Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Knitted Amulet Bags and Other Christmas Goodies

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 6:58 pm on Thursday, December 22, 2005

Yes, I said Christmas. Everyone seems to be in a kerfuffle about “holiday” this and “Christmas” that and “season’s greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

I’m not a religious person, wasn’t raised that way. I was raised with the secular tradition of a holiday called Christmas that we understood to have roots in Christianity and deeper roots in Paganism. It never bothered us that the Christians had a toehold on the holiday, I just considered that part of the overall mythology and tradition of the season. But it was definitely “Christmas”, not “that day that Santa Claus comes down the chimney” or “that mid-winter holiday where we give each other gifts and decorate a tree.”

Christmas.

So, I’m going to insist on saying “Merry Christmas”, and not from any offense at leaving Christ out of the proceedings. It’s fine with me if he saved you, but my personal religion, while I respect his teachings and think he was pretty special among humans of his era, is not centered around him.

No, I insist on it because that’s the name of the holiday that I’m celebrating, and pretending any different doesn’t change things. Nor does it take away from the other perfectly respectable celebrations that happen at this time of the year – Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice (a personal favorite), and others that I’m only marginally aware of, but that I’m sure anyone with good Googling skills can find.

I’m Feeling Better, and Not Better

Yesterday’s dismal mood appears to have been a pre-cursor to a genuine cold. I woke up this morning with a sick headache, sore throat, and stuffy nose. And all day I’ve been feeling like I really want to go back to bed, but I don’t because I know that will just completely screw my sleep patterns up for our trip to Syracuse this weekend.

So I’m taking acetaminophen for the headache, and some Gypsy Cold Care tea is helping immensely with the other symptoms.

I also made a decision that I should stay home tonight rather than attend the weekly Knitting Around at Panera Bread. Of course, since it’s an informal gathering, that doesn’t mean you all have to stay home if you’re inclined to show up. (Since I’m posting this past 6 p.m., and the Knit Around begins anywhere after 5 p.m., I realize this notice is kind of late to count. Sorry ’bout that.)

Craft Goddesses Give Good Christmas

Tuesday night was our regular Craft Goddesses weekly get-together, and it’s become our tradition that the last one before Christmas is a Christmas party. We all bring pot-luck goodies and exchange gifts, and generally have a good time.

Each of the Goddesses has unique talents, and each comes up with different and clever items for gifting. Bea has a long history of crafting for the holidays, making multiple gifts for friends. Vicki crafts, but she also travels a lot and visits bead shows, and she makes the most of those opportunities.

Bea
Bea Explores Her Christmas Goodies

Vicki
Vicki Poses with Our Tree and Her Gifts

Gifts from Friends
Look at What Folkcat Received! Clockwise from front: Beaded Cross-stitch pin of a cat, candy sleigh, perpetual “Friends” calendar, pack of “Lost” trading cards, A.C.Moore Gift Card, special storage container, personalized “Jenny” notepad with cat design, glass beads, and a fused glass donut.

Like I said before, Craft Goddesses give GOOD Christmas.

My gift to Bea and Vicki was bead knitted amulet bags, specially designed for each of them. These are worked on size 8 Perle Cotton, using size 11/o Czech seed beads which are strung on the thread before you knit. I borrowed the pattern from a kit I had purchased and knit once.

I got the idea to make these only last Friday, when I watched a crafting show and they showed some bead knitted bracelets. I suddenly remembered how quickly I had knit a bag (under a day), and realized that I had all the materials I needed in the house.

Bea's Christmas Amulet Bag
Bea’s Bag – Metallic Purple Beads on Ecru Cotton

I’ll write more about the beads at Confessions of a Chantraphile in a day or two. What you care about here is the knitting, right?

I didn’t include anything in the pictures for scale, did I? Well, fringe and all these bags are maybe 2 or 2 1/2 inches long.

Vicki's Christmas Amulet Bag
Vicki’s Bag – Red/Orange Mix on Black Cotton

The bags are knit on size 0000 double-point knitting needles. They’re not knit in the round, though – they’re knit flat. The interesting thing is that you cast on 12 stitches, and you slip beads down the thread between the stitches you knit as you work the piece. The shaping of the bag comes almost entirely from slipping more beads, not from adding more stitches. At the widest part of this bag’s body, you are still working on only 12 stitches, but you’re slipping 4 beads down between each stitch.

The only stitch used in these bags is knit, so effectively it’s a garter stitch piece. Beads are put in place on the back of the work as you knit, and they’re placed on every row. What you wind up with is a completely reversible piece of knitting with beads on both sides. It drapes marvelously, and feels great to handle.

When the body of the bag is done, you do begin decreasing stitches to form the flap. Decreases are done at the beginning of each row, and you continue working in pattern, slipping beads between the stitches, as you work the rest of the row.

I worked with my own materials, but the inspiration and the pattern came from a kit created by Deanna of Deanna’s Vintage Styles. I bought the kit originally at my local yarn shop – you can either order kits from Deanna’s web site, or ask at your local yarn or bead shop.

Don’t let the small size of the needles, or the presence of the beads, intimidate you. The kit gives full instructions for transferring the beads onto the perle cotton (it’s sooo easy!), and really, the 0000 needles don’t feel all that small to me. I think their length makes them easy to handle. Once you get the basic method down, you can use this for all sorts of fun jewelry and accessories, including larger evening purses.

Besides, if you have to frog, we’re talking about 12 stitches a row at most! So if you’re looking for something different to try that’s still knitting, I’d suggest considering bead knitting.

And That’s Enough of That

The headache is coming back, and the throat is asking for some Throat Coat tea now. So I should probably leave it at that. I expect to be posting tomorrow (Friday), and then on Saturday, Gryphon and I leave for Syracuse. I’ll be posting while on the trip, but it may be irregular depending on how easily we find free wifi hot-spots.

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