My purse pre-felting with a DVD for size reference.
My purse post-felting, also with DVD for size reference.
My potholders and coasters. Nothing for size refrerence. They're pot-holder sized. :-)
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Highland Chunky. The grey is Light Grey Heather" and is one of the two colors still available on the website. The others are Malt Heather, Forest Glade Heather, and Dark Indigo, none of which are currently available. In theory they will eventually get more. I hope they do, as I REALLY want to make Kitty Pi from Dark Indigo.
Pattern: Made up by me based on the swatches (ie pot holders) I felted. Essentially I started with 20 stitches, increased on each end until I had 42 stitches, then knit until I was done. :-) On one of the halves, of course, I decreased for the flap. Then I knitted stockinette strap/bottom for what seemed like forever, with decreases so that the strap would be narrower than the bottom. I grafted the strap into a loop and used mattress stitch to attach it all. I know that I didn't have to use the invisible seam in something was was to be felted, but I figured that eventually I'll want to make a sweater with seams and figured I could use the practice. It was very tedious, but it was easier than I expected and seeing the seam vanish and look like solid knitting was pretty cool.
Yarn notes: I really like this yarn. I originally bought this green to make a Harry Potter scarf, then discovered it was too scratchy to wear around my neck. (Note: I don't know that it's an especially scratchy wool yarn in general: the other knitters at my SnB were impressed with the softness, in fact. It just turns out I can't have wool around my neck unless it's merino.) The green yarn was way too pretty to send back, so I made this bag. Although it's called chunky, it's really more of a heavy aran weight: I think it would be happy knitted at 4 stitches/inch. For felting, though, I knitted it at around 3/inch on size 11 needles. I think it took atound 4 balls of the yarn.
Pattern notes: If I were to make a bag like this again, one thing I'd do differently is sew the bottom/straps in *before* I made the decreases going from the bottom to the strap. Despite my careful efforts to sew the midpoint of the bottom (between the decreases) to the midpoint of the bottom of the bag, the decreases turned out slightly asymmetrical. I would also make the strap garter stitch. I meant the purse to have a flat strap, but the curled stockinette felted together and made a round strap instead. Of course, the reason there' s a knot in the top is that the strap is also too long.
The bag also felted a lot more than I expected based on my samples, resulting in a smaller bag than I planned. I don't know if it's because my test sample were a different color of yarn, because my bag managed to escape from the pillowcase in the wash while the potholders didn't, or if the universe is just against me. :-) Anyway, what was supposed to be a small bag became instead a large-for-me purse. It still will be useful (I can use a nice purse for when I feel underdressed with me beat-up Eagle Creek pouch) but eventually I need to knit or crochet a larger bag. (Or, maybe that would be a good opportunity to learn to naalbind?)
Since people I've shown the purse to seem quite interested in the process of adding the celtic designs, I thought I'd show how I did them. It was VERY fast and easy for what is, I think, a pretty impressive result. I did the blue pot holders first, then the grey pot holder and the bag.
I tried several ways to transfer the patterns to the peices for felting. Neither white sewing pencil nor white carbon paper seemed to show up on the fluffy felt. Finally I tried a slightly annoying but effective method. I found a celtic design I wanted to use -- mine are from Dover's little Celtic iron-on transfer book, which I scanned into my computer. I zoomed in on the image until it was as big as I wanted, then traced it off my computer screen. (You could, of course, use a printer, especially if you have a fragile screen. I have a tablet PC, so my screen is meant to be written on.) I then cut the knot out of the paper to make a template. I put the template where I wanted the final design to go. Then using a small paint brush, I bapped baby powder all over the thing until all the bits around the template were totally coated.
When you pull the template away, it looks like this:
Getting baby powder all over the coffee table is optional, but likely. Don't blow on or disturb the powder in any way. There's meant to be tons. Take the yarn you want to make the design with. Using the template as a guide to see the path the strands follow, lay the yarn down on the item. Use a felting needle to give the yarn ONE poke and ONLY ONE poke as you go along. You just want to tack the yarn down so that it stays in place, nothing more:
Once the entire design is tacked down, then you can start poking the heck out of it:
In this picture, the bottom left corner is well felted and the others are only tacked down. If you look closely you should be able to see the bottom corner has been somewhat felted. You don't have to look closely to see that the bottom corner has lost much of its baby powder. Most of it has filtered down into the felt. This is why you tack down the entire design FIRST before you start any serious felting. On my first attempt (the coaster with two triangles above) I didn't know this and had lost the pattern on the felt before I was half through one of those tiny triangles.
Here's the entire design well-stabbed:
There actually seems to be a little more baby powder in this because I had experimented with using a tool that holds multiple needles at once on it, which seemed to drive baby powder back out of the felt. I don't think the multi-needle tool is that helpful, since most of the needles are going into the item rather than the design, and the item is already felted. Also, you have more control with just one needle and it's less work to push a single needle in.
Note that you'll probably get a faint, fuzzy copy of the image on the inside of the item where the fibers have been driven clean through:
On the two-triangle coaster and the smaller blue pot holder above (the one with the single triangle) I tried needle-felting, then wet-felting the surface. It made for a design that was more incorporated with the item (my needle-felted-only designs are slightly raised) but also blurred and distorted the pattern. Maybe this will show the difference:
I think just needle-felting works better.
Finally, you take your lightly-scented piece outside and beat it until most of the baby powder comes out, and you have a FO! Do not beat the baby powder out inside. You have been warned.
The good news: I swore I was going to knit two items before I bought more yarn. This is my second item! More yarn! Yippee!
The bad news: The yarn I want (color-grown cotton to crochet a lacy cardigan) is apparently mostly sold in Canada. Additionally, after I ordered it, I learned it was backordered. I have started knitting a Christmas-tree skirt to tide me over until it comes. It is supposed to ship soon -- hopefully it won't get held up too long in customs. I shall console myself by noting that in NC, it should be warm enough for a lacy cardigan for some time to come.