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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Same Pattern - Different Yarn - Two Beautiful Purses

I posted earlier about how enamored I am of this purse pattern, pictured below, offered by Rachels Crochet on Etsy

I've made two so far. A grey one and one in pink & orange. I know what you're thinking. Pink & orange?!? You should've seen the look on my Mom's face when I told her my plan. She has excellent taste so, normally, that look would stop me -- but I knew it would be beautiful. And it is!
The point of this post, however, is to talk about the end result when using different yarn. The grey purse was made using Patons Classic Wool in two shades of grey. The pink purse was made using Patons Roving. Both are 100% wool. For both purses, I held one strand of yarn.

Patons Classic Wool is a worsted weight yarn (weight #4.) While Patons Roving is a bulky yarn (weight #5.) The picture below shows the two different types of yarn (but in different colors, because I haven't replenished my grey or pink yet.)
Classic Wool on the left and Roving on the right. See the difference?
Since they are different weights, I used different hooks for each purse. I used an I hook for the grey purse and moved up to a J for the pink. 

If you've ever used Classic Wool, you'll know it feels a little scratchy -- as wool can do. Once it is washed, however, it becomes so soft. Depending on where you stop in the felting process, you can keep the soft feel or let the item felt a bit more to shrink the item and make it stiffer. The grey was the first I made with this pattern, so I opted to stop when the purse was a certain size. I was less concerned about stiffness. 

As a result the grey purse is soooo soft! I honestly had to put the finished purse away because I kept touching it. The trade off for all that softness is the grey purse does not hold the pleat as well as I would have liked. To help it along, I put a couple of stitches in the pleat to hold it together. I think it looks fantastic! A lovely shape, nice pleat and a soft as a kitten purse?! Yes please!

The pink purse, which was made with Roving, I love for a whole different set of reasons. The roving, which is bulkier, felted down to more of a material feel. It's not as soft as it was in the wrapper, but look at how it holds its shape! You can see the difference in the pictures below.

See the difference?
The pink purse feels more like you would expect a felted purse to feel. It has a lovely texture to it and it feels substantial. The grey purse feels soft and cuddly and makes me want to put it in my lap and pet it all the live long day.

I don't like one more than the other. They're just different. 

I will continue to make this purse and I will make it with both types of yarn. I may try to felt a little longer with the Classic Wool or, perhaps, use two strands to bulk it up a bit. I will also make others in the same fashion as the grey & revel in the softness. 

What is your experience felting? Do some brands felt differently than others? Do you like one "type" of felt more than the others? I would be interested to hear your experiences.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shades of Grey

I've been in a crafting frenzy lately. I was recently accepted to my very first craft fair, at St. Gregory the Great in Hamilton, NJ, and I really need to beef up the stash of goods. I have some slippers, hats and purses. But I need more!

I found this wonderful pattern on Etsy -- where else! -- and knew I would have to make this bag. 
This is the Casual Girl Purse created by Rachels Crochet.
This bag was a real pleasure to make. The pattern calls for this to be made in two colors but it can easily be made in one color as well. The bag is completely assembled before felting, so the stitches very nicely "melt" into each other. It is a really lovely purse, with a retro feel.

This bag was made with two shades of grey from the Patons Classic Wool line. It is so soft, I'm half tempted to stuff the bag, sew it shut & use it for a pillow!

I'm offering this purse for sale in my Etsy shop. I'm also happy to make the purse in any other color combo. Just let me know what you fancy and I'll have a purse done for you in 1-2 weeks.

The Felted Tote - skill set

If you're following along as I attempt The Felted Tote written by Little Projects:
you may be wondering what skills you need to make this tote. You will need basic crochet skills like: making a chain, fastening off and weaving in ends. All the components of the bag, including the handles (if you don't purchase pre-made handles like the ones shown) are made using a half double crochet (hdc) stitch. If you don't know how to make a hdc, you'll find good tutorials on You Tube.

This bag is constructed in pieces, so no crocheting in the round. You will need to be able to sew the pieces together using yarn and a large-eye, blunt-end needle. We will also be felting the bag. If you haven't used this technique yet, I would recommend buying an extra skein of yarn, in the type you wish to use for the tote. Make a few gauge swatches & felt them according to the directions in the pattern. Be sure to measure the swatch before & after felting and time the process, so you'll know how long to felt your bag for the yarn you selected. Since felting is more of an art than a science, it's always a good idea to felt a swatch when using yarn that is new to you. Remember, you'll need 100% wool and a washing machine to felt this bag.

The pattern will include all a list of materials and felting instructions. If this technique is new to you, please don't let that prevent you from trying. I dove right into felting after learning to crochet. Personally, I love the look of a felted piece and found the technique easy to learn. I hope you'll crochet along!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Felted Tote - Part 1

Tote Body & Sides

This tote is constructed in pieces which are sewn together with the same wool yarn before felting. The felting process not only shapes the bag, but helps the pieces stay together to make this:

Pattern by Little Projects.

To begin, first we need to select yarn. Since this is a felted tote we will need yarn that is 100% wool. The pattern calls for 5 skeins of Patons Classic Wool. You can use any wool you like, just make sure you buy enough. Here's a tip if you want to substitute yarn. In general, you can substitute as long as you buy yarn of the same weight. 

For instance, this pattern calls for Patons Classic Wool which is a worsted, medium weight yarn. When looking at comparable yarns, look for the recommended yarn's weight symbol. Patons Wool is weight class 4:

Look for a yarn with the same weight class then you'll know your project will come out, roughly, the same size as the original. Next, don't look at the ounces called for in the pattern. They won't mean much when looking at a different brand of yarn. Instead, look for the yards used. Some patterns will say the number of yards. At the very least, the pattern will call for the number of skeins. Use that information to figure how much yardage is needed and then compare that will the yards for the yarn you're looking at to figure how many skeins you will need.

For instance, one skein of Patons Classic Wool (solid color) is 223 yards. The pattern calls for 5 skeins, which is 1,115 yards. Let's say you fall in love with a color of Lion Brand Wool. One skein (solid color) is 158 yards. Therefore, you will need 7 skeins of the Lion Wool to complete this project. You would need 8 skeins if you picked a LB self-striping wool, as each skein has 143 yards. Be sure to check the lot numbers so that all your yarn will match. Another tip is to over buy. If you're not sure if you need 7 or 8 skeins of yarn, buy 8 and return the one you don't use or use the left-over yarn for a smaller project (or make a purse that has random stripes of all different colors!)

Okay, we have our yarn picked out and we have enough skeins from one lot number. Let's start!

I'm following along with the pattern, so I made one body & two sides:

As you can see, I didn't go with green -- though I love the shade of green used on the original. I wanted an orange tote for fall, so I selected Patons Classic Wool in Pumpkin (product #77605.)

What you're seeing here is the body folded over on itself. It's actually twice as long as this picture. On the top are the two pieces for the sides. I've marked the right sides (RS) of each with a stitch marker because you want the right sides (as in correct side, not right vs left) facing out & I want to be sure I can identify the right side facing out. If you don't weave in your ends as you go (like I do) you can also tell the right side by the beginning tail. When you start your chain you will have a tail. When you have the right side up the tail will be in the lower left corner. Since I weave in my ends as I go (b/c I hate weaving in ends and when I have the tote constructed I'm going to want to felt right away & NOT weave in lots of ends -- I just know me) I mark the right side of each piece. 

Now that the body & sides are completed, I will be moving on to the pockets -- which will be the subject of Part 2.

The Felted Tote - Introduction

For over a year, I've looked at this pattern from Little Projects on Etsy:
Isn't it lovely? Lots of pockets of felted goodness. For a year I drooled and then passed over the pattern because I thought it would be too far above my skill level. Two weeks ago, and 40+ constructed purses later, I decided I had to try to make this tote and I purchased the pattern. 

The pattern calls for 5 skeins of Patons 100% wool. That's 1,115 yards. Since I couldn't find enough wool, in a color I liked, in any local store I had to order the wool online. My yarn came on Friday -- right before Irene threatened to keep me housebound all weekend. This is the story of the construction of a purse I've been waiting a year to make. 

If you can make a half double crochet (hdc) you can make this purse too. It's all straight pieces that are pieced together before felting. I used to shy away from piecing because I'm not great at hand sewing. Let me tell you, felting helps to cover a world of mistakes, so don't let the piecing keep you from making this tote. 

I hope you'll follow along as I attempt to make a tote that is even half as lovely as the original. If you would like to crochet along, you can purchase a copy of the pattern on Etsy from Little Projects.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Animal Farm

My cousin, and his SO, are having a baby. While I couldn't make the baby shower, I did want to send a gift.

I found great (FREE!) patterns on the Lion Brand website for animal baby bibs. I had to make them.

All patterns can be found on Lion Brand website.

These were fun to make. I loved watching them come together. I love all of these, though the frog's grin holds a very special place in my heart. My favorite is the owl. It's so adorable!

Each was made with Cotton Ease which is so soft. Cotton tends to split when I'm working with it. The Cotton Ease didn't do that. Plus it shouldn't shrink b/c it's not 100% cotton. I'll have to use this yarn more often!

So, right after I finished this gift I saw a comment on another blog (I can't remember which one) and that commenter said that while crochet bibs are cute, they're very impractical. I guess I get that, but I wish I saw it after the shower. I spent a week thinking I've given an inappropriate gift. What do you think?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mmmmm...Ripe Watermelon

It's summertime here in good ol' NJ. Is there anything more synonymous with summer than watermelon?

Pattern by Pomquat.
I love this color! Makes me want to bite right into a nice, juicy watermelon. And spit seeds at my sister and brother. 

I really like the lining in this purse. The pattern is a lot of fun and the light background will make it easier to find stuff that falls to bottom. I also included two pockets -- one on each wall. On the back wall, the pocket is split to hold lip gloss (so important!) and a standard-size cell phone. One the opposite wall I have added the same-sized pocket, but no split. This pocket would easily hold a smart phone.

This purse is being offered through my Etsy shop along with a lighter pink version.

More purses, and entries, to come. I've actually crocheted 3 purses in three nights. Next step is to felt and then line the purses. I hope this energy level holds for a while. I could get a lot done!