Saturday, 8 September 2007

Sunburst bag for Janet

Janet, I promised you more detailed pictures of my bag - this is the one I use at the moment, more ornately decorated and a bit stronger in colour! I used a lambswool singles, dyed with brazilwood on alum - a very strong red. from a friend in Berlin I received a bag full of different guilded brass wheels, normally used by watchmakers. I knitted them into the front, simply by slipping the opening over the stitch. the embroidery is more detailed too, but again I used the "once-off" mixture by Oliver Twists. the little wheels are held only on one side: to avoid them sticking out after felting I stitched them down on the loose side.

the make-up of the bag is easy: you knit two "pi" circles first. for this I cast on 9 stitches on 3 dpn and knit one round. I doubled the stitches by working a yo after each stitch (don't forget to knit the last yo on the needle - they tend to "vanish"). then I doubled the number of rounds, well, I knitted 3. again doubling the stitches, then doubling the rounds, ie. by now you should have 36 stitches and you should have knitted 3 rounds after the first doubling and 6 rounds after the second one. you work this way until your circle is big enough for your needs.You could simply cast off now and work the long narrow rectangle that forms the handle. for this you just cast on as many stitches as you like, I think I had 15 or 16 for my bag. it forms the handle and the middle part of the bag, so knit it double the length you want your bag to hang - but don't forget that the felting shrinks it in length quite a bit!

I felt that the rims of the circles needed a bit more work to look nice, so I didn't just cast off. I worked one row of knit 2 together and yo and continued with 4 or 5 more plain rounds, then cast off. I then put the rectangle in around the circles, so that an opening remains (the rectangle was sewn together along the cast-on and cast-off first). then I used some sewing thread (anything smooth like cotton will do) and folded over the rim along the "hole" round to form a "toothy" edge. I sewed it down with the sewing thread on both sides, loosely with a basting stitch. this makes the edge felt together and defines the rim better - see in the photo. after felting at 60 deg. C in the washing machine you can pull out this basting thread.
the handle part rolls in on itself and is felted together to a roll - which makes the handle more stable. you could of course knit it with moss stitch or all in garter to prevent the rolling up, if you prefer a flatter handle.

if you have doubled stitches and rounds to say 24 rounds - but would like the bag slightly larger (working 48 rounds might end in a huge bag!), you can adapt the size easily too. work another round of increase - but don't double the stitches! just increase for every second, third or fourth stitch. then work the following rounds accordingly, i.e. don't double the amount of rounds, but work 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 the rounds - and you still end up with a flat circle. if it still looks a bit wobbly you can either block it before sewing it together - or pull it into shape after felting, when it is still damp.
you can decorate the bag as you wish, but don't forget to add some sort of closure. here the folded over seam comes in handy! you can either sew it close around the opening too (when doing the basting) - or you can easily leave a small bit loose in the middle. if you put in a small piece of cotton fabric or even plastic, it will keep the folded over edge from felting to the main part and you can add a bag magnet after felting. just pull out the fabric or plastic and add the magnet - it won't be visible on the outside. you can of course add a closure with a loop on one side and a tassel to pull through on the other side (my bag has magnets and a tassel - but no loop, the tassel is just deco and used up a few of the leftover embroidery threads). if you like you could also knit a rectangle and sew it to the inside as a small pocket for coins, pens, keys etc. - but don't forget to put a piece of fabric or plastic between pocket and bag or they will felt together!
everyone is welcome to use this pattern, even copy it for friends (it would be nice if you mentioned the source:)) - but please don't start to sell it for yourself - or I'll be very cross when I find out!!


Janet said...

Thanks Bettina for all the details on how you made the bag. It really is strikingly beautiful. I think I'll have a go - and will of course give you full credit.

Leigh said...

Bettina, I never fail to be inspired when I visit your blog. Thanks!