Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Crocheted Bike Bag

This weekend I got a new bicycle. It's the kind for just riding on the local streets and trails, but I am very happy with Bluebell.

My new bike and non-matching water bottle
It weighs a LOT more than my road bike did, though it claims to be aluminum.

The first thing I noticed about it was that I have no way to carry my cell phone when I am riding it, thanks to giving away all my fancy cycling shirts a while back. I usually ride in exercise pants rather than jeans, so I have no pockets.

But I know how to crochet! So, on Sunday when my devoted spouse was planting things in the front yard, I sat down with good ole Lily Sugar and Cream yarn and crocheted myself this little bag to hold my cell phone and maybe a chap stick. I need to take the phone because I track my progress with one of those free GPS exercise apps.

Bicycle Bag with Cute Buttons
I could have just made a big rectangle, but I like the way single crochet looks in the round better than back and forth. So, I did a little trick and ended up with a no-seam crochet bag. I made the button holes vertical rather than horizontal, so that the buttons would stay better when the bag is on the bike. I think it looks fun and practical. I could have used hemp cord, but it hurts my hands. And the same bag could be made weatherproof by using strips cut from plastic shopping bags. If I shopped at Wal-Mart I could get blue ones to match the bike.

(I also knitted a good amount on the alpaca sweater. I am on the home stretch.)

How to Make a Bike Bag

If, for some reason, you are dying to make one of these, here's how:

Body of Bag

Use sturdy cotton yarn and a crochet hook that will crochet the yarn tightly. I used an F.

Chain enough to be a little longer than your phone, no more than an inch longer.

Single crochet into the second stitch from your hook and sc across. Count how many stitches you have.

Sc into the side of the last stitch.

Sc into the BOTTOM of the row you just did. Make sure you crochet the same number of stitches (it's easy to skip a few, which I did the first time).

Sc into the side of your previous turning chain, then sc across your first row.

Continue to sc in every stitch around and around that first row. After a few rows you will see a pouch shape developing.

Keep going until your bag is about an inch longer than whatever you want to put in it.


My straps are 4 stitches in from each side, and 6 stitches wide. Each row will be ch2, sc5, turn. When the strap is a good length in your estimation (long enough to go over your handlebars with some slack), make the button holes.

Do 4 rows of just three stitches. Break yarn. Start where you left off and do 4 rows of 3 stitches. Go across and connect the two thin sections to return to 6-stitch rows, and crochet a few more rows. Repeat on the other side of the bag.


Get nice big buttons and sew them on securely. I took my bag to the fabric store to be sure I got the right size buttons. You don't want to have your phone fall to the ground and get ridden over by your bike.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yarning Around

Oh hello, it's me, your sometime blogger, back again after just a little break this time. I have been thinking about knitting a lot, and even doing some!

I was hoping to totally finish that twist front alpaca sweater this weekend, and was knitting along in the RV when I looked into the knitting bag.  Guess what I didn't see? Another ball of yarn, that's what. Yep, I had brought most of my life essentials other than that final skein of yarn I'll need to finish (actually, I may well go into the fourth skein...who knows. So, I had to stop when I was at this attractive stage of the front of the sweater:
A partial front of a sweater.
I think this is one of those project that will be very pretty once blocked and sewed together, and not a moment sooner.So, I will continue to enjoy how lovely the alpaca fiber feels and not worry about it. I have fetched the next skein of yarn and will get moving after I blog! Ooh, note that I switched to some Lantern Moon wood needles. They are very pleasant to work with, as they should be at $30 (yow).

So, since I ran out of alpaca, I picked up my poor neglected fall colors shawl and got quite a bit of it done. This is one of those projects that it's hard to gauge progress on. I know I put at least 3 or 4 inches on it, but it still looks small. Of course, the fact that the stitch pattern is that interesting double garter stitch that sort of bunches up doesn't help much. That will make it a warm one, though. So, here's how it looks now:
Two-ball fall shawl progress.
It's blending very nicely. No one who looks at it believes I am knitting with two colorways, thanks to how each has the same brown in it. I am thinking of making a brown border on the bottom, since I have a skein of brown from the same dyer.

Now that I look at it harder, yeah, I can see I made some progress. I will quit whining.

I Went to a Store or Two or Three

I alluded last time to some fun knitting thing I was going to do soon. Well, that fun thing was that a friend and I took a day off work last week and indulgently went to visit every yarn store in Austin (other than Yarnbow, since I am not sure it's still there). We were comparing and contrasting.

I think it surprised my friend (a new friend, not one of my usual knitting friends or my old knitting friends who would know better) that everywhere I went someone knew me. I really enjoyed getting to talk to Stacy at the Knitting Nest, whom I hadn't seen in quite some time (since I quit going to yarn shops to browse!). We enjoyed the way the decor is all thematic, and were impressed by the larger space they have now. It must be very pleasant to take a class there. And it's always fun to trek down to way south Austin for something other than Volvo repair (son bought a Volvo way down south, which he has already blown the engine on, but it's OK because I made friends that way). I  bought a tape measure and a book there. Turns out I already have the book, too, so it may go to the shopping friend.

I digressed again. Next we headed up to Hill Country Weavers, where I actually HAVE been lately or I would not be working on that gray sweater! Suzanne was helpful and chatty but not too chatty (so we could shop) and was glad I am enjoying that naturally dyed alpaca so much. I saw the other colors, too--dyed with beets, onion and cochineal, which made two different colors, I guess with different mordants.

I bought two books, one is the book about Judy's Magic Cast On, which has some fun projects in it. It has to be cool to know you invented a new knitting technique, so my circular hat is off to Judy Becker! The other book I got is Modular Knits, by Iris Schreier, which also has some good ideas, plus some complex stuff to really dig into at some point.

The only yarns I bought are these two:

Another ball of Alchemy Haiku, and a Zauberball
I really want to make another Paintbrush Lace cowl, this time in just the Alchemy Haiku yarn. The colorway I got will look great with black or blue, I think. My fingers are itching to start, just to touch that yarn some more. I also got a ball of, yes, sock yarn. But but...I want it to be a shawl. This Hitchhiker one, to be exact. There was a sample in a slightly different colorway at Hill Country Weavers, and it looked so perfect with jeans. Look at me, planning projects again. I am so proud.

After checking out with our groaning weight of purchases, then eating a fun lunch right across from Hill Country, we checked out a couple of fabric stores that are typically "Austin." Stitch Lab is the one I'd send you locals off to, if you aren't already cool enough to have been there. It is incredibly trendy, modern (or postmodern) and updated it almost hurts. But there is fun fabric and all the classes look very entertaining. The teacher leading a class of little girls was really charming and very much in control without dampening their enthusiasm. I got a catalog for Beccano and Leigh.

The other shop is also very, very trendy, but in a more elegant way. It is called Common Thread. It had the kind of good quality fabric for sewing clothing that you can't get in the usual places. Nice natural fiber knits, and some gorgeous cottons you could actually see yourself wearing. I came close to wanting to sew something...and we also visited an upholstery shop just for fun...

Then we finally hit Gauge, where I hadn't been in the longest time. I was very glad to see they had nice, new yarns in good quantities. The selection still isn't huge, but it is well edited, and I know I can go there if I suddenly need more Entrelac stitch markers. Whew. I did know someone there from the olden days, but I didn't know her well and she was grafting something--you can't disturb that. The owners had all left right as we walked in, so there was an interesting man holding down the fort and dealing with customers.

All in all it was fun to do a mini yarn crawl, though I'd still like to get back to Paige and Yarnorama sometime. I know my friend would love to see the spinning stuff that all my beloved old knitting friends are now so addicted to!

And speaking of new knitting friends, I am still enjoying the little yarn group at work. There are just a few of us, but we do keep showing up! It's a very relaxing atmosphere, and I do appreciate that now that my whole life has calmed down and I can relax a bit.

(Remember, if you want to know what I am DOING all the time, visit the Ursula Lumbers blog, starring our bulky old RV, Ursula! There you can see me interact with horses, donkeys and cattle, and see a lot of pictures of farm and ranch land...someday there may well be sheep or alpaca on the ranch!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scarf and Such

Mostly I have been knitting along on the drape front sweater, and I have actually finished the front of it. Lovely? Not really lovely at all before blocking!
Some stockinette knitting
People say that photo looks like a uterus, or a thong. Well, it's a sweater back. I am moving along on the front.

I just finished the simple 1x1 ribbed scarf I have been working on. I sure enjoyed watching the colors change on it. I ended up using almost all of the yarn, but thought it would be too long if I did the last two colors of the self striping yarn, so I stopped. Here is is sitting in my office next to my Wrap Me Up wrap, which lives there for any chills in the air (more likely during summer than winter in climate controlled offices).
Hanging around in my office
I think the colors came out really nice. It's just nice, simple fun to knit along with one semi-solid and one self-striping strand. For your records, this is Knitwhits/Freia Handpaints - Freia Semi Solid Sport in Red Oxide and Knitwhits/Freia Handpaints - Freia Ombré Worsted in Metal Earth and Purpleheart. The yarn is single ply and really soft wool. I am sure it would felt just great, so I will be careful with it.

I just got a new coat, and it won't go with the scarf at all (it is very red and would clash with the orange). But, I will wear this anyway--it will look great with my Levi's jacket.

Let's see...I think I will get back to working on the shawl I had been working on earlier, and finish that lovely alpaca sweater. I need to finish something. I am just glad I lost some weight so all my knitted stuff fits again.

I'm doing a fun fiber activity later in the week, so perhaps I will report on that. In the meantime, it's back to my lovely life, where my kids are both off for spring break, and my spouse and I are traveling around to agricultural sites in the newly repaired RV (ranch in Cameron last weekend, farm in Yorktown next weekend--how did I get so rural?).