A few months ago I made a few tote bags out of old sweaters. I got the idea out of AlterKnits, though I'm sure that, just like the jeans-to-skirt idea, it's nothing new. Probably it started in the '60s, when deconstruction became the order of the day. I guess I wasn't born in the heart of it all for nothing, because I do love me some recons and I think the sweater tote thing is especially cute.
When I went out with Terry last Saturday, she admired the one I was carrying and said she'd bring me a sweater so I could make her one. Well, mama ain't got nothing if she ain't got a stock of old sweaters waiting in the wings, so Monday I came home from work, dug into the felted sweater stash, plugged in Rosie, and made a tote for Terry.
I know that to give is to receive and I can really dig this. But I don't know many places where it's more evident than in handwork. I gained a lot from making this tote. For one thing, it'd been a while since I'd used Rosie and I was back to my old fear that I'd turn her on and she'd spit a needle directly through my eyeball. I needed a simple project to help me get over my terror and this one did it.
Once I'd gotten through the tote I started thinking what a shame it is to waste a good sweater sleeve (the other one became the pocket). I could so easily see a buttoned pouch. The only problem was that I had no earthly idea how to sew a buttonhole. This meant I had to face The Manual.
Here's where I dust off the old saw that there are two kinds of people in the world. Two kinds. Manual people and non-manual people. I am a non-manual person. I like to learn by diving right in and screwing up big time. I like to cuss my way through. I like to come out on the other side having left a little blood on a project for the recipient to remember me by. But dealing with a potentially deadly piece of machinery, there was no way I could wing it. I consulted sewing books, but of course they couldn't tell me how to sew a buttonhole with my machine, so I poured myself a glass of wine (I'm not even a wine drinker) and once I felt all warm inside, went step-by-step through the paces. My first obstacle was the buttonhole foot, which looks like a miniature tool of degradation and torture. Here it is from the rear:
Very dangerous and off-putting, but the fallback was sewing a buttonhole by hand, and that wasn't going to happen. Working with a piece of scrap fabric because my momma didn't raise no fool, I eventually bumbled my way to this:
If I were to relate how elated I was, I'd be too embarrassed to ever sidle up to this bar again.
The buttonhole foot turned out to be impressive. It measures the hole based on the size of the button you insert. Surely this is not novel, but to me it was more fascinating than tailing Wesley Snipes on April 15th. I rode the wave and made my next buttonhole directly on my pouch.
Just the right size for a pack of smokes.
I was so giddy that once the I'd sewed the tote and the finished the pouch I had to embellish something, so I sewed a little button cluster on the tote's pocket.
I tied a postcard/gift tag around the handle and stuffed the tote with burns of Ray Lamontagne and Aretha and the goodness was complete. I didn't know what kind of music Terry likes but I'm not above forcing my taste on someone new and unsuspecting. It so happens Ray's from Maine and so is Terry and she'd been meaning to check out his CDs. This morning I went in to work and she'd left me a thank you card that read, in part, "I feel like I finally have a boyfriend now that Ray has entered my life." She loves the CDs, loves the tote and pouch, and now we have plans to see Ray the next time he plays LA.
Bonding through craft and music. My plan to take over the world is coming together nicely.