Sunday, January 01, 2006

Welcome to Knit*Six

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.

(You can also check out the new photos I posted on 2/19.)

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.