25 February 2015


Knitting Diary: My First Bag

Speaking of ambivalent ultramontanist knitting, let me tell you about the bag I started during Pope Francis's visit to the Philippines--a totally spontaneous project.

My inspiration was a funny rule announced just a few days before he was scheduled to arrive, which said that only see-through bags would be allowed at the concluding Mass. I don't know who came up with it, but he (or she?!) obviously hasn't been paying attention to the fashions since 1993, which was the last year those clear vinyl handbags and rucksacks were all the rage. Last month, even if people had been totally willing to follow the rule, they simply wouldn't have been able to. At least not without making their own bags from those clear plastic protective sheets that Filipinos like wrapping school books in! So the rule was scrapped as quickly as it was suggested. But for me, the idea of crafting a "see-through bag" was too good an excuse to pass up.

And when a friend rang when I was in the middle of the bottom garter stitch rounds of the DROPS 129-7 bag to say that she was willing to pick me up in half an hour for one last chance to see the Holy Father, that's when I decided to double down on the papal theme. Half-yellow, half-white: like the Vatican flag! =D

So now you're wondering how it all worked out, aye? Well . . .

Meet the Popemobag =)

Yeah, yeah, it's not quite see-through. And I hadn't woven the ends in yet. But who's paying attention?

As I said in a previous post, all knitting is problem solving. I probably should have called it "puzzle solving," but in my case, I always create problems for myself. =P And the first problem was that when I grabbed my knitting to head for the airport, I made sure to commit the lace pattern to memory but totally forgot the instruction to decrease by twelve stitches before beginning the lace!!! Happily, the swollen look that it gave the middle parts was noticeable only when the bag wasn't in use.

The very decision to make a "Popemobag" created another problem--one which I totally foresaw and accepted. For while I already had the yellow in my seemingly never-ending skein of Caron One Pound in Sunflower . . . now a friend whom I affectionately call Elijah . . . I knew I'd never be able to get Caron One Pound in white where I live and would have to make do with Red Heart Super Saver. (Don't look at me like that, yarn snobs!!!) Now, just because two different yarns have the same thickness classification, that doesn't mean that they are indeed equal. And at the crafts store, I could tell immediately that the Red Heart Super Saver was about one millimetre thinner than the Caron One Pound. That may not sound like much, but I can assure you that if you have a lot of little numbers, then you also have a big number--and if you don't believe me, there's that first picture.

Another way to see the difference is to squint at the two pictures below: you can just see the yellow half of the strap creeping farther over my shoulder than the white half, even though they have the same number of rows.

And now that you see those two, you also see the third problem--which was, in fairness to me, a built-in issue rather than another one I totally danced into. For like all knitted bags, the Popemobag was stretchy. I knew enough to make a small allowance for stretch, but I completely underestimated what was needed. In the picture on the left, it's empty and a pretty good length. In the picture on the right, it is carrying my German textbook and hanging dangerously low. When I also tossed in my dictionary and my notebook, the opening of the bag dipped past the first patterned band on the skirt that you see me wearing, making the whole actually embarrassing to use. =(

I know because I tried it out three Saturdays ago, having tied a knot in the strap first, but I couldn't stop feeling self-conscious . . . or worrying that either the smoothly knit white end or the perfectly grafted yellow end (I can knit the Kitchener stitch!!!) would slowly fray and break . . . or exasperated that I couldn't reach for my wallet from the bottom without hauling the whole thing up like a bucket at a well. So the Popemobag ended up stowed away in a big paper bag that I also happened to be carrying around at the time.

And sadly, that Saturday was its only hurrah. When I realised that I couldn't live with the third problem as well as with the first two, I decided to unravel the white part and the top garter band of the yellow part, and just add a few more lace rows before completing the bag in a single colour. My plan was to re-knit the strap both both wider and shorter, in sturdier moss stitch, and to thread dental floss across its length three times. (Just forget it, yarn snobs . . .) But after I got down to the yellow lace, I realised that I'd have to rip out the seam as well--because there's a reason why the pattern says to seam the bottom after you add the strap. (The position of the strap decides the direction of the seam--not vice-versa.)

That ended up being a good thing, because, as you can also see in the photos, the original seam was shoddily done. Indeed, it was almost my fourth problem--though the only one I didn't feel bad about. (As the woman who put together the video tutorial for the knit Kitchener stitch--as opposed to the traditional sewn Kitchener stitch--observed, knitters don't really like to sew anyway. =P) As long as the bottom of the bag held fast, I was willing to be happy. But then I totally messed up the ripping up, ending up destroying the original cast on (How sad for my sentence that it isn't a "cast up"--LOL!), which meant that I had no choice but to reknit the whole thing. =(

And now you know why I've been writing about the Popemobag in the past tense. But what do you suppose I decided to do next?

To be continued . . .

Image Source: Knitted DROPS bag with lace pattern in "Lin"


Jenny said...

Well, a tad long or not, I like it. I wish I could do crafty things like knit crochet and crosstich but I'm dreadful at it.

Itinérante said...

I second Jenny! and what alovely skirt you're wearing ^^
I'm loving the knitting diary entries 😍

Enbrethiliel said...


Jenny -- As I told one of my closest friends last week, "Don't worry. We'll find just the right craft for you!" ;-)

Of course, she wasn't too thrilled when I suggested pottery. LOL! But seriously, a mere six months ago, I had thought I would always be hopeless at knitting. So prepare to be surprised at what you can do! =)

Itinerante -- Thanks! =) I'll get the next Knitting Diary entry up as soon as I can; but since that will be after I finish what I'm currently knitting, I don't know how long it will take. LOL!

Sheila said...

Oh, how tragic! In your place I probably would have lined it .... despite, of course, this destroying the see-through-ness of it.

It looks nice and it's just so sad that all that effort was wasted. :(

Then again I suppose you can put it down to a learning experience.

DMS said...

The length with items would be a hard one to live with. I am glad you were able to try your bag- it did look cute and I am impressed with your skills. Can't wait to see what you created instead. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- Spoiler warning for the next post: it all works out! ;-) I was really frustrated when I had to undo all that work; but knitting is my Prozac, so I can't stay down while I can do it. I'm also seriously considering getting into sewing, for linings and things, but that will rear its head much later in the future.

Jess -- Thanks a lot! =)

Paul Stilwell said...

You have really nice style.

I'm glad the handbag isn't going emeritus. Couldn't resist saying that.

Enbrethiliel said...



But you may want to take that last bit back when you see what happened next! ;-)