Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A little felted purse KAL, part 1

The current issue of Interweave Knits has an article (by me) about installing zippers without any sewing at all, using a very special kind of very small latch hook called a "knit-picker."  There are two different methods described in the article for installing zippers:  working from the zipper outward, or installing a zipper in an already-made item.  There is also an Interweave Knits video on the technique.

If you have a copy of the article, or have viewed the video, and would like to explore the method of working from the zipper outward, here is a pattern for a little felted purse using that technique. The project is presented as a KAL  (knit along) in several installments.  Today, we'll lay out the materials and get as far as the top trim.

With its flat bottom, this little purse is roomy beyond expectation: a cell phone and other necessaries fit neatly alongside bills and change. Made up in an afternoon, these are great for gifts too.

Materials, needles and gauge
*Scrap amount of superwash worsted weight yarn, the model uses Cascade 220 superwash--this is the lavender trim at the top of the purse
* Scrap amount of ordinary (feltable) woolen yarn in contrast color, the model uses Cascade 220 in green
* Approx 1/2 ounce ordinary (feltable) woolen yarn in main color, the model uses Cascade 220 in dark purple
*Closed-end nylon or polyester coil zipper in matching color
*"Knit-picker" type mini latch-hook--this is explained in the magazine article
*Crochet hook in size to match yarn
*large eyed sewing needle
*set of 5 small dpn's to give gauge of about 6 st/in
*set of 5 larger dpn's to give gauge of about 5 st/in

The average finished size is 3" (L) x 2.5" (H) x 2.25" (W) but this can vary by as much as 1/4 inch larger or smaller in each measurement, depending on how much felting you choose to do.

KAL Part 1: Zipper and Top Trim
Shorten zipper to 3 3/4 inches working length as shown in the Interweave Knits article, or however you usually shorten a zipper.

Per illustration 1 above, mark zipper tape for pick up--two dots across each end of each tape, and 12 evenly spaced between, as shown. (Zippers have seam guides woven into them, so finding a straight line along the tape is easy.)

Superwash top trim: Using smaller dpn's, mini-latch hook (aka "knit-picker") and the knitting needle method described in the Interweave Knits article, and using 1 dpn for each side of zipper tape, pick up 1 st for each dot.

Begin the pick up at the arrow, working down the left zipper tape first.  Ignore the square and different colors for the moment: for the purpose of picking up stitches, each dot equals one loop to be picked up through the zipper tape.


Per illustration 2, above, once you have picked up the stitches through the zipper tape, it should look like this, with one needle holding all the stitches on one side of the zipper tape, and a second needle holding all the stitches from the other side of the tape.

Arrange the picked up sts on 4 dpn's: 6 across each end and 10 along each side. Needle 1 holds purple dot stitches; needle 2, green dot stitches; needle 3, blue dot stitches; needle 4, brown dot stitches. You could re-arrange the stitches onto the four dpn's by sliding the six end loops around onto their respective needles, but these loops are tight, and it's easy to lose one.  Therefore, in practice, the easiest way is to re-arrange the stitches by is by knitting them off when working the second round.

Second round: In this round, besides re-arranging the stitches onto 4 dpn's, you'll also increase stitches using the kfb method, all along the sides of the zipper tapes.  This increasing gives the purse its boxy shape. Here's how:

Bring yarn through zipper tape opening at pink square and commence to knit in direction of pink arrow as follows: Work 1 st in each of the 3 purple dot sts on needle 1, kfb in each of the 10 green dot stitches on needle 2, work 1 st in each of the 6 blue dot sts on needle 3, kfb in each of the 10 brown dot sts on needle 4, end round by working 1 st on each of the 3 remaining purple dot stitches on needle 1, you'll have 52 total sts on needles.

(Click here for further information about kfb--knit front and back.)

Work for 7 add'l rounds, knitting plain. Bind off. Top trim made. Note: the trim lies purl side out, with the knit side curling towards the zipper teeth, as shown in the opening illustration.

(Click here for a method of binding off in the round which hides the gap appearing at the last stitch of an ordinary bind off)

This is the first in a three-part series.

Click here for the second part of the series
Click here for the third part of the series
Click here for the accompanying video tutorial 

Good knitting!


Handstrick Flair said...

It looks so simple now as you explained it, but I can imagine many efforts behind it, until it did work as now. Your technique has very much similarity with my "double-layers" technique for knitting on the edge. But I would never come up with an idea using it for zippers!!!! Thank you very much for sharing.
In recognition of your genious knitter mind

kmkat said...

Awesome! Must go purchase zipper and participate in this KAL.

mel said...

I have one zipper and top trim done already. Thinking about doing a few more! Is there any reason to use superwash specifically other than it doesn't felt? I mean would other non-felting fibers be ok for the top as well? Maybe there's a no-no there that I'm just not thinking of. I don't have much superwash, but do have a lot of other yarn.

I'm not sure how the number of stitches picked up relates to the gauge and zipper length given in the article.

Otherwise, more please!

TECHknitter said...

Hi Mel--the superwash is so that the top trim won't felt. If you have acrylic or other non-feltable yarn, that would work for the tim part of these purses, also. I believe the purse will look best if the trim is made from the same weight of yarn as the body of the purse, and the recommended yarns work with the length of zipper indicated to make the purse pictured. After making one, you'll be able to see for yourself how you can change the gauge. In the meanwhile, a new installment will be coming shortly.

Best, TK

mel said...


gayle said...

What a great project! I need to go buy some zippers. Right now.

olivia john said...

Awesome project

Mandy said...

Rescuing a zipper from an old pair of jeans to try this...

Cindy said...

I think there is errata, either in the stated length of the zipper--3 3/4--or in the illustration of the zipper which shows a length of 2 3/4, since the top of the zipper is aligned with the ruler at 1 instead of 0. Which length do you mean?

I love your entire website! I love your theme, trying to get 30 years out of your mind into mine...I'm for that!

Jill said...

Cindy, I'm thinking that 3-3/4" must be the correct number as I doubt most cell phones would fit inside a
2-3/4" opening...does that make sense? Very observant of you to have noticed this error...Thanks!
Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my knitpick and colorful yarn so I can get started on these darling little bags.

Brooke said...

I am also confused about the correct length, as is Cindy. What do we then do with the dots? Space them as shown, or spread them out over the extra inch?

TECHknitter said...

Oooo--I S.C.R.E.W.E.D.U.P!! The illustration has the wrong inch measurements--the dots are to be spread out as described in the text. In the next day or two, I will correct the illustration. So sorry for this. TK

mel said...

Odd, I can't believe I managed to go through this twice without having that trip me up. I'm guessing it might have caused me to pause and just figure my brain was misbehaving.

I'm fairly sure, besides my conviction that it was just my confusion, that I counted the number of dots between the inches and just added however many inch-dots on the opposite side as well. Sounds like that was the wrong direction, but I got the zippers in and the bags made.

The only real or lasting problem was I didn't try opening the second zipper until I was half done with the bag. It doesn't sound or feel like a brand new nylon coil zipper, but like a huge rusty industrial sleeping bag or luggage zipper. My first priority for any additional bags is to test the zipper first. Even better, I'm going to open the packages in the store and try them there.

TECHknitter said...

The screwed up illustration of the zipper has been FIXED, and is now correct. Thanks to all who pointed this out!! I super-appreciate it!!