Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yay bags!

As mentioned in my last post, my knitting has really taken me in an unexpected direction. When I originally began my knitting within the walls of the SCA, I thought my road would take me down knitting socks. Lots and lots of socks. Well...........surprise, it didn't! I have become intrigued by reliquary pouches, and reliquaries in general. How they were made, why they were made, and what was in them? It's a fascination that I don't see subsiding soon. So, what sparked this interest? The Sion bags found in a cathedral in Sion, Switzerland.

Those are the pictures that sparked my interest in pouch knitting. There was also a 5th bag found alongside these, but I can't seem to find the picture right now. From the beautiful colorwork to the fine gauge of the knitting, everything about these bags interested me. I wanted to be good enough to not just make these bags, I want to be able to replicate them in terms of gauge ( 16 stitches per inch) and materials used (silk). It has become a passion to develop my knitting skills and gain the knowledge necessary to replicate these bags as close to exact replicas as I possibly can.

As you can see by the pictures, not all of the bags had a hanger from which to hang the bags from. I really liked that. When modifying the patterns to create samples or gifts for others, it gave me the versatility to leave out that element if I chose to. You can't tell from the pictures, but not all of the bags have tassels either. This also gave me flexibility. I like when knitting can be accommodating.

This was my first attempt at creating one of these bags.

The bag was made for an inter-Kingdom A&S swap called the Noblese Largess, and it was just the kick in the butt I needed to start down this path. The bag was knit in KnitPicks Pallete (100% wool) with size US 1 needles. I fingerloop braided the hanger and I made a lucet cord out of crochet cotton for the drawstring. I am extremely happy with how this pouch turned out, and for a first try, I don't think I could have asked for much more.

My next two attempts allowed me to stretch my creativity even more. I used elements found in the extant pieces as well as elements of my own creation, to draft my own patterns and make my own version of a reliquary pouch! To me, using the Sion bags as inspiration was really important. I want these bags to be special. I want the person who gets them to keep something treasured or valuable in them. Or, they can keep their car keys and wallet at an event in them if needed. They're so versatile and I love that about these bags.

The bag on the left was inspired by an individual's heraldry. I took the colors present (green, yellow and purple) and one focal item present ( 3 4-leaf clovers) and put them all into this bag. I had to draft the clover part myself which was a bit tricky, but I love how it turned out.

The bag on the right is actually the second bag made in this pattern. The original went to an individual who didn't have heraldry at the time, but wanted black and red with suns on it. So, using the flower motifs found one the extant pieces, I simply filled them in and called them suns! I didn't add tassels or a hanger to either of these, partially because I thought they would clutter the look of the bag. In future bags I will make sure to incorporate these elements. Again, both of these bags are in the KnitPicks Pallete and on size US 1 needles.

As you can see, I still have quite a ways to go before I reach my goal, but that's a good thing. It gives me a goal that I can work towards. Here is a sneak peak at my newest bag. It's in the Pallete on size 0 needles. I am practicing knitting with 3 colors at a time and long color blocks that have substantial floats on the inside. This won't be the finished product however. It is a test to see if the bag's pattern works! If it checks out, then I'll be recreating the bag in DMC thread and size 00 or 000 needles.

What about you guys? Do you have a long-term project that you're working on? What ways are you going about attaining those goals?


  1. O_O I LOVE the pattern of the new bag! You are such an inspiration!

  2. I really enjoy crochet, and I've tried knitting twice now, but I just don't feel comfortable with two hands. As an advanced knitter, is there a - I don't want to say "class" but -- a progression through the art that you would recommend (or put together)?

    For example:
    Step 1: Knitting 101, links to videos how to cast on/off, basic stitches, gaugung, etc.

    Step 2: Link or pattern for a potholder project.

    Step 3: Something like a granny square type joining project to learn how to join pieces.

    Step 4: Using two colors (rows) in a square

    Step 5: Creating patterns with two colors in a square

    Step 6: Socks

    Step 7: Adding tassels/finishing

    Step 8: Using a lucet to make drawstrings


    Something like that would be incredibly helpful with learning to knit, and progressing from baby steps to bigger and better projects.

    I think you'd be a great teacher. ;)

    1. Thanks! I'll see if I can throw something together Eleonora! Not having a video camera makes showing some techniques difficult, but I might be able to work something out. ^_^