Category Archives: bags

Project Bagway, or, “Damn!”

knitting is fun It is a tense time here at the house of Knit One, Purl Too. The best of intentions are meeting up with reality: a. November and December are really busy at work, and b. it takes what seems like forever to make it to the end of a sleeve if you start by picking up 168 stitches. Translation? I will probably not be done with Cable and Rib by December 31. Damn.

Cable and Rib, the first sleeve started I did a beautiful job of picking up stitches for the sleeve, if I do say so myself – and then I lost momentum when I saw how wide it was. [It’s like starting the back all over again! The sleeves are bigger than the fronts! How can that be right – is this a plot? – ed.] We’re on the downhill slope again now after seven inches of sleeve knitting, but the idea that I need to turn around and do it all again on another sleeve in 18 inches is killing me. Also, as I feared, this is no longer a portable project – and I have crossed that line after which I am pretty sure I must knit every waking moment in order to complete this sweater by the end of the year. Plus, I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping.

Hey there, Jordy Girl! I’m pretty bummed about this total and utter failure to meet an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline, but I distracted myself with a little something – my first serious sewing project. This is the Jordy bag made famous on Craftster, and sewed by me – and Knit One Purl Too’s Chief Seam Wrangler (a.k.a my husband). I learned how to thread our sewing machine and I sewed the lining (peek inside), and he sewed the outside (while I made gingersnap rum balls) – we used material from the sleeves of a denim jacket, so that closure you see there is one of the cuffs. I have a bling-y button ready to top it off, which I have had stashed in one jewelry box or another since I was nine. If I can’t finish this sweater in time, at least I can sew an endless supply of sock bags now.

Bonus link: if you are a fan of Christmas music in all its forms, you will love DJ Riko’s Mixmas mixes as much as I do – just the right mix of classic and kitsch.

A new leaf, knitting-wise.

I am the back of Banff Once again, I ended the old year as I meant to begin the new one: knitting. December 31 found the Knit One Purl Too crew at a New Year’s party heavily populated with knitters (not just one but two projects from Knitty were in full swing – the Marley scarf is very cool in person). If January 1 is any indication of how the rest of the new year will go, it will be a tidier-than-average year (who shampoos their carpet on January 1? We do!) full of exercise and knitting. and, though I’ve said this before and been utterly wrong, I’m almost completely positive there will be a finished sweater – my first.

I owe most of my progress on Banff to date to my steady consumption of TV shows on DVD: nothing gets rid of the sickly sweet heartwarming aftertaste of Seinfeld like two seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but it sneaks up on you – first you think the show is just weird, and by the end of the season, you might find yourself saying, as I did “This is a show even more emphatically about nothing than Seinfeld. That Larry David is a genius.” I am the sleeves of Banff.  Yes, this knitter is off Sleeve Island

Since the knitting friend who inspired me to start Banff is returning from six months in New Zealand tomorrow, I had hoped against hope to actually finish Banff and wear it to the airport when I picked her up. This photo shows where I was on the front yesterday afternoon; even though I’ve made some progress, I feel fairly certain that I can’t complete the front, seam the sweater and knit the turtleneck in the next 28 hours. One piece to go - the front

In the better late than never department, item one, we have a photo of the finished ToteAround; I love this bag a lot – it was definitely worth waiting until I cracked the code and could do it justice with my improved technique. It’s not my last FO of 2005, but it might be my favorite. Stats: Navy Cascade 220, Kureyon 102 (top) and Kureyon 40 (bottom), plus one and a half cycles in the wash and two days to dry. I'm carrying it right now, actually

Better late than never, item two: I ran across Kelly’s list of knitting resolutions for 2006; since I already had something like this in mind, I thought I’d write some things down so I can look back in 360-odd days and see what really happened.

Notable in 2005

1. New technique(s): Two-handed Fair Isle, dropping stitches more than a few rows to fix mistakes which include cables needing retwisting, the afterthought heel, purling 2 together through the back loop.
2. Favorite finished object: The ToteAlong; I liked making it, I like the finished result, and I will actually use it.
3. Favorite knit-along: I loved being a sock pal for SockaPal2za. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, so I’m happy to see Alison is considering it. I’d also like to publicly apologize to those in the StockingAlong and Who Wouldn’t Love a Handknitted Gift – I was too wrapped up in actually knitting the stocking to post about knitting the stocking.
4. Favorite shop: One with yarn in it. I don’t buy a lot of yarn, but I find it slightly unsettling that I’m losing interest in other kinds of stores.
5. Favorite tool: I have two sets of Denise needles, thanks to a happy gifting experience last year. I’ve also grown to appreciate and prefer bamboo DPNs to birch ones.

Resolutions for 2006

1. Finish a sweater (I know, My God, shut up already about the “no sweater yet” thing and knit).
2. Finish UFOs. Other than Banff. I currently have two pairs of socks and a sweater on the needles; I’d like to finish two of those three things before starting something new.
3. Fight startitis. As a rule, I’d like no more than three things on the needles at any one time: socks or something small, a medium project (tank top, hat, scarf), and a big project (sweater, afghan or shawl).
4. Ix-nay on the deadline-oriented gift knitting – who cares if it feels weird to be knitting something red and green in July? Starting early cuts down on the feeling of desperation later.
5. Knit something lacy.
6. Reclaim the yarn from a sweater. I already have two to choose from, so I feel like I’m halfway there.
7. Go through my odds-and-ends box – if the yarn in there were more organized, it might get used up.
8. Beat my FO total for 2005. Three pairs of socks, one hat, one felted bag, one Christmas stocking. I think I can beat that, and if I do, I can rationalize treating myself to something new. Note to Margene: The desire for increased productivity is really more about persistence than product – seeing the results of sticking it out is just a bonus.

Possible projects for 2006 (very, very hard to limit myself to 10 – but what’s the point of making a list unless it has an end to it? That said, I reserve the right to make substitutions for knitting projects to be named later.)

1. Lopi sweater #22 from book 18 (currently stashed)
2. The Flower Basket Shawl (currently stashed)
3. Katrina Rib Shell
4. Crusoe socks (currently stashed, choice of two colors)
5. Hatmione (possible stash substitution available)
6. Pop-up Paws fingerless gloves with mitten tops (currently stashed)
7. Ene’s scarf from Scarf Style
8. I-cord gloves (possible stash)
9. The cabled cardigan from VK Holiday 2004, or Shana’s own lovely cable and rib Anastasia sweater.
10. Tiny Christmas ornament sweaters (currently stashed).
10a. (or the bonus round): I have approximately a jillion sock patterns culled from the interweb – perhaps it’s time to give one of those a try? Like Liesje’s socks (picture here).

This leaves out The Must Have cardigan, any socks of any kind that rock or Jaywalk, and you’ll note I haven’t left much room for the unexpected. I guess that’s why they call them surprises – Happy New Year!

What are my options?

I was no longer truly in love with the Retro Rib sock – I loved the yarn, I loved the pattern – I even sort of loved them together. But this project had languished in my basket for far too long – and absence lack of progress did not make the heart grow fonder. I think the moment of truth came last week while I was fixing fudging the heel flap in the middle of an opera master class (yes, not only have I knitted with Chrisitine Lavin, I have now technically knitted with opera star Marilyn Horne, who is very, very funny). I was lamenting (for the millionth time) my use of lovely yarn that is nonetheless dark and obscures stitches, a huge obstacle to the production of the high-quality socks we hope for here at Knit One, Purl Too.

My moment was just like the instant you see a ding in your new car, and though you love it in spite of the ding, you love it a little less now that you know it’s no longer perfect. Your mind wanders for just a tiny moment to contemplate the next new car, because the car with the ding is now “old”. I began thinking about new socks. Should I

a. Throw over the old, bad socks for new, good socks – nothing fascinates like a new pattern, and I have been waiting to do Danny Ouelette’s Crossing Cables socks for months.

How long has this languished? Months and months. b. Spend an entire Saturday on the couch nursing a beagle who ate something which did not agree with him (thus he was not allowed anywhere he might unexpectedly deposit…something…on carpet or bedding), with the only knitting in reach being one Retro Rib sock.

I’ll take B. for $500, Alex. I feel almost virtuous saying that: “I’ll stick with it.” Because you don’t know it’s going to turn out better until it does.

In other knitting landmarks, the very first ball of yarn I ever wound from a skein (wound by hand because I was a Luddite without a winder art the time), some navy Cascade 220, recently became the last bit of the body of the ToteAround. That’s Kureyon 40 (the blues) and Kureyon 102 (the orange/yellow/pink/blue); I tried several different options for the 102 including knitting from the predominantly pink end of this ball (I never thought I would say this, but it was too pink) and knitting with earth-toned scraps of Kureyon 81(surprisingly, too earth-toned), but the third try is juuuust right. Knit One Purl Too’s Aesthetic Consultant (aka my husband) compared it to a sunset over a lake – you can’t beat that with a stick! Like a sunset over a lake, all right

Now I am occupied with the miles and miles of i-cord for the top edging of the bag – the 45 inches for the strap is just the beginning. Then you knit on enough i-cord to circle the top of the bag and the strap three times; for the record, I have 1 1/2 trips around the horn to go. While I love the knitted-on i-cord technique, I know the i-cord will make things sturdy and I love the bag, I may have to set it aside. A tiny voice inside my head is saying “You have 34 days until the Festivus stocking should be done.” I can’t ignore it for much longer; even though 825 hours, 8 minutes and 31 seconds sounds longer, I know it’s not.

I’m not at Rhinebeck either.

All done, with huge thanks to Laurie for the lovely yarnI am at a weird place, knitting-wise. I’m doing a good job of finishing old projects to get them off the needles and moving newer projects along. However, this requires a little “one step back, two steps forward” knitting manipulation that’s unsettling in that…it’s so “business as usual”. There are no tears, there is no gnashing of teeth, there is no trauma – there is just fixing. To wit: before you can finish the summer socks and free up these needles for the Christmas stocking, you need to rip out the too-short sock toe. Toe doesn’t want to rip? Then cut blithely away with your trusty scissors, rip, put the sock back on the needles and knit on. Having trouble picking up stitches for your Retro Rib sock gusset? Suspect a too-short heel flap is giving you headaches? Rip and reknit, my friend. That’s the kind of thing I’m doing. And progress is my reward. A finished pair of socks (I am officially over any fear of grafting – doesn’t that toe look nice?), a finished sleeve for the Lush sweater (pictures to come; I am still apprehensive about the actual sweater assembly, but we will knit that stitch when we come to it), a heel flap, and…a circle.

If this isn't from the very bottom of my stash, I don't know what isNot just any circle – this is the bottom of the felted bag that gave me fits when I first started knitting in earnest two years ago. It’s the Tote Around from Janet Scanlon – I figured out last week how to start it myself! Forget the deadly combination of huge needles and small hands, Magic Loop to the rescue, dude. If anything, I am in a Magic Loop rut – when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Marshalling my forces for the Festivus Stocking, this morning I was making sure I have the right needles – I actually found myself looking at a 16″ needle this morning, thinking “Is that long enough?” But the Loop of Magic is working for me, so that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. Just like the looping, I’m also all over the ToteAround – it’s the potato chips of knitting. I can’t seem to put it down, even though I know there are other projects calling to me. If it could talk, the Lush sweater would be particularly bitter at being thrown over for something new, but I had to take a small break so I could forget the angora fuzz flying everywhere during each session on Sleeve Island. But the words “first finished sweater” are worth pulling out the lint brush for, so I’ll be on to Sleeve Two soon enough.

Through all of this fixing, I’m thinking about the kind of knitter I am, an the kind of knitter I’m becoming. When I first started knitting, I considered myself lucky to complete a project, let alone a finished object I could be proud of – “Can I do this?” was a real question in my mind as I struggled with wee cabled mice and felted bags. More often now, the question is “How am I going to do this for the best result?” I wouldn’t mind knitting faster, but quality is emerging as more important than quantity (thanks in part to knitters like Melinda, who is fearless in her pursuit of fine finished objects – the sweater she’s currently finishing is a perfect example of knitting as craft and art). What kind of knitter am I? I hope I will be a knitter who is always learning as I knit, even if I am looking forward to finishing something and moving on. What kind of knitter are you?

Peak experiences (and I’m not talking about the sock pattern).

It seems to be a pattern – I buy just a little more yarn, then I review my existing stash and feel the need to have a lie-down because, as the world’s slowest knitter, I easily have more than a year’s worth of projects waiting. Maybe two years’ worth. Then I buy a little more yarn. Usually sock yarn, because it’s cheaper, and after all, how long can socks take? Well, for my birthday last May, my mom took me to the yarn store and I bought some Mountain Colors and some Meilenweit Cotton Fun…both still stashed, seven months later. I lamely proposed a rule to my husband that I should not re-shop at a yarn store I’ve visited until I knit up something that I purchased there. [note: Technically, I’ve already broken this rule by returning to my LYS to purchase Magic Looping stuff and yarn for swatching, even as the felted tote I so wanted to make languishes]. Thank goodness for KnitFest.

Joke not about Toledo – when it is the site of knitting classes and knitting vendors you would ordinarily not see in your neck of the woods, it’s a beautiful place. Things worth sharing:

1. I sat two feet from Nancy Bush for three hours. I watched her cut a steek, which is as cool as it sounds. She was smart and funny, and I managed to keep up with the class without having to admit I have never finished a knitted garment. She signed my book. She just finished a new sock book too, so keep your eyes peeled.

2. Marilyn from Blackwater Abbey Yarns is the nicest person ever – by the time I finish the Cabled Rib Cardigan, we will have tracked down the perfect wooden buttons for it. What’s more, I spotted a new pattern for a cabled cardigan with a healthy dose of bobbles and XOX ribbing by Beth Brown-Reinsel, one of a series of pretty stunning samples knitted up and featured in the Blackwater Abbey booth…and named after Marilyn herself. Very cool, so that came home with me [no picture yet here or at the BWA site – it’s that new!].

3. My first two-color knitting project will be a Christmas stocking kit from Arnhild Hillesland that thankfully, doesn’t have to be ready until next Christmas. She has a lifetime’s worth of beautiful Norwegian patterns, at least for someone who knits as slowly as I do. As I left, she said “You know where to find us!” Oh, I’ll be back, don’t worry.

Finally, there was Debi from Dzined; I had been stalking her since summer, hoping to feel and purchase some of her yarns in person, and I liked them so much I shopped there twice…in a two hour period (Please. What if someone bought the sock yarn I wanted while I was in class? You would have done the same thing). In addition to two completely different skeins of sock yarn, I got some worsted varigated in lovely deep fall hues to make a Multidirectional scarf because it’s officially cold here in Ohio now. I was so excited that I cast on Saturday and knitted (here’s a closeup) on the way to a wedding in Columbus. Was I working on charity mittens? That are due today? No, I was enjoying the yarn that, for me, was worth waiting for. As I said to Stephanie yesterday, the variation in color is not tacky and bad (like some yarns which shall go unnamed and keep us from enjoying variegated lace to its fullest), but subtle and good. I would buy Debi’s yarn sight unseen now [“Hi, it’s Donna – here’s the VISA, send more yarn, whatever’s good.”], and not just because we clearly like the same colors. It may be the one yarn I’d take to a desert island with me, and I’ve touched angora.

Now, about those charity mittens – do you think I can finish the mate (not started) by dinnertime? Clearly someone who puts her own needs before those of children who need mittens is a bad person. At least the scarf and I will look stylish in hell.

I should have made the I-cord first.

Much like my trials with the circular cast on, I have now decided that the creation of any serious amount of I-cord is a reason not to do a project. Knit five, slide, knit five, repeat five hundred times. I don’t care that it seemed to go fast when I applied myself (applied…I-cord…get it? Hee.) it was the knitting equivalent of the dentist’s office.

But I soldiered on, producing 5+ feet of I-cord in record time, and now my Booga gift bag is done. There was a recent outbreak of “what’s up with all these felted bags” on knitflame (I think), saying they were heavy and ugly and lots of other words ending in -y. Well, I have to admit that my first felted bag resembled that remark – the fabric is somewhat bulletproof. It’s a handbag for a stylish Secret Service agent.

But the Booga is subtle, delicate yet strong – dare I say minxy? The fabric is soft, light, and the color is beautiful. Even Knit One Purl Too’s Felting quality Control Analyst (my husband), after initial skepticism, liked the Booga very much. Just goes to show you that yarn selection makes all the diffference – you can felt all 100% wool yarns, but you might not want to try each and every one.

Here is what I said to the KnittersWay group by way of introduction – by the time you read this, I will have actually started reading the book:

Hello, knitters –

I’m Donna; I turned 35 this month (make of that what you will; I’ve been
thinking “midlife crisis”), and I’ve been knitting on and off for 3 years, “on”
for the last one.

I love so many things about knitting: the color, the dimensional quality of
making something you can touch, hold and use, the feel of the yarn, the
“puzzle” aspect of putting stitches and pieces in place, the research and
reading about new techniques and patterns – I’m hooked (but I can’t crochet, no pun intended). My reach exceeds my grasp; I have yet to complete my first sweater (mostly because I abandoned the first one out of boredom and
restarted), but I’m already looking toward Aran knitting, Fair Isle and more complex projects.

I might be the exception, but I have no prior exposure to The Artist’s Way save for having heard of it. I wanted to read and work through it with you all
because I’m interested in discovering more about the kind of knitter I am,
beyond the projects I like. My husband is a fine woodworker, and makes
beautiful furniture out of just his ideas and talented hands – I’ve gotten used
to people saying “I can’t believe he can do that” about his work. People have liked my knitting, but I’ve never thought of myself as an artist. Perhaps
instead of asking whether I could be an artist, I should ask what kind of
artist I am.

who promises to start reading tonight

The way of the knitter.

I have a gift to make by Memorial Day weekend, and it’s going well – a Booga Bag for my friend Amy. This is a landmark project for me; when I started knitting again nearly a year ago, I called Amy and said “I want to make you a bag.” We went back and forth via e-mail about what kind, what color..and then other knitting got in the way. But the Booga has cycled around to the head of the list. It’s part of the great purse-along at Wombatty’s and what’s more it’s a stash-busting project because I purchased the Kureyon months ago when we finally picked the color. It feels good to plan something and finally do it. starproject1.gif [this button swiped from Vera]

It also feels good to be able to do it; the biggest difference between my knitting eleven months ago and now is that I have come to appreciate re-doing things as an opportunity to learn more about a given technique. I tried picking up stitches three times for the bag – each time it got better, and I could see why it was better. How about that? Here’s a closeup to celebrate:
Instead of a knitter who gets from point A to point B by the skin of her teeth, I’m becoming a “process knitter”. To better develop my appreciation for the art of knitting, I’ve signed up for Knitter’s Way a Yahoo Group that will read and discuss Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in knitting terms. Am I an artist? Hmmm. Not like this. But I want to be the most creative knitter I can be.

My husband, the human swift.

The new favorite yarn in my house is Cascade Pastaza, a blend of llama and wool that’s incredibly soft, with beautiful variations in color and a rustic look not unlike Lopi. We discovered it’s the favorite because I’m madly knitting away on a felted Bucket O’Chic for Knit One Purl Too’s Yarn Recommendation Staff (aka my husband), and every time he’s seen me working on it over the last two days, he’s said something like “I like that yarn even better than when it first arrived – it’s my new favorite yarn” or “You could make me anything out of that.”

Yes, I’ve created a monster. My husband has a favorite yarn. He enjoys operating the ball winder, and calls himself “the human swift.”. He visits knitting stores without protest, and knows the difference between worsted and DK weight. Who knew? It’s a win-win situation for us – he gets knitted thiings he likes, and my knitting has a built-in fan club.

Here, before I forget, is the finished felted bag I mentioned in the last entry – it’s so cute, and has inspired me to felt (and felt) again. It seems like magic, and it’s even more fun than I thought.

A few miscellaneous tidbits for future reference:

Kate points to a tutorial using the Magicord machine to make I-cord with worsted weight yarn. A handy reference, but I think I’m still returning my Magicord; I don’t hate making I-cord that much yet.

What other yarns can you use for the Must-Have Cardigan? Knitters in the Yahoo group for the knitalong are using Dale’s Falk, Reynolds Candide, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, Patons Ballybrae (this yarn has been discontinued, but you can always look on EBay) and Elann’s Peruvian Highland Wool. Nice options, no?

This year, I want to knit something (anything!) out of hemp. My investigations revealed the following: A search for hemp yarn; there are several potential sites, like EnviroTextile, Aurora Silk, and LanaKnits (they have affordable little kits). I’m such a hippy.

And, who would not want handspun angora yarn from champion rabbits

When I offered to make a baby sweater as a gift for a friend who’s expecting, mothers at the baby shower recommended a hooded baby sweater that zips up the back (that’s for a newborn, and this pattern goes to 12 months). Apparently, this style of sweater gives the baby less to fiddle with (now where’s the fun in that?).

Have a felty New Year.

I know – two entries in three days – shocking! With time off from work, I made one of my Christmas gifts. It’s a felted tote, the Retro Bag from Designs by Shelley in Outback Wool and Outback Mohair by Plymouth, colorway 902 It’s sweet and girly, with a garter-stitch bottom, lots of mohair and contains plenty of what may be my favorite color: lime. Here’s a closeup. So delightfully fuzzy! Dig that I-cord! And here’s the glamorous “I’m blocking” shot. Thanks to Kathy Wortel’s basic felting article from Knitty, as well as the King of Felting’s great tips, I was felted and fabulous with two trips through the washer.

This pattern was easy and fun. One thing I would change next time through – the handles for this tote are stitched on pre-felting, which means, of course that the yarn used to stitch them on felts as well – and shrinks. Though the handles are securely attached, the ends of my handles curled up a bit, which I can fix with needle and thread. But next time I attach handles, I’ll make sure to stitch the ends down.

So what’s next? I have yarn for a few more hats, including a Bucket O’Chic in Cascade Pastaza (thank you, Rob), a Booga bag, and of course, the Tote Around that seems much more do-able – I think I can fake my way through knitting a flat bottom and picking up stitches (rather than torturing myself with DPNs). I have Koigu for some Crusoe socks too (thank you again, Rob), but I may just pick up my lonely top-down raglan – it needs some love.

Basic knitting skills required.

From Nanette:

10. If a project is bugging you, take a break or abandon it. It is wrong to force yourself to knit something you aren’t enjoying. You should ALWAYS enjoy the process of knitting.

Okay, I’ll say it: My felted bag is no fun. At all. I’ll eventually get it done, but I spent two and a half hours working on it with my favorite knitting tutor on Saturday, and even she – a woman who’s been knitting since she was ten – said “This isn’t easy. It’s not you.”

You know, the pattern says “basic knitting skills required,” but I would have appreciated something more along the lines of a warning label: “This pattern requires extensive use of double-pointed needles with small numbers of stitches, and you’ll probably want to know more than one kind of increase – if this is your first project with DPNs, adjust your frustration levels accordingly.” Ugh. Okay, moving on.

meeses.jpg On the bright side: two lovely mousies off to Wendy for the mouseathon. These looked so much nicer after they were stuffed and finished, I impressed myself.

I’ve also started swatching for the Knitting Pure and Simple sweater in Patons Ballybrae Black Forest Tweed, a worsted wool in deep navy with tweedy flecks – I found *one skein* in a local store, and they said it had been discontinued – two years ago. Thanks to a request to the knitswap list, not 24 hours later, I’d located someone willing to sell more than enough for my sweater. Now I guess I’ll have to stop haunting the EBay Wool listings and get knitting.