inspiration


Knitted purses done right

As the warmer weather approaches I have been looking towards projects that aren’t so focused on keeping me warm. I have long wanted to make a knitted purse that I could use every day but I feel like this is a tricky project, and not because they are hard to make.

The problem with knitted purses is that they can end up looking really tacky.

There. I said it. I said the thing you aren’t supposed to say, but it is true! Weird Al is the only person who could pull off a lot of the knitted purses out there. (Sidenote: man do I love Weird Al! Going to his concert later this year! YEAH!) I love to knit and love the look of most knitted things, but I am fully and completely aware that it is very easy to make very tacky, kitschy, dare I say ugly knitted things. VERY easy. I am also prepared to admit that some of the things I have made are ugly. (Cabled Leg Warmers, I’m looking at you…) Knitting is already regarded as being a dorky hobby, no need to compound that by knitting tacky ugly things. I am far from being a slave to fashion, but I do think that how you look and present yourself to the world has an effect on how you are treated. Maybe it isn’t fair or right, but it is just how it is. Plus, I am a civil servant and (unfortunately) have the expectation upon me to look more or less professional and civil servant-y (whatever the hell that means) most of the time.

My other problem is that I have a long history of atrocious taste in purses. I LOVE purses and often end up buying the ugliest purses on the planet. I have literally had strangers come up to me and insult my purse. I have learned to approach purses very cautiously.

So, how do I do the knitted purse while still looking fashionable? There are a TON of patterns out there for knitted purses in every shape and style imaginable, so first I look for knitted purse patterns that have elements I like in the purses I would buy!

  1. Not too big but able to carry what I need without over-stuffing
  2. good pocket placement
  3. comfortable strap at a good length
  4. structured
  5. not overly detailed or fussy

Then I take out the ones that have knitted elements that I find tacky, like the use of novelty yarn. To me, novelty yarn is NEVER the right option. Never ever. (Except maybe in this cute hedgehog pattern…) I also assess whether I think a non-knitter would be likely to wear the purse. If not, well,… maybe it isn’t the best choice.

So what does that leave me with? A surprising amount actually! I think I have narrowed it down to the following patterns.

For purses on the more simple side of things, I love this Braided Cable Handle Tote by Amanda Silveira. (Free pattern) Uncomplicated but still interesting thanks to the cables. And it is felted, and we all know how much I like felting!

For something a little more detailed, the Bee’s Knees purse by Andre Sue is pretty fantasic. Love the pockes and the stitch patten, the straps are nice and wide, and a fun liner fabric can do a huge amount to make it extra exciting and fun (while still being fashionable and untacky). The only think I’m not in love with is the garter stitch for the handle, but that is easily changed.

This DROPS design Bag with cable pattern (free pattern) is pretty simple and I think could be nice if done in a solid colour. It is a pattern I keep coming back to but for some reason I just don’t think it is right for me personally. Maybe it is the shape.

This Pleats Purse I by Josephine Woo (paid pattern) is pretty, felted, and interesting with the pleats. I also LOVE the mustard colour of the purse in the project photos and it is possible I’m responding more to the colour than I am to the purse design.

One pattern I keep coming back to is The Cinch by Nora J. Bellows. Part of me thinks it is too big and bulbous, but man… I just love how it looks. The belted detail adds so much and would be well worth the hassle of having to buy the hardware and do the extra work to finish it. The pattern is a bit pricey at $8.50, but very possibly may be worth it for me.

 

But then I think, hey, a purse is just a big pocket with some straps… maybe I can design my own! And that may very well be what I end up doing. I do like all the above options (especially Bee’s Knees), so maybe I can take the different elements I like from the different patterns and create a brand new design that exactly matches what I want in a purse. It isn’t like designing a sweater where fit matters. Its just a purse, after all. And this is knitting. If it ends up ugly I can always frog. 🙂

 

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:


Wool-free knits for the home

I have some people in my life who aren’t wool friendly. Either by preference or due to allergy, some people just don’t want wool things. I feel bad for them for wool is a pretty fantastic fiber with a lot of pretty amazing qualities and since learning to knit my appreciation and love of wool has exploded. Plus, in terms of yarn to knit with, it has been my experience that wool is just nicer and more comfortable to knit with.

But I digress. Sometimes you want to knit something for someone and wool is just out of the question, and that is a situation I am currently faced with. My eldest sister Amy is allergic to wool, and yet I would like to knit her something. I had originally planned to knit her mittens but that ended badly (to put it mildly). And where the winter is coming to a close I think I’d like to knit her something she could use all year around. I don’t have it in me to knit her a blanket (the one I am making for myself is enough, thank you very much) so I am left with items for the home. After doing some pattern searching on Ravelry I have come up with a couple of ideas.

Dishcloths

Dishcloths like Grandmother’s Favourite (free pattern) are the obvious choice and clearly a very popular design. I’m not in love with the idea of making some dishcloths as it seems so cliche and a bit of a cop out.  Their utility and the high likelihood of their being used is appealing though. If I did make her some dishcloths they would have to be interesting or special or unique in some way. Something like Sinkmates (paid pattern) would allow me to make it at least a bit interesting with different colours of borders. The interest could come from the shape of the cloths, like in The Almost Lost Washcloth (free pattern). The vaguely floral shape is at least a little more fun. The other option would be to make them more interesting by using a different stitch pattern like in the pattern Three Dishcloths (free pattern). More interesting or not, they would still be dishcloths and a little boring.

Potholders

See, this is where I start to gain interest. There is SO MUCH POTENTIAL for awesomeness in potholders, mostly because they are very often done in double knitting so you can make them in fun patterns and much more personalized. Like these awesome Star Trek Pot Holders (free pattern). We’re all Trekkies so this would be pretty cool. Hell, I want to make these for myself! Or what about this Pizza Potholder (free pattern)! Amy loves pizza so maybe this is a brilliant idea. Of, of course, I could always go the more grown up route and just make them pretty and classy, like these Scrollwork DF-Square in 2 Options (paid pattern). Super pretty and probably would be at least interesting to knit. The problem with potholders, though, is that I always feel like they should be done in wool for the best heat resistance and safety etc.

Other Various Options

Amy likes to drink tea so maybe a tea cosy would be good, like the Cabled cafetière & tea cosy(free pattern). I think it looks quite nice actually, but a problem arises in terms of teapot size and whether it would fit. I feel like I would have to buy a teapot, knit a cosy to fit it, and then give her both the teapot and the cosy, and I’m pretty positive she already has at least one teapot.

I really like this Home Pillow (paid pattern) and I think it would be a nice little gift, especially since Amy has semi-recently purchased her first home. It would be easy to add a second word or motif on the back as well to make it more personalized. I always worry about giving people large items for their home like this because it is pretty presumptuous that your gift will fit their style.

Maybe something small and simple, like A Burst Of Light Tealight Cosy (free pattern). One, it wouldn’t take me very long to make it. I’d probably be able to make a couple as a little set. It would be fun to show off some different stitch patterns, a different pattern for each one. And I really think they are quite pretty, with the light shining through the knit, showing off the stitch detail. Then again, the only reason why I think these are so cute is very likely because I am a knitter and a non-knitter may find them kind of cheesy.

 

Many options to decide from. As yet I haven’t been able to decide what would be best.

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:

Grandmother’s Favorite by Traditional Design

Sinkmates by Lorilee Beltman

The Almost Lost Washcloth by Julie Tarsha

Three Dishcloths by Joan James

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Star Trek Potholders by Ilana MacDonald

Pizza Potholder by Lina Wolf

Scrollwork DF-Square in 2 Options by Wineta

Cabled cafetière & tea cosy by Ruth Churchman

The Home Pillow by Fifty Four Ten Studio

A Burst Of Light Tealight Cosy by Emma Percy

 

 


Three words: Thrummed Rainbow Insoles

Sweet mother of pearl it is brutal winter, and I say this as born and raised Canadian well used to the yearly ravages of winter. This winter is pretty terrible and extreme and my normal cold weather gear just hasn’t been sufficient. Projects like my birthday sprinkles hat and my shimmy mittens have been important additions that have helped me to stay warm but my feet remain cold, even at home.

Enter my brilliance!

Thrummed Knitted Rainbow Insoles

They may look crazy and alien-like, but sweet mercy are they awesome!

A couple of nights ago I was digging through my knitting bench and unearthed a half done thrummed slipper I started a couple of months ago. I had knit it using some crap acrylic Red Heart Super Saver and thrummed it with some properly lovely rainbow wool roving. I think my thought was to make it out of crap acrylic for durability and then line the whole thing with lovely wool thrums for comfort and warmth. Also,  I say half done because I never got further than the sole of the slipper. I actually declared the project killed a couple of months ago and pulled the needle out, not even bothering to slip it on to some scrap yarn. When I found the slipper bottom I had a sudden moment of brilliance. If I was Jimmy Neutron I would have hollered “Brain blast!“.

I took the half finished slipper bottom and stuffed it in to one of my Juno slippers and then put the slipper on. BAM! I just made the best and most warm slippers this universe has ever seen! I quickly crocheted the live edge of the slipper bottom to lock it in and keep it from unraveling (more) because this was BRILLIANT. In my slipper it turned what was an awesome slipper in to a parade of warmth and comfort, so I started thinking “What if I put them in my boots?”. DOUBLE BAM! More crazy warmth and comfort! I NEED to knit a matching one because damn, this is awesome. I predict I will leave them in my slippers for the most part but I’m not going to aggressively and securely attach them inside my slippers just yet. I love the idea of having removable insoles like this that I can use in different things.

So basically, I’m a genius. I have *invented knitted thrummed insoles.

Now…. I just need to knit a second one….

*yes, I know I am probably not the first person to do this. Quit ruining my fun!

Time to get my knit together in my car I think…

While looking for patterns for a knitted teacosy for my sister I came across a “cosy” category for cars. Well, obviously I had to check it out because what I was picturing was a gigantic teacosy type thing to go around your entire car. I appreciate that wasn’t a terrible logical assumption for me to make.

 

Gear Stick Sock by imawale imawale

Obviously it wasn’t enormous car cosies (which was slightly disappointing), but what I did find was some brilliant items. Stuff like this Gear Shift Sock. This is a hugely brilliant idea for me. I drive stickshift and my god does that knob get extremely burny hot in the summer and extremely burny cold in the winter. A sock over it would solve everything!! Plus, pretty knitting!

 

Pimp your car by Florentine

I also saw Pimp your car which is to replace the material surrounding your gear shift. I don’t mind my black fabric around my gear shift but hey, if I can make it pretty knit why the hell wouldn’t I?!

In the process of getting all excited about these two items I also started thinking about knitting head rest covers as well, which I also think is brilliant. Or seatbelt sleeve things so that it doesn’t uncomfortably cut in to my neck. What a fantastic way to use up leftover yarn, amirite?! I also saw some patterns for steering wheel covers (like this) which I like in theory but I would worry about them being slippy and therefore a safety hazard.

The ability to knitify my car is making me crazy excited. I mean, seriously, why didn’t I think of this earlier?! I am 1000% doing this. It makes me wonder about other things I could/should be knitifying that I haven’t thought of yet.