Crochet project bag swap


I’m a member of several crochet groups on Facebook. However, the one that I visit the most these days has got to be "Kiwis who CAL and Crochet". One of the problems I sometimes have with the international crochet groups can be that if you ask a question for recommendations of yarn or hooks, you get people who assume that you’re in the same country as them who recommend their own LYS (local yarn store) for obtaining things. Some of those brands are available in New Zealand, either in LYS or through purchase online, however, it is always nice to have a Kiwi perspective on things. Also, because we’re all living in the same country (well, mostly all – those who are New Zealanders living overseas are also allowed to join), we sometimes organise fun swaps. Last year, some participated in a secret Santa where they were paired up with someone and exchanged crochet-related gifts. This year, we’re starting off with a bag swap. The rules are that you use cotton or acrylic (no wool in case the person you swap with is allergic), it fits at least 4 x 100 g balls of yarn (it is meant to be a project bag) and it costs no more than $30. All bags needed to be finished by 17th February and then posted within 10 days to the person you’re paired with (a random generator pairs everyone up who has finished by the deadline). 

I’m loving all the creativity that the bag swap is bringing out. Some ladies are using a pattern while others are designing something as they go (I get the impression that some of them have never designed anything before but the results are all impressive whether they've used a pattern or designed something). I decided to join in as I had some 12” squares that I had designed sitting about doing nothing and figured they’d make a great bag. I’d originally designed 2 versions of the square as a possible contender for my Friends Around the World 3 contribution. However, neither quite fit the brief that we were given. Ideally, squares should be textured, able to be done in one colour (or a maximum of 5 colours), not too lacey and easy for beginners. My squares fit the colour part (they require just 3 colours). They are also textured without holes but probably a bit too much texture for a blanket (since the final thing made with the squares is a large blanket). The other problem with the square is that they are most definitely not a beginner pattern. I did some things in my pattern that I had never seen done before in a pattern. I suspect that I haven't invented anything new, it’s just that I’ve never made something that way following someone else's pattern so even coming up with the terminology to use was a little tricky.

Anyway, because the squares came out nice and textured with very few holes, some fellow Kiwi designers suggested it might make a great cushion cover. However, once the bag swap came along, I realised that it would even better as the front or back of a project bag. The photos below show the original 2 squares that I designed as contenders for the FATW3 CAL. I call them my "Kōwhai" squares. Kōwhai is the Maori word for yellow and it is also the name of a native New Zealand tree that has bright yellow flowers in spring that attract Tui (a native bird). The idea was that the squares were kind of a "bird's eye view" of a Kōwhai tree from above.


Since I had two of them (slightly different versions of my pattern), the bag was already partly done. I decided to add smaller squares for the other 2 sides that were made up of the first few rounds of one of the squares joined together with a “join as you go” method.

I made a plain base and then slip stitched the sides to the base and to each other. I made a simple strap for the bag with D-rings crocheted onto the bag and then the strap sewn on to the D-rings. I was even motivated to make a fabric lining for the bag (machine sewn) which I hand sewed in.  I suspect that I will make this bag again just because I want to write up the pattern for it and figure out the quantities of yarn I used in making it. 

The bag turned out a little bigger than I had thought it would as it exceeded the minimum capacity required and fits at least 8 x 132 g balls of yarn (pictured with just 6 balls of yarn but you can easily squeeze in the extra two):

At the time of writing this, my bag is winging its way to its new owner. Although most people have posted a teaser photo of their bag or a full photo of their finished bag, I have no idea what the one I will receive will look like as the person swapping with me has not posted a photo in the group. I suspect I'll have to post about the bag swap again when the swap occurs and I've received a bag from whichever creative person in the group I'm paired with.

The bag swap also inspired me to go back to finishing off a bag that I started to make for myself a couple of years ago when my current project bag started falling apart. More about that next time...

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