Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Oh-So-Cute Bag Pattern

This bag kind of made itself, and at the very last minute too. Always nice when that happens, eh? The end of the school year crept up on me once again, and I was in need of a very special gift for a very special Kindergarten teacher. Lucky for me she's the type to appreciate all things handmade. Nothing is worse than putting yourself into something you craft only to see the gift-ee's "oh joy, more crapilicious craftiness" strained expression when you give it to them.

It took me a bit longer as I was figuring it out as I went along, but I have to think you could whip this out in an evening, felt it before bed and have it dry and ready to go the next day.

Here's what you'll need:
3 skeins of Paton's SWS
US K-ish crochet hook...mine is bamboo and not the standard, but as you're felting it anyway, gauge is not critical.
tapestry/yarn needle lingerie bag ivory liquid dish soap washing machine with lots of hot water

This bag is worked in the round, starting with an oval to form the base of the bag by working down one side of a chain and back on the other, increasing each round to your desired size, then decreasing to bring the sides up and angle them in. Once the decreases are done, you work even rounds until shaping the handles. I started working spiral at that point, but I would recommend not. Once it was felted, that part of the bag seemed to twist a bit which made shaping more challenging than it had to be. My guess is that by finishing off each round and chaining up to start a new one that wouldn't happen. I used half double crochet hoping for a nice, dense fabric after felting and that is just what resulted.

hdc = half double crochet
sl st = slip stitch
ch = chain
hdc2tog = half double crochet 2 stitches together

**at the end of each round, join with a sl st into the starting chain/hdc and chain 2 to start the next round.

Here we go. (be kind, I've never written out one of my concoctions before...)

Chain 30 loosely. (use a larger hook if you have trouble with this)

Round 1: Hdc into second chain from the end. Hdc again, back into that same chain space. Hdc into each chain space, though 3 hdc into the end chain space. Turn the piece, hdc into the other side of each foundation chain. Hdc into the end space. (the one you started with, it already has 2 hdc worked into it.) Join by sl st into the top of the first hdc.

Round 2: Ch 2. Hdc into base of chain. 2 hdc into next stitch for the next 3 stitches. Work even hdc down row until 3 stitches remain on this side. Work 2 hdc in each of those 3, 3 hdc in the end stitch, then 2 hdc in the first 3 stitches on the other side. Work even down this side, again until 3 stitches remain. Work 2 hdc in each and one in the base of the starting chain.

Continue working in this manner, placing 3 hdc in the stitch at the end of the oval and series of 2 hdc clusters to each side while working even down each side, for the next 3 rounds as follows:

Round 3: 4 stitches with 2 hdc clusters to each side of the 3 hdc cluster at the ends
Round 4: 5 stitches with 2 hdc clusters to each side of the 3 hdc cluster at the ends
Round 5: 6 stitches with 2 hdc clusters to each side of the 3 hdc cluster at the ends

Note that your starting point for each round will not stay the very end cluster of 3 hdc as you keep increasing. It will shift to the 2 hdc clusters at the side. Just pay attention to where you are in the process and you'll be fine.

Round 6: Work the entire round even, placing 1 hdc in each stitch of the previous row.

Round 7: This round introduces decreases to pull the sides up and in. You hdc2tog 6 times (using 12 stitches from the previous row) around each end curve of the oval, then *hdc for 2 stitches and hdc2tog in the third* along the sides.

Rounds 8-11: Work even in hdc.

Round 12: Decreases again, this time to start the inward slant. (If you don't want your bag to do that, just keep working even until you want to shape handles.) This time it's hdc2tog 4 times around each end curve (using 8 stitches from the previous row), and again *hdc for 2 stitches and hdc2tog in the third* along the sides.

Rounds 13-22: Work even in hdc.

Round 23: Handle shaping! Work 12 hdc centered around the end of the oval. Ch 25, skipping over the next 18 stitches from the previous row, then work 12 more hdc around the other end curve. Ch 25 again, skipping 18 more hdc from the previous round and sl st into the first hdc.

Rounds 24-26: Work even, placing 1 hdc in each hdc and ch in the previous round. (74 stitches)

Sl st into first hdc, tie off and weave in your ends.

Felting (OK, this is really, technically "fulling")

I highly recommend using a lingerie bag with this yarn. It sheds like crazy and unless you like hanging upside-down into your washer to clean it out, you really, really want to use one.

Leap of faith. Throw it in the washer on HOT, regular cycle with a scant squirt of ivory liquid. (and an old towel or 2, perhaps a couple of pairs of jeans to help with agitation) Watch it closely as this yarn also felts F.A.S.T. I have never, ever had to do more than one cycle to get the result I want.

Take it out and shape it. (I stuffed it with target bags and paper towels and clipped the handles and top opening together.) Let it dry and presto, bag perfection.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lost in Summer Vacation...

Wow, totally blindsided by the black-hole-ish time sucking effect of having all 3 kiddos home all day. Though conversely, right now 6 pm seems to take approximately 2.35689 days to arrive. Quite a conundrum. Not enough time, yet the time I have I want to move oh so much faster. I am literally crawling out of my skin at the end of the day from complete sensory overload. Now I know why people paid the big bucks to crawl in those sensory deprivation tanks. Dare to dream.

So when y'all check in and I'm not round 'bouts, think sprinklers and real honest to goodness full sugar fruit punch kool-aid popsicles with these 3 rug rats, if I'm lucky that day anyway.

I have spent some bits of time in the evenings attempting to work on various projects. (when there haven't been a couple of beers after dinner that is...and I have a new summer fave, but more on that later...) Both ripples are stalled for reasons related to heat and humidity and lack of yarn. Difficult to motivate to go yarn shopping for a heavy, body encompassing project when it's 90 every day. UGH. They may be languishing for awhile...

I did whip up a bag off the top o' my head for a teacher gift.

Quite pleased with the results, and this time I did manage to take notes. Took a few hours to crochet once I figured out what I was going for. And how very much do I l.o.v.e. SWS? Felts/fulls/whatevahs like a dream in no time. Will transcribe said pattern post haste.

OK, just don't hold your breath, OK? I tend to be quite a bit over-optimistic about my abilities these days. The poor ripple blog is sadly neglected. I haven't done more than poke my nose in Ravelry in weeks. And let's please not talk about how very far behind I am in podcast land.

Have also been playing in a couple of scarf circles with my friends from the Lime and Violet message boards. May I heartily opine that this is the PERFECT project for a new knitter? Do you know what I'm talking about? You knit 6 inches of a scarf, pop the stitches live onto waste yarn and send it of on a grand adventure. You send it to someone that does another 6 inches and sends it off to another knitter and on and on until your scarf comes back to you 6 feet of multi-yarned, multi-patterned wonderfulness. And the scarves started by all of those playing along filter slowly to you as well, so not only is there knitting, but there's MAIL too! What more could a gal ask for?

Seriously, it's like swatching with a purpose. Not only have I dabbled in lace (yep, I can ssk, psso and yo with the best of them now), but I did CABLES. With a cable needle. And I didn't poke my eyes out, or even want to poke my eyes out.

With that project in mind, headed to the library today in hopes of finding some kind of stitch guide, since I don't have one adn I hit the jackpot....the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume 1. I'm in love. I'm saving my pennies starting now...it shall be mine.

Oh, but first I have to buy a spindle. ;p