Aw look! One pattern, 364 versions of the MDK New Ancestral Christmas Stocking.

Your Regularly Scheduled Felting Program

Dear Ann,
Buttonhole Bag Before:
buttonholebagprefelt.jpg
(Teacup is for scale.)
Blurry Buttonhole Bag After:
buttonholdbagpostfelt.jpg
I saw a bag similar to this, but more Funky and Downtowny, at Downtown Yarns last week. Jen, one of Rita’s amazing employees, designs a lot of felted bags and teaches a class on felting (which of course I’ve never taken, being scrupulously self-taught and innocent of all knowledge). She happened to be working on the day I admired the bag. Grabbing a couple of skeins of Lambs Pride, I asked for the pattern. Jen rolled her eyes. Not in a snotty way. In a complimentary way, as if to say, ‘C’mon Kay, you’re up to winging this one.’ So she pointed out a few of its features, such as the handle: “The handle is, um, a big buttonhole.”
I love this bag because it stands up firmly and steadily on its rock-solid double-thickness bottom. Also because it’s so cute and satchely. It looks like the kind of thing you’d throw your keys and wallet into for a night at the movies or a casual dinner out, assuming I ever did either of those things, and assuming I could part with the giant Poppins-esque reticule that I call “purse”. It would also be great for a small knitting project. I intend to just look at it for a while.
Details: Lamb’s Pride Bulky, doubled (yes, DOUBLED) on No. 15 needles. You knit an oval bottom in garter stitch (starting with 3 stitches and increasing to 9, then knitting straight and decreasing at the other end when it’s about 20% longer than you want the bottom of the bag to end up). Then you pick up stitches all around the oval and knit in the round. After the first round, you do an increase row, in which you do ‘M1, k1, M1′ on both side edges of the bag. Then you knit a round, and then you do another increase row. Repeat these two rounds one more time (total increase of 12 sts). Knit straight for about 8 rounds. Then work a round in which you decrease 4 stitches by doing SSK, K1, K2tog at each of the sides. Knit a round straight and then repeat the decrease round, for a total decrease of 8 sts. Knit 2 more rounds straight. Then make a centered buttonhole that is 9 stitches wide, by binding off 9 stitches in the center of each side of the bag (between the shaped edges) and then on the next round, casting on 9 stitches over the ones you bound off. Knit two more rounds and bind off the whole thing. Change the colors when you feel like it. The whole thing takes about 5 minutes. OK, rilly it took me 2-3 hours one evening while chatting at book club and watching t.v. Doubling this yarn makes you fly through the skein, though.
The bags in the store were not quite as felted; you could see the fuzzy stitches, which looked cute but still made for a dense felted fabric. I felted mine a bit more, so that you see vague vertical lines where the stitches are, but can’t make out the stitches. For blocking, I followed Norma’s excellent tip of loosely placing rolled-up washcloths inside the bag to shape it and to absorb the moisture overnight. I blasted it with a few shots of steam from Rowenta the Great, and went to bed. The next morning, I awoke to a new day and a standalone mini-valise. I will categorically deny that I borrowed Hubby’s razor to shave off some excess fuzz. That is a damnable lie, I tell you!
My philosophy of felting is that I never felt anything that I am worried about shrinking too much. I felt it until I like the fabric, and don’t care what size it ends up. This makes it fun and stress-free. Someday, perhaps in the Felting Season of 2006, I might try those fabby Fiber Trends clogs that I’ve seen by the dozen out there on the blogs. I like the idea of that double sole, and they look so Alpine.
Ya-hoo! Thanks, Jen, for rolling your eyes at me in that friendly way. I love this bag.
Love, Kay

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. I am crazy about The Gates. Christo goes from wrapping to flapping. Love it!
    Let’s all volunteer to make scribble lace for the panels–could mean some serious de-stashing in 2005.
    BTW, what would felted scribble lace look like? Give it a shot, Ann?

  2. Love the little bag – now I know what to do with all the leftover Lamb’s Pride Bulky from my felted clogs! ;) Thanks for writing about how you did it!

  3. I am going out right now to buy the yarn to make me a bag like yours. my first foray into felting. thank you so much for sharing your pattern and encouragement.
    I love your blog!

  4. Kay, the bag is way cool and I think I want to make one!
    But, am I just reading it wrong, or do your instructions for the initial increase rows actually describe decreases?
    And were the increases to make the oval bottom — increasing from 3 stitches to 9 — done on every row? That’s what the wonderful up-close pre-felting photo looks like to me.
    And is it one skein of each color?
    What a *great* purse, and how kind you are to share your instructions with us!

  5. …. clever little buttonhole opening….you inspire us so, dear kay…..is this wee tote making an appearance at the opera, perhaps?….lovely!

  6. The bag looks fabulous, and the teacup is very helpful, scalewise.

  7. Awesome bag! I may give it a try depending upon how my French market bag turns out. I’m fearful of felting.

  8. Fab bag ! Felting queen.

  9. Love your buttonhole bag. However, the “increases” you described are really decreases. Since you knit in the round, are you doing two increases right next to each other or are there some stitches between them, however you do increases? Ditto for the top decreases.

  10. Hmm, I think MaryB is right, you’ve given us decrease instructions unless my wine-sozzled mind has completely lost it (just back from night out with friends, you understand). Should it be M1, K1, K into F & B of next st, K1, M1. with the ‘K into F & B of next st ‘ centered on the middle st of the initial ‘cast on 3′ and final cast off 3’at each end? or similar to produce same results?…. squiffed of London. x.
    Utterley fab bag – love it. Want one (or several, that I can fit my filofax into. Can’t leave home without filofax, life contained within…)
    It says something that even after night out with dear friends I have to look up latest post on M-D Knitting before bed….

  11. what a cute bag!

  12. Watch out Kate Spade!!
    Fab bag, Kay…thanx for sharing the *recipe*
    My Manos FMB is felting as we speak…never felted Manos before and I’m a lil nervous…think good thoughts for me, oh felting Goddess!! :)

  13. Oh Kay. First you go after my anti-blocking tendencies, and now you clearly won’t rest until you’ve pulled me into the felting thing, will you?
    So far I’m safe…the thing I’m more than a little intrigued about is that fab Nicky Epstein bag in the new Vogue Knitting. I was seriously considering buying the yarn for it, and then some little sensible inner voice (that I have not been able to totally eradicate) reminded me that the total cost of the yarn would be about the same as buying a very nice bag in a very nice department store. All made and everything. Hm. Even my “joy of the craft” philosophy had to stop and mull that one over.
    But all your cute bags are clearly having some effect. Maybe felting just makes more sense when it is -12?

  14. Dear Everybody Who Achieved the 99th Percentile on the Reading Comprehension portion of the SAT: YES! YES! I said increase, and then I told you to decrease. This was very WRONG. So I went back and fixed it to ‘M1, K1, M1′. You do paired increases, and then later, in the same spots, you do paired decreases, which give the bag its flat, curved shape.
    And Evelyn, you are right. I will not rest until you felt. It is no coincidence that I was felting last January around this time, and then abstained from felting until now. It is a seasonal ritual, standing in front of the washing machine, feeling hopeful.
    Cheerio everybody. If you make a Buttonhole Bag, would you send me a picture? xoxo Kay

  15. Y’all, be nice to Kay because she has been staying up very late staring at her washing machine in a glassy-eyed way wondering if her knitsperiments are going to come out right. She’s at the point where it’s decrease, increase, schmincrease whatever just get that thing into the dryer willya?
    I for one am still so hornswaggled by the tiny final size of the French Market Bag that I haven’t even moved on to consider the Buttonhole Bag thingie. From what I can tell, the French Market Bag is just the sort of item a gal would cram full of knitting, take along as she wanders around the findings district for an hour looking for just the right button, and end up at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, blabbing the night away about saucy days gone by.
    Ah, we should all have such fabby life-styles, eh? We can all dream.

  16. Oh, and CRISTINA–I had the same thought about knitting big open panels for Christo and Jeanne-Claude–but 2500 of them? When I read about this project for the first time, I had just gotten my copy of Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting, and the Gates seemed to me exactly the same sort of thing as Debbie’s labyrinth of conception and birth. Only Debbie’s, being knitted, seems even more wonderful to me. Wish they would install something like THAT in Central Park. Ann has tasked me to go get as many of the 1 million pieces of Gates Cloth that they will be handing out, first come, first served, as I can. I will try, I promise. xoxo Kay

  17. how cute!

  18. Kay- like Evelyn, I was also perusing the new Vogue knitting. However, I was struck by the Koigu Patchwork Pants on p78. Oh, Queen of the Mitered Square, your loyal subjects can’t hardly wait to see your take on that pattern. Will you be sportin’ cotton mitered square clam diggers as you sit-n-knit on your mitered square beach blankie this summer by the shore? Wool mitered square pants as you trudge thru the snow? Cashmerino mitered square lounging trousers as you … well…. lounge? Oh, the possibilities!!

  19. Tish–LOL. Clam-diggers, oh my! Did you see the hip-hugger elephant-legs in Knit.1? Made out of some super-spongy yarn? I mean, RILLY!!!??
    Can’t wait to get my hands on the new Vogue. xoxo Kay

  20. I so want a Buttonhole bag, yours is fab!! Do I have any appropriate yarn in my stash I wonder? Guess who will be rummaging through the stash tonight for inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing your design.

  21. great bag! thanks for sharing the pattern. i think it’s extremely funky and downtowny.

  22. What a dinky little bag ! I love it :0)
    Thanks for the tip on shaving the fluff – alledgedly. It could lend a whole new aspect to our regular “have you shaved your g^&*%$m legs with MY razor AGAIN ?” discussions !
    Heather x

  23. oh… kay…. everyone needs a “pound ‘o love!”….i think that’s what i’ll call this xtra holiday weight….grr…..