Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First knitting project

Since it's been months since I last posted about knitting, you may want to refresh your memory on my rocky beginning by reading my previous posts:  Stop me!!! and By Jove....

I decided that since I finally could knit I should do a project instead of just a sample, so I made a bag.  Most of it was knitted while my mother was in the hospital.  I had two yarns - Elsebeth Lavold Chunky AL in the Wet Earth color (50% Alpaca and 50% wool) and Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran in the red/purple color (55% Merino wool, 10% Cashmere, and 35% microfiber).  The Aran has a beautiful texture to it, and the two yarns look nice together.  I chose to use the Chunky AL for the body of the bag and the Aran for the sides and strap.

The pattern was very easy, and it didn't take me long to knit the bag.  I felted the body of the bag then knit the sides and strap to make sure they'd match up right.  I did not know if the Aran would felt, so I didn't want to risk messing anything up.

Michele was over when I felted the bag and took some pictures.  Unfortunately, my camera is a little tricky (the picture doesn't get taken immediately after pressing the button, so you have to keep the camera still for a few seconds afterward), and the pics are somewhat blurry.  How odd, though, that the picture she took of Steve's shaving cream is clear as can be.

Here's the bag before felting:

The curling is normal for stockinette stitch - I didn't mess it up.  I did some research online (because I thought I did mess up), and this article on TECHknitting gives a very good explanation of why it happens.  For those of you who don't want to get into the nuts and bolts....  it just does.  That answer was good enough for me, but that article was very informative!

Felting is a process of purposely shrinking wool to make a tighter fabric using hot water and working the piece to get the fibers to stick together (agitation).  There are great instructions on how to felt in a washing machine with numerous pictures in the How to Felt a Project article on  I only wanted to lightly felt the bag, and I was a bit anxious to get it done before bed so it could dry by morning, so I chose to felt it by hand in the bathroom sink.  There are two camps on felting - soap or no soap.  We had a huge, ugly chunk of soap remnants, so I thought I'd put it to good use (and get it off of the sink!).

This is me washing and working the bag (and probably saying, "I sure hope this works!").

This is my "I sure hope this works!" face:

Michele loves this look on my face.  I think she's a crazy person.  The water was HOT, and my back was starting to hurt.

Ha!  I'll use your picture taking against you, Michele...

Oh... a word about our bathroom.  I believe I've talked about how retro our house is - nice light wood throughout and original fixtures.  Well, the bathroom is more of this, but someone must have been on drugs when they chose the wallpaper.  There are two different colored (similar, but different) green tiles around the bathtub, and the floor has green and white tiles.  The bathroom counter is yet another green.  Why on earth did they choose pink wallpaper and curtains, and how do you match anything to all that?  I think the shower curtain from my other house works well with the greens, but not the pink.  I'm hoping that we'll paint the walls a nice cream color or something that will work with the stuff we can't afford to change.  The mirror is huge and has an aged look to it.  Steve doesn't like it, but along with the rotary phone in the kitchen, I think it adds character to the house.

Where was I?  Oh, I remember.

After working the bag for a while, I rolled it up in a few towels to get the water out and to further agitate the fibers:

I repeated this 4 or 5 times until it looked kinda felted to me.  Yeah, I should have used the washer.  It would have been quicker, but then you wouldn't have been able to see my lovely bathroom!

The sides and strap didn't take too long to knit, then I sewed them to the body.  Here's the finished bag:

It's a cute bag.  It's not terribly large, but it comes in handy when you have a lot of little things to carry.

As with most of my projects when I don't exactly know what I'm doing, I would have done things a little differently.  I love the look of the non-felted purple on the felted gray, but the strap is, um, a little boingy boingy.  I assure you, that's a technical term.  If I carry heavy things in the bag, or use it too much, the strap will stretch out.  That might be okay, or I might crochet the edges with a stronger yarn - the gray if I have enough of it left.  I may not.

I also would love to have a flap made out of the purple.  I definitely do not have enough for that, but I may have enough for a loop for a button.

Emboldened by this, I started working on a hooded jacket.  Yes, I know I'm crazy, but that's a tale for another day.

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