Do you ever have an obnoxious bundle of yarn in your stash? You know, the kind of yarn that was bought for a specific project that left too much behind...and it's yarn you are never going to use again? I felt this kind of a dismay at a collection of bulky weight wool yarns that were occupying a bin in my closet. Did I have to count these as part of my stash? I felt like they were unfairly counting against me, taking up space and not bringing my fiber joy. What I needed was one of those stash busting projects, so here is what I came up with. I was going to make a little cover for my favorite mugs. They are lovely mugs, but they do not have handles and get quite hot on the outside when you pour tea in them. They were in desperate need of a mug hug.
For some time, I've been wanting to try a heavier weight yarn on my rigid heddle loom. I decided this was the perfect opportunity- it was a quick way to use up some of this yarn I had long ago fell out of love while gaining some experience on my little loom. I looked up which heddle size would be most appropriate for my yarn, and it landed right in between the 5 dent and the 8 dent heddles. Because my end goal was to felt the fabric I created, I thought perhaps a 5 dent would allow more space for a successful felting. So, long story a little less long, I went with the 5 dent.
Then, because it was a small project and why not, I wanted to do a houndstooth design. That can be created by alternating colors in a 2x2 fashion in both the warp and the weft. (You can do other number than a 2x2, but that is the most basic combination that should yield a houndstooth.) I warped 8 inches across the center of my heddle with alternating blue and brown yarn. Then, I used the same blue and brown for the weft. Well, I did not get a houndstooth at all. Instead, I got a nice wavy line in alternating colors. I think perhaps my warp threads were too far apart to make the pattern work, and as such, I got a weft facing project. That means my weft yarn essentially hid my warp yarn, making it impossible to get a houndstooth appearance. No worries, though, this was all an experiment anyway. I am thinking if I try this again (since I still have too much of this yarn left over to be happy) I will try the 8-dent reed and see if my theory is correct.
If you are looking at the above photos and wondering what color this thing actually was, the one on the top left is the most accurate depiction of the true colors. The other two show off the fabric quite nicely, but I took them under the light in the kitchen, which is awfully yellow and makes for strange results in pictures. With the fabric done, though, I moved on to phase 2- felting. I threw my yard 8 x 36" swatch of fabric in the wash on hot and then dried it on high heat. I repeated this process twice. I got a fairly nice felting, but honestly, it could have been better. I took some pictures from the side so the thickening would be obvious. The fabric cut without fraying, but I did not trust it to stay that way.
Because I did not trust the edges not to fray on the top and bottom, I took some more of this distasteful yarn in yet another color (what was I thinking when I bought so much of this stuff) and simply wrapped the edges in a chunky stitch. Using this as an opportunity to also create a way to fasten this mug hug around my mug, I left tails with the yellow yarn to use to tie the mug hug closed. I debated using buttons with this, and I might see what that is like on the next little hug, but for this first one, I thought I'd keep it pure. This was a pure stash bust, no other materials allowed.
However, the way it fastens allows me to use this little hug on a mug that has a handle, so that's cool. At the end of the day, I'd say this is an ugly little mug hug...but it's ugly in a cute, homey kind of way. I am debating seeing what would happen if I felted it again, what that would do to the stitching on the top is intriguing to me. But then I figure it might naturally felt itself with all of the moisture and heat of many cups of tea. This project was fast and I am proud of myself for finding a use for that yarn. Waste not, want not. I am pretty sure my mom used to say that a lot when I was growing up.
And now, it's time for a cup of tea.