baskets. It was one of those As If I Didn’t Have Enough To Do kind of ideas, which was only abandoned when it was too late to act like a normal person and buy the Easter baskets.
Full disclosure: I have a history of excessive craftiness when it comes to Easter Baskets. Years ago, I was sitting in my friend Diana’s kitchen, and I noticed that in every direction, as far as the eye could see, there was a charming basket. I asked Di, What’s with the baskets? Are you a collector? Di told me that every spring, her mom mailed her an Easter basket filled with treats. This expression of maternal love seemed all the more touching given that Diana was in her 30s at the time. We’re talking a lot of Easter Baskets. I had no children then, but I made a mental note: Easter Baskets are important.
Until the recent Felting Incident, my most extreme Easter Basket crafting episode was a few years ago when I stayed up until 2 a.m. to make these:
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Yes, friends, this is what Self-Taught Decoupage looks like. But I achieved my goal of creating a long-lasting Easter basket, as we still use these poignant little containers to hold crayons.
But back to felting. First, like a sensible person, I followed Melissa’s instructions to make a
Kureyon bowl:
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Pretty dang Easter baskety, no?
But then I got the idea of making a tray-shaped Easter basket, with slanty corners. (For readers with MDK Sense-Surround, the soundtrack is going: Dum-de-dum-dum.) Unaware of the danger, I knit up a big garter stitch square, and then log cabinned on a mitered border. So far so good. Felted the thing like 8 times in the washing machine, until it was sufficiently boardy. Then came the tricky part. Naturally, being knitted flat, the thing wanted to say flat. Decidedly un-Easter baskety. So I resorted to my Secret Weapon:
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Yes, the Clothespins Plus Marcal Napkin Package Molding Technique (patent pending).
Unfortunately, even after much spritzing and Rowenta-ing, the thing just did not want to be a basket. It preferred to lie down. I realized that I could solve the problem by simply stitching the corners together, but by this time, I was Sick and Tired. I scrounged around for the store-bought 2001 Easter Baskets, inserted chocolates, and called it a night until next Easter.
The good news is: it looks like just the design for your chair covers, including the flange. The bad news: It’s doll-sized. Back to the drawing board! Keep on with your upholstery crusade; I believe in you, babe.
Love, Kay

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. hi Anne and Kay! I love all of your knitting! it’s so inspirational!
    Brief question: How many afghan squares do you have now and when do you think you’ll finish up the Aghanalong? I want to contribute a square and I was just a little curious.
    Thanks!

  2. Je suis si contente to see my squares arrived !! But I have a question : is the French headquarters adress still valid for next month, and will there be another valise diplomatique ? Or should I post directly to Kay ? Note that in a effort to paint the map red, I’ve scheduled a trip to the French West Indies, specially to post squares.

  3. kay…. your dee-vine easter baskets are charming! did you have a pattern for the little felted stripey number, or was it a lovely surprise? (i’ve only felted a classic navy-blue cable sweater by mistake!, but i understand one can un-felt using some concoction of vinegar water, and then tugging.)… it was interesting to see the self-patterning sock yarn square… was it knit on #2 needles, do you suppose? i’ve even used that sock yarn to make little “ditty” bags with drawstring, and then lined them for endurance. that yarn is a great invention. knit-on… with love,… carolyn

  4. Answers to some questions:
    To Florence and all our tricoteuses: The French Post Office Drop is available throughout the Afghanalong. The one caveat is that the Courier Husband’s trips to the United States are somewhat sporadic. When I speak to my friend (every few weeks) she lets me know how many she has received and from whom, but the recordkeeping/photography is not the model of scientific precision (aHEM!) that it is here at Afghanalong Headquarters USA. (My friend has 3 young boys, a full-time job, a husband who travels constantly, and, moreover, she doesn’t knit. I feel lucky that she will hold squares for me and do not want to press my luck!)
    Renata: We have around 400 squares now, and we are collecting until August 1 at the earliest. (The sew-ups are going to be after that, so squares can continue to flow freely…..)
    Carolyn: I believe instructions for the Kureyon bowl were in Interweave’s spinning magazine Spin Off, fairly recently. I got my instructions from Melissa’s blog, but it would take some looking through her archives to relocate it. I put a link to her blog also. Basically, you knit a garter stitch square for the bottom, then you pick up stitches along all four sides, join and knit in the round, increasing every couple of inches. At the top, you decrease on the row before you cast off. The square bottom turns round with felting.
    Another felted-basket pattern is Polly’s French Market Bag, which appears in the Spring issue of Knitty (the one just before the current issue.) Polly’s larger bag has the option of knitting the square bottom in the round (like our squares knit in the round), which is really cool looking and more basket-y.
    These are cute and actually serviceable containers. One thing I’ve read about is that you can de-fuzz felt by shaving it with either a regular razor or a tool that you can buy at the notions store (for de-pilling sweaters). I like the fuzz on a felted winter hat, but on the bowls and perhaps on Ann’s seat covers, fuzz may not be desirable.
    Disclaimer: I’m a total beginner at felting. What I like about these bowl ideas is that they turn out o.k. regardless of how, exactly, they felt. The proportions are not significant to me, so it’s a low-risk proposition–I felt it until the fabric feels ‘done’ to me. Unlike a hat that has to fit a particular head. Or a cover that has to fit a particular chair!
    Happy Weekend All. xox Kay

  5. Kureyon Easter bowls (baskets)…. I love it. Someone emailed me to ask for the link to my post…. here it is: http://www.looseendsknits.com/archives/2003_07_08.html

  6. Hello, my name is Becky, the procrastinating honorary francaise. I think I’ll send my square directly to you. Is that okay?
    LOVE your felted Easter baskets!

  7. Oh, what delight to read of your escapades. We should never doubt that Kay and Ann belong together on the same page. Let creativity, and a little wackiness, reign…. Good luck on the baskets and the slip covers. I’ll be rooting for you.

  8. Kay, I think the Easter buckets are divine. Your journey into decoupage is supercute and not at all like my 1973 wooden purse when town scenes pasted onto it.
    I’m stealing your felted Easter bucket idea for next Easter (were you going to do I-cord handles, or leave them in their pristine bucketyness?). And I’ll even use Kureyon which will be the ultimate in yarn adventuring for me. So Japanese!
    Speaking of decoupage, Japan, and xtreme craftiness, I just came across http://www.dickblick.com, an art supply store I’d never had the joy of wallowing in before. They have tons of the most beeeyooteeful origami paper in those beautiful prints. Surely there’s a use for them somewhere . . . other than crane manufacturing.
    And the parade of squares is making me all teary. Such plumb corners! Such variety!
    I’m off to make a shortcake on which I will dump strawberries and sour cream. Then serve to the book group. x0x0x0x0x0xx0x0x0x0x

  9. Happy to see the French squares at your end of the ocean. Another batch will be sent soon. 400 so far? Major Wow!

  10. Dear Kay, my fellow lopi felted bowl enthusiast Cheryl got great tray-like results by starting with a rectangular base and knitting up fewer rows than for a bowl. Cheryl, by the way, strayed out of Lopi-ville and into the super bulky world of Brown Sheep Burly Spun with fantastic results. xo, Cristina

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