Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Paper or Plastic? I'll Take Cashmere, Please.

I didn't expect to post anything more before I left, but I managed to fit in one more project...

I had been pondering what purse/bag to take on the trip because it needed to be big enough to carry a lot, small enough not to be bulky, comfortable, easy to carry, somewhat secure from sticky fingers...the list goes on. The one I preferred is this sad and sorry looking messenger bag:
I've had it since at least 1999 and it looks it! It's in good shape and not very worn but the fabric is faded and stained. But I couldn't let it go because I love how it works (all the pockets and spaces are perfect) and how it fits. It can hold a lot but still sits flat against my body.

So I've been thinking about adding a "skin" to freshen it up. Since it seemed to be the only good candidate to take on my trip and there was no way I was going to appear in all those vacation pictures with this sad thing, I decided to take action.

My thought was to cover it with a felted sweater. I could have used regular fabric but then I would have to deal with raw edges etc. The felt could just be cut and applied.

I went through my stash of sweaters and narrowed it down to these two options, both cashmere but not suitable for raveling:
Yes the zebra print is cashmere. (Who would do that to cashmere? Anyway...) I decided the argyle was more my style, plus it was already felted whereas the zebra print was not. If I had a chance to make this project move along a little faster, I was going to take it!

Next step was to make a pattern from the bag:
 1. Trace
2. Cut. Then draw a second line in from the edge the same width as the binding on the bag that I was going to leave visible and cut again.
 3. Test. Close enough was close enough as the felt has enough give.
4. Cut out the pieces from the sweater.

I carefully cut the pieces from the front so that the argyle would line up on the two pieces above and below the zipper.

The argyle pattern was only on the front of the sweater, so I ended up using some of the plain black from the back as well.

5. Sew in place. No pictures. I guess I was too busy stitching! I did a small section by machine where I could, but most of it was done by hand. I just took small stitches on the front so the thread wasn't visible.

And by the end of a couple hours, I had a new (looking) bag!
Front.
Back
Looking at the pictures I almost like the back better with its contrasting fabrics and started to regret I didn't do that on the front above and below the zipper. But oh well. It is done and I like it. The cashmere feels soft and warm against my skin. It is perhaps a bit "winterish" (in colour I mean) for a trip in June, but again, "oh well."

This is a project I've been meaning to do for a while so it feels really good to have accomplished it. I'll keep the pattern pieces so I could always change the look again if I want. (I suspect what's really going to happen is that I'm going to end up recreating the whole bag, but that is for another time.)

And I think I will have to do something about the aging strap...something woven in black and red diamonds I think...(but again, another time).

For the final touch, I added a little pull to the zipper:
Now all I have to do is fill it with everything I need for the trip!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Preparing for a Trip!

I'm off later this week for a big two-week trip with my mom. We're headed to the Netherlands, which means carrying passports. I decided I was going to try one of those necklace pouch things for keeping my ID and money. But I didn't own one. So you know what that means!...

I did a Google search and based my project on this tutorial. She made hers from tea towels but I have enough fabric that I didn't need to do that. A quick search of a box of quilting cotton yielded some that would work. (And I mean quick. Nothing like browsing through all of your fabric options to make a quick project take all day! :) I found myself a green and yellow that more or less coordinated. And then, since I may not have noticed a notch missing from the corner of the yellow, I added a red band.

Here I have cut out the pieces and already added the zipper:
Although the tutorial had you cut four pieces, I cut out the two pieces on the fold so I wouldn't have to sew the bottom shut. It's a little less bulky and less sewing.

Then I folded it over with right sides together and sewed the sides shut. (Making sure the zipper was open so that I could flip it inside out.)
Do the sewers (or topographers) among you notice what I did wrong? Yeah, the way I put it together those smaller pockets are going to end up on the inside! Oops. I undid those seams and tried again:
 Ok, so now the sides are sewn and when I flip it inside out, I have a pouch with an outer pocket on each side:
Now for something to hang it around my neck. I picked up this silver chain recently. I figured it would be less noticeable than a fabric strap or leather thong.
I poked a small hole through the fabric with a large needle and pushed the chain through. I then stitched it down in the side seam of the pouch.
If I pull really hard, it will come out, but I think it will be good for general use. (And I learned from someone once that things around your neck should have a weak point to give way. Better that than strangling yourself if the item gets caught in something. She was making aprons for a machinist, but the principle applies.)

And here is the final pouch:
And now the real issue...what will I be bringing to knit???

Remember this ball of yarn that I died in February? I dyed it with this trip in mind.
I'll be knitting socks two-at-a-time on a cable needle (magic loop method). It'll be an easy way to keep everything together as I'm travelling around (no dropping and losing dpns) and it's my theory that cable needles are less "threatening" than double pointed sticks. (A consideration when flying. Though knitting is permitted, you never know when you'll get an over-eager inspector.)

I decided to get the toes done because I didn't want to do all that fiddly work (and calculations) while travelling. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I didn't have other knitting projects on the go!)

I had the brainstorm to do the cast on over the cable needle instead of waste yarn. Picking up the stitches off of the waste yarn is my least favourite (and most time consuming) part and in one fell swoop I eliminated it. Yeah me! (I know...not exactly genius work but I'm glad I thought of it.)

I then knit the short-row toe on dpns while the cable needle just held the stitches in waiting. Instead of using two dpns for each sock, I used the same needle for the two sides of the socks that faced each other, like so:
Stitches marked by purple are what were left by the short
rows. The orange stitches are the ones that are being knit.
The middle needle is used to knit both sets of orange
stitches and hold the purple stitches.
Once I finished the second half of the toes, I could start knitting all the stitches with the cable needle, setting up the magic loop. Anyway, long story short, I have finished the toes and they're all set to go:
Several people have expressed their doubt that one pair of socks is going to keep me going for two weeks. I had just two words for them: Yarn Shops. Yes, I have looked up a few addresses on Ravelry and hope to be able to hit some when I'm there (dragging my indulgent mother with me). Wish me luck! :)

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