Monday, April 2, 2018

My New Tote Bag

I have lots of bags. Bags of all shapes, sizes, construction, and with various handles and straps are all around the place. We have bags that smoosh up into the attached pouch for easy carrying. These have the right kind of handles for carrying in your hand, but not the right kind for comfortable carrying on the shoulder. They're handy to carry around in their pouch in case they're needed--we've used them for carrying groceries, unexpected charity shop purchases, and even to pick up sticks for the fire when we've been out walking. We have a large burlap bag that is great for hauling home bulky groceries, carrying books to the wee free library, or bringing stuff to the charity shop--Bill found it while we were out walking one day last year. We have a new muslin bag with the Donegal County Library logo on it--the shape of that is perfect for carrying milk without having the jug fall down and of course, for carrying books to and from the library. Bill doesn't care for the bag because the strap is too long for him to carry it at his side and he doesn't like putting it on his shoulder. I prefer to carry things on my shoulder, so I use it when appropriate. Over the years, I've learned that when walking everywhere having the right bag for whatever is being carried is important to avoid pain and discomfort. For years I practically lived with my backpack on my back-- if I was outside without it, I felt weird and like I was missing something. But I've gotten to the point now where I don't need to carry it around all the time. If I am just going for a walk or we're taking the bus somewhere for the day, there's no need to wear a backpack that is mostly empty. This is especially true in summer when it is hot. So I decided I wanted a tote bag that I could wear on one shoulder and hanging across my body when out walking. I wanted it to be flat, easy to carry, and big enough to hold a spare hat (you never know when the weather will change here and I have found it helpful to be prepared--fortunately both Bill and I have a hat for any kind of weather condition that might crop up),  a book and/or a small stitching project, my little camera, my stainless steel coffee mug, and some food. I wanted it to be machine washable and sturdy. And I did not want a stretchy strap. I gathered some acrylic yarn that was given to me--Red Heart Classic. It's tough stuff and the colours are nice. I started making squares. Liked the squares, but not for this bag. I decided to keep them for a future project, unless I needed the yarn for the bag. I didn't. I started again and ripped out what I had. I think I repeated this a time or two more, before I finally decided to just do the Tunisian crochet simple stitch short row hexagon. So I made two of them, crocheted around each, crocheted them together, and then made a strap.
I always like the Tunisian simple stitch with multi-coloured yarn and/or scraps and it's a dense, sturdy stitch if done with a smaller hook than I'd normally use for Tunisian. I used a 5.5mm hook for this project. These hexagons are fun to make--just make a chain that is about half the width you want the hexagon to be. Some people prefer to start with one stitch and do one more each row. I start with a stitch in each chain and do one less each row, until there is one stitch left. This creates one smooth edge and one sawtooth edge. Stitches for the next wedge are picked up along the sawtooth edge and again one less is stitched in each row. For this bag, I began with a chain of 29.

For the strap, I kept chaining and measuring to get the size I wanted from one side of the opening to the other. I did this with the darker green. When I had a chain that was just a bit shorter than I wanted (the strap will stretch a little bit in use), I slip stitched to the other side, turned, and did single crochets  back to the other side. I dropped the darker green, leaving a loop to use later, picked up the lighter green, and did triple crochets across, slip stitching to the body of the bag on the other side. I cut this yarn and finished off that colour. then I went back to the darker green on the other side and did slip stitch surface crochet on the triples, turned, and did a row of single crochet back across in the top of each triple, before fastening off and weaving in ends. The strap seems to be pretty sturdy and without much stretch, which is what I wanted.
This was my mindless upstairs project. I finished it the other night and have yet to decide on what the next mindless project will be. I felt a bit adrift last night as I listened to podcasts without the yarn running through my fingers! I will have to figure something out before tonight's podcasts!

Here's hoping your week has started off well. It's a bank holiday here and raining, so it's fairly quiet in the neighbourhood.

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