Sunday, May 16, 2010
The Bag of Many Colors
I've been ogling this pattern for years. And when I say years, I'm dead serious. Great Knitted Gifts is one of the first knitting books I ever checked out of the library, way back when I first started knitting. The photo of this bag made my stomach do flip flops. It made me swear that someday I'd learn how to do that.
Over the years, I've picked up the book again and again, always feeling a little giddy when I saw the pattern for Pablo. Ah, Pablo. How I longed to have you for my very own. Sweet Pablo, so vibrant, so full of chaos mixed with order in a way that excites me to my core.
Every so often, I'd stash away some yarn, knowing that some day it would be one of Pablo's many colors. That far-off day when I learned to actually knit with that many colors. I'd start picking out colors on knitpicks, only to remember that I don't know how to do that. I can cable. I can knit intricate lace. I can turn heels, felt, graft, and turn out a beautiful three-needle bind off. But I've never tried knitting with more than one color at a time. It scared me.
Andrea and Gayle Shackleton quite obviously do not find this technique nearly as intimidating as I do. In fact, it would appear that they thrive on it's complexity, based on the patterns found in their book. The fact that they are beyond brave has been duly noted.
Finally, I did it. I ordered the yarn. To heck with the randomly stashed balls of yarn on the shelf in the craft room. If I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right. My order of eleven balls of carefully selected yarn arrived in the mailbox last week. I wasted no time - I casted on immediately. I knitted the first six rows (simple stripes) and then.... oh. Shit. What now?
No one has ever taught me how to knit intarsia before. I was pretty sure this was intarsia, anyway. Fair Isle means you carry the yarn, and I was adamantly refusing to learn to carry. Until I got four rows into the first set of squares, and decided it must be inevitable. I started to carry my yarns, and the result was... well, we'll just say that after about ten rows of that, I gave up and chopped off all the yarn. I didn't have the patience to try to unravel all those colors, all that mess.
I went to Michael's and bought some bobbins. If ever you're going to try to knit with fifteen strands of yarn at once, splurge and buy yourself some bobbins. They cost $1.58 and that was the best $1.58 I spent all week.
After getting my bobbins, giving up completely on carrying the yarn behind my work, and knitting the first 20 rows of the first set of squares, I got hooked. I mean, really hooked. Staying up til eleven o'clock at night hooked. It's terrible - you get a row finished, and you say you're going to take a break, and then you glance at the pattern and realize there's only one more row to the next color change, and you get all excited and so you go for it. And then you set your knitting down only to realize how absolutely cool it looks, and you can't help but knit another two rows to see how cool it'll look after that, and.... Oh, it never ends! The shapes keep growing, the whole piece of knitting keeps changing before your eyes. It sucks you in.
In addition to my fear of intarsia, I possess a very strong aversion to weaving in ends. When you finish a knitting project, there are little yarn tails that must be woven carefully into the knitted fabric, tucked away neatly to prevent the project from unraveling, and to preserve it's beauty. I hate ends. I have projects that have been finished for months that still aren't worn because I just can't bring myself to spend the twenty minutes it would take to weave in the ends. I really hate ends.
For each row of squares, there are thirty ends to weave in. That, plus two ends for every stripe on the side panels, plus... well, yeah. The total was something like sixteen thousand ends to weave in. And that was a problem.
But not to worry! It's a bag! Bags should have liners. And liners hide ends. I neatly tied little knots to hold the work together, and then I fashioned a fancy-schmancy liner. The ends are hidden in there between the knitted bag and the liner. It'll be our secret.
Granted, in the time it took to create and sew the liner into the bag, I could've woven in every one of those ends. But my laziness defies logic, and so my bag has a liner.
It's a fantastic liner though - there's a pocket in there for everything I ever might want to carry, little pen pockets and a cell phone pocket and a water bottle pocket and a yarn pocket with a strap to hold my needles in place, a loop to hook my keys on. My keys are specially designed to bury themselves in the depths of my purse, never to be found again. My fancy little key-loop, plus a carabiner solves that problem.
I'm thrilled with Pablo. Absolutely enamored with him, actually. I hope that he and I have a long, comfy relationship for years to come.