The Adventure of the Little Poser, Part Four
For an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.
For the first part of this adventure, click here.
The nice thing about having made as many mistakes as I have is that admitting one more isn’t terribly difficult.
Remember the lovely card-woven strap I started last time? The one meant to hold up my crocheted yoga mat bag with strength and style?
Everything was hunky-dory for about seven repeats. Then this happened.
That, my friends, is a broken warp thread. Now, broken warp threads happen in weaving all the time and they are usually no big deal. When they break, you fix them and weave on.
But this warp thread spelled doom. It was a confirmation of what I had known in my heart all along. Schoppel-Wolle Leinen Los is a wonderful, unique yarn–but it’s not suitable for warp. It’s not strong enough.
I’ll say it again: I knew this.
Warp yarns need to be firm and strong, which most often means constructed from multiple plies (strands) of a strong fiber or fiber blend, twisted firmly together. Leinen Los is a single strand held together by felting. There’s an old weaver’s test for warp strength: break the yarn in two. If it twangs or pings when you break it, it may be a good warp yarn. If it gives you more of a soft pop, pick another. Leinen Los made no sound at all, except perhaps the distant rumble of failure. It drifted apart.
So why did I do it? Because I’d fallen in love with the yarn. It’s bewitching. When it came time to weave the strap, I couldn’t get past the idea of using it for the entire bag even though I knew better. Strong attachment to your first idea can be fatal. It’s a rookie mistake, but I fear that in this way I will forever be a rookie.
That’s terribly poignant. I may have shed a pensive tear. And still I had a yoga mat bag with no strap.
I considered a few options, including pairing the Leinen Los as weft with a stronger warp yarn on my Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom. But I was on the road without either the loom or the other yarn. (Card weaving with Leinen Los and weft wouldn’t have been much of an option, as the weft yarn in card weaving is hidden by the warp.)
I swallowed my pride and my fancy concepts and I turned to crochet. Just good old double crochet…
…with a contrast edging all around in single crochet.
The edging not only gave a neater, more finished appearance; it also counteracted stretch and droop, because the grain of the edging runs counter to the grain of the strap.
Once the strap was complete I decided to kill two birds with one stone and simultaneously attach the band and add the piping that I wanted and the top and bottom edges of the bag.
To attach it, from the right side I worked single crochet through both the strap and the bag.
As Leinen Los is such a gently constructed yarn, working the join with crochet was a better option that sewing it on. Sewing pulls the working strand repeatedly through the fabric, wearing it a bit each time. Softly-spun knitting yarns may abrade so much even over a short sewn seam that they just fall to pieces. Or (worse) they may appear to survive–and your seam fails soon after you put it to the test. Crochet, on the other hand, doesn’t subject any one length of the strand to repeated stress during the working.
With the strap secured, I continued the single crochet around the bag until I met up with the beginning.
This is not a revolutionary idea. But it looks nice and it lends a bit more stability to the bag at two key points.
The bag and strap were now complete (yay) but plain (boo).
You may recall that I had hit upon a solution for dressing up the bag with little chains of flowerettes, or whatever the hell you want to call them, to weave in and out of the clusters in the fabric.
Happily, focusing on the strap for a while allowed me to return to the bag with fresh eyes. I saw that the chains were not cute, or fun, or unusual. They made the bag look like it was suffering from a vile dermatological complaint.
A couple of people told me to leave it plain. Flowers, they said, would make it too feminine–and then I couldn’t use it. Here’s my thought on that: if we’d perhaps like to slow down the destruction of the natural environment and the planet as a whole, maybe we should stop telling men and boys that flowers are something only women are supposed to enjoy.
I went back to my tiny crochet library, messing around with one vintage floral edging after another.
I learned a lot about making edgings, but even when I stripped an edging down to its fundament it always reminded me of something my grandmother would have put on a Sunday apron.
That’s not in and of itself a bad thing, except that it was wrong for this project. This project was supposed to recall my mid-1970s crochet-and-macramé borderline hippie Southwestern childhood.
I kept thinking and seeing daisies. Daisies. Daisies. Daisies. And more out of frustration than anything else I decided to see if I could make a single daisy on my own. After all the fooling around with edging motifs, and all the freeform experimentation in the The Adventure of the Fallen Flowers…
…it turned out that I could. After so many setbacks, that felt great.
So I made a bunch of them.
Then I sewed them on the bag, after pinning them in place with the help of a friend and a full-length mirror. I wanted to make sure I got the best effect from the, uh, “random” placement.
I liked it.
I liked it so much that after making an i-cord drawstring out of two strands of Leinen Los held together, I added a daisy to each end. They’re cute, and they keep the string from pulling out of the bag.
And I had my yoga bag.
I was so jazzed that I made up a yoga playlist to go with it, drawn from the time in my life that inspired the bag. Ladies and gents, the mellow sounds of my parents’ stereo cabinet. Enjoy in a hammock with a nice rosé if vriksasana is not your thing.
- Jim Croce, Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
- Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind
- The Eagles, Peaceful Easy Feeling
- Judy Collins, Both Sides Now
- The Bee Gees, How Deep Is Your Love
- John Denver, Annie’s Song
- The Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music
- Fleetwood Mac, Dreams
- Maria Muldaur, Midnight at the Oasis
- Cat Stevens, Morning Has Broken
- Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle
I’m ready for the next adventure. I hope you’ve enjoyed this one. See you in two weeks!
Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue
Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom
Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His new book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.
He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.
Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Twist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.
He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).
Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.