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Knit and Felt a Rainbow Purse

Dania De Bortoli shows how to create a purse embellished with a jeweled closure.

Materials and Tools:

1 skein each of bulky pure wool yarn in enough colors to create a rainbow effect
Rainbow Novelty Yarns (RNY)
Metallic Rainbow Novelty yarns (MRNY)
bulky skein of black wool
black skein of furry novelty yarn
size 13 circular knitting needles
size 13 short double-pointed needles (optional)
embroidery needle and black embroidery thread
sewing needle
brass chain
plain brass filigree for top of purse
brass filigree with glass stone
black wire to reinforce rim of purse (optional)
essential oils, clear, no dyes
lingerie bag and laundry detergent
pair of old blue jeans or other thick type of washable clothing
oven (optional)
large drinking glass

1. Cast on (CO) 9 stitches very loosely with US needle size 13 (16 inches long) circular needles. Make sure to have a 6-inch tail of yarn. Knit until you have 8 ridges, (approx 16 rows).

2. Take the leftmost needle next to the live yarn and run it up the ridges on the left side of the base and pick up 8 stitches. With the tail now on the left, pick up 9 more stitches.

3. With tail on top right of the base, again pick up 8 stitches from the top of the ridges. There should be a total of 34 stitches making the base.

4. To add fur trim to the bottom of the purse, knit 2 rows with the black wool yarn and the novelty fur yarn (NFY). You will use three strands of the NFY combined with the black wool yarn.

5. To create the rainbow, you will continue to switch colors throughout the body of the purse.

Rows 3, 4, 5, 6: Knit with yellow wool yarn and metallic rainbow novelty yarn (MRNY) and rainbow novelty yarn (RNY)
Rows 7 and 8: Knit with light orange wool yarn and MRNY and RNY
Rows 9 and 10: Knit with dark orange wool yarn and MRNY and RNY
Rows 11 and 12: Knit with deep red wool yarn and MRNY and RNY
Rows 13 and 14: Knit with only black wool yarn (two rows total)
Rows 15 and 16: Knit with purple wool yarn and MRNY and RNY
Rows 17, 18, 19, 20: Knit with light purple wool yarn ONLY
Row 21: Knit with black wool yarn ONLY
Rows 22, 23, 24: Knit with light blue wool yarn ONLY
Rows 25, 26, 27, 28, 29: Knit with light blue green wool yarn and the green/blue/yellow novelty yarn

6. Fur Rim:
Row 30: Combine the black yarn with 3 strands of the NFY and on the eighth stitch, knit two stitches together. Repeat three times. Next, knit six stitches and on the seventh stitch, knit two together. This will reduce the number of stitches on the needle to 30.
Row 31: Knit with black wool yarn and NFY.

7. Bind off using only one strand of novelty fur yarn NFY. Using an embroidery needle, sew the tail back in to the rim of the purse.

8. Turn the purse inside out. Using an embroidery needle, sew all of the loose tails back in to the body of the purse. Sew up any loose gaps at the beginning of a color change in yarn.

9. To create the top, CO eight stitches using size 13 needles.

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Knit 1, increase by 1, knit 6, increase by 1, knit 1
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: Knit 1, increase by 1, knit 8, increase by 1, knit 1
Row 5: Knit
Rows: 6, 7, 8, 9: Knit
Row 10: Knit 1, increase by 1, knit 10, increase by 1, knit 1
Rows 11, 12: Knit
Row 13: Knit 1, decrease by 1, Knit 8, decrease by 1, knit 1
Rows 14, 15, 16, 17: Knit
Row 18: Knit 1, decrease by 1, knit 6, decrease by 1, knit 1
Row 19: Knit
Row 20: Knit 1, decrease by 1, knit 4, decrease by 1, knit 1

Bind off and sew in tails using embroidery needle.

To add fur trim to the purse top, use three strands of novelty fur yarn 3 feet in length. Combine the three strands and loosely sew in a circle around the perimeter of the top, about 1/2 inch from the edge of the top.

10. To make the purse strap you will knit what is called an I-Cord. An I-Cord, when finished looks like a knitted tube. CO three stitches on size 13 needles. Knit every stitch with the live yarn on the left of the needle, pulling it taut when starting a new row. Repeat until the cord is 4-1/2-feet long or desired length.

11. Using the tails of the top and bottom of purse strap and with an embroidery needle, sew the straps on to the outside of the top fur trim.

12. Felting process:

  • Place the rainbow purse and top in a lingerie bag.
  • Put the bag in the washing machine along with an old pair of jeans or some other type of clothing to create agitation in the washing machine and set the machine to a small load on the hot water setting.
  • While the hot water fills the washing machine, drop 10 to 20 drops of the desired essential oil(s) into the water. This will give the purse a pleasant scent.
  • Pour 2 large tablespoons of laundry detergent into the water.

13. When the washing cycle begins, set the timer for 7 minutes. Check on the purse. Keep checking on the purse at 5-minute intervals. Keep felting the purse until all stitches have disappeared and the purse looks like one piece of fabric.

14. Take the purse and top out of the lingerie bag and squeeze out the excess water.

15. Cut about 15 inches of 18- to 20-gauge black wire. Starting on the inside of purse, weave it through the rim of the purse about every 1/4 inch in width. Continue around the purse until you meet the beginning where the wire was originally inserted. Make sure to have the wire ends on the inside of the purse. Remove any slack in wire. The rim should not be any wider or smaller than the rest of the purse. Using pliers, twist the two wires together a few times. Clip the ends of the wires with wire clippers 1/4 inch from the twisted section.

16. Fold each wire back upon itself so that it makes a small loop. It should look a bit like the wings of an insect. Looping the wire will protect hands from getting scratched as they reach inside the purse. Push the looped wires back into the purse rim so that it does not show.

17. Pull the body of the purse up on a large drinking glass to shape it. The glass will be inside the purse. Air-dry the purse for 48 hours or place it in a 180-degree oven for three to four hours.

  • Always use oven-safe glass and never place anything flammable in the oven.
  • Make sure the purse handle does not drape over the oven rack.
  • When dry, remove the purse using oven mitts, as the glass will be very hot.
  • Trim any yarn "tails" that might be poking out of the purse. Lightly shave your purse using a razor to get rid of any excess fuzz.

18. Using black embroidery thread, loosely but securely sew the lid on the purse so that it rests nicely against the rim but is still able to open.

19. With pliers, attach the piece of brass filigree to the top of the purse using brass jump rings or use a needle and embroidery thread to attach the brass filigree to the top of the purse.

20. Attach the brass filigree to your decorative jeweled pendant by using brass chain 3 inches in length. For decoration, attach a chain to the back of the rainbow knitted and felted purse so it drapes over the edge.

21. Finally, using jump rings, attach 2-1/2 inches of chain horizontally across the jeweled pendant so that it can be slipped in and out of the horizontal chain.


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