Thursday, June 1, 2017

Grandma's Bag

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling plagued by projects I had told myself I wanted to do but had never done. Let's pause a moment and recognize what a gift it is that I have a life that can be plagued by my hobbies instead of real problems.


So, I emailed some smart friends about it. Lynn asked if maybe I was just tired of making things and needed a break. I sat with that for awhile and decided that I just hadn't been in the mood to do new things. A tenth pair of diagonal rib socks? Yes. A project that I couldn't do while zoned out on the couch? No.

Mysteriously, that was what it took to get unstuck. 

I don't remember my grandma knitting, but she did it a lot before she had Parkinson's. Parkinson's is terrible. 

Grandma's old knitting bag had sat in a garage for years. It was badly, badly torn and frayed, held together in places with safety pins, was disgustingly dirty, and contained some dubious black things that made me shudder. I cut the material off the wooden frame and washed it. It was worth the risk of it falling completely apart in the wash. There was no way I was using it for a template as it was.

Once clean, it sat and stared at me judgmentally for months.

I was off yesterday, and I spent it at home working on one of the bag. It started with a list and some math.

I had already purchased and washed the material I wanted to use for the project, a canvas for the outside and a satin for the inside. In addition to the bottom of the bag, there's another flap that goes under the wooden frame to hold it in place. Since that and the long seams on both sides that go over the handles had to be done with the frame in place, there was a lot of handsewing. 

I tried to be Zen about it. I only sort of succeeded.

I measured my notion bag and made a pocket for it in the lining. It's possible that pocket is wrong side out, but I'm sticking to the story that it depends on your perspective. My perspective says it's fine.

Seven hours, a bobbin refill, a bent sewing machine needle, far more handsewing than I anticipated, only one shouted outburst of, "FOR FUCK'S SAKE," and it was finished.

I learned some things, certainly. I would have done the lining differently if I had it to do over, but thank God I don't have to do it over. No 4-H judges will ever look at it, and it doesn't matter that there are some wonky areas. I'm pleased with it, and I'm thrilled to be able to use something that was grandma's for a hobby we share.

Last night I loaded it with a mostly finished hat that just needs a pompom, a matching, long, worsted weight cowl in progress and the 6 balls of yarn the cowl requires. It all fit, which makes me think this might be related to Mary Poppins' carpet bag. 

Thanks, Grandma. I'll think of you whenever I use it, which will be a lot.


  1. Well done!!!! I can totally understand not wanting to do new things. I completely identify with that. That's why a sock has needed needle felting at my house for 3 months.

  2. :: sniffle ::

    That is perfect and beautiful! What a great way to celebrate your grandmother in the every day actions of your life, and also to refuel your creative energy with such a project.

  3. You amaze me with your talents! Congratulations on creating another beautiful project!