I love ombre and this method is a way to precisely control exactly how an ombre knits into a project. This Instructable covers dying the yarn, knitting it into a bag, adding a zipper and making studded leather handles. It don't go too deeply into the knitting, but it's just stockinette in the round so you don't need much experience to make it work.
I could have knit this then dip dyed it, but there are two reasons I'm glad I didn't. The first is that I really started to like the little variances in the yarn that were created by the ombre dying I did, and the second is that my yarn definitely shrank in they dying process so if I had dyed this post knitting it might have been smaller at the bottom than at the top.
Step 1: Supplies and Equipment
- yarn - all plant or animal fibers, no synthetics (acrylic, nylon, polyester, etc.) - for this bag I used 2 skeins of Sugar 'n Cream
- dye - choose one that is labeled for use with your fiber, this is Dylon Fabric Dye in "Ocean Blue" (but be warned that it is a very purple shade of blue!)
- rubber gloves
- saucepan that won't be used for food again
- stirring spoon that won't be used for food again
- plastic bucket or similar container that won't be used for food again
- lots and lots and lots of water
- string for tying up the yarn (this will be thrown away, don't use anything great)
- ziplock bag
- timer/other method of tracking time
- appropriate drop cloths, aprons, and other protection for surfaces you care about
- 16 metal studs - these are 3/8 inch pyramids
- 12 inch zipper
- 2 by 36 inches of leather
- utility knife
- size 6 US double pointed or round knitting needles
- dull sewing needle
- sharp sewing needle
- sewing thread to match the zipper/yarn
Your yarn can be white like this is, or it can be another color that you'll be adding a color over, it's up to you!
Step 2: Preparing the Yarn and Math
If you're dying for a project you need to know how my yarn your project will take. I'm making a bag that I'll knit by working in the round until I run out of yarn. Determine about how much you want undyed and how much you wan at the darkest color before you start. I left about 25% of my yarn white.
Find a moderately sized object that won't snag yarn - this is the box I keep my knitting supplies in. It's about 12x18x4 inches. I wrapped 2 skeins of Sugar 'n Cream yarn around it, if you're working with more yarn you'll need a larger object (and obviously, if you have a warping board use it!) Cut about 2 feet of tie up string. Start wrapping your yarn around the box keeping the rows even and not overlapped. Weave the tie up string between around every 5 wraps. Keep going until you've wrapped all of the yarn around your object.
When all the yarn is wrapped start tying it into groups. I tied mine into 10 strand bundles. Two things go into this decision. First, the number of loops is how much you might have to untangle at a time. Second, each group is going to be a shade in the ombre. More groups will result in a more subtle color variation. Tie them tightly enough to keep the string together, but not as tight as you can because that can prevent the dye from getting to the yarn.
Count the number of groups you have tied. My dye pack said to dye the yarn for one hour. Subtract the groups you're leaving undyed and the number of groups you want at maximum color (I had 29 groups, I left 6 white, and dyed 3 to maximum color, leaving 20 groups.) Divide 60 minutes by the number of remaining groups - this will give you how many minutes you dye each group before adding the next. I dropped in the next section every 3 minutes.
When all of the groups are tied once, start sliding them off of the box and tying them again at about the center of the loops. If your loops are very large you might want more ties.
Put any yarn you don't want dyed into a plastic bag and zip it up as well as you can. This is to prevent accidents.
Step 3: Dying
Following your dye packages directions, dissolve the salt into water in the pan. I was using a hot water dye so I heated my water until it was almost starting to simmer, then turned off the heat. Do not leave the stove on while you're dying. Mix in the dye and stir it to dissolve.
Place the yarn in the bucket (with the plastic bag hanging off to the side) and absolutely saturate the yarn in warm water. This step didn't need a picture, I just included one so you wouldn't miss it.
Set the bucket next to the dye. Get your timer ready. Pull the groups you want at maximum color out of the water, and squeeze out the loose water (don't wring, just squeeze.) Drop those into the dye bath with the string to the next group hanging over the edge. Start the timer for your predetermined time (mine was 3 minutes.) Spend that time using the spoon to make sure this yarn soaks up the dye.
When the timer goes off drop in the next group of loops (squeezed out as before.) Leave it for the right amount of time, then add the next. This will continue for around an hour. Gentle agitation will help the dye soak in.
When you've dropped in your last group, time it one last time. Then, starting from the last group you dyed, start pulling groups out, gently squeezing out the dye water, and dropping them back into the bucket of clean water from before. Work your way all the way back to the beginning until all the sections are out of the dye and into the clean water.
Take it to the sink and start rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing, until the water runs clear. Let the yarn dry somewhere that you've stain protected.
When it's completely dry it's time to start rolling it into a ball/skein/whatever, starting at the last part of the yarn you plan to use (in my case, the white yarn rolled up first.) Snip the ties as you go, and enjoy all of your hard work from earlier preventing epic tangles now!
Step 4: Knitting
This bag is about 12 by 14 inches, flat, and large enough for a wallet, book, bottle of water, and a few other basics. If you want a larger bag add another skein of the sugar and cream, if you want a bag that is sturdier consider knitting it in linen stitch instead (linen stitch does use more yarn, so you'll want at least 3 skeins.)
My gauge was 20 stitches = 4 inches and 20 rows = 3 inches. I cast on 120 stitches and knit in the round until I ran out of yarn. Be sure to leave a long enough tail at the beginning to sew up the bottom because the yarn is custom dyed. When I cast off I wove my tail in around the cast off edge to give it a bit more strength.
Step 5: Sewing The Bag
Sew up the bottom and tie off the yarn tails securely.
Pin the zipper into place on one side. Make sure the bag is folded in half on the same stitch at the top and the bottom so it's not twisted.
Sew the zipper in place and bury the stitches into the center of the cast off row. Using back stitch will give you a secure finish.
Pin and sew the zipper onto the other side.
Tuck in the zipper tails, tack them into place with a few stitches if you'd like.
Step 6: Adding Handles
For the straps I used 1 inch wide by 28 inch strips of leather, and the finished strap is about 20 inches. You can definitely make the straps longer or shorter for your preference. Also cut 4 pieces of leather that are 1 inch by 4 inches.
Cut the leather with the utility knife and trim any fluffy fibers along the edges of the leather.
On one of the small piece of leather mark out where your studs go. I (mentally) divided the pieces into 4 1 inch squares and centered a stud in each square. This meant marking at .5, 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 inches one direction, and then 3/16 out from the center line on each side. The photo is much more useful than the explanation, especially because your studs are likely to be a different size.
Cut tiny slits with the utility knife and temporarily press a stud into each spot (don't bend the prongs.)
Use that first pieces as a template - transfer the marks to the ends of the bag straps and the other small pieces of leather and cut the slits in each. Be careful not to make marks on the straps that will show on the finished bag.
Press 4 studs into each end of the straps, still don't bend the prongs.
Set the end of one handle onto the bag where you want it to be. I set mine 3 inches from the outside edge. They need to be at least 4 inches from the top. Drop the prongs between knit stitches, being careful to to push them through the yarn because that will weaken the bag.
Adjust the prongs on the inside, then set one of the small pieces of leather over and now, finally, bend the prongs. You might have to smush down on the leather and knitting a bit to fold the prongs well.
Work your way up the rest of the studs. Use the vertical lines of knitting to keep the studs in line. The leather on the inside might not be perfectly flat but it's just there for support. Make sure no prongs are poking out because they'll catch on what you put in the bag, then repeat for the rest of the straps!
Step 7: Finishing
As soon as the handles are on it's ready to go. If you want it to be a bit stronger or more structured you could add a lining, but I've already used mine a lot without that.