Archive for September, 2012

Thickness of the milkbag plastic itself

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some bags are made of very thin plastic, which means you end up with a smaller/thinner stitch.

I was making a sleeping mat with three bands: dark blue at either end, purple in the middle. As I picked up the blue again, I noticed the purple middle looked like the mat had grown a narrower `waist’! Not good … I redid it with an even floppier stitch but it made me realise that using milkbags made of this thinner plastic has consequences. I don’t think it’s very noticeable when you’re mixing colour strips in a project but when there are large bands made of these thinner plastics, their cumulative impact can be pretty severe.

For now, I’m going to reserve the thinner plastics for the finishing borders around the mats, and for multicoloured projects.

I suppose at some point one could do an experiment with either really wide purple strips (say, 2-in wide) or using double-strips just to make them `thicker’.

Getting the gauge right

With well over a year’s worth of sleeping mats, shoulder bags, and sitting mats, I find that I’ve been making certain choices for each project: hook size, strip width, stitch tightness … so it’s time to write it down.

Before I start though, a couple of notes to read:

a. Getting the most from the plastic milk bag

b. Thickness of the milkbag plastic itself

Sleeping mats

I’ve been using a no.8 hook. For the strips, I make only 10 cuts into the bag, which yields a strip that’s about 1.5 inches wide. The stitch itself is really really loose and pouffy.

Shoulder bags

This is where I’ve made the most changes: I started with my bought-in-France `no.8′ hook from Phildar but it eventually turned out that it was more like a no.7 hook. At that time, I’d read that 12 cuts per bag was the way to go so my strips were probably only just 1in in width. My first bag was done without having anyone else to work with so I didn’t realise that not only was my hook a bit small, but my gauge was really really tight — I’d done the same on my very first project, a 3×5 sleeping mat, and that one has to be a really hard one to lie on! Wow …

However, having eventually done a bag with a no.8 hook and strips that were well over 1in in width, I ended up with a very floppy and pouffy bag which stretches too much. So that’s definitely not good!

In sum: the shoulder bag should be done with a smaller hook (no.7), a narrower strip (about 1in wide), and a tighter gauge. You’ll end up with a really sturdy bag, with the double-crochet stitch pattern very visible.

I still have to revise my shoulder bag pattern (see earlier entries) to incorporate these observations. I’ll post an update note here once that’s done.

Sitting mats

These are back to the sleeping mat specs: no.8 hook, only 10 cuts per bag for a wider strip, and a very loose floppy stitch.

Getting the most from the plastic milkbag

When we talk about making 10 or 11 or 12 cuts for the strips, it only makes sense to ensure we’re using the same length of a bag! And since the idea is to maximise the bag, and minimise the plastic waste, might as well make sure we use up the whole bag for strips, and not having any too-narrow strips that have to be thrown out.

A lot of instructions talk about cutting the bottom of the bag off — but that loses you maybe a quarter of an inch — well, if you cut consistently. If you aren’t always consistent, though (we’re not robots, after all!), then you end up with bags of slightly different lengths.

I don’t cut the bottom off, I just make little triangle cuts at the two corners, and then slide my scissors along to slit the bottom open. This means I don’t lose about a 1/4-in of plastic from the bottom. It’s important to know this, because it affects how wide the cuts will be as you distribute the 10 or 11 cuts along the length of the bag.

If this doesn’t make sense to you right now, go to the 5 March 2012 post `Milkbag crochet work’ for general cutting instructions.

Anyways, the point is that I use the maximum length of the milkbag by slitting the bottom rather than cutting it off.

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