shhh it’s a secret

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Pattern: Bella Bag
Yarn: Hawthorn Cottage 5 Ply in colour #15
Needles: 6.5mm/40cm Crystal Palace bamboo circular

Bella (and swatch) consumed 65g of my 100g hank. I think I am going to try to squeeze another, smaller, bag out of what is left. I am really very happy with how Bella turned out, although I wish I had twisted the handles a lot more. I was going to give her to Isabelle as soon as she was done, but now I am thinking my own little belle may need to wait until Christmas to see her Bella.

where did the time go?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Recently Jesse came home with another one of those software development timeline rules of thumb. Something like “the last 10% of the project will take 90% of the effort”. This is not dissimilar to the “pick a number and triple it” rule. I think the 10/90 rule is actually more accurate and it obviously stuck in my mind. As I spent 2.5 hours making icords, grafting them on and weaving ends last night it came back to me. Where did the time go on this project?

Thursday: 20 mins choosing yarn, 2 people * 2hrs winding it into a ball, for a total of 4 hrs 20 mins choosing and preparing yarn

Friday: 1hr swatching and about the same measuring other bags and doing some maths, for a total of 2 hrs pattern preparation.

Saturday: 2.5 hrs knitting first half of the bag

Sunday: 2 hrs more knitting

Monday: 30 mins finishing the body of the bag 2.5 hours making icord, grafting, weaving, etc.

Tuesday: 30 mins felting & blocking.

Now making icord is not my idea of fun and as a result I have put it in the “finishing” category. Which gives me the following stats for this project:

Preparation: 6 hrs 20 mins (44%)
Actual Knitting: 5 hrs (35%)
Finishing: 3 hrs (21%)

Of course without the whole ball winding debacle the prep time would have been about 3 hours shorter giving us more like 5 hrs knitting to 6.5 hours prep and finishing (still more than half the time spent on the project)…. Deceptive isn’t it? The knitting may be quick but the rest takes time too… Here’s what Bella looked like pre felting:

Bella just came out of the washer and I am VERY pleased - no creases or funny patches to be seen. So my new ASKO frontloader felting recipe is: put item straight in the washer (no pillow slip) with a couple of nappies on super quick cycle at 75 degrees celsius, with a teaspoon of wool wash, no spin. I’ll post a picture once Isabelle is asleep and I can block the bag.

bags, balls, swatches, drills, one of these things is not like the others…

Monday, November 22, 2004

The body of Bella is done, handles and possibly even felting to be completed tonight. I am guessing that I have used less than half the ball of yarn Jesse and I wound with the drill and I am not loving it, the winding that is, the yarn is fine. It was all fine and dandy for the first 1/2 of the bag, possibly even two thirds, but suddenly my center pull ball stopped pulling. In the end I dragged a huge tangle out of the middle of my ball and painstakingly untangled it before I could get back to my scheduled knitting. Ever since then I have also had to carefully mind not to create another tangle. The lesson here is that the drill most likely does not belong in my knitting tool kit…While I am sure that better technique feeding the yarn onto the ball could probably eradicate this problem but I won’t be trying again anytime soon. The only yarn I have in need of winding at the moment is the ColdHarbour Mill for French Market Bag #1. I have to decided to deal with this by knitting bag #2 first and then prevailing upon my Gran to wind my ColdHarbour for me (or allow me to do it at her place) when we are in Adelaide next week.

Speaking of the French Market Bags, I have a problem - you see the 4.5mm needles called for in the pattern seem awfully small to me. I swatched the 5 ply yarn I am using for Bella on 4.5mm, 5.5mm and 6.5mm needles and got the best fabric from the 6.5mm’s so it just seems odd to me to knit significantly heavier yarn on smaller needles. What’s that, do I hear you saying “just swatch with bigger needles”? Well I would, BUT the real problem here is that I want my Market Bags as much taller than the pattern as my yarn will allow. It is my intention to knit the handles before starting the body so that I can then knit right to the very last scrap of yarn on the body of the bag. I don’t want to waste any yarn swatching, it’s nto like I can rip it out and reuse it after its gone through the washer now is it…. I can swatch for bag#2 because I can easily get an extra ball of Jo Sharp both quickly and fairly cheaply and I can return it if it turns out I really didn’t need an extra ball after all. Not so the ColdHarbour which has to be ordered from the UK and comes in 100g hanks instead of 50g balls. So even if I swatch and recalculate for the Jo Sharp bag on 6.5mm needles what should I do about the ColdHarbour version? Apparently all yarns felt differently and while I could just assume that if I knit on different size needles to the same pre felted dimensions it would be ok my Bella swatch tells me different - the Bella swatch shrank more the looser the gauge…

I could just knit the ColdHarbour bag on 4.5s as called for in the pattern. My reasons for wanting to use bigger needles are two fold - firstly I liked that there was less stitch definition on bigger needles with my Bella swatch and secondly I am time challenged (christmas is looming) and bigger needles = less stitches = faster project. What would you do?

a slight miscalculation

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I won’t be needing 90 rows for the body of the bag. 90 rows of garter stitch maybe, but since I am knitting stocking stitch it won’t be 90 rows… This is 25 so I am guessing somewhere between 50 and 60.

a pattern, of sorts

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I feel so grown up, not only did I swatch for Isabelleís bag (which shall hence forth be known as Bella) last night, I also felted my swatch. Does it say something about what sort of grown up I will be that my swatch tells me lots, but not enough? Not enough to be SURE of what I am doing.

It tells me that the fabric is just as nice, if not nicer on 6.5mm needles as 4.5. There is actually less stitch definition the bigger the needles get. So my swatch helped me choose needle size and the good news is that the 6.5ís were the needles that appealed to both my lazy and stingy streaks (bigger needles = faster, plus I donít have the right length circ in the other sizes and I donít have 5.5 mm DPNs either). Unfortunately I was getting worried about wasting yarn by the time I got brave enough to try the 6.5mms so it is the shortest part of the swatch and I donít know if I should trust the results.

The swatch is 27 stitches, maybe 26. I thought I had 27 but I forgot to count them again before casting off and when I counted the bumps I kept getting 26. So it started off like this: 24 rows of 4.5mm needles was 5 inches wide and 5.5cm long. Yes, I really did measure one width in inches and length in centimeters. Donít ask. 16 rows of 5.5mm needles was 6 inches wide and 4cm long. 11 rows of 6.5mm needles was 6.25 inches wide and 3.25cms long. Note the progressive slackness of my swatching, less and less rows as I went along….

I was scared of waking Isabelle with the washer when I was done knitting it, so I tried felting it on the stove. This did not work. AT ALL. So I got desperate and whacked it in the washer - 75 degrees Celsius on cycle #7 with the quick wash button pressed in and a nappy for company, no zippered envelope was used and I think it is just about perfect:

It is now like this:
4.5mm section 3.625?/4.5cm
5.5mm section 3.875?/3cm
6.5mm section 4.25?/2.4cm

Which my calculator tells me gives the following percentages of original size after felting:

4.5mm section 72.5%/81%
5.5mm section 64%/75%
6.5mm section 68%/73%

But I donít think I am going by percentages anyway, I think I am best off going by stitches/rows and the post felting dimensions. So here is my pattern:

use provisional cast on to cast on 3 stitches, knit 14 inches icord. Make 3 more the same.
cast on 38 stitches
knit 16 rows garter stitch
pick up 8/38/8 stitches
knit 90 rows in the round
divide icords into pairs, twist together and choose positions for handles
cast off between handle positions leaving 4 stitches for each handle insertion
graft handles on with two stitches each of the two icords overlapping
felt it

I have no idea if any of this will work, I am aiming for a bag 6 inches wide, 7 inches tall and about 1.5 inches deep with two twisted icord handles (one front, one back). Anything approximating these dimensions will do.

I forgot to mention the best part of the swatching process. I left it out on the couch overnight for Isabelle to find. I heard her exclaiming as soon as she went into the lounge and she was saying ďThese colours are PRETTYĒ all the while jabbing the swatch with her delicious little fingers.

a picture is worth a thousand words

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Though I do reserve the right to add some more words tomorrow…


stash enhancement


hand held mixer


hand held mixer plus some cardboard


hand held mixer is too fast for this job (the situation is FAR worse than it looks in this photo)


Jesse adds needle to the mess for easier unwinding


the mix master is worse than the hand held


Jesse thinks like a man


I add some finishing touches


ta da!