Saturday, January 23, 2010

1.5 bags, part I

I love crafts!  I can't believe it's taken me this long to write about them.  Making bags is a relatively new endeavor of mine.  I was lucky enough to receive a lovely corduroy and suede handmade bag from my aunt for Christmas.  Right now I am in possession of 1.5 bags I made myself.  One of those I made by felting and the half-bag is an ongoing labor of love, but more on that later......

What do I love about handmade bags?  Hmmm, well, I love that they have stories.

Let's start with Bag #1:

In November of 2007 (whew that is so long ago now!) I took a trip to Joann's Fabrics with my mother when I was in CT for Thanksgiving.  Now, I think in previous posts I have described what happens when I am in craft stores, but just to reiterate--I go a little crazy.  I've chatted with other crafters about this and I find this is a common phenomenon amongst us folk.  All of the sudden, I forget all the projects I'm currently working on and pick up 10 more projects.  For some reason I believe A.) I will have the time to complete all these new projects plus my old projects, B.) I will have the motivation to work on these now thousands of projects I have at home, and C.) I've suddenly hit the lotto and can afford to buy all these materials.  In the midst of my frenzied buying that day, I picked up some felting wool.  This was kind of a silly thing to do--at that point I had never done a felting project, I knew nothing about felting, and I did not have a washing machine in my home (which I later found out is one of the major necessary ingredients to completing a felted piece).

I finally began the felted bag in January of 2008.  Turned out that there was a lovely pattern included with the skein of wool (thanks, Lion brand wool!).  I began in earnest in the midst of my"Re-Orientation", a retreat all Jesuit Volunteers attend in the middle of their volunteer year.  I have very fond, warm, fuzzy memories of Re-O and included in those is the night I hung out with a large group of other knitters (including the organization's senior director of programming) and sat around knitting and chatting about our projects.  I also knitted away much of the very long drive home (from Scranton, PA to Boston, MA!).  But, as I often do, I put the project down and did not pick it up for months.  In fact, I didn't finish it until a few months ago when I brought the pieces to my Mom and Dad's house in order to put them in the washing machine.

You might be asking yourself, "Why is a washing machine involved?".  Good question.  Well, you see, "felting" is really just knitting with special yarn and then putting it in hot water in the washing machine so that it shrinks down and essentially becomes like a solid piece of felt.  This is why it is great to make pieces like bags or pouches through felting--you can be sure that nothing will fall out.  Here, you see the finished project:

Another reason I love this bag is it has some buttons I sewed on--ok so at first this doesn't seem like anything to be too proud of, however, these buttons were from the "you never know when you will need it" bag I have.  Yes, that's right, I am a craft-material-pack rat.  I always save the little buttons and snaps that come with new shirt or pants I buy.  I also save nice ribbons on gifts (and I save tons of plastic bags, but more on that in my next post).  I just never really know when I'll use something in a craft project!!  Thus, I felt that my scrap material saving ways were vindicated when I added those little flourishes to my bag.

All in all, it feels so nice to finish a handmade bag, even if it takes a very long time to do so.....which is why I hope to finish my bag of plastic bags very soon.  But, like keep saying, more on that later.

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