Hot Bags and Flowers In Coral Gables, Florida

The Knitting Garden is the name of the shop owned by Annie and Virginia where I spent the weekend of October 3rd and 4th.  Instead of the usual weekend-long bag finishing class format, we spent the first day working on making, felting, and finishing bags and the second working on making and assembling flowers.

The shop itself is filled with delicious fibers, colors popping against dark wood.  The shop is long and slender with a surprisingly airy feel for how full it is of every fiber you wish for. . . they’ve thought of everything.  And there are comfortable chairs to sit and knit in as well as a long farm table in the back.

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Here is “Bob” with felted dreadlocks and the beautiful Spanish architecture of the Coral Gables area reflected in the window.  Our class took place in the back of the shop (see below)–the spiders hanging from the ceiling are a nod to October and it’s culmination in Halloween.

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On Saturday, we focused on felting techniques to make bags of all shapes and sizes turn out well.  For example, it is common mythology (still!) that no matter what the bag size, you should it in the smallest load size.  For small bags and flowers this is fine, but for large bags, you risk creases and uneven felting.  All bags must be able to move freely in order felt well–so, the rule of thumb for felting should be that you use the smallest load size that allows your project to move freely in the washer.  For a very large bag, that means the largest load size your washer has.

Another common myth is that your bag or other item will get creases in it if you put it through the spin cycle.  As I emphasized to the workshop participants at The Knitting Garden, I have never seen a crease in a bag that didn’t get in there during the agitation cycle (wash or rinse, if you let it go through the rinse cycle).  Creases find their way into your bags and hats because it gets folded up in the water and felts harder on the folded parts and felts less (sometimes hardly at all) in the crevices/creases created by those folds.

We talked for a long time about the importance of checking your felting:  too often I think folks wait until the washer turns off at the end of the spin cycle even to look at what has happened to your bag or hat or slippers. . . Instead of this hand-off approach, I recommend watching your felting, being involved in the process: manipulate the bag periodically to check the felting process, unfold any folds, stretch out places that are felting faster.  And if you have a top loader, put back in the water places that need more felting–not the whole bag, but just the top, for example, if it is flaring too much.

On Sunday, we were all flowers all the time. My objective for this day was to show that multiple flowers of the same type or different flowers together could be arranged in wonderful combinations to fabulous effect. We all worked on Noni Camellias first in Tilli Tomas Flurries.  The ladies made either five-petal or 9-petal flowers.  Then we made Rosettes and Stephanotis.  To make the point about arrangement, I showed what the flowers looked like on the back of a rather huge carpet bag, even trying out my new Sunflowers (coming soon in March 2010!)  See below!

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The large sunflowers on The Rather Large Carpet Bag.  I’m wearing a red camellia with a JUL shawl stick through it to keep it on. Below is a picture of unfelted Camellias and rosettes clustered together in the center of the bag. I’m afraid the picture just doesn’t do it justice!

img_5054Everyone fell in love with the Peony flowers.  We tried them on the Carpet Bag also, but I don’t seem to have a picture.

I had a blast in Miami.  Virginia and Annie were not only perfect hostesses for me during my stay there but they are a great team, and perfect hostesses for the people who come to their shop. You’ll love the selection, the wonderful energy of the shop, and sitting and knitting there for a spell.  A wonderful place to visit if you live in Miami or if you are just there visiting!

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