Around-About

The fur-girls know when something in the mail is theirs.  I guess we all had a clue, just from looking at the stamps!

photo.JPG

I thought the Brittany was a basset at first glance, in part because I know the sender from our basset hound group on Ravelry.  Still pretty awesome though, huh?

And their were special Sissy-approved treats in the box too, but this is after all MY blog, so I thought I’d share a photo of what was in there for me!

photo.JPGI had a little trouble getting a good photo, but if you’re on Ravelry, here’s a link to the original project page.  Natalie no longer has a basset to help her, so she was able to get some great photos of just the bag. 

(Why yes, the bag IS sitting on the DIVA.  Your point?)

photo.JPGThe above photo is too dark, but the colors are fairly accurate.  This photo is over-exposed, but gives you a better view of the details. 

If you’re wondering about the post’s title, the pattern name is Around About.   It’s a fun, functional felted bag, made from the remnants of some wool I sent Natalie when she wanted to make a felted bed for the new feline resident in their home.  I’m pretty sure I got the better end of this deal, even before Natalie pointed out that I am not caring for an aged cat!

How was your weekend?  I had a great time at Mistletoe Market and thoroughly enjoyed the holiday tea also at the Boar’s Head.  I had a great, loose jasmine tea, and the setting – company included – couldn’t have been better.  We had an intimate little room with a fireplace, perfect for a damp, chilly tea time.  I’ll share my MM finds another day… after I get some photos in decent lighting, probably with my “real” camera rather than just my phone’s camera.

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Christmas Eve Deliveries

I’m not one to praise the United States Postal Service, but Christmas Eve impressed me.   Our Postmistress was out delivering, and my mail ran right on time.  The Knight was taking out some trash at 8pm at his grandfather’s, and THAT mail carrier (another lady) was still making sure as many last-minute packages and cards arrived before Christmas.

The first package was from Devon .  I don’t know that I would have EVER turned the heel of my first sock without her!  She spent part of a Sunday afternoon knitting along with me, telling me row by row how many stitches should be on each needle.  A friendship was born, just like that. 

There’s my first Christmas pickle, a lovely ornament that will have a tiny version of the dogs’ Christmas photo placed inside, and a lovely, handmade pin that will look great on almost all of my coats!  Thank you so very much, Devon.  Your friendship has certainly been a blessing this year!

Then, my package arrived from my FFBE pal!  I couldn’t get a group shot because we were heading out as the mail arrived.  I’m already carrying the bag.  I know Karen stressed over the colors, and they couldn’t be more perfect!  The flash made them a bit more vivid than they are, but you get the idea.  I love it!

There were lots of other goodies too.  Look at that Baywood yarn!  Yum!  And honey spoons, a pretty, HUGE tin of assorted teas, and the most wonderful smelling soaps are in that festive box, in a fir scent.  (LOVE fir scents.  Didn’t know I did until I was gifted some fir candles and now, this incredible soap.)  In the upper right is the very yarny card Karen sent too.  It was a lovely package, clearly put together with me in mind.  It certainly has been a grand season for swaps for me.  Thank you, Karen!

I apologize for the delay in getting this post up.  I started yesterday afternoon, and had internet problems at home.  I tried again in the middle of the night when the internet was working, but Sissy wanted to get back in bed; she just whined and fussed and wouldn’t settle on the sofa.  I put her back in the bed, and she stomped up between the Knight and Mugsy, sighed and went right to sleep.  Now, after I get my coffee, I’ll work on a doggy post for the day! 

Constant Vigilance

SWS felts in a HURRY. I timed it, and in a bit over three minutes, the bag was felted, tightly so. Not a stitch defined, anywhere. My hot water is pretty hot, but I can still fish the pillow case out bare-handed, so I think it’s the yarn, I really do. I’m almost tempted to felt it on the delicate cycle next time, just because this way requires constant vigilance!

This is the Sophie pattern, basically. I’m calling it the Not-So Sophie, because I like a shallow, barely bigger than my wallet bag that fits snugly under my arm, on my shoulder. I dropped about 12 rounds, so I decreased at 10, 20, 30, 35 and 40 rounds, and bound off after round 42. It took right at two balls of SWS, or 2oo+ yards. The colorway is Natural Navy, done on #10.5 circs, with the same sized dpns for the i-cord.

I felt in a polyester, king-size pillow case, tied shut, with four of Mugsy’s tennis balls thrown in to beat it up a bit. I add about two tablespoons of soap powder and wash on hot/cold. Then, with the Knight’s help, I stretch and pull it into the shape of choice. Anything in the house can serve as the “form” during the drying phase. If it fits into the bag and looks approximately like what I want in the end, it’s called into action.

I also took this shot for you. SWS is a great yarn for felting, but because of this very trait, I can’t imagine using it for non-felted items. A pal made me a sock bag in SWS – unfelted – and I think I might line it for future use. The early fall edition of Creative Knitting has a cardigan/jacket done in SWS on the cover. No way. It would pill and shed too badly for practical wear, I’m certain! I didn’t do anything but hold that bag in my lap while knitting away on it, and you can see how fuzzy the bottom is, and how that one “blonde” strand pulled itself loose. Of course, thanks to the nature of felting, the finished product reveals none of these little secrets, and is rock solid, tough and ready for my daily use.
I don’t get the names Patons uses for SWS colorways. There’s no navy in this wad of color. Purple (gasp! it’s true!), lots of tan and taupe that thankfully turned a solid, warm brown, a touch of grey, and the black in the unfelted version just felted into a dark grey. Still, even with the purple, I’m very pleased with the results. It’s a bit deeper than my summer Sidekick, and it won’t show dirt. Perfect.

Show and Tell

Well, my pal’s package has arrived, so it’s time to share the gory details. But first, a little housekeeping.

The pattern for the bag I just completed can be found here. You’ll need to sign up, but there’s no risk and only gain! They don’t flood your inbox or anything, and there are some nice patterns, with more to come.
Now, I present to you, the Four-Square Mitered Square Tote, found here. It’s a great book. I’d actually purchased it for the Market Squares Bag to make for me, but decided the mitered squares would make a great knitting bag for my pal. I had great fun choosing the colors, because I love greens and blues too. The purples, well… you know. The important thing is that my pal was pleased with the final results, including the colors I chose. My pal has yet to make a bag for herself, so at least now, she has a felted bag of her own. It’s great fun to treat someone so selfless, who enjoys giving her own knitting creations to others.

There it is, the tote, in all its finished glory. It was done in Cascade 220. The colors are a bit tricky, as Cascade’s labels feature numbers, not names. The important thing to note is that while the pattern called for only 107 yards of all colors except the main color – the dark wine/purple/whatever, of which it called for 114 yds. – I used up dang near all of every skein. I wasn’t familiar with the yarn they used for the sample in the book, and felting being as forgiving as it is, I didn’t sweat the details, as Cascade 220 is always good for felting, right?! Um, yeah. I’ll be swatching from now on, even with felting, if for no other reason than to see how the yarn fulls. Jenny – my pal – can tell you, there’s like a yard of the purple left, as I sent it along in case a handle needs reinforcing two years from now or something.
That’s what one panel looked like pre-felting. In case you need a point of reference, it is oozing over and around my desk chair’s back. Before felting, the panel was approximately 19 inches by 18 inches. After felting, it was roughly 13″ X 12″. My husband was terrified it wouldn’t felt small enough to be practical as a knitting tote. Silly man. A few minutes later, he was helping me pull and tug it into shape, although I will admit that I felted the body of the bag twice. The straps, only once. Speaking of straps, I should note that the original pattern had them all one color. Um… I wouldn’t have had enough yarn. Seriously. I counted the lavender stitches in the handles and the dark stitches in the gusset, and I would have come up short enough to see a difference.

Those are the pieces, pre-assembly. That was honestly the most stressful part for me. It was almost all garter stitch, save the stockinette handle. Yeah. No i-cord. Go figure. They changed a bit with felting of course, and that’s always a fun yet scary part of the felting process for me. What colors will soften? Will any colors take on a different character completely? (See the bronze in my most recent post. It faded into the woodwork, so to speak.) I must say, it went together faster than I though it would. I figured eight squares into two panels, a big ol’ 48″ gusset and two straps would take me a couple of evenings to seam up, but I managed it all in one evening.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a sock to finish and more housework to do before my guests of honor arrive in just FIVE days!

It’s All Good

My love affair with SWS continues. Sure, it’s easy to split, but a little tension adjustment fixes that, and since I knit tightly, it’s a sinch to keep the feeder taught. It’s a wee bag, but I knew it would be, and that’s what I like in a handbag. This will be put into action tomorrow, and will be my little summer assistant at least until I entrelac. It holds my wallet – the checkbook included variety, lipstick, the protective cover for my glasses’ sunglass clip-ons, and my cell phone is up for debate. It might live on its clip on the handle, but we’ll see. I am pleased as punch. I’m even happier that the bronzy brown in the colorway faded into nothingness, just a wee stripe.

See the button? That’s a Grandma Byrd button, from her (seriously, folk) thousands of buttons collection, which my mother inlaw now owns. My dear mother inlaw picked the button, based solely on my description, and it matches as well as any button can. Plus, it’s got a bit of love in it, from my husband’s great-grandmother. I met her at least once, that I recall, in my childhood. She was Great-Grandmother personified; she was old, told great stories, and her love of children just radiated all around her. I know she would be pleased to see her button called to action!

Here are the pre-felting shots. Thank goodness you warned me it would felt quickly. You weren’t kidding! Felts IMMEDIATELY is more like it. I don’t know that it agitated more than three minutes; I meant to time it, but I was rushing to get to the picnic. (That was great fun, I might add. And brownies and fresh blackberries to die for! What more could a girl want?) I have learned that I like the outdoor photos, but it’s raining hard enough today, and the wind is blowing too, so you’ll have to settle for the indoor finished photos.

There’s lots I could be doing, but my socko was feeling very unloved, so I quickly finished the leg last night (I like short socks, remember?), and zipped through the heel flap while waiting to see if the Nascar race would be rained out – and it was. Without even realizing what I was doing, I turned the heel, first try, no frogging! How ’bout that Devon? I swear the sock is flying along faster than the learning curve can account for; I think it has something to do with the lack of pulling and pushing Magic Loop requires. That’s okay; Anne loves the ML enough for both of us, and I’m grooving along on the dpns.

I need to get back to my version of decluttering – cramming things in totes to live in the shed, with the promise to myself that if I don’t miss the things within, they will find new homes where they can be used and loved, but first, a gratuitous dog shot. Mugsy and the sock are napping while I blog. (No, not really, but I think it’s a cute pose. The pup is going to have to say bye-bye to his down blankie though, for the summer…)

Better Safe Than Sorry

I’m nothing if not conservative. (That’s not a political statement though.) Would that bit of ball have been enough to do the 100 rows of lavender in the straps? Maybe, but I couldn’t take that chance. (Somebody tell my hubby I need digital scales AND the winder and swift for my birthday!) And no Anne, that’s not i-cord. I believe I would rather do 400 rows of i-cord than 400 rows of stockinette at 10 stitches wide.
The good news is that by bedtime, my felted bag pal’s gift will be knitted. Then comes the finishing and felting and such, but that’s the only picture you’ll see until it reaches my pal.
That also means that I’m casting on with the SWS tomorrow, or later tonight! Yeah!
In other knitting news, I have finally selected a pattern for my HSKS pal’s bag. The sock yarn and a pattern are on the way, so that leaves needles, stitch markers and other treats to find. The yarn for the bag too, as I cannot sew a bit, must be purchased, but I’m hoping to do that Tuesday on my mini road trip to check out the promising new-to-me yarn shop the next little village over.
See?! I’m knitting. I just can’t show you what I’m knitting. Sockem? I miss you, but we’ll be together soon. Very soon…
Thanks to all for the well-wishes for Mugsy. He’s doing well. We, however, are not. It’s no fun trying to keep even an 11+ year old Jack Russell from running and jumping. By the time the 8 weeks pass, he will think his name is “Mugsy, no. NO MUGSY!” and he will believe those words are always followed by a human grabbing his little nubby tail, or at least, lunging in that direction.

Spring Felted Bag Questions

This Week’s Question:

How did you get interested in felting?

When one of your best pals calls herself “The Bag Lady” on her blog, felting is inevitable.

Did you learn it from someone, see a bag you liked?

Well, see above. As much as someone several states away can teach someone else, Anne did! She sent me several patterns while trying to convince me to try a felted bag, and I did do a felted needle holder, but the Booga bag was too much. I had to try it! Then, before I started that, I found a pattern with *MY* name in it, so I did that one first… There are TONS more I want to do, but I think my match here will get the next one.

Just want to try something new?

Always.

If you have a picture of your first project, please include it!

The Chan bag!