Mori no Ike - Drawstring Backpack
June 18, 2016
June 26, 2016

Mori no Ike - Drawstring Backpack

Project info
Machine Knitting
Evie at Japanese language camp
Tools and equipment
Brother KH-930 Electroknit
Brother KR-850 Ribber
Loops & Threads Woolike
Loops & Threads Woolike

I’m thinking of a drawstring backpack for Evie. She’s away at Japanese language camp. Her camp is called Mori no Ike, which means Lake in the Woods.

I’d like to model this after other knitted backpacks I’ve seen here. They seem like 90 stitches wide, 170 rows? Plus drawstring casing.

I wanted to have a fairly dense fabric, with minimum stretch and good motif definition. After many swatches, including several each with single ends and double ends, I decided on a single end of each color, T1+/T0++, Birdseye (part) backing, to yield 8.75 stitches and 14.5 rows per inch. I’ve decided on a panel size of 14”Wx17”T. Using swatch gauge, that should be achieved with 122 stitches and 246 rows.

I tried a black motif with a gradient background, and didn’t like how confused it made the motif, so decided on a plain background. Then I thought all that white would be a pain, getting dirty very quickly, particularly at the opening, from pulling on the edges all the time, so I decided to reverse the colors and put a white motif on a plain, black background.

I want the motif to occupy roughly the center third of the panel, and to not go all the way to the top, or bottom, so it will stay flatter, for visibility. I decided on 45 stitches wide for the motif, which yielded a height of 123 stitches. I then scaled the image to the stretch factor of 1.657, which gave me a height of 204 stitches, which is a little taller than I wanted the motif, but I decided to go with that. I made some adjustments to the pixels at that size, then pasted the motif onto a 122x246 canvas.

I will knit each panel separately, and upside down, so as to be able to make a turned hem, which will be the casing for the drawstring. I initially started the casing in DBJ, but quickly realized that A) FNR at T1 was unworkable, and B) it would not be possible to turn the hem. So I started over on just the main bed. (Note: I now see that the backpack I’m emulating has the casing done in 1x1 rib, which I will do on the next panel.)

After cast on rag and ravel cord, I open cast on single bed and knit stockinette at T2, 26 rows, then turned the hem. Note to self: do the initial cast on row at a looser tension. Picking up open stitches done at T2 to create hem was hellish! After turning hem, I knitted one row at T3 and one at T5 and transferred heels to ribber.

(I wonder, what would happen if, after turning the hem, I simply brought the ribber up and did a normal double bed cast on? I’ll have to try that.)

Set up for DBJ and patterning, with Birdseye (part) backing, T1+/T0++. For some reason (perhaps I didn’t have both Part buttons depressed on the K-Carriage??), I was not getting patterning, and ended up knitting plain stripes in two colors for about 6 rows. Oh, well, call it a border/design element. It’s fine. I reloaded the pattern, and proceeded from row 1. It was a bit confusing, making sure that color 1 (MC) was black, and color 2 (CC) was white. I loaded black in color changer #1, and white in #2, and ended up inverting the image, so that background showed white (MC) and the motif showed black (CC) - very confusing! Anyway, finally got going in the correct order.

Because I’m knitting on a 930, the design is in 3 tracks. I got through track 1 and track 2, but the laptop died, and I didn’t have a power cord in the studio, so at 12:30am I had to pack it in and go home. :-( But good progress.

For back panel pattern, I will pre-stretch the design as well. 246 rows, “un-stretched” by 1.657 yields 148 rows. This is how much of the design I will start with, then stretch it and correct stray pixels. I haven’t decided whether to keep the top and bottom borders or simply crop them out. I think I’ll crop them out.

Managed to complete the front, and mostly happy with it. I had 3 instances where the yarn did not seat in the yarn feeder coming out of the color changer, and lots of stitches fell off. Ugghhh! Takes an hour to pick up those stitches.

Started the back. I began with a 1x1 rib, but after transferring all ribber stitches to main bed, I decided that was not at all what I wanted, nor is it what was used on the bag I’m copying. Soooo, back to stockinette. I knitted the stockinette casing and turned the hem, then simply brought the ribber up and did a regular FNR cast on. That seemed to work fine. Once again, since I started with black (color #2), I had to decide how to switch things around so that I would start with white (color #1) from the right hand side. I decided to simply load white and knit across while selecting needles for the first row, thereby knitting a single, white stripe across the top. As before, just call it a design element.

I loaded the pattern for the back and knitted for a while before I realized that I had neglected to turn the pattern upside down, since I’m knitting from top to bottom. Oh, well, it looks fine either way. I got to row 110, when, once again, the yarn did not seat properly in the yarn feeder, and I knitted more than halfway across before seeing the problem. No way was I going to spend another hour getting those stitches back on the needles, so I just took the whole thing off the machine to take home and unravel and start again. Something very interesting that I discovered, is that the gauge on the back is vastly different from on the front. It’s much looser. I attribute that to the fact that the front is mostly one, solid color, which means that a great deal of the time the yarn is not going back and forth between the beds, but only knitting on the back bed. This makes the fabric much tighter. On the back the pattern has the colors much more evenly distributed, so there’s a lot more zig-zag between beds. I guess it’s good I took it off after all. I’ll measure the gauge on the back and recompute the number of stitches and rows needed. Who knew?

Well, grrrr. It didn’t really work out so great. I measured the gauge of the piece I eventually ripped out, and got 15.5 rows and 8.5 stitches in 4 inches. Funny that it seemed substantially wider than the front. After winding the yarn back up, I computed the number of stitches at that gauge to match the front actual size, and came up with 108, instead of 122. Seemed like kind of a big difference, but oh, well, I just decided to go for it. Well, in the end, the back turned out substantially smaller than the front. I’m just going to go with it.

I also knitted feet and feet of I-cord, using one end of white, and one end of black, at tension 1 and 4 stitches. It came out nice and firm.

Now to repair all the little problems, and stitch it up, and then send it off to my friend Evie. I hope she likes it.

All stitched up, and I’m pretty happy with it, in spite of the little flaws. Off it goes…

2016-06-27 -- Post Script
I’ve been pondering the question of how to deal with having black as MC, and white as CC, starting off with black - in this instance for the casing, but it could just be any kind of border. Normally, black pixels are considered CC, and would be loaded in the #2 position of your color changer. The problem comes after you’ve completed your border, and are ready to begin DBJ. You must now begin patterning. You must pick up color #1, which would normally be white, and would normally be your main color. Well, that’s fine, but you probably want the front (public side) of your piece to go right from the black border into the black background. Except, you first have to knit one row from left to right in order to select your first row of needles. How to do this without getting a white stripe across your black background.

Duh!!! I just figured it out, and I can’t believe it took me this long. Simply put in both part buttons on the K-carriage. Since none of the needles are yet selected, none of the main bed needles will knit, but the backing needles will knit. That’s just fine! And then, once you get to COR, you will be knitting back, only the selected needles will knit with white (which, in many cases, will again, be none, since your background color is black). What I’ve been doing is inverting the image. So, for instance, in the case of this design, I loaded the image as black characters on a white ground, and had the colors reversed. Acchggbpthconfounded. What a mess! Oh, I am so glad I finally figured this out!

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June 18, 2016
June 26, 2016
About this pattern
Personal pattern (not in Ravelry)
About this yarn
by Loops & Threads
Light Fingering
85% Acrylic, 15% Nylon
678 yards / 100 grams

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stashed 19452 times

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  • Project created: June 17, 2016
  • Updated: September 25, 2016
  • Progress updates: 3 updates