Make It For Me- Italian Spy Handbag

I am so excited to be participating in the Make it for Me with ELK Studio (for all the designs check it out here!). This year I have been inspired to create the Italian Spy Handbag as a Free pattern.

This handbag was inspired by a conversation with a friend that happens to be a fashion designer. She was discussing a crochet fabric with me, and I was discussing shapes with her. The further we went along in the discussion, I had a vision of the perfect small handbag I needed for day trips to the city.

Italian Spy Handbag

For me, a day in the city is San Francisco. I always want to travel with only the essentials, as there is a lot of walking….much more then I typically do in an average day.

So, I want a handbag that can carry the essentials, not weigh a lot, and one that I can comfortably keep close. The Italian Spy fits that build.

It is a simple pattern that uses less then one skein, and utilizes a simple tight stitch. But, just because it is worked in single crochet do not under estimate the overall effect of the fabric, or how it can easily show your mistakes. The pattern is worked in one piece, and then folded and seamed. There is an option to stiffen the sides and bottom, and options for the finishing edge.

I hope you give it a try for you prefect day out handbag. Enjoy.

Italian Spy Handbag

Italian Spy Handbag

Finished Size

10”x7”x2”

Materials

Hook: F/5/3.75mm

Manos del Uruguay Milo light weight 65% Merino wool, 35% linen yarn, (380yrd/350 m/3.5 oz/100 g) 1 skein, colorway #2607 Boreal

  • 1” Button
  • 24” handle

Gauge

Gauge 22 sts/ 25 rows=4”

Front

Ch 50

Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across, turn. -49sc

Row 2-42: Ch 1, sc in each st across, turn.

Row 43: Ch 1, sc in each st across, ch 42, fasten off.

Sides Worked with Body

Row 44: Join with slip stitch to Row 43 at first st of row (opposite end of end just fastened off), ch 43, turn, sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across, sc in each sc across, and sc in each ch, turn. -133sc

Row 45-55: Ch 1, sc in each st across, turn. Fasten off at the end of Row 55.

Back

Row 56: Skipping 42 sts, join to next st, ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next 48 sts, turn. -49sc

Row 57-100: Ch 1, sc in each st across, turn.

Flap

Row 101: DO NOT CH, sc2tog, sc until 2 sts rem, sc2tog over last 2 sts, turn. -47sc, (2) sc2tog

Row 102-120: Rep Row 101. -7sc, (2) sc2tog

Row 121: Buttonhole Row, DO NOT CH, sc2tog, sc in next st, ch 3, sk 3 sts, sc in next st, sc2tog over last 2 sts, turn. –(1) ch-3 sp, 2sc, (2) sc2tog

Row 122-123: Rep row 101. Fasten off at the end of Row 123. -1sc, (2) sc2tog

Optional Insert (to create more stiffness)

Ch 132

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in each ch across, turn. -131sc

Row 2-10: Ch 1, sc in each st across, turn. Fasten off at the end of Row 10.

Optional Assembly of Insert

Lay Insert section over the Sides Worked with Body Portion, Seam the insert to the Sides over Body in any preferred method, such as whip stitch with a needle or slip stitch with a crochet hook. For even more stiffening, you can place a strip of plastic or cardboard that measure 1” x 25”, and place it between the Insert and Side worked with Body

Assembly

Fold Front and Back toward each other, and Fold Sides toward Front and Back, seam side of Side to Front, and seam side of Side to Back, on each side of the handbag.

Working over seamed edges, and all unfinished edges, work Reverse Single Crochet or Corded Edge Stitch around to finish.

Sew button on Front to align with Button Hole of Flap.

Sew Handles to Sides.

If Flap is curling, use an iron to seam if flat.

1 for Me, 1 for You- Rolling Along Block

Help me help local communities by creating blocks for Warm Up America, by making a block for yourself and one for a community project with this free pattern. I will be creating a new block every few weeks and sharing it with you, I just ask that make one for donation.

Warm Up America is a nationwide organization that encourages local donations, but will also except donations to be sent to their office so that blocks can be assembled and then blankets can be donated through the United States.

Rolling Along Block

Even if you do not want to participate with Warm Up America, please consider creating blocks, or blankets for your local community. There are various places in every community that accept donations.

Rolling Along Block

Working the Catherine’s Wheel

Catherine’s Wheel is a classic crochet stitch that works one row of shells over a row of decreases to create a circle or wheel look. I have made a couple of changes to the classic pattern. For starters instead of working a single crochet after completing the shell or decrease, I work a slip stitch. I find that this help prevent “gapping” that occurs in the chain 3 area.

Working a dc9tog, you will have 10 loops on the hook.
Yarn over and pull through all the loops on the hook.
Slip stitch worked after the chain 3, to secure the decrease.
Working a decrease on the corner, dc5tog.

I should also point out that I work the shells in “the center of the decrease”, this is the biggest opening. However it is really not the completion of the decrease stitch, but the third chain. I feel that working here emphasizes the “center”, when working in the actual point of completion just looks a bit wonky.

Work the Shell in the center of the decrease, it creates a “hole”.
Working a shell at the beginning of a row means working in the center of the decrease.

I do have an exception to this, and that is when finishing a row with a shell it needs to be worked in the top of the turning chain to keep the edge straight. This will be just over from the “center”.

The “exception” the last shell is worked in the top of the turning chain, this helps to keep a straight edge.

Gauge

7”x9” rectangle

Materials

Medium weight yarn, in 2 colors MC (main color), CC1

K/10 ½/6.5mm crochet hook

Special Stitches

Double crochet 4 together (dc4tog): Working over the next 4 sts, [yo, insert hook into next st, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops] six times, yo, pull through all 5 loops on hook.

Double crochet 5 together (dc5tog): Working over the next 5 sts, [yo, insert hook into next st, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops] six times, yo, pull through all 6 loops on hook.

Double crochet 9 together (dc9tog): Working over the next 9 sts, [yo, insert hook into next st, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through 2 loops] six times, yo, pull through all 10 loops on hook.

Note:

Change colors without fastening off the yarn. Instead carry the yarn along the edge, and it will be hidden in the edging round. Here are some tips for do it.

The Pattern

With MC Chain 25

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, [sk 3 chs, 9 dc in next ch, sk 3 chs, sc in next ch] three times, change to CC1, turn. –(3) 9 dc shells, 5 sc

Row 2: Ch 3, dc4tog, ch 3, sl st in next st, ch 3, dc9tog, ch 3, sl st in next st, ch 3, dc9tog, ch 3, sl st in next st, ch 3, dc5tog, turn. – (2) dc9tog, (1) dc4tog, (1) dcs5tog

Row 3: Ch 3, 4 dc in same st, sl st in next sl st, 9 dc in center of dc9tog, sl st in next sl st, 9 dc in center of dc9tog, sl st in next sl st, 5 dc in top of turning ch-3, change to MC, turn. (2) 9 dc shells, (2) 5 dc shells

Row 4: Ch 1, sl st in same st, ch 3, dc9tog, ch 3, sl st in next st, ch 3, dc9tog, ch 3, sl st in next st, ch 3, dc9tog, ch 3, sl st in last st, turn.

Row 5: Ch 1, sl st in same st, 9 dc in center of dc9tog, sl st in next sl st, 9 dc in center of dc9tog, sl st in next sl st, 9 dc in center of dc9tog, sl st in last st, change to CC1, turn.

Row 6-13: Rep Rows 2-5 twice.

Row 14: Rep Row 2. Fasten off.

Edging

With color MC, sc in each st across, 3 sc in corner, work evenly sc around block working 3 sc in each corner. Finish off.

Eventful Crochet Year and New Opportunities

This is always the time of year that I take stock of what the last year has brought. Honestly, it helps me realize that I am not just spinning my wheels, I really am doing things!

Teaching

For example, this year I have taught 53 classes at my local yarn store (not including private lessons), I have taught 16 classes at 5 different national events. Four classes at DFW Fiber Fest in April (find me there this year teaching the CGOA Masters Day), four classes at the Jimmy Beans Wool annual retreat in June, two classes for the Northern Illinois Chapter of CGOA in May, five classes at the Crochet Guild of America annual Chainlink Conference, and a class for a unique on-line conference, Stitch Markers Live.

This is part of the contributing factors of my 10 trips in 26 weeks that really kept me on my toes. Some were business networking, some were educational, and some were teaching. But all were really enjoyable.

Retreats

I also started day long crochet retreats. Celebrating my first event at a local winery; getting a tour, enjoying learning about wine and crocheting, a grat day was had by all. I have the second event is already on the calendar for the end of January this time at a chocolate shop. Find information to join me here.

Crochet with Linda at the Winery, August 2019

Designs

I didn’t just sit back when it came to designing. I only had 8 designs in freelance publications, but I created 15 designs, 4 for sale in my pattern line, the rest are either free patterns on my website or available for purchase in kits with various retailers.

Charity

I also started an afghan block pattern line to encourage people to learn a crochet stitch and help a national non-profit, Warm Up America. Warm Up America utilizes volunteers to put these blocks together and donate afghans to those in need. I have created 7 blocks this year, and continue to strive to create a new block design every few weeks.

Newsletter

Another large event for me, was actually pulling it together and creating a monthly newsletter. I highlight what has been happening in the month prior and what I am excited about in the month to come. This has really helped me to stay focused and reflective. If you haven’t already, sign up to receive it here.

Volunteering

Then in the midst of all this teaching and creating, I have continued to lead the Crochet Guild of America, as its President. That means monthly Board meetings, and keeping volunteers moving forward with various initiatives and undertakings. Working with 6 other Board members to help spread the word of crochet, preserve its heritage, and encourage more learning.

Home Life

I have juggled this with scheduled power outages to prevent forest fires. With the busy calendars of my two kids, be it sports, band or 4H there is never a dull moment. In addition I have juggled all the running of a household as my husband has had to work increasingly demanding work hours. I know that this is nothing new for women, but it is worth remembering that it takes time and has value.

The Decade

I was considering taking a look at where life has taken me in the last 10 years, but really a decade ago to now, is almost not recognizable. I made new friends, I lost people I care about. I was working in the field of Social Work for the older adults. My children were just starting school, my husband had human being work hours, and I was not in a position to even imagine that I would be self-employed in working in crochet. It is like a completely different world, and leaves me really wondering where the next ten years will take me.

1 for Me, 1 for You- Dancing Stripes Block

Help me help local communities by creating blocks for Warm Up America, by making a block for yourself and one for a community project with this free pattern. I will be creating a new block every few weeks and sharing it with you, I just ask that make one for donation.

Warm Up America is a nationwide organization that encourages local donations, but will also except donations to be sent to their office so that blocks can be assembled and then blankets can be donated through the United States.

Dancing Stripes Block

Even if you do not want to participate with Warm Up America, please consider creating blocks, or blankets for your local community. There are various places in every community that accept donations.

Tunisian Crochet

This block is used working Tunisian Crochet. Tunisian Crochet is essentially inserting your hook through your fabric and pulling up a loop, and leaving the loop on the hook, pulling up loops across the row. Then a “return pass” is worked to work each loop off the hook. This creates a fabric that has a similar look to weaving, yet has the same structural characteristics as crochet. There are many different stitches in this technique, but in this block I only use one stitch, the Tunisian Simple stitch. Learn the stitch here.

Changing color on every forward and return pass, creates a dramatic effect. Utilizing only three colors means that I have a color waiting for me when I finish a row and I know exactly which yarn to work next.

Gauge: 7”x9” rectangle

Materials

Medium weight yarn, in 3 colors MC (main color), CC1, CC2

9 mm Tunisian Crochet hook

Special Stitches

Tunisian Simple Stitch (tss): Insert hook from right to left under next vertical bar, YO, pull up a loop.

Return Pass (RP) :  YO and pull through 1 loop, [YO and pull through 2 loops] across, until 2 loops remain on hook, using new color for next row’s FP,  YO and pull through last 2 loops.

The Pattern

With MC Chain 19

Row 1: With color MC, pull up a loop in second ch from the hook and in each ch across. Switch to color CC1, RP. 19 sts

Row 2: With color CC2, tss across, switch to color MC, RP.

Row 3: With color CC1, tss across, switch to color CC2, RP.

Row 4: With color MC, tss across, switch to color CC1, RP.

Row 5-19: Rep Rows 2-4 five times.

Edging Rnd: With color CC2, sc in each vertical bar across, 3 sc in corner, work evenly sc around block working 3 sc in each corner. Finish off.

Teaching Crochet! My New Adventures

I am excited about my new upcoming adventures. I have a few new teaching events that I want to make you aware of.

Crochet Retreat with Chocolate

January 2020 I am hosting a day long crochet retreat, Crochet with Linda and Chocolate. This one day is designed for anyone at any crochet level that enjoys playing with yarn, good company, and chocolate.

Those attending get to play with yarns from Zombie Yarns, work up a caplet exclusively designed for the event, and get to partake in a chocolate demo from the chocolatier of Annabelle’s Chocolate, Annabelle herself. I always want this event to be more than just crochet, it is an opportunity to learn something new in a location that you may not have ventured to before.

Crochet with Linda and Chocolate

This is the second time I have put on such an event, and space is limited due to the venue size. All supplies and a gourmet boxed lunch are included. If you want more information or to join me, check it out here.

Teaching at DFW Fiber Fest

Then I get prepared to teach at DFW Fiber Fest in Irving, Texas the beginning of April. I will be part of the team teaching Crochet Masters Day on behalf of the Crochet Guild of America. This all day event is designed to help take your crochet to the next level, and aid you in becoming a crochet master.

 There are actually do different Master Certification programs through the Crochet Guild of America, one that essentially is a blind test, and another that is designed to teach you in depth knowledge of certain crochet techniques. Masters Day just touches on the surface of these two programs to start you on your way to really understanding your crochet. Here is where you can find more information about how to join me in Texas.

Teaching at Yarn Fest

By the end of April I will be in Loveland, Colorado teaching another one day at the Interweave Yarn Fest. I am teaching a class on Openwork Crochet, a class about lacework. This is a new class for me that actually is a merging of two of my most popular classes, with some added bonuses. I will be sharing all my insight about Broomstick Lace, Hairpin Lace and Mock Hairpin Lace in a single class.

You will learn how to use these techniques to create fascinating open work, how to then shape fabric with it. Every time I teach these skills I am always reenergized to create more with them and am inspired with new ideas. I know that it will do the same for you. As a teaser, I should mention that you will never look at fringe the same way again. Check out how to join me here.

Teaching Local

As always, if you are in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains you can find me teaching weekly at Lofty Lou’s Yarn Store in Placerville, CA. All skill levels are welcome in all classes, as I teach you essentially a private lesson in a group setting, on any project you want to learn or work on. There are University classes, that offer a price break for the purchase of multiple classes, but I always welcome drop-in students to any of my classes. Make sure and look for the classes by Linda D. offered on Tuesdays. Find more information here.

As 2019 draws to a close, and 2020 begins to dawn I hope you will find a way to join me in person.