It was more than a couple of years ago that a friend announced on Facebook that they were looking to sell their barely used 10″ Cricket Loom. As it was my birthday, I decided this was exactly the right thing to buy myself.
My kid helped me warp the loom with an odd ball of variegated yarn, and I chose a second odd ball of black tweed yarn for the weft.
Weaving goes fast! Way faster than knitting or crocheting.
But then something got in the way of me finishing the project. A mental block. Maybe I wished I’d chosen a yarn I had more of, so I could actually finish a scarf-length project (even with the uneven edges that come with any first weaving project)? Maybe I was concerned the finishing steps would be tedious or complicated?
I have no idea. What I do know is that this project stayed on the loom for years after I finished weaving it.
Until now. I finally got the thing off my loom! It took a sum total of about fifteen minutes and the aid of Liz Gipson’s fabulous book. That’s it!
So now that I’ve gotten over the anxieties of my very first project, I’m ready to take on a more deliberate one. Surely for a scarf again. But which yarns will I use?
Now that I’m done traveling and finally settling into a normal routine, baseball is proving to the best thing ever for my knitting. The long-neglected pair to the first sock I knitted earlier in the summer? Almost done!
When we were planning our summer camping trip with friends – a two-week road trip with two pretty-much-seven-year-olds – we got it in our heads that it would be fun to give the kids merit badges as they accomplish cool stuff over the course of the trip.
Which sparked the question of what the kids would do with their merit badges. Um, also I ordered a lot of them.
Their school backpacks have too many pockets and zippers to make them a good canvas for sewing badges onto, and anyway we suspect that once it’s time to go back to school they might not want their school bag to be covered in badges for things like playing frisbee golf or cooking with pie irons.
The obvious solution was to make them messenger bags for the trip. The flap would be the perfect canvas for sewing badges onto, and the bag would be great for beach-combing and finding all kinds of other treasures while we explore the world.
I’m not exactly an expert bag sewer, and my friend hadn’t sewn since she was in school, but we decided to go for it.
I picked up some olive-coloured cotton canvas fabric for the outside of the bag, and lightweight quilting cotton for the pockets and linings. My kid is bananas for baseball and my friend’s is similarly in love with soccer, so there you go.
Downsized the bag to make it more appropriate for young kids:
Finished size 9″w x 11″h x 3″d (it looks quite a bit narrower because the depth of the bag)
Body and lining cut to 11″ x 23″ (sized for 1/2″ seam allowances instead of 1/4″)
Flap and lining cut to 9″ x 12.5″
No applique or other decoration on the flaps
Slightly rounded flap corners for my kid’s bag (baseball); pointed corners for my friend’s kid’s (soccer)
No inside pockets
Outside pocket under the flap rather than on the back side of the bag that rests against your body when you wear it (this was as much due to not understanding from the instructions that the pocket wasn’t actually intended to go under the flap in the first place)
Made an adjustable strap using these instructions instead of making the one-size strap in the bag instructions
This project took us way longer than we thought it would, but in the process she remembered how to use a sewing machine and I remembered why I don’t make more bags. In the end, though, we’re really happy with how they came out, and we hope the kids take to them, too.
Over on the Patreon we’re doing an informal stitch-along all summer long. Any kind of stitching, just for fun, for getting to know each other, and for learning from each other. (We started a Facebook group just for patrons for things like this, and just for chatting, and it’s working out like a charm!)
I’m making the sampler from Rebecca Ringquist’s book Embroidery Workshop. The book is amazing. It’s full of great projects and instruction, and the best thing about it is her approach to her craft: she encourages experimentation and play, and discourages getting hung up on “the rules”. Want to knot your work? Go for it. Is the back of your embroidery a total mess? Who cares. She invites you to dive right in and do what you want so you enjoy yourself as thoroughly as possible. Yes, yes and more yes.
If you’re into embroidery or just want to give it a shot, please join us!
I’ve written in my newsletter and Patreon about giving sock knitting a for-real try (I’ve knitted a sock or two over the years – but never a pair), and I gotta say, I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it.
Maybe it’s that in “giving it a for-real try” I’m thinking more about ending up with a finished pair of socks instead of just thinking about the mechanics of knitting a sock (which I think is what I did the last couple of times I gave sock-knitting a try). Socks are odd ducks, after all, with their heels to turn and toes to graft; it can be easy to focus on accomplishing those feats… and then not wanting to do them again for a second sock.
Of course, I say all this with only one sock nearing completion. And a small one at that (it’s for my kid). But this one does feel different. I’m eager to finish it in part because I’m so excited to cast on for its match.
I’m glad I chose to make these (see that use of the plural, there?) in a heavier weight of yarn, but I’m also looking forward to finishing these up and making myself a pair in fingering weight. I have loads of sock yarn in my stash. Time to use it… for socks!
If I do become a Sock Knitter, I anticipate I’ll be just like I am with other kinds of knitting: preferring simple, mindless patterns. Not so much with lace or cabled socks for me. Do you have a favourite simple sock pattern you recommend?
This is the second project I made from this batch of handspun – the first handspun I’ve ever felt was ready to actually be made into something. (The other hat is the same, but smaller to fit my six-year-old.)
It’s a basic 80-stitch hat with a ribbed brim, and I used 4.5mm and 5.0mm needles to make it.
I’ll take it on our camping trip next month, so no need to wait till it gets cold this fall to wear it!
What’s your favourite thing to make with handspun yarn?