Monday, November 28, 2016

The Ugly Granny Bag

  I loved my idea of making a reusable grocery bag out of my Giant Plarn Granny Squares, even though I knew it would have its downfalls. The first problem was the huge gaps between the stitches, but I only planned to use the bag for large items anyways. The second problem is the weight of the bag itself... With over 100 grocery bags used to make this one project, it came out pretty dense. However, after weighing the finished piece, I discovered it only weighs a pound.


  That's one pound of plastic saved from a landfill! And by using this bag when I go shopping, it will reduce the amount of disposable bags coming home with me. But... That leads us to the third problem with my bag: I think I may be a little embarrassed to use it! I saw the first two potential problems before I started to create it and luckily, it didn't turn out as bad as I thought. This bag is totally usable, but nothing prepared me for how ugly my granny bag would be!


crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle

  I do think this idea would work to make a cute bag with yarn and a finer gauge, but this super-thick plarn has created a monstrosity. Since the idea itself still has potential, I'm still going to share with you how I made it. You can see in one of my Lost Crochet Files how plarn actually can make a pretty cute granny bag... Just not this way. I think this bag is hideous, but it will still serve its purpose. I'm not really too ashamed to use it. I'm just self-conscious enough to never make one like this again.


crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle



  To briefly explain the idea of this project: You need a total of five granny squares - One for the bottom and one for each of the four sides. Of course, this is the part where you could be creative as you want... Make a scrap-tastic classic granny, create a different version of a granny for each panel, or even mix and match smaller grannies to create the larger squares. Colors, fiber, and size are all up to you! So is the option to recreate my hideous plarn version, but I'll be highlighting the things I wished I had done differently to make it look nicer.


crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle



The setup:
I started by attaching my sides to my bottom piece with one seam in the round. Below you can see an example of how to put the squares together before I worked the seam. They should have all been right-side-down, but I made a few mistakes before I got that right. 😩

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle


The bottom seam:
My plan was to work an extra-strong seam of single crochet stitches - And I did. In hindsight, I wish I had done this differently. Perhaps sew the squares together? This bulky material created a horribly thick, ugly seam. But in the experimental stage, I thought this wouldn't matter with the seam being on the inside.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle


It didn't look so bad before I seamed the sides together. The seam rolled towards the bottom of the bag, and I thought it would provide strength for heavy items inside, plus help the bag keep its shape.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle


The side seam:
Knowing that bulky seam would stick out in the way of putting items in the bag, I decided to work the side seams in a slip stitch. Those still turned out to be quite bulky, which is why I think sewing might be the better option for this project.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle


As I mentioned in another post, I also made one of those seams in a different direction than the others. It was the first seam I made, but before weaving in the ends, I worked the next one another way. I continued on to finish the other two seams, forgot to rip out and fix the first one, and weaved in the ends before I remembered. I didn't feel like picking out the ends, so I left it as-is. That one seam causes a nasty twist in the bag, making the whole thing look like a mess. I think the same project made correctly would have a much nicer shape.


The handles:
I had worked handles in-the-round for another bag, and I wanted to do the same for this one... But I found it too difficult to work a small cylinder with bulky material and finger crochet. I gave up and made flat handles. I joined in the corner space of the square, worked a stitch in the middle of the join, and one more stitch in the corner of the next square for a three-stitch wide handle.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle

I worked a total of twelve rows in single crochet. To join to the other side I turned, worked one single crochet in the corner space of the square, and worked the next two stitches through both thicknesses of the handle and the stitches of the bag.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle



  Although I can bash the appearance of my ugly granny bag, it's turning out to be pretty useful. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, it held four 40 oz. cans of yams - That's ten pounds! The wide handles made it possible to carry the weight comfortably, when usually it would strain my hands. That was a load that would require double (or maybe triple) bagging with disposable grocery bags!

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle



  The thick, cushion-y material would be great for keeping bananas and other produce safe from bruising. And if I use a few more squares, I could make a rectangular bag that would let me carry two gallon jugs at one time. (You know, I think if I made the seams better, this one would stretch to fit.) Maybe I shouldn't be so disappointed in my idea because of the first attempt! It was made while I was extremely stressed, and I was concentrating more on keeping busy than making it right. Yes, this one bag is hideous. But because I know where I went wrong, perhaps a second attempt could have more potential.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle



  I think I'll try making the material a bit thinner, and maybe I'll use a hook this time - Maybe not. I'd love to see some other crocheters give the project a try using their own ideas - Material, color, shape, etc. I know that plarn can make a nice bag because of others I have made. (One created along with yarn might even be called pretty!) This eyesore might be useful, but the project needs improvement.

crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle


  As for the other two bags in that photo: You can find the pattern for the messenger bag here; that one obviously follows a different design... But the other bag is the one I mentioned with the handles worked in-the-round, using the same method as this ugly granny bag. The only difference is that I used thinner material and the classic granny square pattern (plus a hook instead of finger crochet).


  Perhaps I should stop comparing my ugly granny bag to nicer projects. It is useful. It is sturdy. And it is a finished project! Rip van Winkle even said "cool!" when he saw it done... That doesn't happen very often! He also says the bag isn't ugly. I reserve my right to stick to my own opinion about that. We've since agreed to meet in the middle and give it the ambiguous description of "unique".


crochet, plarn, granny square, bag, finger crochet, recycle

 
Happy Crocheting!


2 comments:

  1. Hello Jenny,
    (1) I do agree with your husband as anything useful cannot be ugly. (2) You might not have carried such a havy weight with the bag if it had been "pretty" - just in case you'd damage it. (3) You're absolutely right about the handles: these will not cut into your hands. (4) Grey not being my favourite colour that's probably the only thing I do not like about the bag - but there's nothing you can do about that, right? (5) You could try to organize some plarn in a different shade for making the seams and the handles - even put the seams on the outside, giving the bag an extra touch...
    I do think your bag is absolutely fabulous as well as unique and not ugly at all!
    Well done!
    Marjan

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Marjan! I do still think it's hideous, but you've made me feel a bit better about it. You are right: The bag's purpose is to carry a lot, not look good... But I'm glad you like it!
      I do have a few other colors, somewhere. I will keep your tips in mind when I try again.
      Have a lovely day!

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