Monday, July 16, 2007

Beach Knitting

This is the tote I frantically finished while on holiday at the beach. I thought that it might not be so much fun to knit with wool in summer, but it turned out to be so cool that I was glad to have it as a little blanket to keep warm!
I was inspired by the computer bag in Leigh Radford's AlterKnits and the shape of the big beach bag I was using to tote all the beach towels, sunscreen and knitting.
The bag is shown with Barbies pre-felted and soaking up the sun after its bath.

Here is the formula - I can't really call it a pattern since it's a very loosey-goosey sort of thing that can be adapted to any size desired.
Using worsted with two strands held together or a single strand of bulky knit a rectangle that is 30 percent longer than you want the purse to be and 20 percent taller. The purse is knit vertically (rather than horizontally like most) so it will shrink more in width than height.
For my bag, I used Cascade 220 in Navy and violet, a dark purple Patons, and a verigated mystery yarn that consisted of several strands together. You can use a yarn that is not wool but only for narrow stripes or you will have trouble with the felting. Try making a small accessory bag first to test the yarns together. If you use a wool that doesn't felt for some stripes, I would recommend crocheting or knitting around the top so that the bag is completely felted for a firmer edge.
Make stripes as desired.

Sew the caston and cast off edges together. Sew the bottom. To create a flat bottom: With the purse inside out, flatten the corner so that it forms a V and sew from side to side about 3 inches up. Repeat on the other side.
Add pockets as desired.
For handles - make an i-cord with 4 to 7 stitches, depending on desired thickness. I used 7 strands, which made for a solid cord.
You can attach the handles before felting or after - I attached them after.
Felt the bag and attach handles if you haven't already.
For a closure - I made a felted triangle and sewed it on as a tab. You could also put on a zipper or close the bag with a magnetic clasp.
My unfelted bag was about 45 inches by 20. Finished was 35 by 14 (I confess I'm doing this from my memory, which is faulty)
I started out with 51 stitches. The first 30 rows (which ended up being the middle of the back) were in garter stitch. For the rest I did the top 4 stitches in garter and the rest in stockinette. I made the garter stitch border because I thought it would make a firmer edge. It turned out fine, but I'm not sure it's necessary. The garter stitch is a tad bit thicker than the st stitch, but it felted to the same height and wideth.
I didn't line the bag because I put pockets on the inside. It could easily be lined.
I have one note on the pockets - think about where they will be when the bag felts. I found that my front pocket was a little closer than I would have liked to the top.
Have fun and please let me know if you try this at home - I'd love to see how others turn out.
The bag is on its way to my International Tote Exchange IV pal.


loribird said...

It came out wonderfully! I may have to give this felting thing a try....

Janice said...

I LOVE your tote!! The colors are great and I love the vertical stripes!! thanks for sharing your 'pattern'.... I will have to give it a try. Your ITE partner is one lucky gal!!!

Allison said...

It's adorable! I love that bag. I couldn't find your column today!