Pink Evening Bag

Pink evening bag

This lovely evening bag was the main project from Day 2 of the Knitting and Crochet Seminar by Golden Dragon Store September 2014. I love the way this bag looks, but it is unlikely I will be making another one. This bag took a long time to make, though it does not look difficult to make, it is. This lovely bag complements a an evening dress that I have. Now to buy a matching pair of shoes!

The Yarn
This project is knitted in Richmore Brocade which can be found at Goldren Dragon Store. The yarn is best described as variegated light and dark pink with gold lurex. The resulting fabric is known as lamé. Which looks so delicate and luxurious. Because of the lurex, it is a tiny bit scratchy, which probably explains why this yarn is used for bags rather than something to wear. Unfortunately I used up all the yarn before I realised I had not taken a photo of it! However I found a picture of it from the workshop I attended with Golden Dragon Store. It has been more 9 months since the workshop.

The fringe is a very fine pale gold lurex yarn also from Richmore called Supense. You only need a little bit of this for this project I will be keeping this for future projects! This makes any project look luxurious.

Goody Bag from Day 2

Goody Bag from Day 2

This bag was knitted on 5mm knitting needles. The yarn is generally not difficult to knit or crochet with, just requires some extra care so as not split the yarn with the knitting needle or hook. This yarn also catches very easily. When this happens I just unpick a little at the affected area, pull the yarn to try to fix it. This seems to work most of the time.

The Project
This bag is from the book by Kasuyo Nakamura. I like this book a lot because it has a innovative patterns which range from intermediate to advanced difficulty, and are light summer knits which can be used in Singapore.

I would describe this evening bag as a trifecta technique project – it requires know-how in knitting, crochet and sewing (more specifically quilting). Each part of the project is not difficult to do. It just requires know how in 3 different skills which makes it challenging.

The main body of the bag is knitted. This is the easiest part of the bag. A simple checker box design with increases and decreases at the sides. Easy peasy, knitted up really quickly.

The fringe on the flap and the sides of the bag are also crocheted together, not sewn. The instructions are in Japanese, so I relied on on someone else to interpret the diagrams and instructions. By the time I unpicked the fringe and the sides of bag twice, it dawned on me that I was going to have figure this out myself. I was ready to give up! Isn’t it interesting that since I knew I had someone to rely on to tell me what to do, I did not even bother to engineer the project? And here I am always encouraging people to knit independently! So I unpicked the sides and edges of the bag again, took a deep breath, stared at the diagram and buckled down to crochet the bag together with the gold lurex fringe. I had an epiphany and figured out that the sides of bag was crochetted together at the same time as you do the fringe. Phew!

Pink evening bag with no lining

Pink evening bag with no lining

As you can see from the above picture, the bag without the lining was very limp. The lining had to be really really firm so that the bag would hold its shape. This required machine quilting the 3 layers – the lining, batting and somewhat stiff interfacing. Followed by joining the sides of bag. Trimming the batting and sewing it to the inside of the bag. No internal pockets for this bag. The fabric for the lining is from Quilts and Friends.

Lining for the pink bag

Lining for the pink bag

Although I write that I won’t be making another of these, I might make a slightly different knitted evening bag. I do like how this bag turned out, and I did learn a few things making this bag.

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Brown and beige crocheted bag

Brown and beige bag

This is a brown and beige version of a project from the first day of the Knitting and Crochet Seminar by Golden Dragon 2014. Watching Ms Kasuyo Nakamura demonstrated the how to swap between the two colours for the motive on the bag, I knew had to make this bag!

I use this bag as my runabout project bag – I cart the projects I am working on in this little bag. Its sturdy enough that it does not need a lining which makes life so much easier. I love it! I bought a book on crochetted bags based on the same philosophy recently and will be making another one soon.

Crocheting the bag
I discovered that my version of the bag is bigger than the one on display at Golden Dragon. This means that my tension is looser than specified by the pattern. My bag is slightly floppy and not as firm. This is why tension is important. It seems that I am fastidious knitter, but not so for crochet! Not only is tension not right, I unpicked the base of the bag project once or twice because I did not pay attention to the stitch count.

The bag is not difficult to make even with the design – which is not a difficult technique. The bag is mainly crocheted in single crochet through the bag loop with the exception of the handles.

The hardest part is keeping the stitch count correct. I unpicked a few times!

Motive on the bag

Motive on the bag

Hamanaka Eco Andaria
It is very much like raffia string. I am not entirely certain whether this yarn is made from the raffia palm or not, but it looks just like raffia which you can buy from the hardware store. It’s not difficult to work with. The resulting fabric is firmer than if you crocheted with yarn. I am in love the variety of colours this string comes in. It would be so fun to combine different colours and create exciting bags and hats.

Base of the crochet bag

Base of the crochet bag

Some tips on working with Eco Andaria
The string, (it’s nothing like yarn!) tends to unravel like crazy as make your way through the ball. To avoid the mess from having string all over the place or the chaos in your handbag, stick the ball in a loose sock. This really helps with keeping it neat.

No need to “unwrap” the yarn, use it as is straight from the yarn. I noticed that some people where “opening” the string to reveal the string as a flat transparent fibre of about 2.5cm before they crochet it – unnecessary and too much work!

Try to crochet as evenly as possible – that is try to have crochet each single crochet in the same size. However if they are not quite even, you can use the crochet hook to even out the stitches so that they all look the same size.

Try not to splice the string, as it is quite delicate and sometimes bits might break off. If it does break off, continue to crochet the affected area like it is one piece and later cut off the bits that stick out.

Crochet hook
This bag was crocheted with the new clover XXX crochet hook in size 5/0 or 3.00mm. More about this hook and the set it came in another post!

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Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year 2015

Best wishes to everyone for 2015!

Wishing you all the things that money cannot buy….namely happiness, friendship, health and love.

All the others can be achieved with a dash of hard work and planning!

Happy knitting!

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Scarf and wrap

Grey and Beige Scarf

Grey and Beige Scarf

This scarf wrap as I like to call it, is really a scarf with 2 buttonholes and buttons which turns it into a wrap. It looks so sophisticated with the lace pattern and lace edge. This is the project for day 1 of the Knitting and Crochet Seminar conducted by Golden Dragon.

6 weeks later and now about 25cm long only. I like to knit on the go, and so my projects take some time to complete. With this project, I look like such an expert knitter when I take it out and start knitting in public. I do not get the same kind of response when I knit a simpler project!

Lace from Hamanaka

Lace from Hamanaka

The lace trim edge makes this project look so delicate and victorian. Better yet it looks like a super advanced project. The lace is designed with eyelets at the edge specifically for knitting and crochet projects. Both the lace and yarn are made by Hamanaka. The lace is available in many designs and colours.

The lace really adds a nice touch to the scarf. It looks sooo delicate and exquisitely difficult because of the lace. But really this very easy to achieve. This lies in the design of the lace, which are designed with eyelets at both edges, making it easy to pick up stitches through the eyelets. Because of the lace pieces, and to ensure that knitted leaf pattern is symmetrical, the scarf is knitted in two equal halves and joined together with “grafting method” – which means that the stitches are not cast off but are “grafted” together forming an invisible seem.

The leaf pattern for the scarf is not difficult to knit, its a 16 row repeat in lace. After 2 or repetitions, it becomes routine – I remember the pattern.

This variegated yarn is lovely to knit with. The colours in the yarn flow seamlessly from one ball to the next, creating stripes. You cannot really tell where one ball ends and another begins. I am now on the second ball of yarn, and have noticed that the colours do not flow the same way way as the first ball, which means that the scarf will not be perfectly symmetrical on both sides. It looks like I am going to have live with this.

Materials

Materials

This yarn is 82% alpaca 18% polymide. Its light, fluffy and totally not scratchy. Perfect for a scarf. I like this yarn very much! Such a pleasure to knit and the resulting fabric is light and warm.

Information on yarn:
Name: Alpaca Extra
Brand: Hamanaka
Weight:Light Fingering / 3 ply
Meterage: 105 yards (96 meters)
Unit weight: 25 grams (0.88 ounces)
Gauge: 24.0 to 25.0 sts = 4 inches
Needle size: US 4 – 5 or 3.5 – 3.75mm
Fibers: 82% Alpaca & 18% Nylon (Polyamide)

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Knitting and Crochet Seminar by Golden Dragon Store

Knitting and Crochet Seminar Day 1

I attended the Knitting and Crochet Seminar on the 24th and 25th September 2014 at the Copthorne King’s Hotel, along Havelock Road. It was a 2 day seminar organised by Golden Dragon Store in conjunction with Hamanaka, with knitwear designer Ms Kasuyo Nakamura providing guidance and instructions for 10 different designs. The price for this workshop was $350 for 2 days with lunch and 3 goody bags.

Designs

Knitwear designs from Hamanka for the second day

The workshop provided instructions for ten novel designs over 2 days covering mainly the key techniques required to make them without delving into basics. This workshop was for intermediate and advanced participants. The designs were very challenging and fun to make. Designs included a 2 coloured rafia string crocheted bag using Eco Andaria (looked so fun to make I decided to make one), various crocheted pieces, domino knitting and projects using lace pieces.

The Domino knit blouse (the second design in the above picture from the left) is challenging to make because of the way you incorporate each piece into the work. I will be making a domino knit hat using one of the designs provided in the seminar.

I particularly liked the use of lace pieces which could be knitted into the design. It looks so intricate and hard to do, but really the lace pieces designed by Hamanaka were specifically designed with eyelets at the top and bottom edges so that you can pick up stitches with the eyelets. What an easy way to make something that looks totally unique! It looks so complicated but it is not!

Ms Kasuya Nakamura explaining the instructions

Ms Kasuya Nakamura explaining the instructions

Ms Kasuyo Nakamura, demonstrated many different techniques in both English and sometimes Japanese. One of the experienced knitting instructors from Golden Dragon would provide instruction in both mandarin and english. When asked if she understood Japanese She said “No, I just describe what Ms Kasuya Nakamura did.” Knitting and crochet transcends language, culture and gender – there was one male participant.

Ladies from the Golden Dragon Store and Ms Kasuya Nakamura

Goody bags and projects
A pink goody bag was prepared for each day of the seminar. This included a very large instruction booklet, enough yarn for one project and a selection of yarn to try out the different projects for the day. The main project for day 2 was a pink evening bag made from very glitter yarn, it also included the chain handle, lining and interfacing. I am now knitting this bag. I do not think I can remember the instructions for the putting the bag together, so I will be returning to Golden Dragon Store for help with that.

I also managed to exchange some yarn with the ladies at my table and have enough to make one of the smaller projects from the instruction booklet. I wish I could have swapped more the yarn!

Goody Bag from Day 2

Goody Bag from Day 2

Items for sale @ the seminar
There was a selection of knitting needles, hooks, books and yarn for sale. I succumbed and bought a few things. I bought the book by Ms Kasuyo Nakamura and got it signed. I will be making a few things from the book! I also bought a device that looks like a knitty knotty that will make scrunchies – I figured it would be a great way to use up all the all the ramnents of yarn that are still lying around.

Shopping at the Workshop

I will be posting the projects that I am working on from this workshop soon. I enjoyed myself and have some new ideas and interesting designs to explore. Met some old friends, new friends and got to know the team from Golden Dragon store a lot better. Hopefully they will organise another knitting and crochet workshop again!

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The Blue Bag

The Blue Bag

The Blue Bag

Here is something else that I made recently. A medium teal blue hobo. Material used was linen. It is lined, but has no pockets internally. It is constructed with batting to add firmness to the bag. I have yet to make the removable stabilizer for the bottom which prevents the bag from sagging. I will have to make one at some point.

I used a pattern from this book – Handbag Designer 101 by Emily Blumenthal. It contains a whole slew of modern looking designs which you can personalize and adapt. Simply enlarge the pattern provided with a photocopier to 200 or 300% and follow the sewing instructions. Its completely doable with A3 size paper and transparent tape to fit the pieces together. A little bit fiddly but not too complicated.

Handbag Designer 101

Sounds easy right? Yes in theory. From the way the book was written, it was not intended for an absolute beginner. Bags are designed for stiffer materials, like canvas, upholstery fabric, faux suede or leather. There is no information on making bags with batting. The instructions for this particular bag was not the best. I read it before commencing on the bag, but realised I could put the bag together (the zipper and top of the bag where the zipper is) in a less complicated way than how the instructions prescribed. I like this book regardless, its a great resource for ideas and basic patterns, what I really liked was how the lining of was simplified to follow the the shape of the bag with fewer pieces that need to be sewn together.

Hobo Pattern

I am very glad that I had a few private classes with Bridgette from Quilts and Friends, which filled in the gaps of knowledge for bag making and dealing with batting. Now I can piece together a bag without worrying too much about whether the instructions are really reliable and how to deal with batting.

On a separate note, a man I had dinner with commented that this blue bag looked old and that I should carry a better quality black leather bag! I could not resist, I told him I made this bag last month just to let him know he had put his foot into his mouth. Maybe he doesn’t realise being tactless and providing “man guidance” is a real turn off! The bag isn’t perfect, the handles could have been done better. I wasn’t seeking validation, critique or approval. I just merely said I wasn’t into designer bags. But he took this as an opportunity to tell me what kind of handbag I should have, he’s a man what does he know about handbags? He’s a handbag designer? Maybe he’s got a secret stash of handbags because he’s a closet fan of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert!! Never mind about him, I will be watching Priscilla Queen of the Dessert at the end of the month.

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Cosmetic Cases

Cosmetic Cases

As you can see I have been busy not knitting or crocheting for the last few months. I have been secretly sewing cosmetic cases and bags! These 2 cosmetic cases turned out far better than I expected. Now I know what to do with small bits of cloth that are lying around. I am looking forward to making a few more of these.

They were not as hard to make as I thought they would be. We made them with Bridgette Lee from Quilts and Friends.

Do you have other hobbies besides knitting? Yes, I like to sew sometimes, but its not as portable as knitting or crochetting, so its something I do when I am at home.

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Sea Grass Cardigan

The sea grass cardigan

I finally finished this project 2 months ago. Finally after 2 years of working on this project. As you can see the buttons have not been sewn on yet! This cardigan is knitted with Patons Feathers. You can read the review for this yarn at Patons Feathers.

I am so glad this project is completed. I love how furry it is. Its not scratchy. Not superbly warm especially with the short sleeves so it can be worn in warm climate. It took such a long time, because I was knitting small gifts for friends, but mainly because this yearn is so difficult to knit. And no I won’t be knitting anything with this yearn again even if you paid me. This furry cardigan is mainly knitted in stocking stitch, so you would think its not at all difficult and would be an intermediate knitting project.

So not true! The yarn catches very easily, so it slips off the knitting needle if you are not attentive. You have to be very focused on knitting so that you can pick up any stitch that slips off accidentally because if you do not, you will be able to find it again because of the texture of the fabric. This resulted in many many false starts as stitches seemed to miraculous disappear. I did the first 7-10 of the back (which is the first piece) 3 times because of this. After that I paid full attention while knitting this cardigan, which meant that I knitted this in front of the television with eyes on the on the knitting and ears on the the telly.

I have in my stash enough of this yarn in cerise to make a little bag. It will look great, but just the thought of knitting with this yarn again is making me cringe!

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Case for giant knitting needles

Case for giant knitting needles


While I was doing a series of sewing classes over the last few months, someone had one of these cases and I immediately thought they would be great for storing giant knitting needles.

So I bought one for myself from Daiso for $2.00. Such good value! I was going to sew a little case for the giant knitting needles, but this case is such good value and convenient. It comfortably fits 2 of these large knitting needles as you can see below. I am wondering if the slightly smaller size will work just as well.

Inside the case for giant knitting needles

What items have you found at Daiso that you use for knitting and crochet?

Looking forward to visiting Daiso this evening. Lets see what other items are great for knitting and crochet!

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Blue and Yellow Bag using large needles

Blue and yellow bag

Here is the bag I was experimenting with in the previous post with the giant straight knitting needles. It was knitted in circular with 2 pairs of 80cm circular knitting needles in 15mm. Knitted this bag did not take long at all and can be completed over a single weekend.

The lining of the bag is not difficult to install if you have very basic sewing skills. The lining was installed with Bridgette Lee from the Quilts and Friends, just so that I learnt the right of doing this.

I also found a folder with a zip from Daiso that will fit giant circular knitting needles. More about that in the next time!

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