Inspired by Janet Scanlon's great fulled bags, I had started with a crochet version. I really loved the texture, because the fulling does really wonderful things to the eyelash, making it really pop out. Meanwhile, Michelle Gillett had made a really smashing scarf for a work friend, using shadow Fizz and black wool, which I found to be both incredibly elegant and strangely hairy :-). So, thanks to popular demand, here is a knitted version at last.
Unfulled size after knitting: 10"x20" bottom, 12" high, bag handles 2 yds.
Finished size after fulling: 6"x14" bottom, 10" high, handles 60".
On stockinette, 10 st/4 inches(10cm). But don't stress about it.
You will be working the entire body holding both yarns together, one strand of Iceland and one strand of Fizz. The very top edge and handles will be worked with plain Iceland. We start with the bottom of the bag, and nothing about this needs to be very exact, since the degree of fulling will have a lot more to do with the final size than any gauge measurement. The bag is deliberately kept fairly shallow, so you can find your stuff at the bottom... A lining is not needed because the fulling closes up the fabric so it holds even small objects securely.
The well-named Idiot Cord (aka i-cord) was invented by Elizabeth Zimmermann in the 60s, and is a great technique for painlessly producing a seamless knit tube. You need a pair of double-pointed needles. Cast on 3 or 4 stiches, knit them, *push them back without turning to the other side of the needle, knit the same stitches again in the same order*, repeat from * till you have enough length. Keep the first stitch of every 'row' pretty tight, as you'll be bringing the yarn across the back of the whole thing, forming a tube. With a bit of tugging if necessary, the resulting object will look perfectly seamless, as long as you don't cast on more than 4 stitches and potentially cause a ladder to form along the back.
Hold a strand of black Iceland and one of shadow Fizz together. Cast on 40 stitches, preferably with an invisible cast-on. Work in garter stitch till rectangle is 10" long.
At the end of a row, start picking up stitches all around the bag. If invisible cast-on was used, you only need to slide the long side's stitches back onto the needle.
Start working circularly in stockinette, still knitting only without ever purling. If you have trouble distinguishing stitches, put a marker at every corner. Continue till sides measure 10".
Work a row with eyelets for the handles. Each eyelet consists of a yarn-over followed immediately by knitting 2 stitches together. Distribute the eyelets evenly around the bag so that folds will be symmetrical. We spaced them in pairs, 5 stitches away from each corner.
Work 2 more rows of stockinette. Break off shadow Fizz, so you only have black Iceland left.
Cast on 2 more stitches, *slide right side back onto left needle. Knit 2 stitches, knit 2 together.* Repeat from *, thereby casting off while forming an idiot cord attached to the top. When you've gone all around the bag and no further bag stitches are left, break off yarn, and using a yarn needle weave ends of idiot-cord together to close the top.
Holding a single strand of Iceland together (no Fizz), cast on 4 stitches and make an idiot cord 4 yards long. Leave several inches of yarn tail as you finish.
Using your favorite fulling method, put bag and handles (still separate) in suitable container and full till approximately finished size above, and texture is much firmer than the original. You will always need hot water, soap (NOT detergent), and prolonged agitation. The original bag was done indoors in a bucket, held in a bathtub, with a bar of soap, and a toilet plunger for manual agitation. It was finished off in a cool dryer, to do double duty.
A fulling board would probably be too small for an object this size. A top-loading washing machine would be suitable, but the process needs to be watched very carefully, and stopped when fulling seems sufficient, because Iceland fulls quickly and rather suddenly. Be careful also to arrange the bag so that the top edge doesn't become distorted. This won't be much of a problem here - the Fizz causes just enough subtle fulling difference that the edge shrinks a slight bit more than the bag.
Take the handle chain, mark the middle, and thread it through the eyelet row, forming folds tucked in at each short side. Keep threading through the same sequence, so the handle is doubled. As you go, gently wrap the second handle around the first so they'll stay together and be stronger, which you only need to do along the long edges. Using a yarn needle, finish handle so it forms a closed loop.
First published: 20 jun 03
All rights reserved. © Fuzzy Galore 2002-2006.