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Knit and felt a jazzy bag: free pattern

Jazzy bag, from Knit and Felt Bags book

The fabulous, bright, ‘jazzy' colours in this bag make it one of my favourites. I love the dreadlock-style fringe that the Elle Pizzazz yarn produces, and this colourway works so well with the turquoise wool yarn I chose for the main body of the bag. The pink eyelash yarn mixed in with the Pizzazz adds colour contrast and thickens out the fringe beautifully.

The Pizzazz yarn comes in lots of different colour combinations and I must have knitted versions of this bag using most of them, as they are all so gorgeous.

If you want to try a different colour combination to the one I've used here, just choose a wool yarn from the Knitting4fun range that matches one of the strand colours in the Pizzazz. The Ice Long Eyelash yarn is also available in lots of colours, so you can mix-and-match to create your own unique combination.

You will need

● 250g of Knitting4fun
● Pure merino Wool in Turquoise (A)
● 50g of Elle Pizzazz in Carnival 253 (B)
● 50g of Ice Long Eyelash in Fuchsia (C)
● 8mm (40cm/16 in. or 60cm/24 in. long) circular needle
● 10mm (80cm/32 in. long) circular needle
● Two 10mm double-pointed needles
● Knitter's sewing needle or bodkin for sewing
● Large snap fastener or press stud (optional)

Finished size

Bag measures approx 24cm/91⁄2 in. high by 27cm/101⁄2 in. wide.

Tension

12 stitches and 14 rows to 10cm/4 in. over st st on 10mm needles using two strands of A held together, although tension is not crucial in felting.

Bag

Using 8mm circular needle and one strand each of A, B and C held together, cast on 65 sts.

*Join the cast-on row into a circle, ensuring that the knitting is not twisted, and place a marker to establish the beginning of the round.

Purl 7 to 9 rounds, or until the trim at the top of the bag is the desired depth. Purling the stitches helps to keep the textured yarn on the right side of the knitting. Tease out the long fibres as you work so that they do not get trapped in the knitted fabric.*

Break off B and C and join in another strand of A.

Next round: [K12, inc] five times. (70 sts)

Change to 10mm circular needle and cont in knit stitch.

Knit 45 rounds using two strands of A held together.

Shape base

Slip marker to the right-hand needle and start the shaping as folls:

Next round: K5, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k10, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k5. (66 sts)

Next round: K4, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k8, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k4. (62 sts)

Next round: K3, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k6, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k3. (58 sts)

Next round: K2, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k4, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k2. (54 sts)

Next round: K1, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k2, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k1. (50 sts)

Next round: K2tog, k21, k2togtbl, k2tog, k21, k2togtbl. (46 sts)

**Join base

Turn the bag inside out and push 23 sts along to each needle point. Put both needle points together and, using another knitting needle (the same size as the circular needle or a size larger), knit tog the first st on each needle point. Knit tog the second st on each needle point, then slip the first st over the second st, so casting off (not too tightly) and joining the base of the bag at the same time. Rep until all sts are cast off.

Handles (make two)

Using 10mm double-pointed needles and two strands of A held together, cast on 4 sts.

Knit 1 row.

Switch needles in your hands, so the needle with the stitches on is in your left hand again. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle and, pulling the yarn across the back of the stitches, knit the row again. The first three or four rows will be flat but don't worry, after that the knitting will become tubular. Before knitting the first stitch of each row, give the yarn a tug to make the strand across the back disappear.

Cont in this way, sliding and knitting, until the handle is the required length. As the handles will shrink by approximately one-third during felting, I usually knit about 50-60 rows for a short hand-held handle, 100 rows for a longer hand-held handle and 120-140 rows for a shoulder handle.

Cast off.

To make up

Using the knitter's sewing needle and A, sew the handles to the inside of the trim section at the top of the bag, about 1.5cm/1⁄2 in. down from the top edge.

Darn in all loose ends.

Now machine-wash the bag to felt it.

 

Felting the knitting

I use a front-loading washing machine for felting my knitted bags. Choose a full 40 degree programme, rather than a short programme, as this gives the agitation needed to felt the bag. This agitation is very important, as it is this as well as the temperature that felts the wool. Some washing machines may need to be set at a higher temperature to get perfect results. The 40 degree programme turns Knitting4fun yarns into a firm felt, which I like, but if you prefer a lighter felt, then you can experiment with shorter washes and different temperatures.

I do use laundry detergent and usually put the bag in an empty washing machine - rather than with other items such as towels, jeans or old trainers - as I think a bag felts better by itself. You can place the bag in an empty pillowcase to stop any fibres clogging up the filter, particularly when using mohair yarn. If you can open the filter easily it is best to clean it regularly so as not to clog it up and possibly cause damage to the washing machine.

Spin the bag dry then take it out of the washing machine as soon as possible. Do not allow the bag to sit in the machine for too long or creases may appear. If, after going through the wash programme, the bag has not felted enough, try putting it through again at the same temperature rather than at a higher temperature. If that does not work, then try a higher temperature. Once it is fully felted, the bag will shrink by about one-third in length and one-quarter in width. You must consider this shrinkage when designing your own bag patterns.

The bag will now need to be stretched into shape: I use tins or cartons to do this. You must shape the bag while it is damp as once it is dry it cannot be shaped without dampening it once again. Place the tins in the damp bag so that the felt is taut and the bag is the desired shape. Leave the tins in the bag while it dries, placing it on the windowsill or a radiator. If the handles have shrunk a little too much, hang the bag from a radiator with the tins still inside so that the weight of them stretches the handles while they dry.

If the handles do not felt firmly enough, try holding the damp bag and hitting the handles against the wall outside the house. This seems to shock the wool and firms it up.

You can also do this to the body of the bag if it has not felted enough. Just be aware of the neighbours or the postman, as they will think you are crazy, beating your handbag against the wall.

 

If the felted bag seems a little too fluffy, which it can do occasionally, depending on the yarns that have been used (mohair or alpaca are very hairy), I sometimes use hair clippers to shave the bag. I often do this outside so that the birds can have the fibres for their nests. This is when the neighbours and postman do decide that I am completely crazy, because it's not every day you see a woman shaving her handbag on the doorstep!

I have not felted my bags by hand personally, but have had friends do this. You can wash the bag in warm water in a big saucepan and agitate it by stirring and by repeatedly throwing it into the sink to shock the wool. Rinse it under the cold tap and then the hot tap and keep throwing it into the sink or bashing it against the draining board, beating or 'fulling' it until it is firmly felted.

You can sew on a large snap fastener or press stud to fasten the bag if desired.

 

The Pizzazz yarn comes in lots of different colours and I have knitted versions of this bag using most of them, as they are all so gorgeous.

This pattern is taken from 'Knit and Felt Bags' by Bev Beattie (A & C Black, £16.99).

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