Monday, September 18, 2006

Wee Beaded Bag

Smitten by Wendy's wee amulet bag, I had to make myself one. I usually covet everything mighty Wendy makes, but know better than to emulate her. The effort would be completely unsustainable – I'm pretty sure her output in a couple weeks exceeds my output for the last five years. But a tiny bag? That I can do (shown with New Jersey quarter for scale). Well, almost.

Wee bead bag

My not-quite-finished thrifty treasure bag was knit on 1.5 mm (U.S. 000) needles using just one 25-meter (27-yard) hank of DMC Coton Perlé 5 in color 798 and one ¾-ounce packet of Bead It 10/0 seed beads in Sapphire. I used stuff from stash; at a chain craft store, the tab would be under $3. It took the equivalent of one evening to make the bag.

Currently I'm stalled because I can't find a fastener bead I like. I started well enough with Wendy's photos and Shala Kerrigan's Knitted Quarter-Sized Bead Bag pattern and modified away. First, I strung a lot of beads.

Stringing beads using a dental floss threader

I dislike stringing. Even using a dental floss threader, an excellent method suggested by Lanie (who's expecting!), stringing took as much time as the entire rest of the project. Four feet (1.2 m) of beads was sufficient for the bag, at least with all the mods.

Next, I cast on a few stitches and knit flat in garter stitch for the bag flap, increasing at the edges and adding beads on every row in a pinstripe pattern. (Garter stitch must be used with this method of beaded knitting to maintain the alignment of the beads.) I wanted the flap to be heavy, so it would hang nicely when folded down. I left the turning row unbeaded, then used the cable cast-on to double the number of stitches and began knitting in the round. (We all know that garter stitch in the round is knit 1 round, purl 1 round, right?) The stitch count remains the same on every round; the shaping – both the gradual widening and the scalloping – is caused by the beads themselves.

Back and flap of wee bead bag

This beaded knitting technique usually places beads on both sides of the work, mainly to give stability to the fabric and secondarily for reversibility. As the bag is tiny, unlikely to receive hard use, and doesn't need to be reversible (and I got tired of stringing beads), my treasure bag is beaded on one side only, on the purl rounds. The resulting fabric is not as firm as one beaded on both sides, but still has that desirable beady slinkiness.

Now I'm stumped. I've been to a couple beady stores roundabout Exit 151 and can't find the right bead for the fastener. Not to mention it occurs to me that perhaps wee beaded necklace bags belong on the same shelf with macramé projects have limited appeal, but a full-sized vintage-inspired beaded bag – with an ornate purse frame and a heavy satin lining – might be cool. Hm... beady ambition strikes yet again.


--Deb said...

Beady ambition . . . you've got to watch out for that! I think your bag looks great, too. Did you look online for the right bead? has an excellent selection.

And, how'd you do on Sunday?

Carol said...

That's a beautiful little bag. Now I am going to look straight into your beady little eyes (couldn't resist) and say...make the big bag! I want to see it. And I can't do bead-y stuff to save my life, so your it!

Becky said...

I love these little bags, but you are use. A big one would be wonderful! Hope you find your closing bead. I learned a lot reading this post. :)

Congrats on your first place ribbons!

trek said...

It looks beautiful. I made a couple (no beads) from a Knitty or MagKnits pattern (can't remember) with leftover sock yarn. The Neatnik likes one to hang on her neck with a coin in it sometimes. The other one I use as a toll money change purse to toss into the car for trips on the oh-so-ubiquitous-money-sucking-toll-roads-that-we-have-here.

A beaded one....hmm.

I did an Odessa in the winter. Neatnik loves it but the stringing was annoying.