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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.

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