21 Mar 2011

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Two years ago, or maybe a little more, I was shopping in London with my friend, Katie, and we spotted a small project bag with matching needle case at Socktopus. The bag was big enough to carry a sock project, and was hand made from fabric with tiny sheep all over it, and I thought it was adorable. Katie bought one, but I was being cheap with myself that day, and I didn’t. The little box shaped bag has stayed with me though and I guess I’ve wanted one ever since.

A few weeks ago, Felix came for a working visit to record the ambient background sounds for our cd project. One of the places we needed to record was Narberth. Felix circled the town (twice) solo, while I popped into the HSBC branch to book an appointment to set up a new business account. With the errands done and the audio in the can, we made time for a little recreational prowl of the quilt shop. There amongst the bolts of fabric and baskets of neatly folded fat quarters, the box bag sewing project surfaced again. I couldn’t resist the novelty prints and brought three of them.

After Felix left I spent a lovely afternoon digging through my stash, matching up notions and fabric. My fabric stash isn’t large, but it does include some lovely pieces of silk kimono fabric, and vintage linens. I’ve bought very little fabric in the last ten years; most of the good stuff came with me when I moved to Wales. Though most of the pieces are small, I always knew I’d find a use for them one day. That day has finally arrived.

The very next Saturday I set up the sewing machine, and went to work.

I have enough project bags now. More than enough. Especially after yesterday’s spate of somewhat obsessive sewing resulted in, yes, more tiny bags. As well as a needle case designed to contain everything I need for toe up sock knitting. Made from tiny scraps, it’s not perfect, but it’s a prototype.

I wish I could say I’ve successfully managed to sew my way clear of this latest obsession, truly, but I haven’t. Remember that novelty fabric I bought in Narberth?

That would be the fabric with the vintage pattern illustrations, in the lower right corner of the image. But wait, there’s more. The knitting themed Liberty Tanna Lawn (upper right) is desperate to become a project bag. As is the wonderfully kitschy cupcake fabric, which I bought off eBay this week, because it matches some lovely stitch markers sent to me ages ago by listener Laura. The handmade cupcake shaped beads are destined to be zipper pulls on the cupcake bags. Could you plotz from the cuteness?

I know. I have a problem.

Posted on March 21, in Blog


  1. Erica wrote:

    Hmm…I have lots of cool cotton fabric, perfect for such bags. Since you have such a desire to sew them, perhaps I should send my fabric to YOU? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  2. Sara wrote:

    dang those are cute.

    I now NEED to get my sewing machine serviced and unjammed….

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  3. Laura wrote:

    How many projects have you got on the go, Brenda? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Maybe you could sell some of your beautiful little bags?

    It’s so nice to think that my little cupcake beads are going to be zipper pulls on your bags of sewn loveliness.

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  4. Ok, so you have a problem, Brenda………but boy, I wish I had a problem like that! these bags are gorgeous! Hope it’s infectious. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  5. LaurenM wrote:

    I’m with you. I went through that same obsession about a year ago. It does wear off….I promise.

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  6. I don’t see a problem at all, Brenda. First of all, you are recycling all those wonderful scraps of fabric and making beautiful bags with them. In fact, I’d say it was very “green” of you to do it. You have inspired me to pull out my machine and scraps and do the same. You rock, girl!

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  7. Judiuni wrote:

    That’s almost exactly what happent to me and my mom. I asked my mom to make me a couple of project bags and they were so cute and lovely and we ended up with more than enough for both of us. Lucky I don’t sew. God knows how many we would have made. xD

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  8. Leslie wrote:

    Those bags are VERY cute. Did you use a pattern or just wing it? If it’s a commercial pattern, which one?

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  9. Sandi wrote:

    Well done, Brenda!
    This beats my method of gallon zip-loc bags hanging from the clips of a tiered skirt hangar! They are lovely, and I have a virtually endless fabric stash since my mom passed away a few years ago.
    I hope to hear your dulcet tones soon, I miss you, Selfish, I know, but I have an LAX-Cleveland flight soon and you are the perfect traveling companion, along with my iPod and SkullCandy. There you are snugly nestled between “Bon Jovi” and “Bruce Springsteen”; I can have a few happy days just with you three.
    Sending hugs, Knitsib!

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  10. Wonderful! Wonder if if cryptolexicographer and Dress-a-day blogger Erin McKean has ever seen the likes of that vintage pattern fabricโ€ฆ

    The audio project sounds like a whole bunch of fun!

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  11. Celeritas2 wrote:

    Oh my you are so good. I paid the equivalent of 65 pounds to get the sewing machine I inherited from my husband’s grandmother serviced, watched my mother in law sew a fitted sheet for a bassinet mattress and then packed it away. I really need to learn to sew but I really should finish one of my mother’s last two birthday presents first.

    Posted on 3.21.11 ·
  12. Oh yes, a bag obsession if I ever saw one! That’s how it started with me…There is so much cute fabric out there.

    Looks like you’re well on your way! Hope to hear your podcast again soon! It’s the best one out there.

    Posted on 3.22.11 ·
  13. Annetta wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    The bags are gorgeous, and I commend you. Although I must also confess to some no little jealousy just now ~ I’m in the thick of beginning my PhD and am so busy writing that I simply cannot stop to track this pattern down and make some for myself. Dammit…

    I must question your position of ‘problem’ though ~ you are creating things, not destroying. You are not (insofar as I can tell) selling drugs to children or nailing kittens to the wall. Can an act of creation ~ particularly a lovely and small, contained universe-like one, related to fibre art ~ EVER be considered a problem?

    Just a thought.

    Have a wonderous day,


    Posted on 3.23.11 ·
  14. Felix wrote:

    I have been anticipating the TINY BAGS post ever since my stay!

    My fabric stash has been transformed now into a resource whose sole purpose is to provide pleasing lining/outer-fabric combinations for TINY BAGS. Everything I own which I intended to sew with has become grist to the TINY BAGS mill…


    Turns out, I have a problem too but luckily my sewing machine is buried under books and other assorted crap right now, so I am safe (for now) from the obsession taking hold…

    Posted on 3.23.11 ·
  15. I really like the needle bag. I have been trying to look for something that is similar to that.

    Looks like I will have to get a sewing machine and some macho fabric to make bags for my knitting stuff.

    Excellent work! Perhaps you can sell them?

    Posted on 3.23.11 ·
  16. Theresa wrote:

    I am so impressed with those bags. Beautiful, well made, zippers, the works. Obsessive and impressive!

    Posted on 3.24.11 ·
  17. Tonia's Favorite Sister wrote:

    Those bags are really fabulous, Brenda! I love project bags. They are much like empty cigar boxes in that you can never have too many of them for storing your treasures in. I make quilted project bags for all of my girlfriends for their birthdays because everyone can always use a project bag. Did I ever tell you about the project runway themed novelty fabric that I got a while back? I think I’ll go pull it out and make some bags. Too bad I’m Tonia’s sister and not yours anymore because I might have shared the fabric with you. That vintage dress pattern fabric is to die for, by the way. I would LOVE a bag out of that.

    Posted on 4.5.11 ·
  18. Kathryn wrote:

    see! that proves it. Pam is Tonia’s sister now..hehehehe

    Posted on 4.6.11 ·
  19. Love them! My need is for big project bags, though. Hmm. I made one last year for a big sweater I was working on, but must admit it was a simple project–no zipper or lining, just a big drawstring bag with a cute label on the front and coordinating ribbons for the drawstring. You have inspired me to make a few more of those sometime soon…one can never have too many project bags!

    Posted on 4.9.11 ·
  20. one more comment to see if this gravatar thing works…should have remembered to do that first!

    Posted on 4.9.11 ·
  21. heather wrote:

    awsome! 20 year old high school geometry is running rampant in my brain trying to figure out a bag to suit the needs for my glove knitting obsession….maybe i should have paid less attention to the boys and more attention to the math!

    Posted on 4.14.11 ·
  22. maggiemidwife wrote:

    I eagerly await your next podcast. In the interim I want to tell you how much I appreciate your posts. Through your links my world has become so much richer. You have introduced me to the most amazing people and I thank you for the time and effort you have put into sharing all that you do.

    Posted on 4.20.11 ·
  23. Mary wrote:

    I miss you… I’ve listened to all the “new to me” posts twice now since I found them.
    Sure hope you are OK. > Two months since the last podcast, > 1 month since the last blog entry – let us know how things are going – Signed up for architectural eco-friendly building school yet? Finished the twin leaves lace sock pattern yet? You have definitely made a lot of new projects I hope you don’t re-injure your shoulder. (I know I’m not your mom, I’ll zip it now! ). Tonia and Truman doing well, and new orange kitty? Still looking forward to pod cast 100! (Sorry no picture, still havent’ signed up for my Gravatar yet!).


    Posted on 4.29.11 ·
  24. Joan wrote:

    PLOTZ!! OMG you said PLOTZ!!!
    i love you!

    Posted on 5.6.11 ·
  25. Rebekah wrote:

    Hi Brenda! Is everything ok? Miss hearing your podcasts, they always brighten my day…

    Hope all is well,

    Posted on 5.24.11 ·
  26. Carol Bateman wrote:

    A message in a bottle
    The Knitter looked round…… the summer sun streamed through the workroom windows fading the laptop screen….. the fair isle knitting lay on the floor, its jumbled face luring her with it’s million colours
    ” Pick me up ” it whispered in it’s woolly voice that only she could hear, ” Just one more row, you know you want to……..”
    No , she must be strong. Slowly she began to type her one finger way…….
    ” Hello, hello . Is there anyone there ? How can I knit with just these needles for company. Listening in the night to the tiny scratchings as the Alpaca 4ply and the countless balls of sock wool try to tunnel their way out of the stash cupboard.
    Is there anyone on the other side of this screen . If I only knew that all was well, that someone would answer one day I could purl in contentment.
    With kind regards.

    Posted on 5.29.11 ·
  27. the cupcake fabric is beautiful…:)

    Posted on 6.1.11 ·
  28. Isabelle wrote:

    We miss you and your warm happy voice, Brenda! Hope all is well.

    Posted on 6.5.11 ·
  29. Chris wrote:

    You are missed, by me, by my knitting. My spinning wheel sits in the corner pouting. Seems I can’t spin properly without your voice in my ear. I hope whatever is making you stay away appreciates you. I do. I hope you’re well and will return when you’re able.

    Posted on 6.6.11 ·
  30. Beth Kaiser wrote:

    Enjoyed your blog!! My creative bent is photography. Quicker results from my digital camera. Now that I’m no longer in sales I consider myself a reformed Type A personality. Don’t I wish! Still have the energy level for ongoing projects in the works, but now I’m focussing on my camera to manage it. Beth K

    Posted on 6.7.11 ·
  31. Beth Kaiser wrote:

    Color Rules My Life!!

    Posted on 6.7.11 ·
  32. Louise wrote:

    I miss your podcasts so much! Hope you and Tonia and family are all well and that you are simply busy with other joys.

    Posted on 6.11.11 ·
  33. Stacey wrote:

    I love your bags and matching needle pouch! You can’t get decent knitty bags anywhere – I simply gave up and stashed my projects in a giant market bag.
    Yay, they’re beautiful. The kitsch fabric is giddy-ishly delightful. Well done!

    Posted on 6.15.11 ·
  34. Magpie wrote:

    missing your podcasts and blogging lots and lots. Hope y’all are all OK, and hope to hear from you soon!

    Posted on 6.16.11 ·
  35. Pamela wrote:

    Are we ever going to hear another Cast On episode? Inquiring, deprived and lonely minds would like to know …

    Posted on 6.18.11 ·
  36. Silverilix wrote:

    I looove your little bags, I should go an sew somthing! Right now! LOL

    Posted on 6.19.11 ·
  37. Elayne wrote:

    Plotz. Not a word you read very often in a blog! Found you on Stitcher and am loving the drive home with your extremely intelligent podcasts. Thank you!

    Posted on 7.16.11 ·
  38. knitworth wrote:

    I have listened for a few years with total pleasure and deep admiration for your skills as a broadcaster, storyteller, knitter and general observer of life around you. For some reason I never came to see you here online. Oh boy. A lot more of your output to enjoy! Stay well, stay warm and keep keeping on.

    Posted on 11.18.11 ·
  39. Allie wrote:

    Brenda, I came across this when going through some older posts and was wondering if you have a specific pattern you use for your project bags? I did one earlier this year with the help of my mother-in-law but it was more flat and not nearly as spacious as the inside of yours. Thanks!

    Posted on 1.6.12 ·
  40. Allie, I found an excellent tutorial for fully lined box bags here. They’re a little more fiddly than unlined bags, but so worth the extra effort.

    Posted on 1.6.12 ·

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