Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Knit Your Own School Supplies!!

As I've mentioned in this blog before, I was obviously destined for academia from a very young age. One of the ways that we could always tell was the joyous excitement and anticipation with which I eagerly awaited the start of school every fall. August for me was all about books and SCHOOL SUPPLIES. I would shop for notebooks and folders and dividers and organizers the way other girls shopped for clothes. Not that I didn't enjoy clothes shopping too, in moderation, but I spent *hours* at the local stationary store — the real old-fashioned kind, a throwback to the bygone era before mega-office-supply chains (& alas now long out of business) — contemplating all the fascinating options and designing just the right scheme to fit my classes for the coming year. A shiny new notebook holds so much promise...

And the fascination never really wore off either. All these years later I still have a "thing" about notebooks and pads and binders, etc. I try to be careful, but it's like yarn: I have a stash (two of them, really, between home & the office), and I'm always on the lookout for new treasures to add to my collection.

Two years ago, knowing all this, my mother bought me a luxurious red leather folio from Levenger as a birthday present. It's specifically designed for left-handed people & immediately became a prized possession. In order to protect it from wear & tear while keeping it in daily use, I made a fabric envelope to carry it in. That worked OK but felt flimsy, so a few days ago I got the idea into my head of knitting and *felting* a better alternative with some wool from my stash.

It was sort of a mad experiment, but I had such good luck with lightly felting those sweaters earlier this summer that I was feeling adventurous. Here's the result...

I borrowed a simple mosaic pattern from square #18 of Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan, a book which happens to be lying around here lately because my husband has been working his way through it. My original plan was to knit the whole thing in one piece, felt it, fold it into a simple envelope, & sew up the sides. I even did a test swatch to plan for X-amount of shrinkage. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice & Miriams...

I followed what I thought was the same felting procedure with the piece itself, but the real thing shrank a LOT more than the test swatch had done. Grrrr.... Irritating!! With some effort I managed to stretch it out to the right width, but that only made it lose more length, of course, & when it dried it was obviously too short to cover the intended object. Fortunately, I had plenty of extra yarn available, which meant that I could quickly fashion a rectangular extension that could be attached to the original piece, and gussets for the sides as well. I felted the new pieces separately (obviously) and blocked them to match the original, and then eventually sewed the whole thing together, with a wooden toggle button left over from an old coat sweater. I *LOVE* it!!

The seam across the front is almost invisible. Indeed to me it almost looks like a deliberate decorative detail (3 D's = alliteration can be fun!!). And best of all, more or less by sheer dumb luck (the ancient Greek word is tyche) the colors match both the red leather folio and the dark teal green of my favorite messenger bag.

1 comment:

  1. Ah stationery. The love is genetic. Both my daughters agree with me.