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Acrylic, remember, and sparkly too

Acrylic, remember, and sparkly too

Apparently it is possible after all. A while back I made a few swatches of different yarns, sandwiched them in glass and baked them in the kiln. None of them were a rip-roaring success, but one showed possibilities. The problem was that is was knit from a deeply unpleasant pink acrylic with a metallic thread (which is the bit that survived the firing process) and I haven’t been able to bear to knit with it further. Can you blame me?

So, I have since managed to acquire, by processes over whih I shall draw a veil, a small reel of fine silver wire. Wire fine enough to knit with, if you try. I’m struggling to work out the right sized needles to use, and can’t manage to get neat stitches, but perhaps I will acheive that some time. And it’d be – well – neat if I could, because then I could produce “swatch” art glass using different stitch patterns.

In the meantime though, here are three prototypes: the first swatch was simply soldered (with lead-free solder) onto a stained glass copper-foiled pendant, the second was just laid on top of a single piece of random glass that was then fired, and the third was sandwiched between two layers of Bullseye and fired.

redknitgreenknitblueknit

The first one I quite like, but I’m concerned it’s very fragile, and might tarnish; the second one is an abject failure, but shows glimmers of hope for some interesting manipulations further down the line (I quite like the way the silver has partly melted in and partly stayed on the surface) and the third one I am very pleased with indeed.

Yes. With a bit of luck -because with inclusions you never know (and the person I bought the silver off had had no luck including it in glass) – look out for swatch pendants coming to an Etsy shop near you soon.

I’m off to celebrate six months of knitting with a little more wire swatching.

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So what happened to the experiment with knitted swatches included in glass?

Actually, it didn’t work out great. But there were a few reasons for that, and a few hopeful signs, so I’ll have to give it another go. Firstly I think I used yarn that was too thick for best results. And then I compounded the problem by laying them on the glass two at a time because I wanted to use the scrap glass I had around of very nearly the right size, and was also too lazy to cut it up. I think it would have been better with more space around the edges of the yarn, so a higher yarn: glass ratio. It would have maybe helped if the yarn weer thinner, or possibly ironed first – anything to get the glass to soften around it and seal it in earlier.

One of the big worries was the formation of bubbles, and at least that didn’t happen. What did happen was this:

fused wool

fused acrylicfused acrylic/metallic

Left to right: wool, acrylic, and acrylic with metallic thread.

The wool just turned to ash. That was a waste of a swatch, but worth remembering if I were ever to want to produce a fused ashtray with integral fake ash. The acrylic retained a lot of stitch deinition, even if I have taken a terrible picture of it. I think thinner yarn could really help here. The acrylic with metallic thread quite excites me. I don’t understand why the acrylic part has burned away while it hasn’t in the adjacent sample, but it has definite potential. I’m also considering using some very fine metal wire, but I believe it’s dire to knit with, so this might be an interesting, finger-friendly alternative. I’m still going to order some metal wire, mind you, and give that a go. I’d like to think it’ll give me more control of the swatch. Beause one thing I really do need to make clear: my knitting might be bad, but it’s not that bad.

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the bees knee-dlesMy daughter dropped the knitting needles of the friend who got me started, and the stoppers broke. I decided that it was no job for glue: this needed Fimo. I liked the results, but then I had second thoughts (perhaps they are too heavy and/or too twee?) and so I bought new replacement needles for her. We’re keeping these.

Meanwhile, I think I just had a fabulous idea to combine my current obsessions.

If I knit a few swatches of different yarns, and then sandwich them between layers of glass, I can see what interesting results I can come up with. The possibilities are probably far greater than the reality will prove, but it has to be worth a try. Putting anything between glass like that is a tricky prospect: anything could happen, depending on how it combusts, how much air is trapped, what gases might be released… You can have a ghost image of your original object, bubbles, nothing at all…

Maybe the different fibers will react in different ways. This could be another way – not useful to the majority, I know – to test that unknown ball of “wool”. I know it won’t get into the knitting manuals: “Take your sample, layer it between glass and heat over six hours to 1400°. Cool for another six hours. Check results.” But, well – I’ll have a better idea once I’ve tried. Right now I’m envisaging elaborate tableware or coaster sests with a series of different lace patterns, or a service whereby people would send me their swatch (say of the wedding shawl they made) and I would return it included (in the technical sense of the term) in a bowl. But, I am getting ahead of myself. As I said, inclusions are notoriously quixotic.

I’m off to try a couple, though. Bt which glass to use? I could use the nice Bullseye, or some cheaper float (window) glass, although that has the disadvantage of softening at higher temperatures. I guess I should try both. A swatch of swatches? A meta-swatch?

Also, I’ve been stroking the angora I got on eBay a few weeks ago. I’m working up to winding it. And then working up to working out what to do with it (beyond stroking).

pet angora

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Kelvin ticked away happily last night (and him ticking off the degrees, all 1425 of them, up and down the scale is definitely one of my favorite all’s-well-with-the-world noises), and I grappled with the porcupine some more, and so the evening was passed. I decided both that the sock is not hideous, per se (it’s only the mangled-ness that makes it so), and that it’s going to be bigger than I thought (despite the swatch, Yarn Harlot). This is a blow, because I will have to give it to my husband, and his foot is bigger than mine (for which fact thank goodness, I suppose), and therefore more sock will need to be produced before I can call it done. I asked him how short was too short for a manly sock, and he very generously said that he’d wear ankle socks if I needed him to, but the idea of the Manly Ankle Sock may yet prove more wearable than the artefact. I started the heel. Fun, fun, fun.

The night was an unmitigated sleep disaster. I could say it was because I was distracted by Kelvin’s doings (and it is embarrassingly true ad childish of me, that I always sleep worse when there’s something in the kiln) or I could say it was because I was distracted by the matter of having scooped 220g of (allegedly) pure angora handspun on eBay for about the usual cost of 50g and was wondering what to make of it, but I can’t say that, because I’d have to admit to buying more yarn on eBay. I could alternatively say I was distracted by the two-year-old singing sweetly to himself for two hours (between three and five a.m.), or I could suggest that I was musing on the mirror I was planning to start this morning… Anyway, all I can certainly say of last night’s sleep was that it reminded me of the old Yiddish joke about the two old ladies complaining about the food at the resort in the Catskills: such terrible quality —and such small portions.

I checked the kiln first thing, as of old. I had got it on a bit early, while the kids were in the bath, so it was finished and cool enough to open before I went out. I thought I’d leave it a bit longer than I often manage (I usually open it as soon as the temperature drops to 200°) since the slab might- with luck, would – be thicker than the 6mm standard, and slower to cool, so I didn’t really want to beg for an entirely unnecesary thermal shock event. So, how was it? Since you ask, fine. Unexciting, but fine. The surface was slightly bumpy, but it’s actually quite nice, and I’ll be perfectly happy if I can preserve the effect through the slump firing. The overall color – or transparency – was good. There are a few bubbles, but not so many that the clarity is compromised. The colored frits are a bit dull: the cranberry pink is disappointingly flat, and the erbium pink tint is so subtle it’s practically disappeared. But erbium pink tint is like that – I know it is. I only get anxiety about it because it’s such an expensive color (the cranberry is too, now I think about it). It’s silly to use it invisibly. The disc is a satisfyingly thickness, and evenness across the plane. No thin bits, no holes. I think it will play nicely with the drop ring. So the cake ring mold worked like a charm. The lining with Thinfire, not so good. The paper fell onto the glass and it will have to be scoured, as there’s a powdery effect all around the edge now. Ah well: t least it didn’t bake on like kiln wash does. Next time I think I will try keeping it in place with a high-temp-wire paper-clip/kirby-grip-type arrangement. The gritty details: top temp 1425° for 25 minutes, and a hold at 985° for 45 minutes.

And today I started a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired square leaded mirror. More on that later. If I can lay my hands on the preliminary sketch, I’ll scan it in here. It’s very pleasant indeed to be playing with lead again. It’s such lovely tactile stuff. Mmmm.

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