Do you want to hear a story of some slight craziness? It is about knitting and crochet, honest. Yes? Well settle your good self on the sofa there, (oops, mind that Lego) and I’ll tell you. Green tea, anyone?
So, to stretch a short story long, yesterday was Mumsnet Blogfest in London, a rather fabulous annual celebration of blogging, with plenty of feisty independent thinkers/writers, plus an abundance of laughter, swearing, cake, and unlimited free gin. People I tell you, it’s like coming home. I was signed up to go, and to meet up with my lovely friend from the Telly And Travels blog.
All was calm until three days before the event. It was a chilly autumn afternoon, and I was lazily browsing in a craft shop with the Toddler Twinnage. And there, suddenly, was a large ball of yarn. It was grey and tweedy and unremarkable, but without warning it screamed at me, YOU-NEED-TO-BUY-ME-RIGHT-NOW-AND-SCAMPER,-NAY,-SPRINT,-HOME-TO-KNIT/CROCHET-A-CUSTOMISED-THETWISTEDYARN-BAG-WITH-A-LITTLE-POCKET-ON-THE-FRONT-FOR-THE-‘YARN’S-BUSINESS-CARDS,-ALL-READY-FOR-BLOGFEST.
Well, I was mightily taken aback by this outburst, I have to admit. I’m not used to being screamed at, except by toddlers. I glanced around to see whether anybody else had overheard these woolly words, but everyone in the shop was behaving normally (except for the Toddler Twinnage, who were pushing the boundaries of comedy by calling each other ‘Poo-head’ repeatedly then laughing hysterically). So, frowning, I turned back to look at the ball of grey yarn. It lay there, looking almost innocent, the beastly fiend. But it was too late, and the yarn knew it.
Readers, I bought that yarn.
That was the easy bit, the buying and the sighing. The hard part was having only three days in which to design and make and decorate the bag, three days during which I was also inconveniently encumbered by, y’know, real life. It wasn’t going to happen, was it? 🙁
Well probably not, but that’s never stopped me before. Let’s just gloss over the ensuing few days, let’s speed past the caffeine-fuelled nocturnal hours of frenzied stitchery, the woeful neglect of building dens for the Toddler Twinnage, the failure to hold much of a conversation with the Stoic Spouse, and the frankly fairly hasty driving home from work to pick up my needles/hook.
What I envisioned was a shoulder bag with a stockinette knitted body (ie nice smooth surface on which to embroider the blog name), topped by a band of single crochet (US crochet terms), and wide single crochet shoulder straps. I’m quite excited by the design, because it combines both crafts, and because it looks OK and a bit different. I swatched carefully to do the maths of a smooth transition from crochet to knitting… which was all very well, but that didn’t solve the problem of how to make this beast in half a week.
I’m not a fast knitter and I’m definitely not a fast crocheter, but my fingers were such a frenzy of stitchery that I swear they’ve eroded to an inch shorter than their length this time last week.
I worked the chain-stitch embroidery with rather more speed than quality, I’m ashamed to say, although I did sew quick guidelines to ensure I wrote in a straight line. The
probably not weird thing is, my handwriting in embroidery is completely different from my handwriting with a pen.
So did I finish the bag? Well, the night before Blogfest, I realized it was completely unrealistic… and then picked up my hook and started work on the first handle. Morning came too soon, and I sat waiting for the train towards Blogfest with crochet hook in hand.
By the very outskirts of London I’d finished the second handle and tidied up the embroidery. As we trundled through outer London, I made a crude pocket from a piece of felt and some gold embroidery thread that I found in the deepest depths of my handbag.
And by the time I was squidged into a London Underground carriage, I was improvising a small yellow flower. (This photo doesn’t do the train justice, as eight thousand people crowded in, the moment after I snapped this pic.)
Just to ensure that I looked like a complete freak, I then stood in a quiet corner of King’s Cross station working away with an embroidery needle and sharp scissors to attach the flower to the bag. I fully expected to be arrested. And then at last, I put away my sewing gear, and popped some business cards in the pocket of the bag. With minutes to spare before Blogfest opened, the job was DONE!
So, do you want to know how to make a bag like this? (Obviously, you don’t have to embroider TheTwistedYarn.com on yours. 😉 ) It’s quite a flexible design, which would work well with different colours used for the knitted and crochet sections, and maybe some more elaborate decoration on the knitted section.
HOW TO MAKE THE CROCHET-MEETS-KNITTING BAG
I used an aran-weight yarn, Hayfield Bonus Aran Tweed.
Gauge: 24 rows x 18st = 10x10cm in stockinette. But hey, it’s a bag: you don’t need to be too precise. The finished bag measures 42cm wide by 37cm high, excluding handles.
Needle: 5mm (USA: 8). I used a circular needle (80cm length).
Hook: 5mm (USA: H/8).
Using long-tail cast-on, cast on 144 stitches. Join in the round, placing a stitch marker at the start of the round.
Work 70 rounds in knit stitch, to create stockinette.
Purl 1 round. (This makes a nice transition from knitting to crochet.)
You will now crochet the stitches, removing them one by one from the knitting needle to crochet them. Weird, I know, but it works. Take the first knit stitch and CH2. Then single-crochet (US crochet terms used here, so that would be double-crochet in UK terminology) 4 stitches. Work a decrease single-crochet from the next two stitches. *SC 5 stitches. Then work a decrease SC to combine the next 2 stitches. Repeat from * until the end of the round. In other words, for every set of 7 knit stitches, you SC 5, then SC the last 2 together. You should now have 124 stitches in your finished round of crochet.
Work another 10 rounds in SC (or UK DC). (No decreases.) Begin each round with a CH2 into the first stitch.
Pull through and break the yarn.
If you want to embroider a design on the knit part of the bag, do so now. 🙂
Turn the tube of fabric that you’ve created inside-out and sew or crochet the bottom edge closed. Turn the bag the right way round again.
To make the handles: Lay the bag out flat. Measure 6cm in from the left edge of the top on the front. Join yarn here. Ch2. Then work one SC into each of the next 9 stitches, ie you’re working towards the centre of the bag. (10st.)
*Turn your work. Ch2. SC9. Repeat from * 60 times.
You have now reached the end of the first handle. Use slip stitches to attach this end to the bag, so that it is symmetrical with the first end, ie its right hand side is 6cm from the right hand edge of the bag.
Turn the bag over and make another handle for the back.
You have finished. 🙂 Now go find some stuff to put in your lovely bag.