Yesterday I was looking in my closet for a bag for my knitting and pulled out my first felted bag. It had been stored there for the summer (the heat and all) but the truth of the matter is that I wasn't happy with it. It needed to sit in the closet for a while.
Now I jumped into felting with a reckless abandon. This bag was made without a swatch, without a pattern, and with bits and pieces and balls of yarn that I no longer had the wrappers for. I had size 13 circulars and a lot of zeal.
I cast on for the bottom and used some LP bulky and leftover Rowan Polar in a slip stitch pattern with some striping. It looked very nice to me . So I built up the sides using a bunch of scrap yarn including some from the first two skeins of yarn I ever bought. I knew that everything was wool as I have been a wool purist since I started knitting.
I like all the colors I was using but was a little confused about whether or not I should be using one or two strands of yarn, especially if I was planning to do fairisle. I was so confused, in fact, that I decided to do both. So in some places the fabric was a little thicker than in others. But I wasn't worried. This was Swatch Bag.
After figuring out how to make straps and everything I was so bag-proud that I had to take Swatch Bag to the laundrymat to felt it right away. I read on KR and other places on the net how to felt a bag. I was armed with a zippered pillow case, laundry soap, and a roll of quarters. I made up my mind to be dilligent and check my bag often and carefully.
So minutes into the hot wash I lift the lid, fish out Swatch Bag with my bare hands (eek), and carry the precious over to the laundrymat sink. I held that bag so carefully, as if holding a new baby and dripped water everywhere on the floor only to discover that not much had happened. Repeat 3 or 4 times with increasing annoyance. Finally when the rinse comes I decide to let it go through. No more checking. Whatever.
I discovered that after the cold rinse a lot more had happened. The bag had started to look felted. So I loving put Swatch Bag back in another wash and determined only the check it right at the start of the rinse cycle. Hello! More progress and no carrying of dripping bag. I ran it through another wash and brought it home.
As I was looking at Swatch Bag I noticed that it really wasn't done. There was still stitch definition in some places and some places just weren't felted. The straps and bottom especially.
I found out why parts of the bottom didn't felt when I bought Pursenalities a couple of days later. I was flipping through the pages and the book opened of its own accord to a certain purse pattern featuring unfelted portions in the design. And lo and behold mine eyes skimmed the phrase, "and that's how I found out that Rowan Polar doesn't felt." Argh!!! Who would have known. Not I and not the author. What to do?
The owner of my LYS told me that flat knit pieces have a more difficult time felting. So I decided to try hand felting the straps at home. What a bunch of work that was and I didn't have very good results. I didn't have gloves so my hands got raw and my back ached from hunching over the bucket I had in the bath tub. I'm not the smartest cookie out there, am I? The next time I attempt something like that I will have a different (better) set up.
I could use Swatch Bag, but after reading some threads at KR I decided to refelt it. So after two or three more washings it was substantially better and I used it for Kung Fu and brining stuff to work. Still the straps weren't what I wanted and the bottom was too loose. Should I line it? Should I felt it more? I put it in the closet.
Today I decided that something needed to be done about the bottom. I got out some Cascade 22o and a tapestry needle and worked that yarn through all the bottom parts. This time I added tennis shoes to wash as well as jeans and let it go for a couple of cycles. After the last spin I noticed that the bottom of the bag was nice and stiff and much smaller overall. Hurray for Cascade 220! And the straps had even felted a little more.
Perhaps the third time was the charm? Though I am going to do a little more hand felting on the straps, it's much more functional now. And that makes me happy. It's my first bag, so it's a little bit mis-shaped and lumpy (if you want to do fair isle you only need to use 1 strand in non-fair isle places). But I really like the colors and pattern. A hug for Swatch Bag. (((((((((((((Swatch Bag))))))))))))