Last weekend I finished this bag. It's been crazy around here, and I actually became obsessed with finishing it I think because I had so much stress about Teen Wonder's graduation and party plus all the end of year activities with Wild Thing's school, baseball team, etc. But also it had to be really awesome because this isn't just any bag. This was a sweater re-purposed. And not just any sweater - but a sweater made by a good friend. A sweater made with love and numerous hours and lovely Icelandic wool yarn. My college room-mate J. made this sweater for me back in the mid-80s. I thought I took a "before" photo of it, but haven't located it yet. If I do I'll amend the post to include it. But I'll tell you it was big and roomy (and I'm not small!), with a shawl collar, and it was covered in bobbles (those things are not easy either - well, at least they are way time consuming to knit).
|The J. Sweater before - the lighting is a bit green because the photo was taken in our basement right under the fluorescent lights. But you can see the amazing work it took to knit this up!|
After I learned to knit in 2004 and also learned about felting, I wondered if there would be some way to convert all the lovely knit fabric of the sweater into something else. I made a couple of felted purses, and liked how the knit fabric transforms to a strong bag worthy material. But I didn't have the nerve to suggest this to J. until I had some clear idea how it might look like. Anyway, this bag design emerged after felting the sweater and spending a few months looking at it and trying to imagine how it would look in various forms before I would even make a single cut. And now this is the end result:
I cut the sleeves off first, and then opted to flip the sweater upside down and make the ribbed bottom band of the sweater the upper edge of the bag. I ended up cutting the sweater at the arm pits, and I snipped out the collar to use for the purse flap. I did a modest box shape at the bottom corners of the bag to give it some shape.
The handles and lining were constructed using some ultra-suede leftover from my dining room re-upholstery project back here. I will say that I probably wouldn't opt to do this again even though I love the look. I just don't have an industrial strength machine, so multiple layers of ultra-suede and felted wool were extremely hard on my machine. And my fingers!
Inside there is a full zipper divider pocket, so the bag can be more or less a zippered bag with my wallet and any other valuables. I added a smaller patch pocket inside with a pen slot and space for notebook and cell phone.
I love the look of the hardware details on the handles, and there is a magnetic snap in the flap. The flap looked nice alone - the angle at the bottom of the ribbed flap is a nice detail. But still a little unadorned, so I made a little fabric flower to finish off the look.
I hope J. will approve - there are a lot of mistakes that I learned from, but none that diminish the end result significantly. It's a good size for a laptop or folio and books. It's less suitable to a number of fat lumpy things just because the depth of the bottom is not very large. It's also seasonable most of the year here in the Bay Area.
And there is still some bobbly felt that I may be able to use in a second smaller bag or something!
Purse Palooza over at Sew Sweetness . If you are a fan of hand-crafted purses and bags, check it out!
Friday Linky parties!
at Pretty Bobbins this week