Introduction: Knitter's Serendipity Felted Messenger Bag
The Medium Messenger Bag is a basic box bottom handbag ideal as an introduction to knitted felting. It is a versatile size when finished. Basic knitting in the round skills are used, I—cord bind off, I-cord handle, squared darted corners, and applied crocheted trim around the base of the bag.
Unfelted: 17”w x 13”h. Finished size approximately 13” wide by 9” high with a 26” handle .
Main Color:3 –4 balls Noro Silk Garden AND Contrast Color: 2 Skeins Worsted Weight Wool (NOT SUPER WASH) Cascade 220 or Plymouth Galway or Valley Yarns North Hampton from Yarn.com, in a complementary color that will blend well with your multi color yarn. Your multi color yarn must be at least 70% feltable wool fibers (wool, lambs wool, alpaca, mohair). Superwash wool, Sock yarn, Acrylic, Cotton yarns will not felt.
550 to 600 yards total of worsted weight wool feltable wool . If using 2 Colors, allow 400 yards each worsted weight Main Color and 400 Contrast Color. For Solid color buy 700 - 800 yards of Feltable wool yarn. Buy the same brand of yarn if mixing colors. Very light colors and white do not felt as well as medium and darker colors. Suggested Yarns: Cascade 220, Plymouth Galway or Valley Yarns North Hampton from Yarn.com
Size 13 24” circular needle, size J crochet hook, darning needle, sz 13 doublepoint needles
Large mesh bag or zippered pillowcase, towels
Knitted or Cable Cast On
Knit 2 Together: K2tog Knit 2 together through front of loop.
Slip Slip Knit: SSK: Slip first two stitches one at a time from left needle to right, then place them back left needle, knit 2 together.
Suspended Bind off Instructions in pattern.
I Cord Tutorial in Pattern
I Cord Bind off Tutorial in pattern
Garter Stitch: Garter Stitch in the Round :Row 1: Knit Row 2: Purl
Garter Stitch: Garter Stitch Flat: Knit each row
Gauge: Approximately 3 to 3 1/4 stitches per inch. Since bag is being felted, gauge is not overly important.
Step 1: Body of Bag
1. With two strands of yarn held as one, cast on 92 Stitches using a knitted or cable cast on. With working yarn coming from right hand, join needles into a circle, being careful not to twist stitches. Place first stitch from right needle on left. Knit first two stitches with cast on tail and knitting yarns together. After first two stitches, drop cast on tail. This will help your ends stay together.
Place marker to mark beginning of row.
2. Knit as follows for first 10 rows: Odd Rows 1—9 knit
Even Rows 2—10 Purl
When knitting in the round, this forms garter stitch. You should have 5 “ridges” of garter stitch. This will be the base, or “floor” of your bag. Garter stitch felts denser than stockinette.
3. Continue knitting in the knit stitch until bag measures 14” from the beginning cast on edge.
4. Dividing for flap: From marker, knit 44 stitches. Place Marker. You should have set of 44 stitches and a set of 48 stitches. The 44 stitches will be for the front of the bag, and the 48 stitches will be for the flap. Knit around over the next 48 stitches to your first marker. You should have 44 stitches by your left hand, and 48 by your right.
5. I-Cord Bindoff: Cast on 4 stitches on your left needle using the knitted cast on or cable cast on. I like using a crochet hook to put my stitches on the left needle. Use whatever size crochet hook that will grasp your yarn easily. Take the yarn from your right hand over to your left, insert crochet hook between first two stitches on left hand needle. Pull yarn loop through from back to front, and place loop on left needle for new stitch.
6. Knit 3 stitches from left needle to right. Knit the 4th stitch that you added TOGETHER with the first stitch from the bag itself. TRANSFER 4 stitches from the right hand needle back to the left needle. Yes the working yarn will be with the first stitch transferred back on the Left Needle. The yarn should be in the back of your stitches.
7. Pull yarn BEHIND your stitches on your Left needle, and start to knit the first stitch on the end of your left needle.
8.Knit 3 stitches, knit 4th stitch TOGETHER with the first stitch from the bag.
Repeat until you have worked across all 44 front bag stitches. At the end of I Cord, Purl across wrong side of 4 stitch cord, Knit across on right side then Bind Off, leaving an 8 inch tail to sew cord down. Thread yarn tail through darning needle. Roll end of cord so It will lay neatly with front edge of bag and tack closed. Weave tail of yarn back through back of bound off edge.
Step 2: Flap
1. Flap: 48 Flap stitches remain on needles.
RS: Slip needle through the end of the I Cord with first knitted stitch and K2tog to close gap.
Knit across to end of row to where I cord begins. With left needle, pick up stitch at juncture of I-Cord and bag and K2tog to close up gap a bit. If there is still a small hole, don't worry, we are going to use that hole later to place the handle of the bag! Exactly where you grab the stitch to close the gap iis not that critical, just so it helps to close the gap and join the flap to the bag. Maintain 48 Stitches, so if you have to pass the stitch over you picked up from the I Cord Bind off, that's okay. We will be covering this juncture with the strap.
2. When knitting the flap, you will Slip the last stitch of each row with the yarn in front.
Knit every row for 6 rows for Garter Stitch. You will see three ridges.
3. With Right side of bag facing you, knit 4 Place marker if you wish, knit to last 4 stitches, then place marker.
4.Wrong side: Knit 4, Slip Marker, Purl 40, Slip Marker, Knit 4
4. RIGHT SIDE: For the next 3 inches, Knit across Right Side of Flap, AND
5. WRONG SIDE: Knit 4 , Purl on the Wrong Side of Flap, Knit 4 (48 stitches)
6. Knit 4, SSK, Knit to 2 stitches before marker, K2Tog, Knit 4 (46 stitches)
7. Knit 4, Purl to marker, Knit 4
8. Knit across flap
9. Knit 4, Purl to marker, Knit 4
10. Repeat 15—18 one time (44 stitches)
11. K4, SSK two times, knit to last 4 stitches before marker K2tog 2 times, knit 4 (40 )
12. K 4, Purl center, K 4
13. Knit across
14. K 4, Purl center, K 4
15. K 4 SSK 3 times, Knit to 6 stitches before marker, K2Tog three times, K4 (32)
16. K4, Purl center, K 4
17. K 4, SSK, Knit Center, K2Tog, K4 (30)
18. Repeat Line 26 2 times (28, 26)
19. Bind off with Suspended Bind off. Slip first stitch from left needle to right needle. Knit second stitch. Transfer both stitches to left needle. Knit both stitches together onto Right needle. Transfer new stitch onto left needle. Knit 2Tog. Repeat across to the end, drawing tail through loop. Work tail through bound off edge to finish.
Step 3: I Cord Handle
I Cord Handle: Strap/Handle can be knit with either 1 strand MC and 1 strand CC or two strands CC.
1. Leaving 20" tail, On size 13 double Point needles, cast on 6 stitches with two strands of yarn. Knit one row.
2. With working yarn on left, slide stitches to RIGHT end of needle.
3. Bring working yarn BEHIND needle to the right and knit the stitches.
4. Slide these stitches down to the right end of the needle you just knit the stitches on, with working yarn to the left, (repeating Step 2.) Pull yarn from behind the stitches from left to right and knit on to right hand needle. Repeat!
5. When length of strap desired is completed, Bind off, leaving 20" tail.
You will need 36-38" length I cord for a 24" finished length strap. A 50" I Cord will felt to approximately 36" in length. Felted length of cord can vary by yarn used and knitting gauge and tension.
Step 4: Bottom Seam of Bag
1.Turn bag wrong side out. Whip stitch bottom of bag together with double strand of yarn. Do not pull too tightly, but you do not want any holes. Finish off your seam securely and weave tails of yarn used to sew seam in.
2. Lay out Bottom of Bag flat with seam in center. There will be a triangular point at each end. You will see a “gutter” between the garter stitch and the backside purls of the stockinette stitch of the bag. This "Gutter" is the outline of the base of your bag. Measure the width of the base.
3.MEASURE DOWN FROM THE POINT LENGTHWISE THE SAME AS THE WIDTH OF THE BASE OF THE BAG. If your base of the bag ie 3" wide, Measure down from the point 3".
4.Stitch across this line with 2 strands of yarn. I have highlighted where the stitching line should be. Your stitches must go through both layers of knitting. It is a good idea to knit across this line from both sides of the point.
5. Fold at the stitching line and tack the triangle point securely to the base, on the seam and around the point. THIS IS BOXING THE BAG. DO NOT PULL FORWARD OR PULL TOO TIGHT. You want to make sure that the base of the bag will have a flat, square base when felted.
Step 5: Adding Strap
1.Inserting Handle: At the juncture of the flap and the I cord bind off front, there is a gap on each side. This is where you will insert the strap. If you want a decorative outside knot, insert from INSIDE to OUTSIDE. If you want your bag plain, insert from OUTSIDE to INSIDE. Illustrations will show with Knot. If the gap is tight, loosen it enough to push the strap through.
2. Tie a LOOSE over hand knot about 2 1/2” in diameter. Leave a tail of I cord sticking out so that it can be tacked over the edge, then tucked under and sew to the bag.
3. Thread yarn tails of I cord through darning needle and use to sew knot to bag. Sew around knot, through the knot to the inside of the handbag, around the outside, so that it lays even to the bag, and does not tilt. Add extra yarn if necessary. HOWEVER, do not make knot TOO rigid. Tack down all around knot so it will sit evenly, and that center of knot will not become undone. The knot should still feel " Smooshy". Go to back side of handle and knot, and stitch handle to I cord bind off, and close gap opening. Make sure that there are no holes in this area. Tidy up the area, and make sure button is secure. You can “dig” through from the back of the bag through and into the button. This will help stabilize the button knot onto the bag.
4. If opting for a PLAIN strap, Insert I Cord from outside of bag to inside, with 1 1/2" of the strap inside the bag. With 2 strands of yarn stitch with running stitch the strap to the bag on the Front at the top and bottom of the I cord ridge. Inside the bag, sew around all the edges with a whip stitch, but do not pull tighter than your knit.
5. Make sure that the opening where you inserted the strap fully covered by the knot or strap. If need be, neaten it up from the inside. The I Cord Bind Off of the bag should look like it is connected to the base of the Handbag Flap. The wonderful thing with felt is, as long as we make small adjustments, tack holes etc neatly, it will disappear in the felting process.
Step 6: Crochet Bottom Edge
This step is optional however it does give the bottom edge of your bag a crisp finish. If you have used a Contrast Color for your handle. adding a Contrast Bottom Edge is an attractive finishing touch.
1.With bag Right Side Out. Attach yarns at center of short end of bottom of bag. With Large Crochet Hook, Size I, Or J Single Chain (SC) through each ridge and gutter along end edge. SC 3 ST in each corner to make the turn.
Along long sides, fold bag along garter ridge line. SC through top row of bumps that rise to the top when you fold bag. At corner, SC 3 Stitches to turn to short end of bag. Continue around, join, bind of stitch and weave in ends.
Step 7: Felting, What Is It, What Happens Next?
Felting is the magic that happens when wool (Non superwash that is!) meets soap, hot water and agitation. Ever accidentally shrink your favorite sweater by washing it? That's felting. Technically, taking a knitted item and shrinking it into felt is called fulling. But for the sake of simplicity, we will continue to use the term felting. Soap and hot water open up the scales of the wool fibers while the agitation of your washer forces those fibers to stick to allow them to shrink. Different brands of yarn combinations of yarn will cause your project to felt to a different size. So, DO NOT CHANGE YARN BRANDS in the middle of your project. Lighter colors do not felt as well as darker. Some white yarns do not felt at all because the scales have been removed in the bleaching process. Also, knitted objects do not felt in the same ratio from top to bottom as they do side to side. Generally, an object will shrink 30% - 40% in height and 20 - 30% in width depending on fiber content and gauge knitted. Of course, water temperatures, agitation, amount of time allowed to felt are all added variables too. But then, this is art!
So let's go!
1. Grab a pair of jeans you don't care aboutto use for washing in hot water. Place your bag in a large zippered mesh bag or zippered pillowcase. The mesh bag should have enough room for the knitted bag to move around in it. If the mesh bag or pillowcase compresses the item you are felting, it could cause the sides if the bag to felt to itself. Using a mesh bag is important as it will help prevent loose fibers from escaping into your washer. The bag also prevents the strap from wrapping itself around the agitator of your washer.
2. Put your jeans and bag in the washer. Add a tablespoon of detergent, or my personal choice is Dr Bronner's Natural Hemp Soap. Set your washer on its medium high load setting, highest temperature and heaviest agitation setting then start! You will want to check the progress after 10 minutes to see how your bag is felting. If it is a tight fit in the mesh bag/pillowcase, take it out and check to make sure it is not felting to itself. Reposition the bag back in the mesh bag and resume washing.
3. Check again after another 10 minutes. It usually takes about 30 - 40 minutes to felt a handbag of this size, depending on the agitation and temperature of your hot water.
4. The felting is finished when the fabric is a consistent texture and there are no gaps or holes in the knit. You should not be able to see the lines of knitting all that well or see through the knit. The fabric should be firm and dense. Do not let your bag go through the spin cycle. Spinning the bag can potentially crease the felted fabric.
5.Take your bag to the sink and rinse first with cool then cold water. Work your way around the bag, inside and outside to throughly rinse the soap out of the bag. Cold water also shocks the fibers and helps to lock the fibers and firm up the felt.
6.Gently squeeze out the excess water. roll in towels to soak up moisture.
7.Stuff with plastic bags or a box if you have one the right size to block into shape.
8.When dry, steam press flap. Go over bag with a razor to trim any stray fibers or fuzzies.
Add a magnetic clasp to the flap and front, decorate with antique buttons, silk or ribbon flowers, needle felt details...Your bag is a canvas for more creativity!
Enjoy your new handbag!
It's easy to make a custom lining for a box bottomed bag. Stay tuned for another Instructable!