(Almost) Instant Gratification

Early in February, my Thursday night knitting group picked out the project they want to start next, planning to work on it concurrently with their Celtic Totes. Since there is so much new for them to learn on Celtic, they need to do a lot of that project in class, leaving them wanting more to do at home during the week. When we found Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag, which is available for free HERE, I knew it was the perfect answer. Again they would have things to learn, but it would be a much more independent project. Keeping budgets in mind, we decided to use Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky to knit it, but much to our disappointment, only 3 lackluster colors were in stock – certainly not enough to suit our eclectic group. We waited impatiently all month long until the “in stock” date came around, only to find it had been pushed back 3 more weeks. Being the leader of this group, I really wanted to make one ahead of them, as it seems even the best of patterns seem to have idiosyncrasies, and I like to find them before I teach a pattern instead in the middle of a group project. 😉 That is how I found myself staring at the three colors that had been in stock at Knit Picks all month long, trying to convince myself that I liked one of the three potential color combinations that were available to me.

And then it hit me – I wasn’t limited to those three colors! With a quick and decisive series of clicks, I ordered 6 skeins of Porcini before I lost my courage, and here’s what happened next…

Tuesday, 4:00p – Knit  Picks order arrived! Porcini is just as uninspiring as I expected. I know colors like this are necessary and useful from my quilting experience, but on its own, it’s just plain icky – about the same shade as those really chintzy corrugated boxes you find sometimes. Not surprising it was still in stock while everything pretty was sold out.

Tuesday, 9:00p – I’m not going to waste any time! I open the first three skeins of Porcini, add figure-8 ties in two more places on each, and toss them in hot water with a dab of Synthrapol to soak. I’ve stewed over color options with my best friend on the phone, and she suggested black and pink. I tweaked the black to Jacquard’s Gun Metal, not sure how that is going to look over the Porcini, and decide to hold off on a final decision for contrast until I see what happens. Pulling the yarn out of the water, I’m amused to see the dye bleed from Porcini is more interesting than the original color of the yarn.

Tuesday, 9:45p – I knew going into this that my dye pot was far too small to get a good, even color on 12 ounces of bulky wool yarn, but for the project I’m doing, I don’t think that will matter. Still, in order to encourage some degree of evenness (I hope), I put the yarn into the dye bath and don’t add the vinegar until it’s been in for about 5 minutes. Instead of just letting it stew, I move it around as much as I can – which is definitely not much!

Wednesday, 2:00a – The pot has finally cooled off enough to rinse the Gun Metal batch.Love it!I decide I want the second color to be a pinky purple, so I mix the dye bath with Hot Fuchsia and Purple 3:1. The Gun Metal has come out with a lovely kettle-dyed look, but I’m wondering if I can get a more even color on this second batch. I squeeze the soaked yarn as dry as I can, and I don’t add the vinegar until 15 minutes after the yarn is in the vat. Loving the color – as in it’s perfect! Of course, my camera doesn’t think so and persists in rendering my colors blue and pink instead of slate and pinkish purple…Wednesday, 8:27a – All rinsed and hanging to dry, and I really couldn’t be happier with my color combination. Camera does a little bit better on the colors with more contrast in the photo. And the purple is definitely dyed more evenly than the gray, though it’s still not perfect. What I have discovered from this venture so far is how to make a rather appealing special effect. 🙂Wednesday, 5:00p – Finally dry! I wind it all into cakes, eager to start knitting.

Wednesday, 7:00p – Realizing that my daughter is likely to call tonight, I stop what I’m doing long enough to cast on and make sure I know how the first part of the pattern is worked. Sure enough, she calls shortly, and by the time we hang up, I have the bottom knit. Even with a lot of research time to figure out what the best way is going to be to make jogless stripes when some of them are single row, by the time I go to bed, I’m almost halfway up the sides. This is flying! It was a great night to watch a movie with subtitles, as I certainly didn’t have to watch what I was doing. 🙂 BTW, I did my jogless stripes by knitting one below. I started the new color at the appropriate spot, and when I came around to that stitch the next time, I inserted the needle into the stitch below that stitch, effectively knitting the two stitches stacked together as one. It’s odd, but it even worked on the single rows of color, despite the fact that I was now knitting with the other color again.

Thursday, 4:00p – I put my project up on Ravelry, christening my colors Regal Raspberry and Slate Roof, then squeeze in nearly and hour of knitting before heading off to the KniTogether, knit like crazy there, put it down long enough to drive home, then knit while I’m reading my email, then talking to my daughter. I’m both driven and excited to be doing something like this in such a compressed time frame. I’ve not done a challenge like this since I did my One Day Wonder a couple years ago.

Thursday, 11:58p – I’m nearly to the top, so I stop to check the pattern to be sure I know where the changes start at the top edge. Something isn’t right. It takes me 5 minutes to figure out that I managed to put one extra row in a stripe just past midway up the side, throwing my count off for everything since. I resist the impulse to cry, deciding it would just waste time, and I frog 30 rows – the equivalent of about 1/3 of the entire height of the finished bag. OUCH! Gonna hear more of this book tonight than I expected! Even worse, it’s midnight, and I don’t have anyone to whine to!

Friday, 7:00a –  I do the handles 3 times before I decide to use the cable cast on to re-add the bound off stitches that create the hand hole. (Note: If you do this pattern, the easiest way to achieve this cast on is by turning the bag around so you are looking at the inside when you cast the stitches on. I also made the connection firmer by casting on 19 stitches instead of 18. When I turned the work around to continue knitting the top, I knit the last cast on stitch together with the next knit stitch.) The way the pattern is written, there are two consecutive rows of knitting on the handle section. I do the entire handle in garter stitch, an easy enough switch. Sewing in the ends is fairly quick and painless since this is going to be fulled (felted). All I’m really concerned about is encouraging the stripes to remain jogless and not sewing gray ends into purple areas and vice versa. Grand to be done with the knitting! About now, I shock myself. When I reach down for the Purple ball to put up out of kitty reach, I discover I have just 2 yards left on it. I’d have really been sweating it if I’d bought just two balls!

It looks so impossibly huge and floppy at this point that I have to fight the urge to think I’ve erred. It reminds me of a puppy that hasn’t grown into its feet yet. My measurements, much to my shock, match those of the designer perfectly! I suppose it would be too much for that to happen so easily when I’m knitting a sweater or something…

Friday, 8:15a – I have a love/hate relationship with this part of the process! I’ve hardly had but a few minutes to admire my finished knitting before tossing it into a washer full of hot water and agitating it like mad. I get several chapters read while keeping an eye on it, twice rescuing it from handle around agitator fin distress. After 30 minutes of abuse, it seems to be pretty solid and no longer changing, so I take it over to the sink for a bitterly cold hand rinse, just to harden it up a bit – or to harden me up, perhaps. My hands are complaining loudly before I decree the process complete. I don’t want to put it into the washer for a spin cycle, as I’m concerned about producing permanent fold marks in it, so I squeeze it the best I can and flop it over the sink divider to drip off a bit while I prepare my blocking form. When I get out the tape measure, I’m thrilled to find it’s again a perfect match for the designer’s bag, and even better, it will block perfectly over the box Knit Picks used to send me the yarn in the first place, providing I stilt it. As I suspected, the fulling (what most people call felting these days) totally eradicated any appearance of the uneven dye job, so I’m glad I didn’t obsess over it at the time. On the other hand, I’m somewhat sorry to see it gone, as I really did like the way it knit up. Will have to duplicate the process at some point in the future on something I’m not fulling…

In the photo below, you can see a darker purple area at the top of the handles (which is currently at the bottom of the picture. That is water pooled and dripping, and even 12 hours later, I will find these spots dripping!

Friday 8:30p – Okay, I can’t wait! This is going to take several days to dry. Then I’ll decide what finishing touches to add to it. You really don’t think I can wait that long to blog about this, do you? 😉 I’m definitely grinning from having this neat bag go from yarn to dye pot to knit to fulled in 64 hours! I’m really looking forward to knitting another one of these with the class in a few weeks!


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m glad you liked the process from start to finish.

    The bag looks great, especially with your custom dye job!


    PS. Depending on how particular you are, you can omit the jogless stripe bit, as the felting process fixes the majority of the problem. I’ve done it both ways and didn’t notice enough of a difference to bother.

  2. Thanks, Angela! And thanks for the jogless stripe info. I will use it when we do our group project, as I want to teach them how to do it. This should be a fearless spot to learn since it doesn’t matter that much if it’s perfect. Thanks for that info!

  3. Wow! DeDe, that is a wonderful bag- you are so talented and brave….To dip new yarn into a color bath, without knowing how it will turn out !

  4. Oh wow!!!! I absolutely LOVE IT!!! It’s wonderful!

  5. Wow! I’m so jealous!! Your bag is absolutely gorgeous!LOVE the pink color!

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