Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Grrlfriend Market Bag

Have you ever made something because you thought you wanted it, only to find out you really didn't need it and might never use it? That's my situation with this knitted market bag.

What enticed me about this beauty was the fantasy of walking a farmer's market and filling my hand knit bag to the brim. The yarn was what sold me on it. I just love the colors. It's Linsey from Berroco yarns. Wonderful to work with, in a blend of linen and cotton. The self-striping effect is so cool!

I say going to the farmer's market is a fantasy, because I have yet to find the likes of the HUGE one in my hometown (Ithaca, NY) here in central Massachusetts. A roofed pavilion, stalls too numerous to count, live music, purveyors of fresh cooked snacks and lunches, art, wine, baked goods, preserves, hand spun yarn - all enhance the task of shopping for the freshest of vegetables and fruit. I miss it.

This summer my husband and I bought a farm share, or CSA. Every Thursday I drive 8 miles to a home where I pick up produce that was delivered earlier in the day. We bought a small share, and it's proven to be more than the two of us can eat. Last week's share contained 2 ears of corn, 4 bell peppers, 4 or 5 hot peppers, lettuce, arugula, a cucumber, cilantro, an eggplant, two summer squash, a pint of tiny yellow pear-shaped tomatoes, and a large tomato. On paper this sounds wonderful, but there was just as much in our box the previous week, and the week before, and the week before... I have banana peppers coming out of my ears. I have a refrigerator bursting with produce, and I'll be picking up more on Thursday.

Ok, I admit, I'm not much for cooking. People say I'm a good cook, but it doesn't happen often. I think it's because I put so much of my creative juices into sewing and knitting. I have little energy left when I enter my small kitchen. Which is another issue. Last night my husband helped me make a grilled vegetable lasagna, and we kept bumping into each other. It was frustrating to have so little counter space, and I had an "aha moment". I finally realized the space issue is part of the reason I don't cook much. The other is that my husband often works late, and I don't like to cook for just myself. A bowl of cereal and fruit is just fine some evenings. Or a salad with every vegetable in my fridge at the time.

The farm share has helped us eat better, and I've made some delicious recipes, but I'm going to be relieved when it ends in a couple of weeks. We're not signing up for the fall session because there will be kale, kale, and more kale. In June, I had kale coming out of my ears. And we don't care for kale, collards, or escarole. We tried it; it doesn't make our taste buds happy. So this fall I'll be going to the local farm stand and buying what appeals to me at the time. And maybe I'll use my bag - although I don't want to get it wet or dirty, or - why did I make this bag?

Look how cool the bottom is! The cast on stitches are pulled through a circle of yarn (Emily Ocker's Beginning, which can be found online). It's a really cool way to start a project. The bag was designed by Laura Spradlin and the pattern is available on Ravelry. It was lots of fun to make. The only change I made was to make two shorter straps instead of one shoulder strap.

Time will tell what I carry in this bag, but I have to admit, it does look great full of vegetables!

In the studio, I'm busy making handbags. I, who vowed to never make another bag for as long as I live, have three handbags in the works. It's been fun shopping my stash and designing one-of-a-kind bags. I let the fabrics dictate the style, shape and mood of each one. That's much easier than trying to figure out how to make a fabric do something it doesn't want to do. I've been doing the painting all at once, since there is some set up and tear down involved in that process. Then I move forward cutting and sewing each one until I arrive at a place where I need another supply, or I'm not sure how I want a certain element to look, and I start working on a different one. I'm usually a one-project-at-a-time kind of gal, but I'm enjoying working this way right now.

I find I really enjoy drafting the patterns, too. There is something very pleasurable about a pencil in my hand. The simple act of physically transferring thought onto paper is something I so seldom do in this digital age. Each time I pick up a pencil, I realize how much I've missed writing and drawing. I've purchased a small sketch pad, pencils, a sharpener and an eraser to keep in my car, so that I can draw ideas as they come to mind. Not while I'm driving, but in between appointments, errands, work and home, etc. Of course, I'll need to design a bag to keep them in!

I plan to have at least one bag completed by the end of the week, so I'll be posting again soon. Tell me, how does your cooking mojo compare to your sewing or knitting mojo? Does it drain your creative energy, or can you do both with no trouble? I'm curious!