The cottage bag experience

Cottage bag featured

In January a small number of us in the Bagalong group on Facebook took on the challenge of making the Cottage Bag, designed by the lovely Phil at The Twisted Yarn. I am now totally in awe of Phil, who must be a master at crochet as she made her bag look so beautiful. I, like the others in the group, struggled as the bag requires loads of crochet techniques that are quite advanced and that I had not attempted before.

My bag is a bit stalled at the moment because I’m getting new bags ready for later in the year and also because we have a very poorly cat at the moment, who is needing a lot of care and attention. Sadly, she has lymphoma and it is advanced and no surgery is possible, and chemotherapy would be too hard on her. She is frail but still happy in herself though, so we are keeping her warm and comfortable and she is on steroids now to see if she will pick up a little and maybe be with us for a few more weeks.

This is one of those things in cats that doesn’t really produce obvious symptoms until very late on so, although we knew she was getting to be an old lady cat, its sort of sprung out of nowhere. My daughter is coming home for a week next week so it would be the best if they could get to spend some quality time together before the inevitable happens. But, you never know and we will do the best for the cat, whenever that time comes.

With all this going on I’m not on social media as much as usual and my crochet time has been limited this week, but its a nice diversion to be able to work on something while the poorly cat sleeps on the sofa, so I hope to get some hooking done over the weekend.

Back to the Cottage Bag

I thought it would be useful to share the experiences of those who have made the bag, or who are part way through it in my case so that you can learn from our mistakes and tackle the bag with more confidence. It is a lovely bag and, as the lovely Karen (@yorkshirekaren on instagram) has shown, it can make the perfect cottage cushion:

Karens cushion take on the cottage bag from The Twisted Yarn

Karen completed the front of the bag using colourwork techniques, even doing the fanlight over the door, which I have wimped out from doing…

Her decorations are brilliant, she even added her own design of a tree to the back.

Janet from Facebook has also completed her cottage and has lined it with brown cotton and used this as the handle. She has also personalised the bag with her own embellishments (I love the black cat!).

Janet's cottage bag finished

And Helen, who I now call Helen Goodbag because she has made so many went for an alternative approach. After struggling with the colourwork method she did a very sensible thing – she opted to make the doors and windows of the bag as appliques.

Janet's bag Karens cushion take on the cottage bag from The Twisted Yarn

The finished result is stunning…

Janet's bag Karens cushion take on the cottage bag from The Twisted Yarn

From our conversations on Facebook, here are our combined tips…

If you want to attempt the colourwork method

When using more than one colour in a row of crochet, it works best if you carry the yarn behind as a float rather than crochet over the yarns you aren’t using. This prevents distortion of the shapes. When I did my first attempt, I crocheted over the yarns through the door, like I would in tapestry crochet, and the door was 2cm higher than the rest of the wall.

When you work with yarn behind the windows and door, do not pull the float too tight as this distorts the door/window horizontally. Its tricky to get the tension right and this really improves with practice. So start with a trial run with some cheap/spare yarn and do a small section and just make a door, for example. I so wish I had done that, it would have saved a lot of swearing!

If you can’t face the colourwork

Start by making a plain brickwork front and back and make the appliques just as Helen did, sewing them into place and then embellishing with your decorations.

Making the cottage bag sides

Helen also had a very good tip for the sides to help with joining. After you have finished the separate sections, work a round of dc (US sc) stitches all around so that the sides are more even. Joining them is then so much easier. You can see the difference it makes – the one on the left is before and the one on the right is after…

Janet's bag Karens cushion take on the cottage bag from The Twisted Yarn

The crocodile stitch roof

I haven’t got to this yet but Helen and Karen both suggested a good YouTube video for learning how to do this stitch. Phil has a tutorial too but this is a tricky stitch and its easier to watch it being done in a video:

Karen also commented that she wished she had used a larger hook than the one suggested as that would have made the working easier and the roof would have been just a smidge wider and would have fitted the cottage base better.

As far as I know, none of us has decided to do the handle as the pattern as yet. I think its very time consuming so make so many rows of brick stitch in the round so when I progress my bag, I’m going to add some loops to the top and find an old handbag, or buy one from a charity shop, to adapt some brown leather handles to fit. I think that would be quite stylish!

I do have to finish the bag yet, so I’ll get to it!

My cottage bag progress