Design Story: Good Day Sunshine Tote

Sunday, June 07, 2009
Last summer I approached Sharon of Stitchjones ("Color Goes to Eleven") about designing some accessories using one or two skeins of her hand-dyed yarns. She sent me two different yarns to play with, one of which became the Peaks Child's Hat/Scarf Set and the This End Up Baby Vest (both for sale on Etsy). The other was a very bright yellow/gold worsted wool called "Solid Gold."

As soon as I saw that yarn I thought of making a tote bag. I initially thought of doing a round bag, knit from the center out, that would have a knit/purl motif that would make a sun on either side. But that became too difficult to chart/explain and so though it would have been extremely cool it was impractical for pattern design.

Then I thought I'd stick with the sunburst concept but on a more traditionally knit square bag. Again, I hoped to make the sun using a knit/purl motif across the front of the bag. But, as with the round-knit version, designing the very large scale sun was just not what the yarn or the pattern wanted from me at that time (though I haven't given up hope for this to resurface in the future).

In desperation, I did what I so often do: I turned to my stitch pattern libraries. In one of them I found a cabled check pattern called "sunburst". Perfect! It's a very interesting pattern that uses cables in a different manner than most Aran cabling - the cables are one knit stitch pulled over three purl stitches to "move" the check from one square to another. Poor explanation, I know. The reverse side looks like lattice stitches. I decided I'd make two square sides, each just under a foot on a side. That's a good size, I thought, for a tote - functional but not unwieldy.

For the strap, I decided on a traditional woven braid cable. The strap would also function as the sides and base of the bag for more stability and interest.

And so I delved into the knitting. I love cabling, I really do, and this one was fun. The yarn is very flexible, as wool is usually, and the color made it always fun to pull out of my bag. I finished up the knitting pretty quickly, but then sat on the seaming up for months. Yes, months. I feel very guilty about dragging my heels for so long - Sharon, I'm sorry! - and this just goes to show how much I hate seaming. But it's done now, and sent off to the testers.

More on the testing process later!

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All content in this blog, including patterns and photos, is the intellectual property of Katherine Vaughan. All rights under US Copyright Law are reserved. Teachers, please direct your students to download/print out their own copies of patterns used in class. You are, of course, welcome to use items knit from any pattern for charity or sale, with the statement "design by Katherine Vaughan" appreciated.