Bunting is a string of brightly coloured triangular flags, that you hang in celebration, often outside. Themed colours (football allegiances, national colours, baby blue vs pink) are not uncommon, but optional.
I've been told that although Americans know the concept, the word bunting itself might be a little unfamiliar.
Either way, the next celebration coming up in my life is an impending move of house. I'm very excited to move, yet a little sad to leave my town, and my houseshare with two other girls. Our house is lively, friendly to visitors and full of yarn- perfect!
To commemorate this, I've decided to create bunting. While traditionally, the flags are made from fabric, with cheaper less sturdy options made from paper or printed plastic, I decided to recycle the leftover yarn bits from three enthusiastic knitters. I'll make a long string and then split it up into three parts- one for each one of us, to decorate our new houses with.
Ah, wool bunting. Things don't get much more delightfully English than this.
Step 1: Materials
This is an excellent project if you're a knitter/crocheter/weaver and happen to have lots of little leftover balls of yarn lying around your house. It only needs about 8-15g of yarn (depending on yardage) to complete one triangle, so even tiny scraps come in handy. Collect all of those, and add maybe one or two full balls of the mustard yellow stuff you bought in a yarnshop sale, but actually cannot stomach wearing.
For everyone else: decide on three or more colours that you would like to use, and buy the cheapest acrylic yarn you can find in those colours. Make it about worsted weight or heavier yardage, to speed up the knitting process.
I knitted most of the triangles myself, but whenever I had friends around I'd make them make me one as well. This is an ideal beginner's project, as there is no need for perfect fit, correct tension, or other complications. If one of the flags is a little wonky: so what.
You will also need grosgrain ribbon in a colour of your choice, as long as you want your bunting to be plus one meter on either side to facilitate hanging. The width of the ribbon depends on whether you're going to be sewing using a machine
I made 5m of bunting, so used ribbon lengths of 7m.
Step 2: Making a Triangular Flag
I'm going to explain how to knit a garter stitch triangle of any size, from the bottom corner up. This means you can use every single bit of a yarn scrap, and adjust the size very easily.
This is very basic knitting. If you know how to cast on and off and the knit stitch (or follow this excellent site full of tutorials) then you can make this poject. If you're more advanced feel free to jump this step, and just make he triangles every which way that works for you. Take care to use a stitch that doesn't roll inwards like evil stockinette. Garter stitch or seed stitch work great.
Each line in the pattern refers to one row of knitting. Both sides of the resulting triangle will be identical, so there's no need to keep track of the "right side"
Cast on 2 stitches
knit one (k1), loop yarn over needle (YO), k1
knit all three stitches, treating the yo loop like a normal stitch (k3)
k1, yo, k1, yo, k1
k1,yo, k3,yo, k1
*k1,yo, knit all the stitches until the last one, yo, k1
repeat those four rows until you're happy with the finished size, cast off all stitches. Weave in the cast-on and cast-off tails.
Ta-dah! You made the first of many, many flags to come!
Step 3: Alternative Ways of Making Knitted Flags
I happened to have a first knitting attempt from a friend. It was originally meant to be a scarf, but turned out as a roughtly 25cm X 70cm rectangle, with a slightly meandering width. It's very hard to find some everyday use for this size of object made out of handknit, pistacchio green alpaca.
However, I really wanted to get some use out of this great first stab at knitting, and incorporating it into our bunting seemed just perfect.
In order to use it, I split the rectangle into appropriately sized triangles. I used the edge as the top edge of the flag, and sewed along the side edges. Two seams just along each other keep even very slippery yarn from unravelling. Put two more seams about one cm further along, and cut between those two seam lines.
Continue this until you run out of space.
Step 4: Line Assembly
Once you have used all your wool, can't be bothered anymore, or have the perfect number of flags, you can start to assemble your bunting.
On the number of flags: at a top edge length of 15-20cm with a 8-10cm distance between flags, you will need about 6 flags per m of finished bunting. You might want to opt for a slightly bigger flag size, as some of the top edge disappears between the ribbon, making the flag look smaller.
Find a very wide, free space. Your living room floor might work, and who knows, you might finally hoover, like me, in order to not get dust on your flags.
Arrange your flags in a pleasing colour line-up. If you have three colours, this might be patterned, if you have many colours it should be a little bit more random. I might have spent about an hour obsessing about the right hue/saturation/lightness mix, that was balanced and pleasing, while fun and quasi-random at the same time.
It gave me a headache, so if you're similarly inclined, having a blindfolded chicken pick out a sequence for you might save a lot of time.
Step 5: Further Assembly
Stack all the flags up in the predetermined order.
There are two ways to go about the next step, depending of whether you're handsewing or using a machine.
When using a machine, you can use either wide (in my case 38mm) or narrow (about 15-20mm) ribbon.
When handsewing, it's easier to stick to narrow ribbon.
A) machine sewing with wide ribbon
Fold your ribbon in half, and sew down about a meter, have the seam about 5mm from the edges.
Place your first flag between the two halves, and sew across the two layers of ribbon and the flag. Sew across about 8-10cm of folded ribbon without flag before inserting the next flag from the stack. Work your way through your entire stack of flags, sit back and admire.
This way would be my prefered way, as the folded ribbon makes for a very neat edge, and covering the handknitted flags prevents threads being pulled, etc.
B) machine sewing with narrow ribbon
Frankly my least prefered option, as machine sewing uncovered handknits onto a denser materical can lead to wool threads being pulled into the machine, etc. Tread carefully, and work your way slowly across.
Simple place the flag on the ribbon, and sew across it. Don't bother sewing across the empty ribbon in between, unless that speeds up the process for you.
C) hand-sewing with narrow ribbon.
If you don't have a sewing machine, you can still follow option A, although I can understand if you don't want to handsew across 4m of empty ribbon just for that extra-neat edge. Also, with hand-sewing the danger of pulling threads from the flags is quasi non-existent, so it's perfectly safe to work with the narrow ribbon.
Just back-stitch your flags to the narrow ribbon, leaving 8-10cm gaps inbetween.
And dude, kudos to you.
Step 6: Finished Result
You're now left with a string of beautiful bunting, ready to embellish your garden party barbecues,afternoon tea parties indoors, or street parties celebrating the marriage of the one or other member of the royal family.
Sit back, sip on your cup of tea and mutter "rather marvellous, my dear".