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…matchy maker…

…matchy maker…

There is a box, on my craft shelf, labelled “project bags and storage”. It’s a plain box, tucked on the bottom shelf, just above the crates of yarn and fabric. It’s filled with embroidery pouches, and spare floss boxes and the occasional quilt camp tote. The bigger bags are a bit trickier. A patchwork, quilted, oversized tote doesn’t fit, nor my original Maker’s Tote. Those live in various places. The tote, in the yarn crate. The Maker’s Tote, generally, can be found in my storage ottoman in the cabin.

I looked in the box, briefly, when my knitalong kit arrived. Nothing seemed quite the right size to keep all my bits and bobs organised. The second problem was none of them were quite the right colour. If there is one thing that is critical in a project bag, it is that it matches the project in question. There’s nothing quite the same as a handmade bag holding a handmade project, and having everything matching nicely. I was also between projects whilst waiting for the knit along to officially start. Not only do I love matching bags, but I also have a solid respect for the following of the rules. I couldn’t start until I was allowed to start. In the mean time, I needed a project. A new project bag was the perfect solution for a whole range of problems.

I dived into the “patterns” folder in my iCloud. Since I splurged on a MacBook last year, and now have all my devices all Apple, I’ve been slowly going through my various cloud storages and moving everything into iCloud, keeping it all together. Evernote is done and premium cancelled, and dropbox is next on my list. The majority of my bag patterns have already made it over though, and having them grouped neatly in a folder made it easy to scroll through and select my top three options, from patterns I already own. I narrowed it down to the Maker’s Tote, the Finch Bucket (which I had already made and loved during lockdown 1.0), and the Ada drawstring bucket. All had their advantages, so I took it to the board, and the Makers Tote was the winner. This would become my third run through the pattern – the first is linked above, and I also hacked the pattern to make a mini version as a diffuser case.

In one of my crates, sits a neat stack of fabric, folded and tied in colour-grouped bundles. Part of a destash haul, the rainbow of potential sitting there was a joy to look at. I knew, the minute I decided to make a bag. This fabric had been on my mind for a while in connection with a bag, having hoped to have joined the Stitch Mischief Finch sewalong with a pieced bucket. Life got in the way for that one, but the idea of a pieced bag remained. I pulled the purple bundle out, and all of them looked so pretty against my yarn, confirming my piecing plan.

The piecing itself was just a simple grid of 2″ finished squares. I didn’t necessarily want the whole thing patchwork though, just the top sections, with denim as the base to be hard wearing. A big part of wanting this bag was to give me the opportunity to take my project with me as I went about the week. The library for book club, the sports fields for junior hockey, waiting rooms for appointments. There’s lots of downtime while doing the mummy circuit, and with the right bag, my knitting could come with me. If there’s a fabric combo I love, its denim & linen with a pop of colour, and so out too came my linen for accents like a pocket, and the end panels.

In the way of a project that excites me madly, once I decided to do it, I was straight in. Everything pulled and cut Tuesday night. The patchwork pieced Wednesday morning, in time to go to town to sign contracts for our new house build, and a little emergency run to the fabric shop. Of all the zippers I have on hand, not a single one was suitable. So off I went to grab the zips I needed, along with some fabric for the binding. Quite rudely, the manufacturers of double fold binding didn’t see fit to create the exact shade I needed, but I was able to pick up a quilting cotton that worked quite nicely with the colour of my yarn.

Contracts signed, we raced home again, and I was straight back into construction of the exterior. When it came to interfacing the body of the bag, I had some decently thick iron on padding left over from a previous bag making project. Instead of ironing it, though, I chose to quilt the patchwork sections. Nothing fancy, just straight lines, but with random angles and crossovers to add interest. The denim sections I fused with the iron, to leave it nice and smooth, with no quilting lines.

By Thursday, less than 48hrs after starting, and the day before the knitalong was due to start, I was feeling the pressure, but I was ready to assemble. In between running kids to town and getting school and chores done, I slowly got the bag built. I even found a perfectly coloured tag to add to the outside. Stealing whatever time I could, the bag came together. Rushing, however, came with it’s downsides. I drew blood after getting my finger tip caught on a pin and pulling the wrong way. I also managed to lose a couple of layers of skin after not paying attention, and letting my finger get rather too close to the needle of the sewing machine. Is it really a Rachy project really a Rachy project if there isn’t blood, and the panic of “oh gosh don’t tell me it’s on the fabric” (it wasn’t).

With the delightful synchronicity that life sometimes like to bless us with, this also happened to be the first day of a new drama class that all four of my children would be going to. I dropped them off, raced home and through my chores, and sat in blissful silence to start the binding stitching. In my haste to get stuck in, I had picked up a tube of milliner’s needles, gifted to me last year by Amitie Textiles. They would do the trick, thought I. I’ve used these needles for quilt binding previously and they are an absolute delight to use. Perfect, thought I.

Nope. Injury number three came about due to the narrow/sharp eye, and specifically, trying to use it to push a thin flexible needle through heavyweight denim, without the benefit of a thimble. It was a case of tiny house life biting me on the bum again, really, since by the time I had gotten around to the denim sections, it was dark and my needlebook with my quilting sharps and other needles was 100m across a dark paddock in the shipping container. Instead of risking the bunyips eating me as I dashed across in the dark, I pushed on. In hindsight it was a mistake – it took days for my fingers to stop stinging! It was worth it though, and at 10.19pm, a whole one hour and forty one minutes before the official start of the knitalong, the final stitch went in and I was all up in the group chat flashing the photos.

I went with the smaller option in the pattern, and it turned out absolutely the perfect size for my yarn. It couldn’t have fixed neater if I tried! In another delightful twist of coincidence, as I was packing everything in, I also realised I didn’t need to make stitch markers – they were already the perfect colour!

I’m ten days into the knitalong, and loving it. I lost some time when I came down with a non-plague large, and couldn’t brain enough to manage the eyelets. Now I’m well though, I’m powering through. I had hoped to get the first lacework repeat done over the weekend, but ended up fencing instead! Such is farm life. It’s high on my agenda for this week. There’s a whole lot of life coming at me. School needs doing and house decisions need to be made and the house paddock needs tidying up ahead of builders landing soon. This knitting is going to be my main grounding project as the crazies ramp up…lucky it’s so pretty to look at even in it’s bag, isn’t it?

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