Several years ago when I was on a crazy knitting binge, I purchased some truly beautiful, 100% wool, blue and cream yarn at a yarn store, along with instructions for a felted bag knitting project. Eagerly, I sat down and began, but since the pattern is so simple, stockinette stitch all the way, baby, I soon got bored and went on to something else.
With this month’s Skill of the Month, I’ve determined to finish this bag and wanted to share the pattern with you. The free pattern originated at Knitting in Scottsdale, a fun, colorful store, which, sadly, has gone out of business.
I would recommend this project to those who already know how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off because there is a lot of stitching to be done. It’s very repetitive, stitching all those knit and purl rows, and you’ll gain a lot of practice stitching and maintaining a steady gauge, which is one of the most important knitting skills you can acquire.
Let me know if you want to work on this project, too, and then share your progress photos and final product with me via email, lisa @thesurvivalmom.com.
Your project does NOT have to be done this month and there’s no deadline of any kind. I mean, I started this project at least 5 years ago! I just want to encourage you to tackle something that will provide a lot of great knitting practice (the 2 main, simple types of stitches) and a practical product at the very end.
If you’re not familiar with felted bags, check out my Skill of the Month Pinterest board for several examples.
Felted Tote Bag with Shaped Handles
Lamb’s Pride Worsted Weight — 4 skeins main color (MC), 1 skein contrasting color (CC). Whatever brand you use, the yarn must be 100% wool for this felting project.
10.5 10-inch straight needles — I prefer bamboo or wood needles over metal, but just because I think they’re prettier! Circular needles could also be used for this project. You just won’t be working in the round.
Piece of cardboard for base (optional)
Small piece of fabric to cover base
Size before felting
14″ high x 18.5″ wide x 5″ deep
Approximately 12″ high x 8 1/4″ wide x 3″ deep. Actual size depends on individual washing machine and yarn color.
Before felting: 3.75 stitches and 5.5 rows = 1 inch
After felting: Approximately 5 stitches and 10 rows = 1 inch
All stockinette (Row 1 knit, Row 2 purl, repeat)
Garter stitch used on inside pocket
Single crochet stitch
Felted bag knitting project instructions (with diagrams)
With MC, cast on 70 stitches and work in Stockinette for 28 rows. Bind off loosely.
FRONT & BACK (make 2)
With MC, cast on 70 stithces and work in Stockinette stich for 72 rows, ending ready for a right side row. Next row (right side) work 27 stitches, join another ball of yarn, and bind off center 16 stitches. Work the remaining 27 stitches, continuing with Stockinette.
Working on both sides at once with separate balls of yarn, at all edges decrease 1 stitch every 4 rows times = 3 stitches. Change to contrasting color (CC) and work even in Stockinette stitch for 32 rows. Bind off.
I lose track of rows when I’m knitting something like this, so I either write a tally mark on a piece of paper each time I end a row, use a knitting app on my Android phone, or use a row marker. I bought a little packet of these row markers, they’re like plastic safety pins, and I pin one every 10 or 15 rows. That way I don’t have to start counting rows at the very beginning of my work. Counting rows can be confusing.
SIDE PANELS (make 2)
With MC cast on 20 stitches and working in Stockinette stitch decrease 1 stitch each edge every 10 rows 7 times = 6 stitches. Bind off loosely on row 73.
With CC, cast on 36 stitches. Work in Stockinette stitch 42 rows, working stripe pattern (6 rows CC, 6 rows MC), 3 times, ending with 6 rows CC in Garter stitch (knit every row). Bind off loosely.
Using a tapestry needle and an overcast stitch, sew the inside pocket to the front or back piece on wrong side along 3 sides, leaving the top of the pocket open. Sew the front, back, and side panels together using the overcast stitch from the right side of bag. Sew the base of the bag to the front, back and sides using the overcast stitch. Sew bound off ends of straps together.
CONTRASTING COLOR TRIM
Now you get to try a bit of crochet! With size J crochet hook and right side facing, work 1 row of single crochet along straps and shaped section of bag — work 1 single crochet in every other row along rows and work 2 single crochets for every 3 bound off stitches.
Next row, with right side facing again, work 1 row of backward single crochet in every single crochet of previous row.
FELTING AND BLOCKING
Place the knitted bag in a mesh lingerie bag or a zippered pillow protector. Set your washing machine on small to medium load, hot water, and cold rinse. Add laundry soap, the bag to be felted, and a couple of old t-shirts to balance the load. Don’t add bath towels or anything with lint.
Run one complete cycle. The first cycle usually doesn’t do much. The felting process takes more than one cycle. After each cycle, tug the wet bag back to a square shape before washing again, and turn the bags inside out for each alternate cycle.
Because variables such as water temperature and hardness of water affect the outcome, you will have to experiment a little to determine how many cycles it will take to felt your item successfully.
Note: If your bag isn’t felting after a couple of cycles, try adding 1 cup of baking soda to both wash and rinse cycles. Continue running wash and rinse cycles until you are satisfied with the degree of felting. The stitches should disappear and the straps will be firm. A felted bag looks as though it were made of thick, wool fabric and you won’t see individual knitted stitches.
After the last cycle, tug the bag as square as possible. If necessary, use a steam iron to steam, not IRON, the bag into shape.
Measure the bag bottom and cut a heavy piece of cardboard or very thin wood 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch smaller and narrower than the bottom measurement. Cover with fabric, if desired, and place in bottom of bag. Stuff the bag with plastic bags to help it hold its shape while drying.
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