A notions bag – and a new-found love for crochet, lining and hand-stitching

After teaching a glove-knitting class at Prick Your Finger I stayed behind and sat in on Rachael’s excellent beginners crochet class. I used to crochet doilies for my granny as a kid. They barely poked out from under an egg cup, but she used them nonetheless. But that was a long time ago, and apart from making a crochet chain for cast-ons, I haven’t really used any crochet techniques. However, when I saw Colleen’s gorgeous crochet bag, I was inspired to put my newly learnt skills to the test:

It was a lot of fun to make. Crochet has the advantage that it’s really quick to execute, and if it’s not to your liking, it’s very easy to undo and start again. I embellished my bag with a plaited cord and a tassel. Despite the muted colours and, dare I say it, plainness of the wools, it adds an understated touch of luxuriousness.

I used some left-over wool for this: the brown is Manx Loghtan from Garthenor Organic Wool and the heathered grey is North Ronaldsey from Blacker Yarns. I love the texture of this fabric – and the slight contrast between the stitch definitions:

The notions bag is lined, and in fact, I’ve been enjoying lining things lately. In this picture is a lined Sanquhar pencil case*:

For the notions bag I have used canvas, as I frequently have DPNs, crochet hooks and other sharp, pointy things rattling around in it and canvas is sturdy. For the pencil case I used some left over fabric from a pair of boxershorts. Who else can boast a matching pencil case and pants?

I have enjoyed all the hand stitching this involves. In both cases I first installed a zipper and then added the lining. I’m particularly fond of the tiny stitches that attach the lining to the zipper band, as they are nigh-on invisible.

My thread snipper also needed its own little wallet. The thin plastic case it came with didn’t really stay on very well, so I made one from layered canvas. Thanks to my indestructible Singer sewing machine, stitching through four layers was a doddle.

These very practical objects give me a lot of pleasure in their everyday use. They are unique, and well made, using quality materials. Both items replace bland and boring cases I bought on the High Street. The notions bag replaces one which had gaps at the end of the zipper. They were there to add some ease when opening and closing it, but it also meant that small things kept falling out. The pencil case replaced a tubular affair. It was made from some really light, yet stiff material, and for some reason it would always roll so that zipper faced down. But only when I left the zipper open. Pens and pencils kept falling out. I never thought about all this when I bought these items, but I got fed up with these minor annoyances. So although I’m pleased to have replaced notions bag and pencil case with unique pieces, they would never have turned out this way if I hadn’t used their generic predecessors.

The Notions Bag is Raveled here.

The Pencil Case is Raveled here.

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*) As an aside: it won’t be too long before I can release a pattern for the Sanquhar Pencil Case. Keep an eye out!

6 Replies to “A notions bag – and a new-found love for crochet, lining and hand-stitching”

    1. I agree, that was the other thing I realised when I made the notions bag. A simple crochet stitch in natural yarn looks so different from the bright colours of a granny square. And it’s a look I much prefer.

  1. These are lovely things, Tom – I wanted to reach in and touch them. Brown and grey is a colour combination that really works well in my book.

    Have been very much enjoying the quest visible mending.

  2. I love these tool bags and am inspired to make more such personalised items myself.

    Am tempted to take a leaf out of your books and make knickers from whatever fabric is left over after lining a pencil case, as I think that co-ordinating pants and pencil-cases is going to be big this season.

  3. PS am particularly impressed by gorgeous hand-stitching, and I think the plainness of the yarns you used is part of their charm.

    When I started knitting, all I wanted to use was *aMazInG VaRiEgaTeD yArnZ* because they look so fancy in the skein.However I soon discovered that such *yArnZ* often give less pleasing results than the plainer kind, because the colours and the pooling tend to overshadow any of the subtler details in the stitch work. In contrast, the natural sheep-colour wools – “unmonkeyed with” I believe is the official EZ quote on this – show off subtle details like the difference in stitch definition between Manx and North Ronaldsay wool, for instance. I think you have reinvented crochet for me with this sophisticated use of materials, and I love the embellishment of the tassel.

    1. I was exactly the same with variegated yarnz! But very soon they fell out of favour. Anything more than stocking stitch and you’ve wasted your efforts as far as I’m concerned. And, have I started a crochet revolution?

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