Although we're not huge sewists at Yarn in the City we still enjoy the craft and it was important to us to have fabric represented in the London Craft Guide. Happily, this next project from the book - the Going Underground Bag by Jacqui Harding - fit our brief beautifully for being inspired by travel. We quite fancy the idea of someone making this little wristlet in advance of their trip to London and being completely prepared for sightseeing with their Oyster card, spending money and a lipstick close to hand!
The Going Underground Bag uses small amounts of fabric so it's a terrific project for those precious pieces of fabric you might already have in your stash - or that you plan to pick up in one of London's many fabric shops!
YITC: Tell us about the inspiration for your design.
JH: Back in 2012, I was lucky enough to be given tickets for the London Olympics. I knew the tube would be packed and I didn’t want to carry my big shoulder bag. I wanted a bag that was long enough to fit the event tickets, but small enough to be practical as a wristlet. I also loved the idea of using different fabrics and making my own trim. After using the bag I made for a lot more than just the Olympics, I made a few improvements, added a matching purse, and indulged in some Liberty fabrics to make the Going Underground Bag. As well as being perfect for showcasing some gorgeous souvenir fabrics, it’s ideal for keeping essential tickets & passports together when travelling. Grab your tickets, Oyster card, cash, phone and lippy, and go!
YITC: Do you travel for your craft? How do travel and craft fit together in your world?
JH: Craft and travel fit together perfectly in my world. Where others may find travel and the inevitable sitting around a drag, crafters can embrace it as perfect no-distraction crafting time. When travelling, I always plan my knitting & crochet projects before I think about clothes or anything else. (YITC: Us too!)
YITC: Do you buy souvenir yarn or fabric? What do you look for?
JH: Yes! Whenever possible. I look out for single skeins of locally dyed or spun yarns (normally either sock or lace weight) or unusual print fabrics - things that I can't easily get hold of. They are a souvenir and tactile memory chest without anything else happening to them - but then, once they are made into something they will remind me of the trip/people I visited every time I use them.
YITC: Tell us about you and your personal design style. How does your project fit in?
JH: The bag fits in perfectly with my design style. I like things to be useful, practical. They have to do what they are supposed to do. There's no point making a lovely bag that has a teeny tiny opening, for example, or one that will come apart after a few uses. But that doesn't mean that a practical item has to be boring. I like to play with colours, prints, textures. I like to add details that make things a pleasure to use or wear, and add interest for the maker. I also like to encourage people to personalise my designs. This bag is a perfect opportunity to play around with prints and trims to your heart's content. Make it bigger, use velvet ribbon for the handle, attach the purse to the bag with a long ribbon, embellish the outer fabric before cutting the pattern pieces - make it just the way you want it.
YITC: What creative (or travel!) plans do you have for 2016?
JH: More magazine designs, more self published patterns, and hopefully a little more making for me. The next thing I plan to knit for myself is a fairisle cardigan - Hedgerow, by Ann Kingstone. I have the yarn ready, and just need the time to cast on.
YITC: What project do you have ongoing right now?
JH: I'm working on my last of 4 magazine designs that all arrived at the same time. And the yarn for another one will arrive next week. So it's all work at the moment.
YITC: What's your favourite part of the designing/creative process?
JH: The initial ideas bit. Imagining what I want something to do, look like or how I want it to feel. Sometimes it all turns out exactly as I wanted first time - that feels fantastic. Then again, some of my favourite designs - like the Melas shawl I made for The Crochet Project - fight all the way. That design was originally one colour, but it just wasn't coming together as I wanted. Adding a second colour was somehow the key to making it work, even though it wasn't part of my original idea at all. So the difficult designs that have a mind of their own are favourites too - but maybe not until they're finished!
YITC: Do you have a favourite designer who's work you follow?
JH: There are lots! We are lucky to have so many exciting British knitting & crochet designers - and I'm even luckier to have met many of them too. Sewing wise, I adore Alicia Miller's bag patterns.
YITC: What are your designing essentials?
JH: An open mind and willingness to make lots of mistakes.
When she's not designing you can find Jacqui keeping busy with work designing, prepping workshops or teaching sewing classes to keep herself from finding things that need fixing in her family's old (but new-to-them) Victorian house!