Monday, 22 February 2016

Because I felt like it

I may have claimed last week that I didn't have any yarn to make another sick day pi shawl.  In actual fact, I did.  Somewhere in the stash were two balls of green worsted weight, two balls of black and three balls of a beige-ish colour - all Brown Sheep Lamb Pride 

Instead of doing another pi shawl, I decided to make a Meema's felted marsupial tote bag, from the book Stitch and Bitch.  Having knit with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride wool before, I remember it being slightly scratchy and therefore ideal for felting. 

The design is pretty simple; knit a rectangle in garter stitch and then pick up stitches round the edge, and start knitting in the round.  If you've ever started a shawl with a garter tab cast on, it's a similar principle, just with a bigger tab.  I knitted it with 8mm needles, rather than the 10mm needles which were recommended, as A) I'm a loose knitter anyway and B) they were the largest circular needles I own.  I didn't do a gauge swatch and when I measured afterwards, I wasn't too far out.  Slipping the first stitch of each row made it easier to pick up the stitches afterwards. 

After picking up the stitches from round the edge, I had, what I thought was, a clever idea of increasing the stitches to make the bag bigger.  In reality, my bag looked like a hat and the knitting seemed to go on forever.  The stitches were tight, and it wasn't fun to knit.  There are pictures of me with the bag on my head; I'm too vain to post them.

Luckily, I'd kept the base black and the sides green, so when it came to ripping out, it was easy to see what should stay and what should go.  As I was rushing to work on Thursday morning, I couldn't find my darning needles to put in a lifeline - so instead tied a loop on the end of the sock yarn, and used a crochet hook to pull it through.  Whilst I'm still not a fan of the colour pink, it doesn't half look good next to the green and black. 

All of this (and the above photo) was done on the train on the way to work, with a rather sturdy man squashing me up against the window.  He was replaced by a slightly less sturdy man; I'm sure he farted somewhere between Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill. 

Somehow the ripping out and starting again worked.  I am strongly of the opinion that yarn knows how it wants to be knitted.  Once I'd started again, the stitches flowed beautifully, everything was easy to knit and I could see progress.  Quite a lot of progress, actually.  After Friday's journey in to work, a meeting in the evening and the journey home, pretty much all of the green bit was complete.

When adding the black at the top, I nearly made a rookie error, of knitting in the wrong direction.  The pattern was pretty, but the change from one colour to the other felt lumpy when I knit it. 

Next time, I'd like to try this pattern on the outside of the bag

I made one modification; adding a strip across the top for the popper to go on.  Instead of casting off 22 as the pattern said, I cast off 7, knit 8 and cast off 7. The 8 knitted stitches were then put on a stitch holder. When the main body of the bag was complete, I picked up the 8 stitches and knit a garter stitch flap, to sew the popper on to.  The 8 stitches were slipped on to a needle holder and picked up later.

The floppy bag - before felting

I didn't know whether to felt at 60 degrees, or 90 degrees.  Both would work, but I didn't want the bag so small that it couldn't be used.  I went for 60 degrees, shoved into the washing machine along with a pair of jeans.  When it came out, there were a couple of places where I think it would benefit from some hand felting. 

The completed bag, after felting

I also knit the handles in garter stitch, rather than stockingette.  I didn't want the top of the bag to roll over at the top.  The top of the bagbag itself works in garter stitch, the handles possibly don't.  The next time, I would do the handles in stocking stitch, so that it rolls in on itself and makes a thinner handle than the one I have now. 

Would I knit this again ?

Heck yes! 

Why did I like it ?
Simple and pretty quick to knit.  Way of using up yarn, which may be too itchy to wear next to the skin

Why didn't I like it ? 
Nothing I didn't like about the pattern.  Didn't like the uncertainty of knowing which temperature to felt the bag at.

What would I change ?

Possibly make it bigger, and would definitely try felting it at 90 degrees.  Did make an adaptation with the tab for the popper.  I'd also try and do the section at the top in reverse stocking stitch, to get the pattern between the two yarn colours.  I'd also stick to the handles in stockinette stitch. 

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