All right, y'all, I don't think there's anything else I can do to tweak, fiddle, or otherwise alter my little laptop cozy. I think it's actually finished. For reals this time. I ran it through the washer again, sans chickpeas, to try and felt the little baubles. It was a mixed success. Here are the before and after shots:
The smallest baubles near the top of the bag felted well, but were so small that they tended to sink into the fabric of the bag and all but disappear. Meh. So now I know. If you want to felt the bag but not the baubles, go with medium sized baubles with 2-5 chickpeas. If you want baubles with a more felted look, do medium sized baubles with 4-8 chickpeas and then felt the bag a second time.
The bag itself did end up felting more. The fabric will eventually reach a point where it's as felted as it will get and not shrink further. Apparently I was not at that point with my bag. The final bag is a big smaller than I'd hoped for, but still completely serviceable. Again, so now I know. If you want to felt a second time, be sure to stop the felting the bag a little sooner on the first round, take out the chick peas, and then felt again until you're satisfied with the size.
Ok, so now I need some handles on my bag to complete my crafty-metro-girl-on-the-go! ensembleI was initially nervous about cutting the handles because it's, you know, permanent and all that, but I took a deep breath and did it.
First I laid a piece of clear packing tape across the bag approximately where I was going to cut it. My bag just so happened to be exactly 12 inches across and a 4 inch handle sounded good to me, so I measured 4 inches on either side and two inches from the top, marking this on the tape:I almost had to close my eyes while I cut through the felt. I was so paranoid that it hadn't felted enough and the whole thing would just start to unravel. (If it's felted properly, the fibers will be so twisted that you can literally cut it like fabric.) :
Voila! Cut felt! You can see here that the felted fabric is really quite thick--that's a good quarter of an inch thick and quite sturdy. Whew.
Now for some action pix! Here's the crafty-metro-girl-on-the-go! ready to swing by the farmer's market or pop by the public library for some good weekend reads:But this is a laptop cozy after all, so does my laptop really fit inside?! I was nervous since the bag felted so much more the second time. While it was drying, I kept stretching it out, trying to get it to keep as large a shape as possible:Ok, it fits sideways, but will it go all the way in?!
Ah, just barely. My laptop fits inside, but I can't pick it up by the handles. But you know what? That's actually just fine because the only time I'm transporting my laptop, I'd actually prefer to carry it in my backpack. This laptop cozy will be an extra protective sleeve inside my bag.
So final verdict? Complete satisfaction, plus inspiration to knit more bags and continue experimenting with the bauble idea. I've been thinking about enhancing the baubles during the initial knitting stage by doing some short row shaping. Not only would this make the bauble more pronounced and less susceptible to flattening out during the second round of felting, but it would enable me to knit the baubles in different colors from the background. Oh, man, I love knitting.
For the evolution on the laptop cozy:
Part I: Click HERE
Part II: Click HERE
Part III: Click HERE