Sunday, September 24, 2006

Crafts: Laptop Cozy Update

The hour is nigh upon us. The laptop cozy hovers on the brink of completedness. I debated waiting to post anything until it was actually 100% and truly finished, but where's the fun in that? Plus, I think I might need a bit of hand holding through the potential disaster I have created.

So, the laptop cozy is probably one of the simplest patterns in existence. It's so easy that I have absolutely no plagiarism hang-ups about sharing it with you (though the original pattern can be found in Alterknits by Leigh Radford): cast on 65 (80, 80) [for small (medium, large)] and work in stockinette stitch until the piece measures 44 (50.5, 57.5) inches from the beginning. Bind off and fold the piece in half. The folded edge becomes one side of the bag. Sew the bottom and the other side shut using your favorite fancy sewing method. Weave in loose ends. Felt. Use scissors to cut handles. Presto chango, laptop cozy!

I made the small size bag, which calls for two skeins each in three colors of Lamb's Pride Worsted if you want stripes, or six skeins in a single color.
First off, I didn't use anywhere NEAR this much yarn. In fact, I only used three skeins and still had some left over. I was a bit disgruntled about this because, as you may recall from my earlier post, I actually had three skeins already, but since the pattern called for six, I made a public display of myself by picking up the extra skeins from my local yarn store while out on a run. Anywho, at least the experience still makes for a good "yarn" (oh! oh! Ouch!).

I liked the striping pattern in the book, so decided to follow it instead of making up my own. The striped ranged in width from two rows to seven rows. Since the final piece was going to measure 44 inches, this translates into a lot of striping, my friends. It didn't occur to me until, oh, about 3/4 of the way through that this also translates into a lot of loose ends. That I would have to weave in. Later. Dear Lord. I smacked myself on the head and said, "This is what INTARSIA is for!" Intarsia is where you essentially have two balls of each color, one for each side of the piece. You end up not having any loose ends to weave in. (see more thorough explanations here and here.) Since intarsia is usually used when you're knitting some sort of complicated pattern like argyle or letters, it didn't occur to me to use it here (although now I'm wondering if this is why the pattern calls for six skeins when only three get used? Still seems a bit excessive, even so). Alas, my intarsia-revelation was too late to be of real use for me, but please learn from my experience. The idea of weaving those ends in was so effing annoying that this project was almost relegated to the "I can't deal with you until at least several months from now" pile.
Look at all those ends! Bleck!

In the end, rather than actually weaving in all the ends, I decided to do a whip stitch along the bottom edge and a mattress stitch across the top (cu
z it's prettier and this is the part that will be seen), and gather in the ends as I go. I'm not sure how well this will felt, but it seemed preferable to weaving them all in. Fingers crossed.

Bottom ends woven in with a whip stitch
Top ends woven in--I think this is called a mattress stitch

Ok, at this point a sane person would be all hunky dory and ready for a good afternoon of old fashioned felting. But I kept looking at the finished, un-felted bag and thinking, "You know? I think I could do something more here." That's when I remembered a scarf that my mom once described seeing at an art fair she went to. It was a basic felted scarf, but there were all sorts of little...well...bubbles all over it. The way Mom described it, I pictured a clean piece of felted knit fabric, but with the kind of nubs you'd get if you were doing short-row shaping--like the heel of a sock. Mom said it was one of the most incredible (and expensive--$350 for a scarf!?!) things she'd ever seen, and she asked the artist how she'd done it. The artist said she took a piece of knitting that she was going to felt and tied bundles of garbanzo beans into the fabric, covered it with plastic wrap, and then proceeded with the felting. This way, the regular fabric felts, but everything covered by the plastic doesn't.

I've been eager to try this technique out for myself ever since Mom described it to me, but never had quite the right project. Until now! Yessiree, we're gonna get cre-AH-tive over here in Boston! Below is a picture of what the nubs look like so far. I gathered a bit of the fabric, popped in a few garbanzo beans, and secured a piece of plastic wrap over the whole nub with hair bands. I'm going to finish tying them up during the Patriots game tonight (cuz what's football for if not guaranteed, uninterrupted knitting time?), and then felt them tomorrow. Wheeee!


rebekah said...

i'm very interested in a post-felting photo! soon?

suebelle said...

You're KILLING me -- what happens next!?!?!

Emma C said...

Patience, patience, young grasshoppers! For the past several days, I was the lucky winner of a seat on the jury for a criminal trial--the end result being that I've been completely brain dead at the end of the day. We finished up today (Law&Order-meets-CSI details upon request), so I'm hoping to do the felting tomorrow (Weds) or possibly Thursday. Believe me, I'm as eager as you are to see how it turns out!

Angelina said...

I'm not officially ever going to knit again (because I just can't possibly have another craft to keep up with) but I love to see what knitters are doing and this looks like it's going to be totally cool! Bobbles are always so cheerful. I can't wait to see the results too.

Angelina said...

P.S. I might be willing to part with a quart of pears for a scarf with bobbles...