Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring Green Vest

Thought I'd quickly update you on my progress with the bright lime green vest that Tracy Bonkers desiged. I'm following her French Mistress Vest pattern and using the hand-dyed yarn I purchased from her at Knitting in the Heartland. I've decided to rename this thing "Spring Green Vest" because I like that so much better than the REAL name.

I'm making progress. Here is where I stand with it right now. The great thing about this vest is that you don't have a lot of sewing to do, just the shoulders. Everything else is knitted in all directions in one piece. Very clever design and I'm having a lot of fun working on it so far.

Here are the buttons I purchased from Knitcraft the other day to put on this vest.

Did I mention that I TRIED making my own polymer buttons for this project? Well, I did. What did they look like? Well, crap, frankly. Here is a close up. They were huge, clunky, and looked like a kindergarten project. Plus, I ruined my fresh manicure in doing it and my hands are so dried out . . . . making buttons wasn't as creative and rewarding as anticipated, but if someone wants to try to convince me otherwise, I'll go to your house and watch you do it first.

After post note: My brilliant and creative friend, Lynn of Colorjoy is a polymer button QUEEN. Her advice to me is excellent, I'm posting it here. She teaches classes in Michigan on Polymer button making. I wish I could take her class in person and then I might actually be tempted to try this again. But without hands-on advice, I may just be buying all my buttons in the future. Thanks anyway, Lynn.

Polymer Button Advice From Lynn: I'm sorry your first try was not fun. I had trouble figuring it out alone, myself. You're normal in this learning curve, anyway.

Here's what you need to know first:

1. Sculpey III is too brittle for buttons. You will need one of the FIMO variations or Premo or Cernit, or maybe some other brand I don't know yet. I use Premo.

2. You need to "work" the clay longer than you think, to make it stronger after baking. Either use a pasta machine or roll a "log" of clay, then fold sheet or log, then roll again, and do that 14 times (the number is based on research, it's not a random number). This breaks all the molecular chains in the clay and allows it to bond back together more strongly when baked.

3. Bake for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for larger things. Up to
2 hours makes it stronger, you can't cook too long. However, make sure you are at exactly the right temp that the package says. Most ovens are off 25-50 degrees. too cool means it gets hard but doesn't get strong enough. Too hot means it scorches and becomes brittle.

So those are the 3 most important things about button making.

The other thing I recommend is layering several colors that are close to one another. Rather than blue solid , for example, choose warm blue, cool blue, purple and turquoise. Layer very thinly (think
woodgrain) by stacking sheets and then pushing down on top with your palm. Then cut stack in half, put on top of itself, push down again.
Repeat pushing and cutting and pushing and cutting. Use a good clay blade from a craft store (michael's, hobby lobby, jo ann fabric).
Careful, the blades are reeeeally sharp. Then use the cross grain to make buttons, they will look woodgrain and have much more depth than a solid color.

Hope that's helpful.


JessaLu said...

What a lovely green! Good luck with your button making. :o)

Kim said...

Hi Chelle! Bummer on the buttons...I had the same result when I tried to do some of those. I didn't know you knew LynnH! I've considered taking her polymer classes at Threadbear before but never got around to it. Like I need another creative endeavor to clutter up my house....

BTW, love that green vest too.

Elysbeth said...

Nice knitting. I like the flower buttons. It makes it very casual.

ChelleC said...

Jessalu, glad you like the green. I'm giving up on button making until I can take a class or get together with someone who knows what they're doing.

Kim, yes I do know Lynn via online. We've corresponded for several years. I want so much to meet her someday! If you can take a class from her, any class at all, go for it. She's a delight.

Elysbeth, yeah I'm eager to finish this vest up. Hope it's not too big. At first, I was having trouble getting gauge large enough, and now I'm hoping it's not too loose fitting or "rustic" looking. I tend to make everything a bit TOOOOO rustic. Grr.