Monday, 28 March 2011

Part One: The Journey and Taa-Daa: Carrot Bag

A couple of weeks ago, on the 15th March (which incidentally was my birthday), I had a work meeting in Essex. Given that I live near Hull this was a pretty long way to travel for a one hour meeting, especially for someone whose independence can be hindered by ME. That said, I was determined to make the effort, and I was determined to do it without crutches. All nine trains of it and 14 hours of it.

As the day approached I was filled with nervous excitement - the meeting was very exciting - but the journey also phased me. I realised, stood at Hull Paragon station with newly crocheted bag in one hand and a coffee in the other, that I hadn't actually left the house without a chaperone in two years. TWO YEARS. I felt wonderfully, wonderfully free. And a bit anxious. And I wondered exactly what had happened to me that I had gone from independent professional, to nervous recluse. The reality smacked me hard between the eyes: I have effectively lost two years of my life. How on earth can I make that up?

A few things really appealed about taking the trip. Firstly was the challenge of it. Secondly, all that peace and quiet and time to myself - bliss. And thirdly? Time to read, and to knit. It's not like I don't have a lot of time for reading and knitting but, to be fair, I thought it was a good sign to still be excited about my work thing enough to want to do it as a hobby thing too.

The night before the trip, having made myself a bag and a necklace (because I wanted to stand out, in a good way), I scrabbled through my stash trying to think of a new project to knit. I wanted something personal - for me. For so long everything I knit has been determined by my customers. I really enjoy this, but also once in a while it's nice to have complete creative control. I checked out my Ravelry list and eventually found a fabulous tank top that I could make for Charlie. It should look like this (and please excuse the rubbish picture):

What drew me to this tank top was the colour, and the quirky retro feel of the robot. I knew it was something Charlie would love. I'm also creatively very interested in clothes that allow children to role play but are proper clothes rather than dress up, and this fits the bill nicely. I could just imagine Charlie running around pretending that he is Robbie The Robot, as depicted on his jumper.

What I am going to tell you now will be of no surprise: I did not knit a stitch on that train journey. I only just managed a couple of chapters too. It all went swimmingly well - the meeting and the journey, and I spent most of my time gazing out of the window at the wonderful English countryside - lamb spotting, I'll admit it, or people watching. Both were very entertaining too.I listened to paper merchants and people talking hurridly in foreign languages on their phones. I watched a young man leave his iPhone and wallet open and unattended on his seat, so he could chat up the pretty girl a few seats down (Christ, I sound like my mother). I saw two rows of cheery toddlers in triple buggies watching the trains and hoping that someone would wave at them. It was brilliant. SO worth it. I absolutely recommend a trip somewhere new on the train, even if it's just to blow the cobwebs away.

But the knitting reclined languorously at the bottom of that newly crocheted bag, gathering bits.

I will come back to that robot tank top as, unfortunately, it's been somewhat challenging. However, I have also learned a lot about technique and tried out lots of new things, but they're unrelated to The Trip, really.I shall tell you about them tomorrow. However, in the spirit of The Trip, what is more relevant is this:

Taa - Daa! The Carrot Bag


The carrot bag was conceived in front of CSI. I LOVE crocheting these bags - (UK) DC round and round for the base until it seems large enough, then TC up and up until the bag is deep enough. I ran out of cream yarn before the end of the project, so used increasingly lighter cream tones until it faded to white. This worked amazingly well. I fancied a new edging as I often use shell edging on my bags and, after a quick mooch about, found this curlicue edging. I decided on green simply because I wanted it to co-ordinate with the bottom of the bag. It was only after I started that I realised it reminded me of pea shoots. Which is where the idea for the carrots came from....

The fabric inside is, actually, a bag in itself. As such this bag took quite a long time to make. For Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Lisa Lam's book The Bag Making Bible:

Bag making bible

I LOVE this book, it is one of the best self-help books I own. I constantly pick it up when I am making bags because the techniques are second to none. The projects are great too, but I don't always want to make someone else's ideas up. I love the fact the techniques are including separately from the projects, but the projects link to the technique being taught. Does that make sense? It makes it easier to use the book as a tool to help you make your own things.

Anyway, inspired by Lisa Lam, I made a lined bag with inner zip pockets for my phone and purse. It was perfectly big enough for the things I wanted to carry (magazines and book) but not so deep I lose my knitting. It's an absolute bloody revelation to be able to make a bag that suits your needs perfectly. If you're any good at sewing, then I urge you to try it. You will feel like the cleverest thing in the world.

The carrot bag was satisfying to make and certainly eye catching. It's very practical too and I can see me using it a lot. Many people commented on it, even strangers. Some clearly did not like it much, but boo ya sucks to them. The only thing I'd change if I repeated the project would be to use a better quality yarn for the carrots. I only had mega cheap acrylic in my stash in orange, and I think it shows. I am tempted to buy some orange cotton - possibly Debbie Bliss's Eco Baby in DK - and see whether I can do a better job of it.

Anyway - love to you all, and back with the knitting techniques post very soon

Claire x


  1. Well done you on the train journey - sometimes it's good to just do nothing and watch the world go by. BTW - have nominated you for a Liebster Blog award. Check out my post of 22 March. Richly deserved. C.x

  2. I'm so glad the journey was a happy, positive experience for will be much more confident now. I really like travelling by train and I always plan to do things but end up gazing out of the window. I LOVE that bag...quirky, pretty and very unique!!! xx

  3. Thank you both - and Claire, I am so, so chuffed :-D Thank you so much!