Friday, July 13, 2012

Knitted Backpack

This backpack took me about a week and a half, which for me, is a long time to send on a project! It was worth it though. I wanted to make this with as little bought as I could manage, and really set out to see how much of this could be made with what I had on hand.
They yellow colored yarn at the bottom was a gift. As was the fabric used for the lining and the lacy trim. Everything else I had on hand, except the orange and the multicolored yarn for the upper half of the bag. Those were 5$ each, so my bag cost me only ten dollars to make. And it has the special factor, not only because of the materials that were gifted, but some of the techniques I used to make it were taught to me by friends. It is a VERY friendly bag!

To make the shell of the bag, I cast on 80 stitches (onto size 6 needles) with the gold. This was bulkier than the other two yarns, which were Homespun by Lion Brand. I don't know what this yellow is. You may want to play with the number of stitches until you get a round that is a bit bigger than you want your finished bag to be. You want it bigger, because when you start your cables, it will make your rounds smaller.*** Do note that you want the number of your stitches to be an even number that is divisible by 8.

With 80 stitches, I placed a stitch marker every 10 stitches. Those fancy deals with the little rings are row counters. I learned to make them at Our Mindful Life. Because I already had so many stitch markers on the work, I used a second row counter to count my tens.

After I had knitted about ten rows, I started my cables. The pattern between each stitch marker goes like this:
R1 - p2, k6, p2
R2 - p2, k6, p2
R3 - p2, slip 3 onto cable needle or DPN and tuck to the back. K3, then knit the 3 stitches from the cable needle, p2.
R4 - p2, k6, p2
R5 - p2, k6, p2
R6 - p2, k6, p2

I did this, I don't know how many rows, but until I had about 8 inches. I then switched yarn. I noticed about 2 inches up that the gauge of the new yarn was slightly smaller, so I had to pull it all out, and add a purl stitch on either side of each marker - so that I would p3, k6, p3. I did about 6 inches of each of these two yarns.

To finish, I did the last 4 rows in a straight knit stitch all the way around, and the very last row I purled. This was to prevent curling.
Turning the bag inside out, I used a crochet hook and two strands of the yellow yarn to sew the bottom closed. It went like this. One strand about twice as long as my bag on the front, and a strand 4 times as long on the back. I used the crochet hook to bring a loop of the back thread through the front and slid the front yarn through it. I did this all the way across, similar to a sewing machine. I then tied these ends together on either side.
Because the band at the bottom is bigger than the sides  - because once I started the cables the circumference got smaller, I folded these to corners in a way similar to a paper bag. This gives it room at the bottom if you choose not to line it.

Once the shell was made, it was time to move on to the lining. This is important so you don't lose your pens and other small things, not to mention getting keys snagged in the yarn, etc.
I apologize for the horrible photos, I didn't realize how awful they were until it was too late.

I sat down and thought about what I wanted my bag to be like on the inside. I have made several of these purses out of many types of fabric. Some have a small inner on the inside for my cellphone. Some have a loop in the bottom to attach my wallet so that it doesn't fall out. Some have a pouch that is on a tether, for my husbands items so that he can fish the pouch out easily and not have to rifle through the entire purse. For this bag, I decided to just make 2 compartments. Rather, a divider in the middle of a bag and that is all. Main items can go on one side and items only used sometimes but I wish to keep them with me (mainly my geocaching and letterboxing materials) on another.

For this, I measured my shell and added a good 3 inches to the width and the height. The extra fabric just gives me room. I want my lining to be a bit bigger than the bag itself - which is knit - that means it stretches.

I cut two rectangles that fit my measurement. These are the main parts of the lining. I then measured down two inches and cut a strip off of the top. I duplicated the now shorter rectangles, so that I had four of them. I also duplicated the strip I had cut off, so I had four of them. This may be hard to understand, I will try and be as clear as I can.

The first thing I did was take two of the two inch strips, fold them in half and iron them. I then sewed my zipper onto them. I'm not worried that I have so much room at the end, I gave myself and extra 3 inches.

I laid one of the larger rectangles flat on the table, with the right side facing up. Then I laid my zipper pieces across the top of it, with the zipper facing up, and lined up the edge. Next, I took one of my 2 inch wide strips and laid it over the zipper, with the right side down. I pinned this in place, and took it to the machine where I sewed it with a half inch seam.

I repeated this on the other side as well.

If you just want a basic bag lining, all you would do at this point is sew the sides and bottom together. But with my divider, I took the remaining two rectangles, lined them up right sides together and stitched along the top. I then turned it right side out, pressed down the seam and top stitched it. I slipped it between the two lining pieces that are the main body of my bag lining. I pinned the sides down and double stitched all the way around the sides and bottom.

There's no turning the work right side out, in this case, the rough seams need to be on the outside of the work. Just trim off the excess from each side. This is what it looks like from the top:

Tuck the lining down into the shell, and fold the the raw edge out so that it sits between the two pieces. Finger press them, and pin them into place. Take care to not skimp on your pinning. If you do, the stretchy knit may well "crawl" forward while machine stitching and you'll have these unsightly little puckers. So use a lot of pins.

Now we're getting somewhere! We have a purse. If you like, you can just attach a strap, and have yourself a little purse. I like to make my bags into backpacks. I can't tell you how much easier it is when I can just stick it on my back and not have this thing that's constantly swinging, falling forward, not to mention in the way when a little kid wants up on my hip! It's also safer when out in public, not that my city is riddled with purse snatchers, but with my bag on my back, I'm less likely to set it down to use my hands and either have it picked up by a thief or leave it behind while having a particularly bad brain fart. So. To make a backpack!

I had too make a rope.
Hush now, you don't have to do this, you can buy rope or cord! But with my determination to use things made, gifted or found at my home already, I made the damn rope. It was easy, and only a little time consuming. I used a spool knitting technique, you can learn it here. I was shown how to do this by a friend of mine, who was recently at a craft convention in my city showing all of her amzing skills.
And, yes, I stole a block from my kids toy box.

I didn't take a picture of what you're supposed to do with the rope, but this post for a Drawstring Nap sack can help you out. Basically, you want about 5 feet of rope. Because we knitted our shell, we can just attach one end of the rope to a safety pin and slid it in between our stitches. You want to lay your bag down flat. Insert the safety pin into the bottom right corner and feed it across to the bottom left corner. Poke it out, and pull it until the rope is centered and you have equal lengths coming out of each bottom corner. Take the rope on the right side and insert it to the top right corner. About 3 inches to the left of the insertion, take it out. About 3 inches to the left, poke it back in again, and out another 3 inches or so. You should have about 3 inches left to that side of your bag. Using a needle and thread, sew this end to the top left corner of the backpack. Use lots of stitches, this is going to get a lot of wear on the join and you want this to be very strong. Try to get your needle into the lining, so that it's not only attached to the shell.
Flip your bag over, and do the exact same thing again, so that you have a rope weaving in and out of the top of your backpack, all the way around. When you put the backpack on, the weigh of it will pull on the rope and automatically cinch it closed. Therefore, your backpack will always be closed while you're wearing it.

All of my backpacks that I've made for myself (the leather drawstring nap sacks were for my boys) are identifiable because they each have a belt of sorts and they each have some sort of ornament. I wanted to keep that going, so I used some lacy trim that I got from a friend. They came off of a window valance. I didn't like the cream color for this particular project, so I dyed it with walnut husks to give a puce tint that matches the upper band. I also stitched in some little glass seed beads, in a copper color.  And NOW my backpack is finished!
I have plans for a matching wallet, and will post that when it's done.


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