Sunday 19 September 2010

Felted Knitting Bag

After lots of knitting of Christmas gifts and sewing of birthday gifts, I decided it was time to treat myself to something new.  I decided that I needed a new large knitting bag, the sort that will hold the wool and knitting for larger projects, such as big jumpers or blankets.  I decided to use some Rowan Tapestry wool that I picked up for a song on eBay.

Originally around £4.25 a skein, I picked 10 balls up for around £10!  Normally I wouldn't use such nice wool for felting, but as it was such a bargain, I was happy to use it for a bag.  Tapestry is a self striping yarn made of 70% wool and 30% soy.  As it contained 70% animal fibres I was fairly sure it would felt, but I checked on Ravelry and found other felted projects using this yarn.

This yarn is a double knit weight and I thought about knitting with two strands, but decided that as my bag was only going to hold yarn and needles, the fabric didn't need to be particularly thick.

I didn't have a pattern in mind, but knew it would be simple to make one up. I cast on 100 stitches and knit in garter stitch until I used one skein up. Then I picked up and knit around the unattached edges of the rectangle and started knitting in stocking stitch on circular needles until I had used around a further 5 balls of yarn up. I used an i-cord cast off, around the top of the bag, and applied an i-cord up the four “corner” edges of the bag to give some strength and shaping.

The bag was enormous when I finished knitting and I was sure I would be able to live in my new tote when it was finished but of course I forgot the power of the felt.  When the bag came out of the washing machine after one cycle at 40 degrees it was reduced somewhat in size.  I used a box file and a stack of magazines to block the finished bag into shape and I was satisfied with the 15" long x 4.5" deep x 10" wide, finished measurements.

Once the bag was blocked dry I stitched polyester boning in each of the four corners, behind the applied i-cord.  I also stitched on more two pieces, horizontally along the top of the long sides. I used plastic canvas in the bottom, cut to the external measurements and then trimmed until the canvas could sit flat inside the bottom of the bag.  I also rounded the corners of the plastic canvas, so they did not pierce the felt fabric.

Using my new beloved book, The Bag Making Bible, I made my first attempt at making a concealed zipper casing, for the top of the bag.

I was pretty pleased with the way this turned out.  The zipper was a cheap open ended one I picked up at Mary Clare, so this technique of sewing a tab to fit around the end of the zipper worked well.

The zipper casings are not attached to the short ends of the bag, only the long edges.  This means that when the zip is opened, the top of the bag can fold out of the way.

I also used the instructions from the new book to make the straps and the internal pocket, with it's elasticated top.

This pocket is handy for things like scissors, or a purse and mobile phone, if I am taking the knitting bag out with me on my travels.

The new book definitely helped with making this bag much more elegant in design.  It helped me work out the fabric measurements for cutting and helped me work out the method for sewing before sitting at the machine.  There was much less ripping out of stitches than usual and I had just enough fabric in my 80cm remnant of fabric.

I love how light this bag feels and it sits beautifully on my nice wooden floor, while I knit away.  The size worked out perfectly for my needs and I used it for my knitting group last night.

It held the baby blanket I am currently knitting, and three completed shawls for show and tell.  I think this bag is going to get a lot of use.  I do love it when a plan comes together!!


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