Want to make your own felted bag? Check out my Felting 101 Pic-Tutorial at http://majorknitter.typepad.com/major_knitter/2004/09/how_to_felt_a_b.html#comments
If you make a bag, please send me a picture so I can post it and share it with others.
Here it is! The much awaited primer on how to make a felted bag. I hope you like it.
These bags are made by knitting 2 strands of yarn at the same time with a size 13 needle. Start with about 5 skeins of worsted weight wool in a variety of colors. Whichever color is your base color, use 2 skeins of that. Otherwise, you can pull the yarn from the outside and the center to create the double strand. It's a little messy, but it will work. If you have a ball winder, you might prefer to wind some balls with double strands to start. I generally use Paton's Classic Wool - Merino or Lamb's Pride, or Plymouth Galway. You will have leftover yarn, but it will allow you to make a second bag (maybe even a third?) with the same stripe pattern.
Cast on about 30 stitches or so. Knit in garter stitch for 16 rows. This will create 8 ridges. Generally, for various bag sizes, you should make the bag approximately half as wide as it is long. KEEP IN MIND THAT BAGS SHRINK MORE IN THE HEIGHTH THAN IN THE WIDTH. If you knit a rectangular bag, it will shrink to a square when felted. If you only knit a square bag, it will shrink into a smaller rectangle when felted.
Bind off all the stitches except the final stitch.
Pick up 8 stitches along the edge of the base of the bag. (HALF THE 16 STITCHES - adjust accordingly if you use a different number of stitches).
Pick up 30 stitches (the same number as the length of the base) along the length of the bag.
Pick up 8 stitches along the next edge of the the bag.
Pick up the final 30 stitches along the final edge of the bag.
Place a marker and knit in the round for about 2-3 inches.
Start adding in alternating colors in stripes of 1-6 rows at a time. Experiment. Combine colors in ways that you feel will look nice. I recommend at least 3 colors for a striped bag. For the Tree Series bag, I used 5-6 colors.
Knit in a striped pattern until the bag measures anywhere from 12-15 inches. End with the same base color as the base of the bag.
If you didn't weave the ends of the yarn into the bag while knitting, make sure you weave them in before felting.
When it's done, turn the bag right side out again.
Put the bag inside a zippered pillowcase cover. Set the washing machine cycle to Hot wash and Cold rinse.
Add a small amount of delicate detergent to the water.
Let it mix well until bubbles form.
Place the bag (inside the zippered pillowcase) in the washing machine.
Keep your fingers crossed. Felting is not an exact science. Keep a close eye on your felting progress or you may have a mini-bag instead of a tote bag!
Let it wash for only about 5 minutes before checking on how well it's felting. Remove the bag from the washer. If it needs to felt some more, return it to the washing machine for only about 3-5 more minutes. Check regularly until the bag has completely felted. Repeat these steps until the bag is felted sufficiently.
You shouldn't see the knit stitches anymore when the bag has felted sufficiently. Once felted, forward the washing machine dial to the "Cold Rinse" cycle and let the machine finish its cycle.
Next, pick out an appropriate size form (box, Tupperware, tin, etc.) Use a plastic grocery bag to put around the form (to protect the cardboard, metal, etc.). I had one friend who used a bag of sugar to block her bag, but did not put the sugar in a protective plastic grocery bag. Unfortunately, the wet wool and the paper bag of sugar didn't mix. She had a sugary felted bag that attracted ants from all over! I don't recommend using a bag of sugar as a form for blocking your bag!
Stretch your bag evenly over the form and let it dry. This might take a day or two.
You can attach bamboo, wooden or other handles to the bag when dry. I have attached the handles in two ways:
1 - Make a mini felted flap to attach to the top of the felted bag and through the holes of the handles.
2 - Use the same yarn as the top stripe of the bag and neatly sew the handles in place.