Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Last minute makes: felted wool trivet

If you have felted wool around and find very basic embroidery stitches soothing, then this is the project for you! 

It doesn't have to take long, and a felted wool trivet is infinitely customizable - for a tea service, for a kitchen, for a favourite mug - in whatever size suits the need and the available fabric.  My fabric supply is mostly from sweaters purchased at Goodwill to ensure I'd have a stash of emergency gift materials and not at all because I am overly optimistic about how many projects I can take on in a year, ahem.

For a tea trivet, you'll be aiming for a circle or square about 6.5" across.  I like a circle, because I can run my rotary cutter neatly around an overturned sandwich plate, and I find blanket stitch more peaceful when I'm tracing a curve.  If you don't have a rotary cutter straight lines are a lot easier to cut - so square is your friend.

While you're at it, why not cut a few?  You'll need two circles (or squares) for each trivet - one for the pretty front, and one to hide the ugly stitching on the back of the pretty front - and it doesn't hurt to have a few in storage for real emergencies, like needing a reason to calm down with blanket stitch, or a gift for somebody who really does have everything except something hand made, by you, for the kitchen.

See that circle on the top with the sort of ridged design?  It was originally a wool vest, seriously cute with buttons down the front, but when I found it the years had taken their toll - it was sadly shrunken and in possession of a hole.  However: the grey was the perfect colour for my project, and the ridges were inspiring.

How often do you get a fabric with built-in guides for Japanese-style running stitch patterns?

There are so many options for running stitch, like these tiny examples I did when I was making bookmarks:

Or, you could applique designs onto your trivets, as I did with this improvised bird backs on a pair of felted wool mittens:

Still love these mitten birds SO MUCH years after giving them away... they are worn out now, apparently, but I bet the birds held up!

Okay: back to work.  Sadly I accidentally deleted the photos I took of the process, but I can tell you I paired the flimsy grey wool with a serious, thick black wool for heft and for better countertop protection.  To give me a guideline for how close to the edge my running stitch could go, I pushed standard-size paperclips onto the edges of the grey felt.  And when I was done, I put the two pieces of felted wool together with the right side out on the embroidered front, and blanket-stitched them shut.  You don't need to be perfect with the blanket stitch, either:

However, it is a good idea to press the finished trivet under a damp cloth so it goes flat, heh.

I am so excited about this trivet, even though it is not nearly as pretty as the turquoise and red one I made and can't find to photograph for you.  Or as clever as the one with the steaming teacup (appliqued sweater cuff for the cup, needle felted fleece for the steam) which I also can't find.  Why?  Because this trivet is a custom match for my aunt and uncle's gorgeous granite countertop! 

The counter is primarily the colour of the yarn I used - the mere fact that I had something that graduates in and out of different shades of honey is a miracle - and the rest of the counter shows veins of dark grey and black.  These two have everything and are at the point in their life where they are downsizing, but they do enjoy tea and coffee together daily.  I'll pair the trivet with some delicious cookies and wrap it up with ribbon: how better to offer love and good wishes?

This trivet took me about three hours to make, from cutting to not quite pressing.  You can save time by choosing a patterned sweater for one side of your trivet (no extra detail required) or by topstitching around an applique shape, like a heart or something.  Or by not being so fussy every time the running stitch comes out looking wonky.

Well, that's it for me today.  I have wrapped absolutely nothing, I have baked even less, and I'm supposed to be going to a birthday party tomorrow.  So off I go, shaking slightly with panic, and wishing you a wonderful Christmas Eve to come!


Laurinda said...

What an inspired gift! & how lucky that you had materials in the right colors! I'm still working on a knitted bunny for a one year old, I haven't even started the sewing for my husband's present. Nothing wrapped here, nor baked. Did I mention I'm hosting the family buffet tonight? D-:=
Ah well, if it's not done, then it's not done, I'm not going to stress, & neither should you- you're amazing! Have a lovely christmas, & we'll see you after the holiday 🎄

Mary Keenan said...

This is the best part of a yarn and fabric stash isn't it? You always have the right things, if your project is small enough ;^) This is a great approach you have Laurinda - the family being together is the important thing and the rest can be prioritized later. The bunny is top of the list as far as I'm concerned - what is more perfect than a bunny??

Things went big time sideways at our place this year so we sat down and made a list of the special moments and atmosphere we value most. Apart from the butterscotch brownies I have to make RIGHT NOW, we are being flexible about everything. My favourite adjustment is the wrapping - we do lots of small gifts for each other and this year, they are getting rolled in tissue paper and tossed in one big gift bag. Stuff that came shipped in boxes is getting presented in the shipping box! If it goes over okay I am really really hoping we can make this a tradition ;^)