Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Knitting Project: A Little Bag

This is one of several little bags I've recently made from a pattern by Sara Swett in the all new Homespun Handknit, 25 Small Projects to Knit with Handspun Yarn, a book that I reviewed for the Black Sheep Newsletter a while back. Sara's pattern was designed for knitting cotton; I adapted it to use my farm-raised Corriedale handspun. My intent was to use up my odds and ends left over from various projects. I was hoping for serendipitous success with the design, as happened with this first bag...

...but not so much with this one. It looks like Easter with too much kitsch.

I'm currently using my very last skein of natural colored gray Corriedale blended with dyed mohair to knit yet another little bag. I think it looks like our Pacific Northwest skies this time of year. It is a really lovely yarn (if I do say so myself) and I wanted to use it to knit myself a little bag to hang on my spinning wheel to hold my 'stuff.' This little bag is simplicity itself. You knit a garter stitch square, pickup along its edges and knit in the round to form the body, make drawstring holes at the top, then knit 2 i-cords to thread through the holes. You can add any color design you want. The following is not so much a pattern for making these little bags but rather a basic guideline I use. You can do the math before picking up the stitches around the edges of the square if you want evenness and perfect divisibility when making the holes for the drawstring. I used a US size 8 circular needle.

CO 3 st
K1, M1, K end; repeat until it measures the size you want (4-7 inches)
K1 row (this is the diagonal across the bottom); change colors if needed or desired.
K1, K2tog, K end; repeat until 3 st. remain; leave stitches on needle.

PU stitches all around 4 edges of bottom square using 3 or 4 dpn or circular needles (this is 60 st, 54 st or 66 would be better). Join stitches. Purl one round. Change yarn if desired or as needed. K in round to make body. Purl each round of 1st yarn before switching to a new yarn, then K when 1-2 inches less than desired height (4-5 inches total). I often have to adjust stitch numbers (K2tog as needed) to make divisible by 6 st to make drawstring holes.

K3, BO 3, repeat to create holes. Next round, K3 above K3, CO 3 above BO st. P one round, K one round until desired height (1-2 more inches).

Make two I-cords of two contrast colors. CO 3 st and K each same length (15-21 inches, or at last as long as the bags circumference), or make one length to double and thread through of one color. Thread both I-cords through drawstring holes. Sew each to its own end to make two continuous loops. Pull alternate loops from two opposite sides (more or less depending on how even your hole numbers come out) to close. Turn the bag inside out and felt it by washing in hot wash/cold rinse in machine with a pair of very faded denim jeans.

I was feeling really inspired with my knitting this morning, making the I-cord for my latest bag while drinking my second cup of coffee. Last night I attended my first Snohomish Knitter's Guild meeting and joined as a new member -I think its going to be so much fun! I was knitting this little bag at the meeting and couldn't help but feel like I was making a stone-ground whole-grain bread amidst other's who were making croissants, souffles, and eclairs. Not that there is anything wrong with whole grain bread mind you, or that anyone was anything other than friendly, encouraging and welcoming to me, its just that the array of fibers, artistry and craft skills of the knitters present there was so amazing, I couldn't help noticing the contrast. Personally, I like knitting projects that require as little math and mental focus as possible. I also prefer knitting with handspun rustic yarns and find immense satisfaction in using yarn that is only a few steps of processing away from the animals in the barn.

In yarn and knitting (as well as in everything else), both beauty and art are in the eyes of the beholder; both are also often found in the most unexpected places. While cooking yesterday, I was struck by how really lovely these colors looked and just had to take a picture. Don't laugh -it's our compost bucket! Kitchen waste discarded and layered while I was cooking: leeks and tomatillo husks, then blue (lavender) potato and carrot peelings.

I'm inspired to create a bag with the colors in the compost bucket, or at least the yarns in my stash that are pretty close. I'm envisioning a felted handbag of greens and lavender with carrot-colored embroidery. We'll see where the inspiration actually leads me.

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