Saturday, August 26, 2006

When Sophie Met Noni


Is everyone on the planet felting?  

After going to a fund-raiser where Booga Bags were being auctioned,  I was sorely tempted to make my own Booga. Having never felted anything on purpose before, I spent HOURS online looking at all those photos of people's Booga bags made out of Kureyon or  Silk Garden.  Knitters were having a lot of fun with their Boogas.


Then I found the Sophie Bag.  So sleek, so simple, so contoured and only uses ONE skein of Cascade 220 .  Thank you Julie Anderson.  Perfect project for a first time felt-er.  I thought, well, perfect size for taking to the opera so I will make it in black. But then I saw some Squiggle and Fizz in colors that reminded me of mossy grass (which we have a lot of here) and a little embellishment had to make its way into the bag.


If you add a novelty yarn that is not felt-able or as felt-able as the purse yarn, the taper of the bag might be somewhat affected.  In my case, it caused the bag to not taper as much at the top as it would have if the novelty yarn had not been there since Squiggle and Fizz have no wool in them.


The Sophie pattern is great.  There is NO sewing!!!


You knit the bottom rectangle; then pick up stitches around the edge of the bottom and knit in the round, decreasing as you get to the top.  Near the top, I carried the novelty yarn (Squiggle and Fizz) along with the Cascade 220   for a few rows, starting about an inch or inch and a half from the top.  The handle detail is even better.  You leave 6 live stitches on each side.  From that you create two 3 stitch i-cords.  When the two i-cords are the length you want (the handle length specified in the pattern is not long enough to go over your shoulder.  I made the handles just long enough to go over my shoulder* ), you twist them, and graft them to the 6 live stitches on the other side.  The whole thing has been knitted "together" and now it is going to be felted "together".


*Note: I-cord stretches even after felting so a swatch may be in order (I did one). Bev Galeskas says in  Felted Knits that, " When felted, most I-cord will lose only about 15% of its knitted length. It may appear slightly shorter at first, but it will but it will stretch with use".  I followed her advice and she was right.  My handles have stretched out to the length I intended and have stayed there!


Now the felting fun begins.  Having never felted before, I consulted several books, Felted Knits, Knit One, Felt Too, internet resources such as and LYS experts.  


One yarn store told me about Eucalan, a wool wash that you do not have to rinse out, which you will find can prove useful and it smells wonderful.  I now use it to wash all my wool and cashmere (!) sweaters.  


 Another LYS expert advised me to put my items to be felted in a zippered pillow protector with a very tight weave, similar to the anti-allergy pillow protectors used by people afraid of dust mites.  The idea here is to keep the "fuzz" from the item being felted "in the bag" and not in your washer's filter!  Some resources will tell you to put the item to be felted in a "mesh" bag, similar to one you would use for lingerie.  I'm not certain how this mesh bag full of holes would keep the fuzz away from your washing machine filter...

Sounded like a good idea.  I happened to have a lot of those tightly woven zippered pillow protectors around because I, for one, am afraid of dust mites!!!


OK, back to felting... Of course, I had recently replaced my old top loading washer with a fancy pants front loading machine that during the spin cycle sounds like the runway of your local airport.  LYS "experts" didn't have a lot of advice for felting in a front loader.  About all they could say was, "Well, I have heard it can be done"... Research on the web offered some encouragement, so... I (or shall we say, Sophie) plunged in.


I set the wash cycle (I have a Whirlpool Duet which allows me to pause the cycle and the water level stays below the door) on the sanitary cycle which goes up to 150 degrees. Put in the Eucalan and set the timer for 10 minutes figuring that at 150 degrees Sophie would be done in 10 minutes.  Well, she wasn't.  She wasn't after 30 minutes.  It took three, 30 minute sessions in the wash cycle of the oh-so-gentle-on-your-clothing Whirlpool Duet washing machine to felt this baby.  But, finally, Sophie was felted.  I stuffed her full of plastic bags, as recommended, and let her dry.


The Sophie pattern tells you to knit in the round.  I found that the purl side of my bag felted better, so I turned it inside-out so that the purl side became the right side.  Next time, I think I would just purl in the round.  I don't know if this was a function of my washer's felting ability or my knitting or what...  Turns out the Noni Bag pattern talks about the purl side as being the better side after felting for the camellias.


Now for some finishing details:

I wanted Sophie's bottom to be flat, not sag (like who doesn't want that!).  I cut a piece of plastic canvas 3"x6" and tacked it inside  the bottom of Sophie with a few stitches.  


The magnetic closer or snap.  This purse definitely needs one of these to help it keep its cute shape.  I originally tried the idea of attaching the magnetic closer to plastic canvas (Attaching Magnetic Snaps) and that worked for a while.  Eventually, my snaps tore through the plastic canvas and my snaps failed.  I don't know if I attached them improperly, or put too much stuff in Sophie or what.  Anyway, I had to come up with another solution.


 I had made a felted swatch of the purse body color (black) before I started just to see how the Cascade 220 would felt.  Since I had recently come upon this revelation that you can CUT felted material and nothing will happen; the material will NOT RAVEL, I thought, why not use the felted material in place of the plastic canvas as the backing for the magnetic snap???


So far so good and it looks better and is easier to sew in than the plastic canvas.  Especially since it doesn't look like I will be lining this purse any time soon, although I bought a "fat square" of silk dupioni to line it...maybe later...


Shaving Sophie.  Cascade 220 is pretty good about not pilling, but as you use the bag, some pills will form.  Felting resources will tell you to shave the bag with implements ranging from hair clippers to sweater shavers to safety razors.  Not being a power tools person (my lawnmower is a old fashioned reel (REAL) mower)), I opted for the least motorized and most controllable option (and the cheapest, I had one in my drawer!):  the humble safety razor.  Works like a charm!


I carried Sophie around with just her mossy green grass for a few weeks and she didn't get much attention.  Then Noni Bags  came into my life.  These purse patterns are incredible.  Thank you Nora Bellows.  I just had to have that camellia pattern. After a few false starts, I was able to figure out how to put the camellia together.


 Two Noni Camellias before felting.



I parked the Noni camellia after felting on the Sophie bag.

BTW, I thought I was only going to use this purse for special occasions, but I like it so much I use it every day! I have made a lot of new friends with this purse.  People have been stopping me on the street, at the bank, at parties.


Even when I picked up my newly sharpened lawn mower the other day from the repair shop and the guy said, "Love the grass on your purse".








Blogger Carol said...

I love your Sophie-Noni! I always like to see what happens when yarns are combined - Squiggle looks great in this case. (Sometimes in felting it helps to go from hot to cold water and back again, so I sometimes take my item out of the washing machine, rinse it in cold, and then pop it back into the washer's hot water).

9/28/2006 6:36 PM  
Blogger CatKnitz said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Carol.

10/02/2006 5:24 PM  
Blogger inkberryblue said...

I love the way you've used the novelty yarn in the middle...and I think the colours you've used for the Sophie~Noni bag on the One Skein knitalong are glorious!

9/28/2007 10:07 PM  
Blogger tamdoll said...

I really like this bag, too. I love wearing my felted bags around town, the comments people give me are always fun.

12/03/2007 12:11 PM  

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