Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Black Walnut Dumpling (bag)

When I was back in Connecticut late last month, I went on a walk in the park with my dad. We passed under some black walnut trees whose branches were heavy with walnuts, and I had my dad whack a bunch of them out of the trees with his cane!

It was a sweet and lighthearted moment, and I was happy to come home with those gorgeous, fragrant nuts. (Kitty took an interest in them, too)

I gave the hulls a good boil and a two-day soak, and then I tossed in a huge hank of wool yarn from my local market in Vermont. The yarn started out with one strand of white wool and one strand of gray. It came out as a warm, marled brown.

Now, about this time, I'd seen the dumpling bag in the autumn issue of Interweave, and I couldn't wait to cast on. I used size 10 needles since that's what I had. I made two other main adjustments: First, to make it more of a purse size, I added an extra increase row so that it was 80 stitches around. Second, instead of the handle in the pattern, I cast on provisionally, then picked up stitches on one side, knit two long strand of I-cord, twisted them, and kitchener stitched them to the picked up stitches on the other side.

Before felting, the bag was 12.5" wide, 9"deep from the V, and with a 20" handle. After felting, it was 11.75" wide, 8" deep, and with a 21" handle. Don't ask me how it ended up with those dimensions -- it should have felted down much more, and the handle should have gotten shorter, not longer! All I can guess is that I'd slightly felted the yarn during the dyeing. Something was definitely off, because my initial swatch -- which I'd done with a small swatch that was barely dipped into the dye -- felted much denser than the bag itself.

You can see for yourself how texture and color varied during the course of this project: (1) gray marled yarn, (2) brown dyed yarn, (3) big swatch unfelted, (4) small swatch felted, and (5) finished bag (note: those two swatches didn't start out at the same size, but you can still compare the texture).

All the same, I'm going to get a lot of use out of this bag. I've been using it as my purse for the last few days, with a kilt pin as a closure.


Anonymous said...

What an incredibly cute bag! I love the story of how it happened, too. I would never have thought that those greenish-looking things would create such a lovely brown color.

Knittypants said...

Sweet bag. I really liked this pattern in the latest IK. Like yours a lot.

Sue said...

I love this shape. I don't know what the original strap was like but yours works very well indeed.

I've been thinking about dyeing with walnuts. Unfortunately I don't have the fresh variety - only dried.

bySarah said...

Love the bag. Especially the pin as a closure and the twisted icord handle. It is the prettiest handle I have seen on a felted bag in a while.

kathy b said...

So you knit from yarn you dyed with black walnuts? I cannot believe it. I LOVE the finsihed purse. COlor and woven i-cord handle are perfect.

Anonymous said...

oh those kitty pictures are fabulous, what a curious little girl! And I love the colors and the beauty of those nuts - not to mention the great story of their collection! I can just picture that scene!

Unknown said...

my roommate bought a panda bag!
She is just THRILLED with it and can’t put it down.