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Thursday, 17 January 2013

January mid-month check-in – A lovely year of finishes

My mid-month check-in involves a whole gang! It was a fabric bowl that I posted as my January finishes project back here, as on Monday night we had a bowl-weaving workshop at my sister Kate's house. There were some lovely bowls being made, some with T-shirt fabric, others out of old shirts, and some with scrap material. We were a bit hard-pressed to finish a bowl in two hours, so I did promise I'd put instructions on the blog so they could be finished off. In return ladies, I'd love some pics sent to me of the final products. The blog email address is in the 'about Stitch and Yarn' section at the bottom of the homepage.

These bowls were originally inspired by Maryann Talia Pau, whose work I found when I was exploring Harvest Workroom's website. I took a look at a few more photos in Flickr and tried some experimentation before completing a couple of my own. So now to the instructions...

Base of the bowl

T-shirts are great to use, as you can cut them in the round. I started by cutting off the base of the T-shirt and then, beginning near a side-seam, I cut in a taper until the width of the fabric strip was about 10cm (3 inches). I then continued to cut around the T-shirt until I had a good, long strip of fabric to get me started. At this stage, leave the strip attached to the T-shirt – you can cut more as you need it.

Then, take a long piece of wool (about a metre and a half), thread a needle at one end, and tie it to the end of the tapered fabric at the other. Begin to wrap the fabric around the knot, as you turn, secure the fabric in place by threading the wool back through the centre of the spiral (ie near the original knot). You need to keep the fabric wrapped fairly tightly and the wool pulled securely too. Try not to pull it all too tight though, as it makes it difficult to get the needle back through the centre of the spiral. Aim to keep your yarn 'spokes' about 8-10mm apart. After approximately three rounds you'll have a secure base to your bowl, so finish off the thread to begin the blanket stitching.

Main section of the bowl

If your wool isn't too thick, it's easiest to thread the needle with a double strand so you don't have to knot each time you need a new piece of wool (see 'starting and finishing off yarn' below). For the next  section, instead of going back through the centre of the spiral, bring your needle up from below the fabric and through one of the spokes of yarn. Before you pull the yarn tight, take the needle over the top of the fabric and through the loop of the yarn at the back. For those of you who are used to stitching, it's the same way you'd do a blanket stitch.
When you get to the second round of blanket stitch, you won't be going through a spoke anymore, instead you will need to stitch the yarn through the intersection of the blanket stitch so that the current row pulls the previous row of yarn outwards. This stops the bowl collapsing in on itself. You still need to keep your stitches about 1cm apart, so if they're getting too spread out, then do a kind of false stitch where, instead of going through the intersection of the blanket stitch on the previous row, you just take the yarn through the straight part of the stitch.
I also changed T-shirt colours a few times during the making of the bowl to give it a striped effect. You could also choose to change the colour of the yarn. To change fabric colours I figured out where each new round began (I could tell by looking inside the bowl and seeing where I swapped to the double-threaded blanket stitch) and tapered the current strip down to a point that finished a little way after the start of a round. I then picked up my new colour, that had been taper-cut as per the beginning of the bowl, and overlapped it with the previous colour. This way the new colour begins at the beginning of a round so your bowl has even rows of colour. If you don't mind the rows not being even, then you can start new colours anywhere in the round.

Completing the bowl

In terms of shaping the bowl, it really depends on how tight you pull the fabric in each round and how tight you're pulling the stitches (these both bring the bowl edges inwards), but also where you're placing the fabric on the way round. Basically you control the shape.

Finishing off the bowl is a little like changing colours. Cut the fabric you are working with down to a taper than finishes a little way (8–10cm, or a couple of inches) after the end of a round. Then make sure your last spoke encloses the end of the taper. If you think there's going to be a little too much fabric hanging out, fold the point of the taper back on itself so it does get caught in your last stitch.

Starting and finishing yarn

At the beginning of the bowl you're using a single strand of thread. To finish this off, take the yarn through the centre of the spiral, to the back of the bowl (ie the part you want sitting on the table surface), making sure you have caught a few of the spokes so your thread doesn't pull all the way through. Thread your needle through a couple of spokes at the centre of the wrong side of the spiral, pass the yarn back through the loop you've formed to make a knot, then thread your needle back to the front of the bowl and cut the yarn off as close as you can to the surface without cutting any other threads.

The beauty of doing the rest of the bowl with a double thread is in the starting off. Thread the two ends of a piece of yarn through your needle. Now, thread the needle through one of the spokes on your bowl and before you thread it right through, pass the needle back through the loop of yarn so it secures it without having to knot.
To finish the thread off, weave it back through a previous row, take one thread out of the needle and stitch the other thread under the join of a blanket stitch. Tie the two pieces of thread together. Put them both back on the needle and weave them under and over a couple of rounds of the bowl, before cutting the thread off.

I hope that makes sense to those of you finishing these off! Email me if there's anything you're not sure about. And follow the blog to see some of the completed bowls in the January finishes party post!


  1. Love the instructions thanks. Now I just have to finish the bowl! Shirls' bowl is looking very impressive.

  2. Oooh excellent! Make sure you send me pics Shirls!