BY HAND

Market bag crocheting like jazz, perhaps

Posted Oct. 03, 2011, at 4:37 p.m.
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

Awhile back, I got it into my head that I wanted to crochet market bags. That, of course, led to a quick Internet search, which turned out to be not so fast because so many bag patterns exist at so many yarn and needlework sites that it became a virtual pursuit bordering on the absurd. The thrill of the hunt! The greed of the gatherer! Eventually, I found gold at http://classiceliteyarns.com where I happened upon the elegant Summer String Bag designed by Kathy North, who designs for ravelry.com. Other Kathy North designs can be found at designsbykn.com/.

With pattern printed and in hand, I was off and running to paw through my yarn stash to see what languished in plastic totes and was begging to be turned into something utilitarian. This meant I was going to tinker with the yarn requirements of the pattern, which called for Classic Elite Provence yarn spun of 100 percent Egyptian cotton.

Well, I did end up using cotton yarn with an international twist. I used Peaches and Cream yarn made of cotton grown in the United States and manufactured in Canada. It possibly made a detour to Mexico for some obscure reason — that wasn’t entirely clear to me from reading the label. But I liked the idea that several countries had been involved in making the yarn and getting it onto store shelves, even if one of them wasn’t Egypt. The colors I had on hand were bright pink and lime green. Doesn’t get better or tangier than that. Unless, of course, you get all tangled up in the intensity of the Classic Elite Provence yarn colors in chartreuse or hot pink, or any of a multitude of other colors, including variegated shades, such as sea blue.

The beauty of crocheting the market bag is that it’s worked in the round so there’s no sewing to do and no ends to weave in. When you’re done, you’re done. The pattern calls for a size G hook, which makes the work go easily and fairly quickly.

In the process of tinkering with the yarn requirements, I also messed around with the pattern. Using the pink yarn, I made the single-crochet bottom of the bag deeper than called for. I put in a lime green stripe, added a few more rounds of pink above it, then switched to lime green for the rest of the bag. The pattern called for a treble-crochet shell design. I used double-crochet instead.

Even though I didn’t follow the directions to the letter, I urge anyone trying the pattern for the first time to stick to the yarn requirements and instructions as written, otherwise you could end up with a cat toy.

When the bag was finished, I let it lie around a week, looking at it, figuring out what I needed to do to give it a finishing touch. It seemed bare and needed some sort of decoration. Beads came to mind, but didn’t seem quite right. So I trolled through a needlework book containing directions for crocheting flower motifs until I found one with five petals that appealed to me. I crocheted the flower center in pink and the petals in green overcast with pink. The flower gave the bag a feminine touch. When I looked at it, it made me smile.

Over the course of the next few months, as I watched movies or a favorite TV show in the evenings, I worked on other bags using the same pattern, but riffing on it — my version of jazz, I guess. Some of the bags are done in the open-work shell pattern, some are done entirely in single crochet. Some have flower motif embellishments and some don’t. Some are done in variegated yarn, some are a single color. They vary in size because I ignored the gauge parameters (I don’t recommend that).

Thanks, Classic Elite and Kathy North, for providing me with a wonderful pattern that allowed me many happy hours of crocheting variations on a market bag theme.

Snippets

In response to my Sept. 27 column about items that literary characters would knit or stitch, Julia Hathaway of Veazie offered this response by email: “Laura, of ‘Little House On The Prairie,’ probably started off with a sampler before she was 11 and went on to all the needle arts. And I can imagine Mr. Rogers of ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’ whipping out the knitting needles to produce one of his iconic cardigans.”

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H.O.M.E. Inc. in Orland needs help in gathering items for delivery to villagers of San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala. These are items are needed:

• Bicycles in good working order or easily fixable.

• Kitchen appliances, including microwaves, toaster ovens, hot plates, coffee makers, etc.

• Carpentry tools including hammers, saws, sanders, etc.

• Mechanical tools including wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.

• Farming tools including shovels, picks, axes, etc.

• Shoes for men and children.

• Computers and laptops.

• Sewing machines.

• Clothing for men and children.

• Cash donations.

Call Josh or Rosa at 469-7961 to arrange to drop off a donation or to have one picked up.

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Maine Fiberarts will present a Showcase exhibition and sale through Monday, Oct. 10, at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. The public is invited to attend. Proceeds will benefit Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Maine Fiberarts and the artists.

Maine Fiberarts Showcase offers the opportunity to see many examples of contemporary Maine fiberwork. Work includes patchwork balsam pillows, animal pin cushions, fine lace shawls, hand-spun yarns, embroidered quilts, felted knitting bags, handmade tassels and hundreds of other items. It will include “Garden in the Fog,” an art quilt by Mary Allen Chaisson; “Homage to Anne Frank,” a woven tapestry by Barbara Burns; “O For the Wings of a Dove,” a knitted garment by Katharine Cobey and many other fine works of art.

After its stint in Boothbay, work from the Showcase will move to Maine Fiberarts’ new Red Studio, 13 Main St. in Topsham, where it will be on display and offered for sale during November and December. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information about the Showcase, visit mainefiberarts.org or call 721-0678.

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A program on Vintage Piecework will be presented by Carolee Withee at a meeting of the Orono Quilters at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Orono Senior Center, 10 Birch St. Withee will showcase her Heritage Series of vintage quilts made of the crocheted, tatted and embroidered work inherited from our grandmothers. Admission is free. For more information about the program or the Orono Quilters, email sharonquinn.fitzgerald@umit.maine.edu.

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Art in the Garden, an annual nonprofit event hosted by Sprague’s Nursery to benefit the Bangor Humane Society, will be held 4-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at Sprague’s Nursery, 1664 Union St. in Bangor. The event will showcase the work of 40 local artisans and fiber artists. Tickets for the event are $25 and may be purchased at Sprague’s, the Bangor Humane Society or Winterport Winery. For more information, email info@spraguesnursery.com or call 942-1394.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153, or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com.

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