Midcentury-inspired knitted and felted bag

Here's my latest design, a Christmas tote, which is one of the patterns in the supplement to Simply Knitting issue 100. I'm really pleased to have this design in the 100th issue; it's a real celebration issue to mark a milestone in the magazine's history, and I was on the staff for a long time. When I'm not doing stuff for myself, it's the only magazine I want to design for simply because of its emphasis on fun – they appreciate my wacky tastes! (The pattern is also available in electronic form from The Making Spot.)

My desk – when I came up with the design I was still working on Simply Knitting – wasn't far from where Angela comes up with her projects for Papercraft Inspirations, and I'd often look over and be amazed at the things she was creating. She'd been working with some papers that struck me as very 1960s in feel, and I loved the way she'd turned simple shapes into really effective cards. I wanted to do the same thing using wool.

I came up with my design myself, working it out on graph paper, but the flat colours and bold shapes of a lot of Mod fabrics and wallpaper could easily be translated into knitting. If you try to knit something realistic in intarsia, the result can often be blocky and disappointing. Felting the bag by hot-washing it helped, as it removes a lot of stitch definition, flattening the colours, but I really do think simplicity is best for intarsia knitting. (You may feel differently!) The handles are made from i-cord and felted before knotting through holes cut in the bag fabric. I thought that would be fun, something different to regular bag construction, and something made possible by the felting. I did choose modern colours – a 1960s Christmas would have been more red and green.

Anyway, there it is: dead simple 1960s-inspired tote bag! And I have resolved to improve my photography, so I'm even pleased with how the picture turned out...


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