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Archive for January, 2010

1.5 bags, part I

I love crafts!  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about them.  Making bags is a relatively new endeavor of mine.  I was lucky enough to receive a lovely corduroy and suede handmade bag from my aunt for Christmas.  Right now I am in possession of 1.5 bags I made myself.  One of those I made by felting and the half-bag is an ongoing labor of love, but more on that later……

What do I love about handmade bags?  Hmmm, well, I love that they have stories.

Let’s start with Bag #1:

In November of 2007 (whew that is so long ago now!) I took a trip to Joann’s Fabrics with my mother when I was in CT for Thanksgiving.  Now, I think in previous posts I have described what happens when I am in craft stores, but just to reiterate–I go a little crazy.  I’ve chatted with other crafters about this and I find this is a common phenomenon amongst us folk.  All of the sudden, I forget all the projects I’m currently working on and pick up 10 more projects.  For some reason I believe A.) I will have the time to complete all these new projects plus my old projects, B.) I will have the motivation to work on these now thousands of projects I have at home, and C.) I’ve suddenly hit the lotto and can afford to buy all these materials.  In the midst of my frenzied buying that day, I picked up some felting wool.  This was kind of a silly thing to do–at that point I had never done a felting project, I knew nothing about felting, and I did not have a washing machine in my home (which I later found out is one of the major necessary ingredients to completing a felted piece).

I finally began the felted bag in January of 2008.  Turned out that there was a lovely pattern included with the skein of wool (thanks, Lion brand wool!).  I began in earnest in the midst of my”Re-Orientation”, a retreat all Jesuit Volunteers attend in the middle of their volunteer year.  I have very fond, warm, fuzzy memories of Re-O and included in those is the night I hung out with a large group of other knitters (including the organization’s senior director of programming) and sat around knitting and chatting about our projects.  I also knitted away much of the very long drive home (from Scranton, PA to Boston, MA!).  But, as I often do, I put the project down and did not pick it up for months.  In fact, I didn’t finish it until a few months ago when I brought the pieces to my Mom and Dad’s house in order to put them in the washing machine.

You might be asking yourself, “Why is a washing machine involved?”.  Good question.  Well, you see, “felting” is really just knitting with special yarn and then putting it in hot water in the washing machine so that it shrinks down and essentially becomes like a solid piece of felt.  This is why it is great to make pieces like bags or pouches through felting–you can be sure that nothing will fall out.  Here, you see the finished project:

Another reason I love this bag is it has some buttons I sewed on–ok so at first this doesn’t seem like anything to be too proud of, however, these buttons were from the “you never know when you will need it” bag I have.  Yes, that’s right, I am a craft-material-pack rat.  I always save the little buttons and snaps that come with new shirt or pants I buy.  I also save nice ribbons on gifts (and I save tons of plastic bags, but more on that in my next post).  I just never really know when I’ll use something in a craft project!!  Thus, I felt that my scrap material saving ways were vindicated when I added those little flourishes to my bag.

All in all, it feels so nice to finish a handmade bag, even if it takes a very long time to do so…..which is why I hope to finish my bag of plastic bags very soon.  But, like keep saying, more on that later.

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Bravo, Jane Austen

[Just wanted to say a hello to anyone new reading.  I’m excited to have new followers and appreciate you stopping by.  Feel free to comment and to forward posts along to friends!]

I can actually remember the moment I stopped reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when I had the first go around.  In middle school, upon learning that this novel was revered by so many readers I knew, I decided to take it up.  However, at a certain point, I encountered this language: “the former….the latter….”.  I just couldn’t grasp which one was the former and which the latter!  The language was just too hard.  There I gave up and never looked back.  That is, I never looked back until a few months ago.  At book club one night we got to talking about Jane Austen.  Again, my fellow readers spoke with a sense of awe and wonder regarding Pride and Prejudice.  I felt left out!  I realized then that I had to go back and try again.

I think that my resistance to picking the book back up after all these years stemmed from more than just the antiquated phrasing.  I resisted because the book is so cloaked in this awesome reputation.  Everyone raves about it!  Honestly, I was a little intimidated.  Part of me also thought that a book written so long ago would be unreadable, stuffy, and outdated. 

Boy was I wrong!!  If you haven’t read this novel, or if it’s been a while, I urge you to pick it up.  I’m actually not finished with it yet–I have about a quarter left–but I just had to write about it here.  Each time I open the book, I’m blown away by the humor, the wit, and the (prepare yourself) relevancy of Pride and Prejudice!  Bravo, Jane Austen for writing a novel whose plot line and characters can stand the test of time!

Let’s start with Elizabeth. I wholeheartedly love her.  What a smart, strong, independent, witty young lady she is.  I just adore her relationship with her sister Jane.  Especially touching is to read about their affection for one another when they are apart–since they don’t have cell phones and email they rely on letters.  How nice to communicate only through letters, there is the necessity to wait and be patient, not like the super-instant gratification we have today.

I get such a kick out of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet’s relationship.  Recently I have found myself cracking up on the subway while reading about Mrs. Bennet’s antics!  She is really very silly and so obsessed with material things and getting her girls married off.  But that really isn’t such a dated character type is it?  I think we all know women out there who unfortunately still act that way.  Oh and reading about Elizabeth’s younger sisters is funny too–what silly young girls who couldn’t be more different than Lizzy and Jane!

Above all though, I am utterly enjoying the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy (or at this point the lack of relationship–I have faith though!).  The two both had their misconceptions, their prejudices, about each other, but oh how they each regret those former feelings.  There are so many scenes with these two that I just want to yell–tell each other how you feel!!!–but I guess they didn’t do it that way back then.  How about the part when Elizabeth is with her Aunt and Uncle and they go visiting Pemberly under the assumption that Darcy isn’t there…..then all of the sudden the two meet outside……I love that scene.  The awkwardness of running into that person you are quasi-romantically involved with at just the worst possible time–this is not an outdated concept!

Overall, what a classic and timeless critique of popular society and dating rituals.  What would Jane Austen think about today’s dating world–what with all the texting and IMing and facebooking??  I guess we’ll just have to imagine.  Thank you Jane Austen and thanks to book club for getting me to pick the novel back up again!

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