A couple years ago, I started following futuregirl's blog, even though she was then primarily a crocheter (she now knits, as well) and I had not crocheted anything other than a handful of squares for a group baby blanket project.
It's not really the modality that matters so much as the process. I was instantly drawn to the way futuregirl (aka Alice) thinks about what she is doing, plays with her designs, and makes multiple versions of the everything she creates--all the while explaining everything in clear and simple prose. I love that she offers pattern downloads and tutorials explaining her work. And though (or perhaps because?) I have a sloppy hand myself, I greatly appreciate that she is neat and precise.
Her Starling Handbag captivated me (and many others--there's a flickr group for Starling Handbags here) with its simple, basketlike design and the potential for customization. I often carry gigantic totes that end up holding everyone's lunch, water and current reading, but I dreamed of a little bag with room for only my wallet, phone, keys--and perhaps just *one* book.
With all the tutorials and explanations on the site, I was sure I could do it.
I had a cotton handspun my husband had brought back from a trip many years ago. I'd always loved the color but had never found the right project. It seemed perfect.
Unfortunately, my tendency to lose track of counting quickly kicked in and I had to crochet the base to size rather than stitch count. I believe I was thinking that 11" was as long as the longest book I might carry.
I have no photos of the bag in progress. Was it because I had my tongue between my teeth the entire time, or because the project went so quickly and easily? I wish I could remember.
In any case, it was finally crocheted up but very plain. The whole thing stalled while I tried to think of how to make it nicer. There were all the elaborate designs on the Flickr set, but I'm not that artistic; I needed it to be simple. I finally settled on spring flowers so I could finish and be done with it. I cut out a pattern on scrap paper and laid it against the bag to be sure it would work--
--then cut the same patterns from felt and stitched them on.
Futuregirl has a wonderful bag lining tutorial on her site which is characteristically both simple and precise. I sew adequately but followed her lining directions because they are perfect. From a collection of sarongs I had inherited, I found one that matched the turquoise of the yarn. Interior pockets are a given, of course.
This is the bag I've been carrying around all spring. It represents so much to me: my husband's gift, an attempt at a new skill, and my boundless gratitude for all that futuregirl and so many others generously share via the web.
And also, of course, my continuing effort to downsize, to carry only the essentials and not worry about the rest.