Monday, April 11, 2005

I Would Love To Tell You That I Spent My Weekend Knitting

But I didn't. Instead, my weekend can be summed up in four words that will make any parent cringe:
Baby With Stomach Flu.


When the baby was younger, I could knit while holding her in a sling. If she was older, I could knit while we curled up on the couch and watched Sesame Street together. However, the baby is at that in-between stage where being sick means that she wants to be permanently attached to my body, while she simultaneously wants to get down and play on the floor, resulting in many tearful meltdowns of frustration as she figures out that she simply feels lousy and the world is a terrible place to be. (And she was up every hour, all night. Such fun.)

So, instead of posting glorious pictures of my current knitting projects, I will share some not-so-glorious pictures of two past projects. I was reminded of these projects when I visited Jen's blog and saw the beaded purse that she is making for her mother. (On size 0000 needles. Zillions of stitches, using black crochet thread and black beads. The girl is talented, but clearly she is also crazy.)

I discovered Purse Paradise a couple of years ago, and I immediately ordered some pretty needles, some thread, a brooch pattern, and strings of beads. I decided to make a necklace rather than a brooch, so I adapted the pattern a bit and knit just the front of the project, making a flat piece instead of a bag.

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It came out okay (it's the one on the left; click here for a bigger image). However, I forgot to take the "stretching factor" into consideration: cotton weighed down by beads will, uh, stretch. Duh. So I wore it a few times, and it grew. And grew. And eventually I tucked it away in a drawer.

The other problem I had with the first necklace is that I never found a way to make it hang gracefully from a cord. I spent hours desperately seeking the perfect jewelry finding, which I pictured as a simple silver bar, about 1.5 inches wide, with pretty spirals (or other small doohickeys) on the end, to which I could stitch the top of the necklace. That finding may exist, but apparently not in my world. I ended up crafting a weird thing out of black wire which sort of worked, but it looked like, um, crap. Hmm. (I should note that Purse Paradise does sell findings that look like purse handles, but this wasn't what I was looking for at the time.)

I made the second necklace last spring.* This one is a little smaller and shorter (leaving room for some stretch), and I actually did knit the back of the bag and then stitched the sides together, hoping that a little more structural integrity would limit the stretching. I really like this one, but--again--I don't know how to hook it to the darn cord. I ended up simply sticking three jump rings through the top of the bag and running the cord through them. It's functional, but hardly gorgeous. The bag sort of squooshes together instead of hanging nicely. There must be a better way. (If any of you know of a solution, do share!)

The great thing about making these little bags (or brooches) is that they knit up quickly (even on the tiny needles) and that they are inexpensive to make. For about $20, you can get enough supplies to make a pile of them. And I thought that knitting with beads was fun. I would like to find some time to design some other amulet bags.

*The second necklace has a a bit of a backstory. Last June my husband had to have a serious and very invasive surgery. During the hurry-up-and-wait period prior to the scheduled date, I decided to make an amulet bag that I could wear during his surgery. (I am not usually superstitious, but it's amazing what fear will do to a person.) When the bag was completed, I attached a tiny silver bead with the word "believe" on it, and I tucked it inside. It was perfect. And then--much to my dismay--I forgot to wear it to the hospital on the day of his surgery. Thankfully, all went well and he is now fine, and the bag will always have a special meaning for me.