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Drawn In Crayon takes us through a crochet designer's process, start-to-finish, as she develops a pattern for a stylized felted tote.

y goal: an oversized felted tote that uses topstitching to create an embossed design.  All I had in mind, when I began this project, was a general shape/size bag I wanted combined with a design idea (the embossing) combined with Cascade 220Cascade 220: a worsted weight 100% wool yarn. (the yarn I wanted to use).

As I have very little experience with felting crochet, my first step was to come up with a stitch that would meet my needs.  My first thoughts were either Tunisian Simple Stitch or Extended Single Crochetex-sc: insert hook where indicated, yo and draw lp through, yo and pull through 1 lp on hook, yo and pull through both remaining lps on hook..  So I got out my 6.50 mm afghan hook and worked a swatch in Cascade 220Cascade 220: a worsted weight 100% wool yarn..  I didn't get too many rows into the swatch when I realized it wasn't going to work.  The bottom edge was curling slightly, meaning the stitches were a little tight and I needed to go up (at least) a hook size for a non-felted piece… meaning a felted piece would require an 8.0 mm or 9.0 mm *Tunisian* hook… and while I've heard a few legends that indicate these exist somewhere, I don't happen to have one.  I'll go back to this idea eventually, but for the tote project I

needed a better idea.

So I moved on to the Extended Single Crochetex-sc: insert hook where indicated, yo and draw lp through, yo and pull through 1 lp on hook, yo and pull through both remaining lps on hook..  As before, after my first attempt with a 6.50 mm hook, I decided it was too tight to felt well.  I was also concerned with the
gaps between the stitches being too large, but I dismissed those concerns and moved up to an 8.0 mm hook.  This time I was satisfied with the vertical stretch, although the gaps between the stitches were even more pronounced.  Again, I ignored my instincts.
Ah well, live and learn.

After working a swatch that was 15 sts x 15 rows (measuring 7 3/8 in x 7 3/4 in), I decided it was time to start embossing.  I used a 10.0 mm hook to topstitch a simple flower.  I wanted the completed tote to have a drawn-by-hand, somewhat lopsided feel (and maybe a plaid or argyle strap?) so I added the flower off-center.

That left too much empty space.  Even though it was just a test swatch, it annoyed me, so I added a cloud.  I thought that was just wonky-looking, so I turned the cloud into a second flower, added a flower bud, and wove in the ends to ready the swatch for felting.

I did quite a bit of research prior to starting this project, so I understood the basics of the felting process.  Even so, I ignored some of the advice that was repeated in many places.  Advice like: use a pillow case with a zipper, take your piece out of the washer before the spin cycle, and don't use heat during the dry cycle (or, better yet, don't dry it in a machine at all).  My former reluctance to follow my gut had morphed into arrogance… how does that happen so quickly?

After 2 wash cycles and one dry, I decided the swatch had felted as much as it was going to felt.

It now measured 5.5 in x 6 7/8 in (for the mathheads, it reduced 26% in width and 12% in height).  It had turned pink because it picked up the lint from a velvet blanket (giving me a "DUHHHH" moment when I realized the zippered pillow case was because the very qualities of the wool that allow it to felt also encourage it to become one with everything it touches).  And the holes which had given me pause were still very noticeable.  So it was a great big FAIL, except that I learned a few things I would incorporate into my next attempt at swatching and felting.

Part Two of "Drawn In Crayon" coming in December. Josi settles on a stitch pattern and begins designing the purse's body.

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Thanks for leading us through your design process!
- Laura C, 2010-03-28 01:18:34

This was an interesting article, thanks for posting it!
- Joanne B, 2010-03-20 06:24:42

Enter your comment here.
- Joanne B, 2010-03-20 06:24:23

Each person's mind works differently, and I always find it interesting to see how the design process is approached by another person. When I felt, I put an old sneaker in with the bag (with felting in it). I've been told this gives it more agitation. Some say a pair of jeans work well too.
- Marie H, 2010-03-04 01:21:34

That is very interesting. Shows the importance of swatching. Thanks for sharing the info, looking forward to part 2.
- Shannon B699, 2010-03-02 01:45:09

Thanks for sharing your process!
- Devon P, 2010-03-01 09:08:34

"Part Two of "Drawn In Crayon" coming in December." i am looking forward to part two.
- Lysandra F, 2010-02-02 05:05:32

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