When I picked up my first pair of knitting needles and a skein of pink yarn the color of cotton candy (at the time, when I lived far, far away from real yarn stores, that harsh acrylic stuff didn’t seem so bad…), I never dreamed I’d become so completely obsessed with textiles. I’d always thought of myself as “a writer.” That was my art. But lately–perhaps because I write for a living–I’ve found myself getting my writing out of the way so I can get back to my real passion.
Textiles have always delighted me. And while sewing never drew me in the way knitting has, I often find myself drooling over bolts of yummy woolens and silks in fabric stores and drawing on my sewing abilities to enhance my knitting. For example, I can’t imagine knitting a bag and not lining it… What would happen to my pen, or to a stray hair pin that I might happen to slip into the bag when I let my hair down (!)? So, no matter how tightly knitted or crocheted, I will always line my bags. I also happen to like zippers (for the same reasons), which makes having at least a semi-skillful sewing ability essential.
Just a few weeks ago, I dropped into my local yarn store (Stitch DC in Georgetown), and bought a little KnowKnits bag to hold my small knitting project (a VERY conservative navy-blue fisherman’s cap my husband requested).
Here’s Chris, wearing the cap, next to Maggie–it’s a Karabella pattern:
So, anyway… Nothing can fall out of the KnowKnits bag (a little lime-green parachute cloth bundle) once the drawstring was closed, and it’s lightweight and easy to carry. Not only that, it has a yarn-guide inside, which helps feel the yarn directly from the ball and through the bag’s opening. I loved it. But somewhere in my mind, I started to realize how simple it could be to make something equally as useful, but prettier.
Several days later, a knitter showed me her Lantern Moon silk project bag. It was literally a lunchbag with handles–no drawstring, no lining…just a simple little bag that could almost hold a bottle of wine. Within a few seconds I’d memorized the construction.
So, that night, I went to work. Out came some Asian-inspired pink brocade (not real silk, unfortunately) and some slippery black lining material. I hacked the fabric into strips on my lap and started sewing, adding seam-binding tape when the fabric began to fray. I also used the binding tape to create a little button-down loop that serves as a yarn guide. Finally, wondering if and how to close the bag, I came across some spare yards of mint green satin ribbon I’d saved from Amazon’s wrapping job on a birthday gift I’d received. A few stitches and some thin black ribbon later, the bag was done.
So far, every knitter who sees my this bag loves it (I don’t know why, but it reminds me of lingerie and feathered-mule slippers). The yarn guide works perfectly. The seams are smooth. The closure protects what’s inside. And, best of all, it looks like a pricey little purse when I carry it on my wrist. The conservative hat lived in the bag until it was finished. Then a lace-weight mohair wrap. (See “This is your brain on mohair…”) Now, the bag houses a pair of gloves I’m knitting as a (belated) Christmas present for my sister.
But best of all… One day I happened to carry the lime-green parachute bag I’d bought into my LYS. (Of course, since I was nearby, I had to stop in and “browse.”) After only a couple of minutes, the person who’d sold me the green bag noticed I wasn’t carrying the one I’d made, and exclaimed: “Oh, no! You’re carrying the wrong one!” No compliment could have been sweeter.