Ziggy! Zaggy! Read all about it!

Sooo, here's what the bag looked like when dry and after several hours' worth of shaving:

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That thicker red part of the strap in the upper righthand corner is the cellphone pocket.

And I guess somewhere along the line I decided to keep it, because I did this to the lower left-hand corner of the flap:

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This photo also happens to illustrate where the last 7" scrap of yarn went. Seriously. I cut off many 2" tails after felting and aside from that am officially and thoroughly out of this yarn. None left.

I decided to keep it mostly on the basis that if it took me two and a half years to muster up the necessary energy to make (and prioritize) this bag, it would probably take me that long to do it again. And I'd like a messenger bag a bit sooner than that.

Now I must regroup and work out plans for a lining and inside pockets. I still use the Pouchy Thing to hold the three essentials (cellphone, keys, and wallet (also a knit pouch)), so I would like some sort of place to stow that where I put it every time I use the bag and where I can get to it quickly. It's a little bit too bulky for an underside-of-the-flap lining pocket, and I didn't have enough yarn for an on-the-outside-of-the-body-but-under-the-flap knitted-on pocket, which would have been my first choice. So now I'm considering doing a slice cut in the front of the bag (under the flap) and making that open into a pocket that is separate from the main section. Having a zippered closure on that would also be ideal. This option is the most appealing theoretically, although it also would require the most stretching of my fake-it-'til-I-make-it sewing skills. Much potential disaster lies in that direction.

For the inside lining, I'd like one end to be sectioned off to hold a water bottle, and some flat pockets in the lining, perhaps along the back wall of the bag, also won't hurt. I've recently brought my sewing machine home (long story), so the only thing holding me back from working on it is my foot-dragging.

While the bag has been sitting there waiting for me to care about it again, I've been hard at color work. My Ziggies are done and I couldn't be happier with them.

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Well. I suppose I could be happier with them if I'd followed my gut and removed that long section of yarn where the yellow transitions to black. But I'm still mostly hugely happy with them. They fit fine, although they're difficult to get over the heel, and they were very fun to make.

I substituted a shortrow toe for the one called for in the pattern (magic cast-on, I think?), and then substituted afterthought shortrow heels (over 39 stitches instead of 33 to make the heel deeper and hopefully easier to get on). I like shortrow toes and hate shortrow heels. That makes no sense at all, because they're essentially the same thing, but there you go. I'm not really in the market for learning a toe-up gusset at the moment, because I don't really love toe-up all that much.

Perhaps someone has thought of and written down good directions on how to manage the stitches above the afterthought heel, but I haven't found them. Mostly because I didn't look. So just take this as a warning: before acting on that seductive thought: "Oh, I'll just do an afterthought heel!" you might want to look into if it's possible/how to handle those above stitches neatly. This is what you might be faced with if you don't:

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Well. You'll be faced with that anyway, but if you have a plan then it might not seem so alarming to you that what is one stitch in one direction is two in the other.

Every time I do colorwork, I'm immediately seized by the desire to do more colorwork. I've decided to go with that and declare 2009 the Year of Colorwork -- which basically means the Christmas of Colorwork* -- which means that I now have an excuse to pour over colorwork patterns and plan a long list of colorwork gifts and start knitting some colorwork right now in the name of Being Ready for Christmas, Dammit.

I've cast on some Dippers in STR lightweight Thraven, which I had earmarked for another pair of Pomatomi but I think of what remains in my stash, it's the best fit for the pattern. Which, actually, in some ways is similar to Pomatomus -- lots of twisted stitches, an undulating look.

Yeah, you really can't see it well, and there's not a lot to look at anyway. Nice yarn, though, eh?

*Except you, Mom. You are getting a gigantic knitted dinosaur. There may be fun fur. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Rrrrr! Hulk felt!

Felted the messenger bag today. It's drying, and I think we've made peace with each other, but I'm going on record now as saying that I will not be using Cascade Pastaza ever again, for anything, ever. At the height of the battle, I told it that I was going to finish it and sell it on Etsy, but I'm going to let it dry and reassess.

(last photo pre-felting)

Pastaza wasn't terrible to knit with -- a bit sheddy, and so prickly that when I was holding the work on my lap, it would poke me through one or two layers of clothes -- but felting it was just awful. I did it by hand, partly to have more control over the process and partly to not spend money on wash cycles, which cost $1.50 a pop in this building. It didn't shed so much at first, but once it started shrinking, it just shed and shed and shed. Brown and red fibers sticking to my wet hands, over and over again. I came upstairs and grabbed the drain protector we'd gotten for giving the dogs baths, and that seemed to work pretty well overall to collect the fibers. I think that sucker could have easily clogged up the pipes of a washing machine about three times over.

I'm pretty optimistic, and it takes a lot for me to go from thinking that something (a person, kind of yarn, particular experience, etc.) is great to thinking that it really sucks, so if all the awfulness of the felting experience yielded a perfect bag, then hey, whatever, it's good. But I couldn't get the damn bag to the point where all the stitch definition was gone. That's supposed to be possible, right? That's the point of felting?

Maybe it will look better when it's dry. That's going to be awhile, probably, so I'll have time to cool off and go over my options of what to do. Thoughts of a nice felted messenger bag in Wool of the Andes were dancing in my head, though, as I took my best shot at felting the bejezus out of this one.

Now it's time to try to figure out how to proceed with the Ziggy socks I'm casting on next. Actually, I've already got a solid black short row toe all ready. I'm planning on knitting both of them at the same time, as I normally do, on separate sets of DPNs, so I was going to split the skein into four equal-sized balls, but then while I was winding it, I found a break that leaves 40g on one side and 70g on the other. And it's not one of those breaks that continues the color progression. So, I've been waiting for some clever way of dividing up the balls for minimum joining and maximum color awesomeness. Hasn't come to me yet, but something's hovering out there, I just have to find it.



This is another of those all-at-once-ers. I've been wanting a more open-looking template, so that my pictures don't crash through the teeny-tiny middle section. This seems to fit the bill the best, despite its "harbor" theme. Hey, I like harbors. They're cool.


So, what have you been working on obsessively?

I intend to answer that. But first: new socks!

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These are my Comfort Socks.

Yarn: Araucania Ranco Multy (I swear it says Multy on the tag, even though this looks more like a solid)
Pattern: Party Socks for Little Girls, from a Patons pamphlet from 1968
Mods: knit over more stitches, using my own heel and toe and using 4x2 rib (I think) instead of 1x1 as called for in the pattern.

I think I neglected to blog about it last year, but for my birthday, my awesome husband compiled a gigantic binder of vintage patterns, many of which are sock patterns. I was casting about for a sock to start, and came across it again on my bookshelf. This pamphlet was the first one I pulled out, and the Ranco Multy seemed to go with it pretty well, so off I went. Normally I work off a list of pattern-yarn combinations that I've had going for many years at this point, so I should go through the rest of the vintage patterns and make sure some of them make that list.

The pattern was interesting in that it called for a sl 1, k1, psso left-slanting decrease, which I'd never done and which doesn't seem to be so common anymore. It makes a more visible decrease, I think, and I like how it looks paired with yo-s.

Here's a somewhat better shot of the pattern:

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Next up, cabley socks for Sock Knitters Anonymous's May Knitalong.

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Yarn: Oceanwind Knits Merino Sock in the Sweet Sheep colorway
Pattern: my own, a 4-cable x 2-purl plain sock

Oceanwind Knits is just incredibly wonderful. The plies are very plump, and I think I've used the word "nubbley" to describe it in about four different places - probably with different spellings each time - and I will continue to use it, because it just describes it so well. The colors are complex and interesting, and to top it all off, it's soft. I can't wait to wear these, but, along with the comfort socks, they've gone into a drawer until Autumn comes back.

And again:

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New socks on the needles, because I probably should knit my summer sockyarn while it's still summer:

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Panda Cotton, using the Broad Spiral Ribbing pattern from More Sensational Knitted Socks. Started with Nibblets, but the pooling was too much for me. This pooling is okay.

And for the main act: the Knitting for Peace messenger bag!

Several/many years ago, I made my mom a small felted purse. It's pretty beat by now, and also she's learned to knit in the meantime, so she asked if I would help her make one herself. We quickly got down to planning, and all the talk of felting suddenly precipitated a desperate urge to cast on for this messenger bag, which I've been planning on making - and had the yarn for - for a couple years.

I started knitting last Saturday, and here's where we are so far.

That maybe doesn't look so impressive, so here's my hand for scale:

Whoa, right? Right. (Please tell me right, this probably represents about 15 hours of knitting.)

This project is also exciting because it gives me the opportunity to dig out my fabric stash to make a lining. I don't really have much red that has the same bluish tint that the cranberry-colored yarn does, so I'm considering going with browns or tans.

Someone mentioned on a blog once that using light-colored fabric for lining makes it much easier to see down into the bag when you're looking for something, so right now my plan is to use the lightest fabric on the far left to line the inside, and then the brown and white flowers on the right to line the flap. The bottom one also matches well, but there's only a fat quarter of it. I'm strategizing for pockets in the lining and maybe a flat one on the inside of the flap, but don't have a solid plan yet, and probably won't until I felt it.

I'm getting a bit nervous about my supply of yarn, but I don't think it's a matter of not being able to finish. It's more a matter of having a short-ish strap and maybe not enough to add pockets on to the outside part of the bag under the flap. Outside pockets would greatly increase the usability, though, so here's hoping I have enough for all of that.

Okay, enough of my jibberjabber. Have a great fourth celebration, if you're in the US, and a great fourth if you're not!