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March 22, 2006

Easy Knitted Felted Bracelet Bag!

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The inspiration: I wanted a little teensy handbag to take out at night ... just enough room for my ID, lipstick, small compact, money and keys. This bag needed to be something cute and decorative that could stay on my bod as the night and cocktails wore on, since I tend to be BOTH extremely paranoid about losing my handbag and also extremely ditzy and forgetful that I even own a handbag.

Enter the bracelet bag, a perfect solution!

Time needed: Less than two hours to knit! I created this whole bag on the fly while sitting on my sofa and watching JAWS on TV. By the time Richard Dreyfuss and Roy Scheider were paddling back to Amity Island, I was done with all the knitting, including sewing the sides up.

Ingredients:

• 1/2 a skein any chunky 100% wool yarn (no superwash wool!) that can be felted ... clearly, I used my beloved Patons Up Country.

• 1/2 skein any eyelash, ribbon or glittery yarn to jazz up the bag (optional) (yeah, I said "jazz up" ... so. you got a problem with jazzing up?) ... I used Crystal Palace Stardust Fizz.

• Size 13 knitting needles

• Large-eye yarn needle

• Regular sewing needle and thread

• Two bracelets, the bangle kind. I wouldn't use elastic bracelets because they might stretch out or break. I used two mismatched bangles, one in silver and one in silver and black.

Overview:
The hard part of this recipe -- which isn't very hard AT ALL, mind you -- comes in the first few rows. Basically you start at one end of the bag, making the tabs that will eventually fold over your bracelets. Then you increase stitches to make a triangle that leads to your plain rectangle, then you knit the rectangle, and start decreasing on the other end (decreasing is so easy, you just knit two stitches together.)

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feltedbagB.gif

The Recipe:
If you are using a sparkle or eyelash yarn for jazzing up purposes, hold the wool and the fancy yarn together and knit with them like they are one yarn. One yarn, one world baby.

Cast on 4 stitches.
Row 1: Knit 4.
Row 2: Purl 4.
Row 3: Knit 4.
Row 4: Purl 4.

Now we start increasing stitches on each row to get to the desired width of the bag.

For this pattern, I increased by doing a "Make 1 increase" which is actually pretty simple. Every time you see "M1" or "make 1" in the pattern, you just knit the next stitch, but don't pull it off the left needle to finish it. Instead, go back to the same stitch on the left needle, and now knit into it through the back loop. That just means you stick your knitting needle into the back leg of the stitch instead of the front leg, knit it and pull it off the needle. You now have two stitches that came from one! I am maybe crazy at work this week and was remiss and did not take pictures of increasing. But I'm sure ya'll can do it, because Lord knows if I can do it, so can you! [Here are some pictures I found on the innernets, though.]

This increase can make a little hole. But I'm using bulky yarn and felting it anyway, there will be no holes after it's all shrunken and felty.

Row 5: Knit 1, Make 1 by knitting in the front and back of next stitch, Make 1 again on the next stitch, Knit 1 (You now have 6 stitches.)

Row 6: Purl 6

Row 7: Knit 2, Make 1, Make 1, knit 2 (you now have 8 stitches)

Row 8: Purl 8

Row 9: Knit 2, Make 1, knit 2, make 1, knit 2 (10 stitches)

Row 10:Purl 10

Row 11: Knit 1, Make 1, Knit 2, Make 1, Make 1 again, knit 2, Make 1, knit 1 (14 stitches)

Row 12: Purl 14

Row 13: Knit 2, Make 1, Knit 2, Make 1, Knit 2, Make 1, Knit 2, Make 1, Knit 2 (You have 18 stitches -- and you are done increasing!!!)

Row 14: Purl 18


This is what your bag looks like so far:
braceletbag-thong.jpg


Now you have made it through the only hard part of this bag! For the next 12 to 14 inches of knitting (depending on how deep/long you want your handbag to be) simply knit in plain stockinette stitch. That's where you knit one row, and purl the next row. Your bag will begin to curl up and look like a weird banana.

Knit until your bag measures your desired body length -- I knitted 12 inches -- and then make sure you end by finishing up a PURL row.

Now you are ready to knit a row, and it becomes your first DECREASE row. We'll go back to basic numbering because you only need to knit 14 more rows to finish this whole bag!

You have 18 stitches. I am putting the decreases in parentheses, i have no idea why but it made more sense to my crazy mind.

Row 1: Knit 2, (knit 2 together), knit 2, (knit 2 together), knit 2, (knit 2 together), knit 2, (knit 2 together), knit 2 [Now there are 14 stitches left.]

Row 2: Purl 14.

Row 3: Knit 1, (knit 2 together), knit 2, (knit 2 together), (knit 2 together again), knit 2, (knit 2 together), knit 1 [Now there are 10 stitches.]

Row 4: Purl 10.

Row 5: Knit 2, (knit 2 tog), knit 2, (knit 2 tog), knit 2 [8 stitches remain]

Row 6: Purl 8

Row 7: Knit 2, (knit 2 tog), (knit another 2 together), knit 2 [6 stitches left]

Row 8: Purl 6

Row 9: Knit 1, (knit 2 tog), (knit 2 together again), knit 1 [4 stitches, woohoo!]

Row 10: Purl 4
Row 11: Knit 4
Row 12: Purl 4
Row 13: Knit 4

Bind off.

Weave in your ends. Don't have to be to neat here -- the ends will felt in.

braceletbag-pinnedout.jpg


You have a banana!
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Fold the bag in half with the tabs together at the top. It should be inside-out, with the bumpy reverse-stockinette stitch on the outside. You will now seam up the sides.

braceletbag-bobhelps.jpg


Pin the bag together at the sides. Cut a piece of the wool yarn, about 15 inches long. Thread this through your big-eye yarn needle and whipstich the sides of the bag together just like in Figure B at the top of this page. Here I made a couple of stitches with a contrasting yarn color so you could se how I sewed up the sides. You can be messy, the whole thing gets felted anyway.

braceletbag-pinned.jpg braceletbag-sewing.jpg

The bag is all pinned, sewing the sides is easy ... uh, use the same colored yarn, though. really!


When you're all done sewing the sides, turn the bag rightside out again and get ready to felt it!!

Felting This Bag
1) Place the bag inside a pillowcase and use a rubber band or hair elastic to close up the pillowcase real tight. You don't want fuzz and fluff from your bag clogging up the washer.

2) Throw the sealed pillowcase in with a load of towels or jeans. I washed this bag on permanent press -- hot wash, cold rinse. I didn't care if it shrunk down a lot. I added some Tide and let the entire wash cycle run, including the spin cycle. I'm a reckless felter, what can I say? Your mileage may vary -- so if you don't want this bag to shrink too much, start out on a cold wash cycle and check the progress about halfway through the wash.

3) That's it! I took the bag out of the washer, shaped it with my hands and let it dry on a dishtowel in the kitchen.

braceletbag-felting-before.jpg

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Add The Bracelet Handles:
When your bag is fully dry, fold the tabs down over the bracelts and sew each tab in place using regular sewing thread and a needle. Go out, drink up, enjoy!

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Posted by laurie at March 22, 2006 8:12 AM