I've been updating my Ravelry files with some older projects. I realized I needed to add the Jester Tentacles Bag from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting when someone wanted to trade for the four skeins of heathered Cascade 220 in my stash. Ummm, well, I don't really have four skeins of it anymore.
I must admit that I initially passed on the whole mobius knitting thing. The First Treasury of Magical Knitting is nice, but it is mostly scarves. Granted, what I didn't understand on a quick glance is that some lace patterns do very interesting things when you put them in a mobius. But when the sequel came out with its felted bowls and this crazy bag, I jumped in and bought both.
I had felted Cascade 220 before. This was a good thing, because I had written down the before and after numbers, so I could do the math to figure out how big to knit before felting. In the pattern, Cat Bordhi has the straps as separate long tentacles that are tied together after felting. This, of course, is so that you can adjust the strap to the length you like regardless of what happens in the washing machine. I had to be difficult and want one long unbroken strap. And I also wanted it to be the right length, between my waist and hip. My notes indicate that the strap was about 49 inches long before felting. It is now about 38 inches after felting. You can see how long it hung on the mannequin before felting. It was a big loose mess. This is also something to keep in mind when you are doing felting projects. Generally, you want to knit loosely. So not only is your object large, because you know it is going to get smaller, but it is also sloppy and floppy. And if it has tentacles on it, then it is that much more so. And I've discovered that when you dunk Cascade 220 in warm water, it grows first before it begins to felt. The whole project can seem really crazy and unwieldy until the felting magic happens.
The tentacles, by the way, took as much time or more to knit than the bag itself. For this project I incorporated bits of waste yarn randomly as I went. When the bag part was finished, I went back, opened up the waste yarn holes, and picked up and knit tentacles. You could also just snip and unravel and add tentacles wherever you like. And the fact that this bag is felted, even if you don't pick up smoothly, it will all look fine in the end.
This is a particularly fun project to use. I carried this bag around at a Mensa Annual Gathering. Strangers -- including men -- would come up to me and ask me about it. By the end of the convention, I think a few people knew me just because I was carrying such a unique handbag. It definitely starts conversations.