Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Own Personal Mary Poppins

When I saw the pattern for the Weekend Getaway Satchel, it was one of those "lightning strike" moments--I knew it MUST be made for my mom. One of the first movies she saw in the theater as a kid was Mary Poppins, and she still loves it--but most importantly, this bag is a symbol of what she has been to me over the past year and a half. She and my dad, through various life circumstances, found themselves with a job that enabled them to live anywhere in Southern California, so they moved right across the street from me to help me through treatment for and recovery from a chronic illness. The many hours she's spent playing with my children, running errands for me, folding laundry, painting my walls, picking up toys, and much more, have literally made my life livable. Just as Mary Poppins seemed to have everything that could possibly be needed in that bag of hers, my mom has somehow managed to anticipate our needs and fill them even before I knew what they were. As she and my dad get ready to return to their regular lives in the next few months, I wanted to make her a carpet bag as a reminder of my appreciation.

I knew this would be a time-consuming task, but since I had never done intarsia before I didn't even really know what to expect. I knitted the solid-colored back, sides, bottom, and straps first; that way when I started the intarsia panel I knew exactly how much time I would have to finish before I started the colorwork with confidence. I had to laugh at myself half-way through the first row when I realized that I had only half as many little bobbins as I needed, since I didn't realize that each section of black between the colored spots on any given row would require its own little yarn supply!

I guess I shouldn't really be surprised that I chose something this big for my first colorwork, considering that my first cable project was this:

You know, though? There really is something to be said for going "all in." Sure, the first few rows of cables or intarsia were a little shaky, but when you have so much practice right at the beginning, you can't help but learn quickly how to make it look right. After about the 15th row of the colorwork, I was twisting the yarn together when switching colors like a pro! It became very natural to work with the bobbins and maneuver the whole thing on my lap, and after finishing the panel I have the confidence to tackle any intarsia! I am no longer scared of it. (Side note: I am still very afraid of Fair Isle...should I start with an adult male sweater? *cackle*). The other nice thing about starting with this particular project is that it's going to be felted, so I knew that any holes between colors could be stitched up and the washing machine would hide a multitude of sins.

Here's the front of the bag (I shared the back's tangle of ends to weave in here). It's about 33 inches from bottom to top, to give an idea of the scale.

Today, I've been working embroidering stems, flower centers, leaf veins, and more to finish up the floral pattern before felting--this might take nearly as long as knitting the intarsia did. And, in keeping with the theme, it's also my first embroidery!


  1. It's looking good so far! I'm sure your mother will love it! What a very special mom to have :)

  2. Kind of like jumping right into a pool, instead of dipping your toe? Starting slowly is for sissies. ;) Plus, I don't think small intarsia is much easier than big intarsia. I will say though, that fair isle is probably easier than intarsia. I'm sure you could master a men's sweater, no problem.

    And I love the story about your mom. She sounds like an amazing woman!

  3. That looks awesome! And sounds like your Mom is a pretty amazing lady. :)

  4. Beautiful..Such a sweet present. Intarsia is most definitely the most difficult thing that I have done in my entire life, but it sure does make for beautiful projects.