it felt so good {a knitting story}

... get it? I've been asked how long it takes to knit and felt a bag like this one but I can't accurately say. I do know that I made leslie h's bag driving back and forth to the kids' hockey playoff games on cape cod 4 or 5 times (it's an hour each way) plus an afternoon making the long strap. it took 4 full washes (not the 'quick wash' cycle) in my machine to get it to shrink.

  • I cast on 116 stitches onto circular 29" long Clover needles, size 10.5 / 6.5mm
  • I only use bamboo needles - it's harder for the yarn to accidentally slide off
  • when flat, the bag measured 14" wide x 17" tall
  • the strap (not shown above) is an i-cord and measured 45" in length
  • I made a 5" deep bottom (I'll take pictures of that next time)
  • I always count on things ending up 1/3 narrower and 1/2 as tall
  • there are 11 different colors and 7 different brands of yarn
  • the metallic yarn is not wool
  • I knit the thin metallic yarn and the wool at the same time as an experiment
  • the bag now measures 10" wide x 9" tall
  • the bottom is now 2.5" deep
  • this is roughly 1/3 narrower and 1/2 as tall, right?
  • the strap shrunk more than I planned
  • I stretched the strap, while wet, to 39" in length
  • the metallic yarn experiment was a success in my book
  • except the bottom part - I embellished the white with some taupe wool
  • white yarn is the hardest yarn to felt. always.
pro-tip: felting is best done in a top-loading machine with the hottest water you've got. my front-loading machine is not conducive for felting because it's only soaked as it passes thru with no actual agitation. in a top-loading machine the bag is agitated and sits in hot water the entire time. also, it's best done with denim or towels as part of the load, not your teenagers' cammies and shortie socks.

as I change colors when I knit, I leave a tail from the old color and a tail from the new color to tie together. some people like to weave these pieces into the body of the bag when they're done but since I'm pretty impatient / lazy, I leave the threads to tangle during the washing. I end up with something pretty great - I call them 'twigs'. I guess it would help to know that when my youngest was 2 she couldn't stand all the superfluous things in her clothes (tags, seams, etc.). she had to wear her socks inside-out because of the (sometimes invisible) extra serged thread that ran across the toe seam - she called them twigs.

waiting to see what happens to these twigs is almost as much fun as waiting to see how the bag will turn out. I keep a jar of all my twigs (that sounds evil, doesn't it?) and there's some pretty neat things you can make with them. check back and I'll show you how to make one of my favorites.