29 December 2009

More Making Do and Mending

In the process of chaos control this autumn, I did look around at items that needed a little love. Actually, I looked around to see what needed to be tossed or donated, and what needed just a little bit of my time. This Lantern Moon bag needed a little attention. I bought it some years back at Purly Gates. I liked it a lot, but the bamboo fractured on one side. (Another bag in the shop had the same problem.) This is a wonderful project bag for a small project, but it has also been a fabulous handbag. So I didn't want to throw it out.

The solution? Nicky Epstein to the rescue! I pulled out the copy of Knitted Flowers and began to browse. I decided that a few black felted flowers, artistically placed, could be just the thing to save this cute bag from the trash.

While I do like Knitted Flowers, I have to admit that this book is not without its flaws. There are no diagrams, just pictures of finished flowers. This means that you may be surprised when knitting the Five-Star Flower (page 100) that is featured on the cover and the directions have you making yarn-overs. You discover later that you thread the row of yarn-overs and pull tight. So you don't always have a clear sense of what shape you are making.

And while the pictures are nice, sometimes they are done so artistically and with such a shallow depth of field that flowers are blurry. A particular example is page 57, with the five versions of the Stellata Thistle. Three of the five versions are blurry in the photograph and two of those are cropped. Fortunately, it doesn't take long to knit up any of these items, so you can always knit and see what you get. Also be aware that many of these are knit back and forth on straight needles and then seamed.
I personally prefer to knit circular shapes in the round. If you are an inventive knitter, you can rewrite the patterns you like to match your needs.

For this project, I chose the Buttercup from pages 22-23. I re-wrote the pattern for knitting in the round. You can find it here. Basically, I used two strands and large needles to make a plain black flower. Because I planned to felt it, I worked it larger, looser, and more open. Oddly enough, knitting felts better if you make it looser and more open.

I'm purposely showing the finished flower at a different but proportional size. The unfelted flower was about 3.5 inches across. But the finished felted flower shrank to about 2.75 inches across. So my flowers are a little less than 80% (4/5ths) of their original size. By the way, I felted them simply by throwing them through the laundry with the regular load of wash. I did have a little trouble getting the felting started because I was using cold water. After allowing them to dry overnight, I used black sewing thread to attach the wooden beads from the local big box craft store. These beads were probably from JoAnn Etc. I've had them in my stash for several years. I don't know if you can still get them, but I'm sure you could find something similar. I attached the flowers to the bag using a hot melt glue gun. I was very generous with the glue, both to keep the flowers in place but also to keep the bamboo bag from continuing to fray apart.

I must admit -- I'm very pleased with the final product. I haven't used the bag yet, so experience will tell whether this fix is durable enough for use in the real world.

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