Penny Whistle Cases or the Project from Hell

The kids and I are learning to play the penny whistle this year, so I thought it would be a good idea to knit penny whistle cases as a school project. Both Teal and Pintail already knew how to knit so I thought we’d whip the cases up in a jiffy. No problem!  I also wanted to dye the wool using natural dyes from vegetables or flowers or something, but, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans…  This project ended up taking about four and a half months, and NOTHING was easy!

The first problem was the yarn I ordered.  It was SO bulky and SO full of lanolin that it made our hands sticky each time we worked with it!  Yuck.  It was also one-ply, so with the smallest of tugs the strand would pull apart and need to be spit on rubbed back together.   Also, yarn that bulky needs big needles to knit up  easily, but I only had three sets of small needles and I refused to go buy bigger sets thinking it would be fine. It took months with those tiny needles!

When the knitted rectangles were finished, we folded them in half and sewed up the sides with the yarn.  Horrible!  The yarn broke every few stitches.  After battling with them for several weeks, we finally finished them and here’s what they looked like before fulling (felting).


There weren’t many flowers or plants to harvest and use as dye when we were ready in January, so I decided we’d use Kool-Aid.  Thankfully, dying our cases with Kool-Aid was the one thing that worked well in this project.

Pintail dissolving his Kool-Aid.


Teal submerging her penny whistle case.


When the cases were dry I realized they were way too long, so I had to come up with an idea.  I thought it would work if we snipped the bottoms off the cases and bought cute fabric to sew up the bottoms and sides as a decorative contrast.  After fifteen minutes of trying to sew through fabric and fulled wool with a sewing machine, I gave up.  They were way to thick!  (Teal was also getting extremely worried that I was going to break her sewing machine, and asked me to stop, repeatedly.) I ended up hand sewing fabric across the bottoms and using NEEDLE-NOSE PLIERS to pull the needle and thread through the wool!  I couldn’t help exhaling a deep, “Phew,” as soon as they were done.  So, for better or worse, here they are, our Penny Whistle Cases!


2 thoughts on “Penny Whistle Cases or the Project from Hell

  1. Sara

    Wow! If that’s not an example of turning lemons into lemonade, I don’t know what is. The yarn definitely sounds like an absolute nightmare, but the end product is just beautiful!


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