crossbody close up1

Summer’s Ready Cotton Crossbody Bag

My original crossbody bag

Have you ever flipped through a magazine, walked into a store, found an article of interest and said to yourself, “I can do that”? Well, that happened to me recently and I had to do something about it. 

While walking through the local mall, I came across a purse on a mannequin that caught my eye. It had fringe on it, with a long strap and it was crocheted! My thought was, “I could make that.”

I couldn’t get it out of my head, I just had to crochet that bag or one similar. Maybe make one with fringe, a long strap to be worn crossbody, big enough to put wallet and sunglasses in it, but not too big.

On Saturday morning, with a cup of hot tea in my hand, I sat down in my “cave” (aka the office) to begin the process of crocheting a bag. First I had to determine a few things. Such as, how big would the bag be? What yarn would be used? What size crochet hook? And, so on.

Yarn.

Originally, I grabbed my stash of Lily Sugar & Cream Cotton yarn, in the colorway Sonoma Print for the bag. The skein is large, 12 ounces, approximately 600 yards, but I need both ends to crochet the bag with 2 strands held together, so my husband wound off half the large skein onto the yarn winder. It’s great to have a yarn winder, much easier than rolling into balls.

Choosing the crochet hook.
Cotton yarn will stretch a bit, so a larger hook, like P, will make the bag airy and will stretch whatever you put in it. A J hook will make the bag stiff, which is good but you do want some give in the bag. My choice for the bag is N-9mm. It will make the bag flow, while still hold its shape.

Let’s crochet.
If you do not want to follow this with all the photos, commentary and instructions, you can pick up the pattern from the patterns link above. For 1 week, you can get the pattern for FREE, afterwards it will be priced at $4.00.

There will be abbreviations in the pattern here:
ch  chain
st-stitch
ss  slip stitch
sc  single crochet

hdc  half double crochet

Round 1 of bag

 

For the sample shown the directions I am using Lily Sugar & Cream yarn-Americana Ombre colorway. With 2 strands of yarn held together, make a slip knot and chain 22. SC in 2nd ch from hook, across to last chain, 2sc in last chain, turn work to underside and 2sc in same stitch, sc across chain, 2sc in last stitch.

10 Rounds SC

 

Place a removable stitch marker, SC in each stitch around for 10 rounds. As you can see from the photo here, this is what it will look like. After the 10 rounds, which forms the base of the bag, you will now hdc around for 12 rounds.

13 Rounds HDC

Do not bind off, its time to add the shoulder strap. HDC in the next 4 sts, turn, sc in each st, continue to make the strap… it will be at least 100 rows. But don’t worry about counting the rows. Just crochet as long as you want the strap. When you have the strap length, lay bag flat, lay the strap on top of the bag, and sc the 4 stitches to the bag.

Attaching strap to bag

DO NOT BIND OFF. You will now make the closure flap. SC in same stitch as the strap edge, sc the next 19 sts, ending with sc in strap edge. Turn and continue to sc across this for 10 rows. Decrease first 2 stitches, and last 2 sts of each row, until there are 2 sts remain. Chain 5, slip stitch in 2nd chain from hook. Add a cute button to close and you are done.

Envelope Decreasing

 

If you do not want to make the envelope closure as in the Americana sample, and just want the flap to be a straight edge, as in the tricolor purse, all you have to do is single crochet 15 rows. Cut fringe to a length that will meet the bottom edge of the purse. And there you go.

Summer’s Ready Crossbody Bag

 

Let me know what you think about the bags. They are fun to make and can be made in less than 8 hours.

crochet edgings

Crochet Edgings, A How To

Edged Baby Blankets

Crochet Edgings

At the knitting guild I belong to, one of the classes we learned from was how to add crochet edgings to baby afghans. It is a nice embellishment to an ordinary item. All it takes is 1 yard of fleece fabric, a rotary cutter with a skip cut rotary blade, some yarn and in no time will you have a great gift.  Thanks go out to our instructor, fellow guild member Cathy McFarlane for teaching the class.

Here is your supplies list:

1 yard fabric  Go to your local craft, fabric store. You can usually find remnant pieces already cut to size, no need to shop for the fabric, its already done for you.
Rotary Cutter (or Scissors) and Mat Round cutting blade in a handle and a mat that doesn’t cut.
Yarn  I use scrap yarn from my stash
Crochet Hook  I use US H/8, 5mm crochet hook
Skip-Cut Rotary Cutter Blade  Makes perfect holes in fleece and other material for crochet edge blankets
Needle and Thread/Embroidery Floss used for Running Stitch- Hand-sewn stitch that weaves in and out of the fabric, resulting in a dashed line.

Instructions:

With each 1 yard fabric piece, you will be able to make 2 blankets. Take your rotary cutter or scissors and cut the fabric in half at the fold. Set one piece aside. Lay one fabric piece on the table. With the needle and thread, you will sew a running stitch along all 4 sides of fabric. It’s about a 1 inch hem.

Lay fabric on mat, put the skip-cut blade in the rotary cutter. Be careful as the blade is sharp. Roll the cutter along the inside of the hem, only rolling once. When you get to a corner, carefully turn your piece. I use a pin, to mark the last cut. If you cut it more than once, it will leave a larger hole. Go around all 4 sides.


Time to crochet the edging. With all crochet projects, start with a single crochet row. Make a slip knot, insert your hook and yarn into a hole, be sure to go through both thickness, single crochet. Go across the edge, make 3-5 single crochets in corner. You may need to trim the corner, so it is not too thick, and continue around all 4 sides. Slip stitch to first single crochet.

Now the fun begins. There are many crochet stitches you can add to the single crochet: Double Crochet, Shell Stitch and Picot Stitch just to name a few. You can change yarn colors, or keep it the same, its up to you. Here are samples of my crochet edgings.

double crochet edging

Double crochet- dc each stitch gives you a nice border. My sample shows you the nice edging. When at the corner, add a chain between each single crochet to keep the corner from rolling up. Or do 2 double crochets in each stitch.

shell stitch at the border

 

Shell stitch- 5 double crochet in each stitch gives you a nice scallop edge. For my sample, I did 5DC in 1 stitch (st), skip 1 st, single crochet in next st, skip 1 st. Do this until you get to corner, at the corner, 6dc in center of corner stitches.

picot stitch edging

 

Picot stitch- Ch 3, 4, or 5 and slst into first ch (picot made!). Work two, three, or four stitches, then make another picot. My sample shows ch 4, slip stitch (sl st) into 1st chain, sc in next 3 stitches and repeat across. When at corner, ch 3, sl st into 1st chain, sc in next st, ch 4, sl st into 1st ch, sc in next st, ch 3, sl st into 1st chain and continue around. Repeat this process for each side and corner.

These are just a few of the many crochet edgings you can add to your projects. Not just for crochet and knit items anymore!
What are your favorite crochet edgings to use? Just post in the comments section on the page, I would love to hear your favorites.

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To Block, Or Not To Block (Knitting)

To Block or Not To Block?

That is the question when it comes to knitting. You have made a lovely shawl with some beautiful yarn. It looks good as is. You wear it, people say it’s lovely, but something is missing. What do you do?

Do you block it?
Most knitters will say, “YES” to blocking. “Absolutely block your garment. The stitches will shine through, and the compliments you will get from it don’t hurt either.”

I’m going to answer a few common questions below.
• Will all fibers block?
• What items are needed block the garment?
• Where to purchase the supplies for blocking?
• How to block a shawl.

Let’s get started.

Blocking pads, cat not included


Blocking Mats:
Foam rubber mats fit together like puzzle pieces to make the size and shape you need. It is an affordable and portable alternative to blocking boards. One side is smooth, one side has texture. The mats shown can be purchased online at  www.KnitPicks.com. You get nine 12″ grey squares in the set. If you want colorful mats, check out amazon.com.

Baggy here: I like the mats, they are soft and squishy. Good for a scratching too, but don’t tell Kathy.

More helping paws and T-Pins


T-Pins.
Pins that are shaped like a capital T, made of nickel plated steel. The pins hold your garment in place on the mats. These can be purchased at retailers like Jo-Ann’s, Michaels, Target, and even office supply retailers like Office Depot and Staples.

Fabric wash


Fabric Wash:
Some fibers, even after knitting, still feel a little rough. Washing the fabric usually will soften the garment. You do not use the washing machine for these laundry washes. SOAK, EUCALAN, UNICORN FIBER WASH, are a few good soaps. Use a capful in kitchen sink, let the shawl sit for 15 minutes, and ring out excess water from garment. No rinsing needed.

Enjoying blocking pads, ignoring T-Pins

As shown in the picture, this shawlette is being wet blocked with T pins and blocking mats.  

Cat not included.

Baggy here again: As you can see, I am a very efficient worker. I am keep the shawl in place with my body, and relax. Sometimes I even make the extra effort to move a pin when it gets in my way.

Acrylic yarns will block if steam is used instead of water. Using your steam iron, set the temp on high and with the shawl pinned, hold the iron close to the shawl, not touching it. Press the steam button to apply steam to shawl.

Blocking Cotton Shawl

 

You can block any type of natural fiber for any type of garment. Animal fibers, like wool, alpaca, yak will wet block nicely. Even cotton yarn will block. This pink, green and white shawl took almost 3 days to block since cotton is a heavier weighted yarn. As you work, remember to get the knitting into the desired shape without stretching it out or damaging the fibers.

With so many yarns out there, why not take some time to block that garment?

Blocking pads are comfy


Baggy here: Some might be asking, what is blocking? It is a technique for stretching, easing, and redistributing stitches in a finished piece of hand knitting. Blocking creates an even fabric, making it easy to work with and nice to wear. And you thought all I did was lay around!