This week's gift instructions are for the felted bag. I make a lot of them, carry one myself, fall in love with each new one I make and have to persuade myself that no, it goes to the shop when it's done. Before I start one, I look at the yarn I've got around, particularly "odds and ends" of wool left over from other projects. I'm always knitting one thing or another, often from wool, so there's no shortage of project yarn. What I want for a bag though is not just odds and ends, but a unifying color to carry through. The tweedy bag with the purple top at 3 o'clock in the photo has a light brown yarn carried through with all the other colors, at 9 o'clock, there's a green theme going on, and in the dark bag with the exposed pink lining, there's black, blue, green and purple - no yellow or red, though a little rose and metallic crept into the mix.
Holding two strands together and using a size L crochet hook, chain 10. (Note that one is your main color - you're going to carry that one or a similar one all the way through. The secondary color - in this case the purply one, changes when it's used up or you're tired of it. One sc in second chain from hook and next 8 chains, then 3 sc in the first CH, turn work, and sc back into other side of that foundation chain. When you return to the first space, sc twice more into that space, then continue by working a sc into the top of the first sc you made. Now you're off and running - crocheting in a spiral - one sc into each sc of the row below, two or three into each "corner" as needed.
As mentioned before, change yarns when you run out of one or feel like it. At some point, you might go back to your stash and pull out something else that just might go. There are no mistakes here. Remember the eventual felting will blur color combinations. When the bag looks large enough, stop increasing and keep working even.
Moving right along here, I kept adding different yarns. I guess there was some yellow and an orange that came as part of something else. Some of these were seemed-like-a-good-idea at-the-time decisions. I mostly eyeballed the size of the bag, working until it seemed big enough. When I started the handles, the bag dimensions were
about 15 inches high by 17 inches across
which was a little surprising, because it looked about even to me, but, okay.
About those handles. I wanted them to be sturdy, which meant wide and durable after felting. For these, I used the linked double crochet, building each stitch upon the previous one and the final (of 50) at the place where I wanted the handle to attach. You can find a tutorial on the linked double stitch here -
- and if you crochet at all, you'll get the idea quickly.
When the bag is done, cut the yarns, pull the final end in, and then it's time for felting.
The easiest way to do this, particularly if you've got only one item to felt, is to put it into the washing machine when you're doing a regular (colored) wash. About four times, maybe more. It's done when your crocheted bag has shrunken a bit, and the stitches are no longer completely distinct. Dry it. Flatten it on a flat surface and cut a doubled length of fabric about an inch wider and longer at both ends than the flattened out crocheted bag. I also took a shorter length of fabric, as wide as the long doubled-over part, and hemmed it to make pockets. I stitched the pocket to the lining fabric, cleverly leaving both ends of the pocket even with the sides so they could be finished with the seaming. Each time I do this, I also stitch the pocket a few times along its length, effectively creating three or four pockets, often including a tall, narrow pocket for pens and pencils. (Or crochet hooks). With right sides together and the pocket on the inside, I sew the doubled length of fabric, turn down its upper raw edges and press them, and without turning the lining, whose finished side is going to be the inside of the bag, stuff it inside and pin it to the inside of the bag, at least half an inch down from the bag's upper edge. This gets hand-sewn from the inside.
Total time to make the bag - about six hours. A reasonable amount of time for a special gift, and particularly pleasant if you're listening to a book on tape.
These were popular at the first crafts sale of the year, barely looked-at at the one this past weekend. But I somehow doubt I'll have many left when the crafts sale season is over.
And why am I doing so many crafts sales this year? Bill was wondering, too. This is why. Do you have any idea how much a new roof costs?
Funny, I didn't either...