Saturday, September 29, 2012


Showing off new bag.
Confession: I am not just a knitter.

As a young teenager, I learned to sew and since money was very tight, I sewed many of my own clothes with fabric I bought from part-time jobs. I even sewed for friends.

In 12th grade I bought my own sewing machine, a Singer, for $99. It did zigzag and had a zipper foot attachment. I retired it a few years ago when it started having some problems (close to 40 years of faithful service) and my husband surprised me with a new one, which also was a basic sewing machine. I'd checked out a few of the new models that had computerized this and that, but they seemed too over the top for me (and kind of expensive). The new one was light to carry and perfect for my needs.

While I don't sew too many clothes now, a few years ago I ventured into another area. I had an inexpensive bag with a top zipper that was perfect for traveling and holding my knitting project at home. I could sling it over my shoulder and it had an inner pocket. One day the zipper broke and I contemplated replacing it. But as I looked at it, I thought,  hmm, I could make one and add some other things--like more pockets. Can you ever have too many pockets?

So off to the fabric store. Some years before this, I'd also picked up a "carpet" bag, which I loved, so the upholstery section seemed to be the place to start. The remnant section was like a treasure chest bursting with all kinds of interesting designs and sturdy fabric, which is essential in a bag if you want it to last. My dear husband, who has a great eye for colors, was with me, so together we chose some fabrics. Why be limited? Zippers, straps, lining, and thread all followed.

I used the purchased bag as my initial pattern and then modified. It took a while to get the pattern down so that all of the pieces fit well. I then made pattern pieces from newspaper.

Probably a couple dozen bags have come off of my sewing machine since then, with all but a couple as gifts. I find them fun to make and to give, and I keep looking for things to add or change, though the basic design remains.

So this past week, I sewed two bags (pictures below). Christmas is coming ... and I have a list of people those who have been nice!


Reah Janise

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Despite the various delays, I finally finished my dear husband's sweater. He likes to call the sweaters I make for him "hugs."

While I would like to take credit for this lovely pattern, I cannot. I modified it from Man's Entwined Circles Pullover by Melissa Leapman. Her pattern has the cabling front, back, and sleeves, but as I edged toward completing the front, I realized I did not have enough yarn to complete the sweater that way (cabling can really eat yarn), so I did a basketweave stitch (see below) for the back and sleeves. And since I had purchased the yarn on sale--and all that Heavenly Socks Yarns had in that dye lot--I could not get more. I trimmed it with red as a little different style thing. I finished the sweater using just over 16 balls.

The yarn is Classic Elite Yarns Chesapeake, half wool, half cotton. I had no qualms about how the yarn would fare as I'd knit the Ziplock Sweater from the same yarn and it kept its shape and styling throughout the Scotland trip. Unfortunately, the first time Hadan wore it (and just for a few hours) it stretched an inch or so. Perhaps this is why I don't like to knit cotton sweaters unless they are lace. I can only assume that at some point the yarn became too heavy, which resulted in the stretching.

Close up of the cable patterns.

Just like life, knitting doesn't always do what you want it to do. So what's the plan? Rip it out and figure out what I can do with this yarn that will work. Maybe an overall basketweave, in which case not all of the hard work will have been in vain.

Meanwhile, I've also finished a pair of fingerless gloves and will talk about this adventure in my next post. And right now I'm working on a pair of socks. Christmas is coming and my list of sock giftees is growing ... !

Keeping it real,

Reah Janise

Basketweave stitch:
  Row one: Purl two, knit two across.
  Row two: Knit two, purl two across.
  Row three: Knit two, purl two across.
  Row four: Purl two, knit two across.