Friday, November 4, 2011

The Saga of the Felted Bag

This is my first big felting project. I like the results, but the project has been a learning experience and maybe an example of why I don't always finish projects. The yarn is Reynolds Lopi from my old that the price on these 119-yard skeins was $2.90; it currently lists at $6.95 for a 67-yard skein. The flowers are from a small amount of bulky wool yarn remaining from some long-ago project. The leaves are Lite Lopi that I recently bought. Beads are from my stash.

The bag started out as a crocheted rectangle. I test-felted a swatch and didn't like the results...too holey. So I ripped out and started knitting. The body of the bag is a rectangle in seed stitch. The handles are single crochet stitch. I like the firmness that crochet gives to the part of the bag that will take the most stress. I knitted the gusset in seed stitch.

The flowers felted up great, but the bag came out of the felting process really hairy. I was told by experienced felters that Lopi has a tendency to be rather fuzzy after felting, but this went beyond mere fuzziness. There were very unsightly longer strands of hairiness that I ended up removing with a razor blade.

Then the fun began (or so I thought): embellishing the flowers. The flower below is the 2nd one I embellished.

Below is the first flower I did, but it's the second instance. After doing flower #2, I decided I didn't like what I'd done with flower #1 so I removed all the beads and started over.

Here's what the flower originally looked like. I decided it was too disorganized and also didn't coordinate well with the 2nd flower.

After attaching the flowers to the bag, I decided that the holes in the center needed something so I added some Czech glass buttons. Then I thought the bag needed something more so I crocheted, felted, and embellished leaves. Ta-da, I thought, it's finished at last! But noooo! I had attached the flowers by sewing on the edges. This gave them a puffy effect and, along with the central button, I started thinking how much the flowers more resembled breasts! Now there's nothing wrong with this part of a woman's body, but this didn't create the effect that I was aiming for.

Once you get a thought like that in your head, it's hard to remove it. But, thankfully, I could remove the flowers and redo them. I ditched the button centers, took the flowers off, and restitched them so that the petals were not secured. This flattened the pieces and gave the flower effect that I was aiming for. Finally, no more fiddling and tweeking; the bag is finished.

Lessons I learned:
-- test-felt swatches before deciding which technique to use to get the effect I want
-- combine techniques (in this case knitting & crocheting) to take advantage of the strengths of each
-- better to rip out and redo as much as necessary to get a final result that I can be happy with
-- don't compromise with the design just to get the project finished

Knowing me, this won't be the last project where I learn the lessons only by ripping out and starting over. It seems that my usual procedure to get a finished project is:  knit/crochet/stitch/etc. correctly one time after ripping out mistakes 1 or more times.

1 comment:

McNeill Art said...

Didn't know you have a blog. Looking forward to more of your felted projects. You're already an expert!