Make a tote bag from hand woven fabric

I am busily using up scrap yarn from my overflowing stash. As part of that I wove a piece of fabric that is frankly…um…mixed up; I used all sorts of fancy yarns in the weft, eyelash yarn, boucle yarn and a little bit of ladder yarn. All that in no particular order, colour or pattern, just throwing in a little bit here and there.

What to do with this fabric? I decided to make a tote bag.

First I cut it off the loom and overlocked the edges.

I gave it a wash too, to test for shrinkage.

Next I cut a lining the same size and some handle material.

Then it was time to sew up both the bag and the lining into basic bag shapes. Leaving a small hole in the bottom of the lining to turn the whole thing inside out.

Sewing across the bottom corners gives the bag a nice square bottom. I didn’t forget to measure the same distance down the corner seam on each piece. I sewed the lining corners the same way.

The corners were folded so that the bottom seam and the side seam lay on top of each other; the seam you can see in the photo below is the side seam, it is laying on top of the bottom seam. This makes a sort of cross seam at the base of the bag.

Finally I sewed the top of the outer bag to the inner lining. The handles can be pinned between these layers. I went over the handle joins more than once when sewing this part; handle joins are subject to a lot of strain. The handles need to be looped downwards with the ends facing up towards the top of the bag, when sewing the top seam (I learned that the hard way).

Yes…the handle is the wrong way around. I had to unpick and re-sew the whole thing with the handles the right way around.

I turned it all inside out (or right side out) then sewed up the hole.

There’s the bag done. Not too bad for a scrap yarn project.

Now on to spinning more yarn to make more fabric to sew more things.
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Finished my degree- now on with life

Well…not quite. I still have the matter of a ten week intern-ship to complete (trying not to stress too much), but the academic part of the degree is finished. It has been a long four years of study, most of it enjoyable, some of it torturous (maths units spring to mind) but all of it educational.

By the end of 2016 I will be a fully qualified, card carrying Primary School Teacher.

The last four years have been spent largely either working or studying, with little snippets of craft or building squeezed in around them. Now I plan to spend some time….

Building the garden;

Building a new cover over the trailer bed and replanting.

Refurnishing the Hugelkultur beds and planting.

Crafting with fibre;

Making fulled bags

Spinning cotton and wool

Knitting

And more knitting

Dyeing homespun yarn

A lot of homespun yarn

Building my business;

Trying to attract more customers

Adding new products…both hand made and….

Naturally harvested.

Learning new skills

Increasing my stock

Building a house;

Well…maybe I’m dreaming.

Spending time with my animals (and family and friends);

Also…enjoying the finer things in life;

Like unravelling old jumpers by the fire…with wine

And watching sunsets…with wine.

It has been a long, life changing journey so far, I wonder what will happen next?

From fleece to tote bag and all stops in between – part three

Time to dye my skeins of wool….

I love using natural dyes, they give such varied results and each pot is unique.
However, for making my tote bags I need large amounts of the same colours so I use commercial acid dyes.

Using acid dyes is so easy and  the results are beautiful.
Here’s how I do it (I’m sure there are easier ways).

Here is my washed and set skein. No dye.

First the skein gets another wash (there is a lot of washing in spinning)

Then I gather the ingredients I need for dying; vinegar, the dye and a big fork for fishing the skeins out of boiling dye.

A damp but clean skein of wool

The dye is mixed with water in a stainless steel pot and bought to the boil. I added a good dash of vinegar to the mix too.

The wool is added to the pot, which is still on the stove being heated to a low simmer. Smelling strongly of  vinegar and wet wool now.

When I judge the wool is dark enough…I fill the sink with clean, hot water and rinse the skein. Then I rinse again, and again until the water is clear.

The finished skein, dyed black (even though it doesn’t look it)

A close up 

A finished skein.

Next I begin to knit a bag………..see you then.

Fulled knit bags for the markets

I have been making knitted and fulled bags to sell at the markets. They are so much fun to make and each one is unique. I thought I would share one of the patterns I use.

This is the first fulled bag I made.

 I knit on the bus on the way to and from work and at lunch time, and I spin in the evening when I sit down, but I don’t seem to be able to spin fast enough to keep up with my knitting. Instead I buy pure (and non-super washed) wool from second hand shops whenever I see it and use it to knit these bags.

This one is for the markets.

The pattern I would like to share today is one I have just finished knitting. As usual, I have complicated the process; I used the Petite Felted Bag pattern by Ann Linn to get the shape of the bag and the mosaic/ slip stitch pattern from the Asthore bag by Christi Wasson for the pattern.

This is the bag before fulling.

Don’t be scared off by the fulling process, it’s just doing on purpose what I have done by accident for years; machine washing pure wool until it becomes felt. Simply throw the finished bag into the washing machine with hot water for about fifteen minutes and then check, if the bag isn’t felted enough just do it again. I love making these bags, they are easy to knit and full, they are very tough and fully washable. They stretch out a bit with use, but snap right back to their smaller size when washed (I wish I could say the same).

I really enjoy knitting; it keeps my hands busy so my mind can wander. Making something useful is always a pleasure too. I am setting my goal at about six fulled bags by December, so I can take them to a market somewhere and make enough to buy more wool.

Another pattern, unfulled as yet

A finished bag for the markets