I love felted bags. The first one I made took forever and I wasn’t thrilled with it. When I was ready to try again, I cast on Friday night and had it finished and ready to be felted by Saturday night. Super! Exciting! I gave that one away to my knitting proselytizee friend to use as part of my campaign to bring her over to the dark side a knitting bag. I loved it so much I immediately cast on another one for myself. And then I took a Fair Isle class and my felting got a little derailed. BUT THEN! Why not make a felted bag using Fair Isle techniques!
One of the biggest challenges for me in Fair Isle is keeping the tension loose enough. It kind of goes against my grain to stretch all my stitches out and have sloppy loops in the back of the work. But I figured that if I were making something to felt, then it would be no big deal if my floats were too tight because the whole thing would shrink anyway! Plus, I wanted to be able to Fair Isle by carrying one yarn in each hand and this way I could practice. It wouldn’t matter if my gauge was off because it would be felted! It would be perfect! I would love this bag so much; I would use it as a purse! Total strangers would ask me where I got it and I would smile modestly and say “I made it”, and they would be envious of my creative knitting prowess. It could be that mythical Life Changing Fashion Accessory. You know, like the Swatch watch in junior high that I never had but all the popular kids did and they were on ski team and sometimes had more than one Swatch to color coordinate with those polo shirts with the little alligator that I also never had but if I did it could have changed the course of my life.
I sketched a pattern of polka dots. I knew I wanted to have three rows of large-ish black polka dots on a background of gradually changing color. I scoped out the stash, and came up with some Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride for the polka dots and found some Noro Silk Garden Chunky that I ripped back from a scarf I was attempting but didn’t like. The Silk Garden said “hand wash” on it. Why would someone want you to hand wash it unless it they were warning you against the possibility of felting? I don’t know about you, but I am not all about hand washing garments just for the fun of it.
Perhaps you can see where this is going.
I had a very specific picture of this bag in my head. I knit the base separately (more than once to get the shape and size I wanted), and picked up stitches all around to begin the body. I began my polka dot Fair Isle pattern, knit like mad and finished it in a couple of days. Unfortunately I ran out of the black, which I wanted to use for a stripe at the top and for the handle. But who cares? The polka dots were a-freaking-dorable and the Noro background was deliciously murky.
I couldn’t wait, and threw it in the washer the minute I was done weaving in the ends. I have a front loading washer, which I love for laundry purposes, but felting in it is not a five minute process. When I took the bag out for a check, it was apparent that the Lamb’s Pride was felting much quicker than the Noro. No problem, the Noro will catch up. I threw it in for another cycle. Hmmm. The black Lamb’s Pride was felted to within an inch of its life. The Noro…was not. Imagine if you will, what happens when one part of the fabric shrinks and the other part does not. Puckers! The Noro was puckering in between the dots! Which was not entirely unpleasant when I thought about it more. But (why does there always have to be a “but”?), the puckering (obviously) only occurred where the dots were, and the dots were pretty much centered on the body of the bag. So the bottom and the top of the bag flared out, and the middle pulled in. It was hideous.
And also not the Life Changing Fashion Accessory it was supposed to be.
Ugly, Ugly, Non-Life Changing Bag
I know. For some reason, the shape of it reminds me of one of those wooden Dutch shoes.
I have a plan to cut it open and seam it to eliminate the flare. And do something different for a handle since that little buttonhole is kind of sissy looking. This plan involves me acquiring a sewing machine and learning how to sew, so it might be a minute. On the other hand, maybe I’ll just cut it up and frame it as a random knitting art piece. Or maybe I’ll just run it through the washer until the Noro begs for mercy and felts. Or maybe I’ll cut it up into a really expensive and funky pot holder. Whatever.
Now that I know about the puckering, I kind of want to do it deliberately on something. I don’t love failing at one of my first knit designs, but I don’t want to be a quitter either. I still love the polka dot purse idea, but next time I am going to do something more sensible, like knit it with the same yarn throughout (duh). And maybe not use expensive silk yarn and then deliberately ruin it. (see also: duh).