Friday, 5 July 2013

Summerberry Yarn Bag

I have been trying to finish off one or two projects that have been lurking in the long grass, so to speak, and one of them is this bag which I almost completed last summer but which failed to reach the finish-line and sat, bristling with stitch-markers, for nine months or so, awaiting a pair of handles and a lining. It was driven, not by the need for a bag (I have plenty!) nor by the colours (they were defined by availability) but by the yarn itself.

Does this ever happen to you? Working with a particular yarn is just so delicious, you want to go on and on, hooking into the sunset with it? It's a surprise yarn for me, a departure from my normal go-to cotton or wool blends. It's a 100% microfibre DK weight yarn and the fabric it makes, has wonderful stitch definition and drape. It is King Cole Smooth and it is exactly what it says it is, on the tin, or rather the label - smoooooth!

I bought a random sample ball when I made my African Flower bag last year and needed as many acrylic brights as I could lay my hands on and found, brooding among the light and bright Stylecraft Special DK, a gorgeous velvety, deep purple ball of it. It worked rather well with the bright Stylecraft Special pinks and oranges of the African flowers. And it was so addictive to hook with that when the African flowers were finished, I wanted to make something entirely out of this magic stuff, that even Rumpelstiltskin would be proud to have spun. My local yarn store only carried the purple, for some reason, but a little trawling around revealed there were other colours to be had.

Not all the colours you might look for and heavily weighted in some areas of the spectrum but quite a number nonetheless. Mossy and grassy greens, the colour of fruit leaves; a lone, pale apple or mint green that is sadly now discontinued (as are some of the others colours I bought last year); muted, soft, sky blues and a bright turquoise that didn't quite seem to fit predictably into the rest of the range's palette; cranberry, redcurrant-jelly and cherry reds; creamily muted, blueberry and blackberry mauves as well as the gorgeous, deep blackcurrant purple I'd first come across; a clutch of strawberry and raspberry pinks to gladden Mrs T's pink-loving soul. No yellow or orange; no dark green, no tawny ambers or browns, nor any neutral grey, although they seem to have added some of these colours to the range now, I think, as well as some pale pastels, that weren't there last year. Many of the colours are very close in shade to one another, rather than distinctively separate. I bought one ball of each of as many colours as my budget would allow, in addition to my original purple, from here. It's not as cheap as Stylecraft Special DK but it's less than half the price of many more expensive yarns and it comes in good, fat 100g balls.

I'd been toying with making a hooky stash bag for a while and here was the opportunity to make one in delicious double stripes of single crochet (US terms, so I am talking about double crochet in UK ones), going with the colour-weighting dictated by what was available, grouping related colours together and seeing what would happen. The result was rather pleasing. Unexpectedly pleasing actually. Even though there are colours here that perhaps I wouldn't have picked on their own from an unrestricted palette, if I had had one.

I used the pattern for "Red's Goodie Basket" from Julie Armstrong Holetz's book  "Uncommon Crochet" as a starting point but I went "off piste" a bit - making it stripy, larger and with longer handles. The original pattern actually works this bag up in fine, red, leather cord and the handles are shallow ones, integrated to the top of the sides. I wanted longer straps to be able to sling the bag over a shoulder or the back of a chair so I simply made these at the end and stitched them in place with my sewing machine, after lining the bag (and the handles themselves) with a scarlet cotton print dotted with bright flowers. There wasn't quite enough of the fabric to make the lining without a bit of judicious piecing together but what's a bit of patchwork between friends?!

I've hidden the machine stitching, that secures the handles firmly in place, with hooky geranium flowers:

They are the same flowers I used on my Blue Sky Bunting here. I would never normally have put these two reds together but to create a geranium look-alike they work OK, I think. The two shades of red, one dull and the other bright, give the flowers a sort of three-dimensional shading rather than a simple colour contrast, which is what I would usually have chosen.

I think single crochet is my favourite of all crochet stitches. I love the simplicity and density of the resulting fabric, the rhythmic easy stitches and the fact that by altering your hook size and the thickness of yarn you can make it stiff enough to stand up on its own, as in the blue and pink hooky bowls I made at the end of last year here or these, more recent, experimental neutral ones, in pebbly colours, that I made in the Spring, using, in both cases, a double strand of DK weight cotton on a 4mm hook.

Or you can make a fabric that is beautifully drapey and floppy as with this bag with one strand of DK weight microfibre yarn on the same 4mm hook.

As I say, the colours are weighted very much towards one end of the spectrum - the red end - even the greens have the red-tones of the greens of early Spring and Summer. Put together, the colours reminded me of bowls of summer fruit - unhulled strawberries, blackcurrants on leafy stalks, raspberries nestling on a bed of their own leaves, blackberry flowers cheek by jowl with the fruit, still on bramble stems - so the bag became a Summerberry Bag and as its function is to contain yarn, it became a Summerberry Yarn Bag.

Being microfibre, the bag is practical - easily washable - and the only disappointment about it is my crochet mascot's. Duck hoped he could commandeer this as a balloon basket, powered by a bunch of helium balloons tied on to the handles but unfortunately it's a bit too heavy, so his dreams of crossing the garden, the Channel, or even the Atlantic, in a stripy, hooky Montgolfier have been dashed!  He's consoled himself with taking up residence in it anyway and it's good and roomy - enough space for him and plenty of yarn.

Duck's ballooning ambitions aside, it's satisfactory all round! 

Happy Weekend everyone! 

Hope it's a good one - I, (for once), am not working all Saturday and am taking the opportunity for a teensy-weensy yarn expedition with a blogging friend. 
Never mind a balloon basket / stash bag, we may need a trailer for the transportation of our haul, at the end of the day! Tee hee!

E x


  1. It is absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I'm thinking I'm going to have to allow myself some time this weekend to look through you blog and drink in all the delicious crochet and colours! Have a great weekend Mrs TT :) x

  2. I love, love this! And I l am encouraged to know you too have projects that hang around awhile before they get completed. I (hanging my head in shame) finished a crochet bag months ago, but it is still waiting patiently for me to make a lining. I need to make myself sit down and do it. -- I'm glad to see Duck enjoying himself even if he didn't get airborne;)

  3. This bag is fantastic and so are you! :-)

  4. A beautiful purse, and the lining is just perfect!

    Thanks for your comment on the weaver,s cottage...such a hard life.

  5. Dear E - Such yummy colours!!! A beautiful yarn bag and perfect for filling on your yarn expedition....! So come on, spill the beans - what did you buy?????????????? Much love xxx ps your parcel will be leaving these shores this week.....

  6. What a glorious bag! I just love the colours and the 'close' fabric the single stitch has created. I'm not surprised Duck wants to commandeer it!

  7. I will certainly look up this yarn, it looks and sounds like my bag (if you see what I mean!) I've used a few kingcole yarns before and have been really pleased, yet to be disappointed. Love the bag, I meant to make one last year, not sure what happened, too many other wants going on....still are I suppose!

    I understand you liking single crochet, I like half double crochet for that very reason, I like stitch definition in a yarn too....a friend of mine does a lot of slip stitch crochet...have you tried that? It is very dense, although I feel a bit slow for me, but she's made some wonderful things, and it ends up looking rather like knitting.

    Hope you enjoy your Saturday and your massive yarn spree!

  8. Usch a lovely bag, and you describe it so well I just MUST make one for myself! Sadly, as you say, some colours of the Smooth yarn is discontinued so I guess the yarn hunt begins now :)

  9. Now that is one gorgeous bag, slight bag envy here...I just completed one similar in treble but it's too loose and holey to take out and I intend to hook another in double to make it denser....great work xx

  10. Well now you have inspired me to finish two of my WIP's. One is a bag that is all finished with accompanying handle but just needs the lining - and the other is my first crochet bowl that I'm getting very frustrated with as I'm using that papery type yarn. Yours look wonderful! Thank you x Jane

  11. Now this is why I wish I could crochet ... forget Granny squares, I want bags and bowls ... memo to self: stop wittering about not being able to crochet and actually concentrate on learning! I do wish there was a lovely blogger such as yourself close enough to give me lessons though!

    I'm with Duck, ballooning upwards into cool air in that lovely stripey creation sounds perfect :)

  12. Dear E
    I love your bag - the colours are so summery and cheerful and the lining complements the colour choice perfectly. Congratulations on such a beautiful end result. As a total contrast, I do like the cooler neutrals of the bowls too.
    Best wishes and enjoy your weekend!
    Ellie x

  13. dear elizabeth,
    the bag is gorgeous!!! love the colors and the fabric(den stoff zum abfüttern) from the bag.
    wish you a beautiful weekend,too
    love regina

  14. What a beautiful bag, how I love all the colourful stripes. I hope you have a lovely shopping adventure. Such a shame the ballon basket wasn't able to cross the garden.

    Clare x

  15. It's a really beautiful bag - those rows of perfect single crochet just ripple along, they are so neat and pleasing to look at. I must say I love your pebble-coloured bowls, they are so simple and elegant. x

  16. It looks beautful and I think you have been very outrageous with the reds chosen but that regal purple gives it a measure of dignity. I'll let you into a little bag secret of my own - I started an Attic 24 bag last summer - have finished the bag part and one of the straps and there the story ends. I think you are right about how the choice of yarn affects your desire to work on a project - I used Rico cotton essentials and it's so splitty that I can't bear the thought of working with it. I shall have to persevere this summer and get it finished. See you soon! Judy.

  17. I love the colours you've put together. Whenever I convince myself that crochet is a useless occupation that produces nothing worthwhile, you write a post about something obviously useful and desirable! Better search out those crochet hooks again.

  18. Absolutely gorgeous colour combo a fab bag
    Hugs x

  19. I love the way you used those reds! The extra dose in the flowers was daring but really effective, I think. How much weight can the bag hold? Can you put, say, keys, phone, wallet and a book in there in addition to yarn? I've been known to carry two separate bags, but it's nice not to have to.

    I'd love to see this on <a href=">Kollabora</a>, the crafting and DIY community. We're easily impressed by cool crochet projects!


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me at Mrs TT's and comment. I love to read what you write.