Wristlet bag

Sewing! So fun! I forget how much I enjoy sewing because I don’t do it very often, but the combination of fixing my machine’s tension issue (read: figuring out where I was threading it wrong) and recently coming into a large collection of fun cotton prints from someone’s de-stash means that right now I just want to Sew All the Things. Ultimately, I’d like to get to a place where I can confidently sew garments — but I definitely need more general practice first.

Enter the DIY Knot Wristlet, a free pattern from 5 out of 4 (pattern | tutorial). I’d been wanting a small bag of some sort that I could hang over the stroller handles when Tertia and I escort the big kids to/from school. In the winter I just shove everything I need into my jacket pockets, but in warmer weather that’s not really practical; my pants pockets only hold so much, and my summer skirts mostly don’t have pockets at all. So I could use a little something for my phone and keys.

This was my first time working from a printed pattern, my first time working with a lining, and to the best of my recollection it was also my first time sewing curved seams. But I did it! I made one alteration to the pattern, which was to omit using any fusible interfacing because (a) I don’t mind if this bag is floppy and (b) Fabricland is on the other side of town and I didn’t feel like going out. You know how it is.

There was one point where I nearly gave up and hand sewed instead: top-stitching the smallest opening, which barely had room to manipulate the presser foot. But I persevered, and if it’s a little janky — well, what are you going to do?

I used two different quilting cottons for the bag: a cream with a subtle print, and this paisley delight. I have enough of the paisley left to probably make a dress, although admittedly, that much pattern might be a little intense. Maybe a skirt, though, one day. Here is the bag all finished and freshly pressed:

And did I mention it’s reversible?!

All in all this was a very satisfying afternoon project. Big crochet projects can take dozens of hours to complete, so being able to make something start-to-finish in an hour or two felt great. Next up on the sewing list, Perpetua wants a similar bag of her own. I’m looking forward to seeing how the experience is different a second time through.

Reading Round-Up: April 2023

April reading brings May rehash: let’s get right to it, shall we?

  • The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England (Brandon Sanderson)
  • Ramona the Brave (Beverly Cleary)
  • Negotiating with the Dead (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Princess Diarist (Carrie Fisher)
  • Standing in the Rainbow (Fannie Flagg)
  • Lex Operandi, Lex Credendi (Christine Pennylegion)
  • Stranger Planet (Nathan W. Pyle)
  • Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (Fannie Flagg)
  • Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven (Fannie Flagg)
  • The Whole Town’s Talking (Fannie Flagg)
  • These Old Shades (Georgette Heyer)

First this month was BrandoSando’s delightful The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, a slightly bonkers multi-dimensional-travel blank-room novel; by “blank-room” I mean that when the book opens the protagonist has no idea who or where he is, à la Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir) or Memory (Lois McMaster Bujold). John wakes up in what appears to be medieval England — except that magic appears to be real, as are the Norse gods. Mistaken for an aelv, he’s captured by the local lord and things only get crazier from there. It’s funny; I enjoyed it. This was the second release from Sanderson’s four-book kickstarter campaign last year, and so far I’ve been very glad that I bought in!

Ramona the Brave is a bit of an outlier on this list. I’ve been reading through the Ramona series with the kids at bedtime, and normally I don’t keep track of the books I read to the children, because that list would get out of control very quickly. But I enjoyed this one so much that I read ahead about five chapters on my own to finish it, so I think that counts! Cleary’s books hold up very well, and it’s been a pleasure to share Ramona, companion of my childhood imagination, with my own kids.

Negotiating with the Dead is one of Atwood’s nonfiction offerings, a book about writers and writing that was constructed around a series of lectures she gave about twenty years ago. I think I’ll be buying a copy of this one at some point; it’s a retrospective on her own career, but it’s also a fascinating meditation on the writing life and the writer’s social role (or lack thereof). There is also a very interesting discussion of the duality of authorship — of being at the same time the “Margaret Atwood” of literary fame, and the “Peggy Gibson” of her regular life. Fascinating stuff.

Also a memoir, albeit of a very different sort, Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist revolves around the filming of the first Star Wars movie and her long-rumoured love affair with Harrison Ford. It contains excerpts from the diaries she kept at the time, along with a lot of terrible teenage poetry (no shade; I’ve got a few piles of that myself). More interesting to me, however, were her accounts of growing up in the shadow of her parents’ fame, and the ways that celebrity has affected her own life and sense of self, for good and ill.

About midway through the month, I was paging through my book log — or perhaps it just fell open, I’m not sure — and I found my list from April 2019, which included a couple of novels by Fannie Flagg, which reminded me how much I enjoy novels by Fannie Flagg. (My poor working memory is about 80% of the reason that I keep this log.) So I read some! Standing in the Rainbow and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! were both new to me, and I accidentally read them out of order, which honestly didn’t matter particularly much. Both these and the two others (Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven and The Whole Town’s Talking) are set in the fictional town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri, although a good part of Welcome takes place in NYC. They’re definitely character-driven books — I mean, they have plots, but the plots are certainly not the narrative driver — and I’ve enjoyed seeing how Flagg further opens up the interior and exterior lives of Elmwood Springs’s inhabitants with every sequel. The timelines in each book overlap with the others, and it’s a pretty deft trick to interweave them without too many inconsistencies. (There were several errors in The Whole Town’s Talking, which Flagg’s copyeditor should have caught, but none of them were of narrative-ruining size.)

When I was preparing Lex Operandi, Lex Credendi for publication, I must have skimmed through it half a dozen times getting the formatting and everything set up. But it had been many years since I actually sat down and properly read it straight through, as if someone else had written it. It might not have been since after my thesis defense, in 2016, now that I think on it. Anyway; I read through it and I thought it was pretty good. Ha.

Stranger Planet is Nathan W. Pyle’s second comic collection featuring the “Beings,” a charming race of aliens who live in a world very much like our own — but different. The kids love these comics, especially Anselm, for the way Pyle makes the ordinary stuff of our lives whimsical and unfamiliar through clever renaming. Toast? That’s a twice heatblasted doughslice. Smoke alarm? That’s a hot danger screamer. Coffee? Hot jitter liquid — not to be confused with my beverage of choice, hot leaf liquid. Kissing is mouthpushing. Salad is a leafbucket. It’s all wonderfully silly; here’s the (very relatable) comic that started it all.

To finish off April, I read Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades, which takes place somewhat earlier than most of her novels, in this case, in Paris and England during the reign of King Louis XV. Lord Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon and notorious for his debauchery, is quite literally run into in the street by a peasant urchin fleeing a difficult family situation. Instantly captivated by Léon’s distinct colouring, Alastair buys the youth into his service — setting off an insane chain of events involving mistaken identity, kidnapping, unrequited love, and all sorts of nefarious plots. It’s quite the romp. These Old Shades is the first in a series of four; the next book, Devil’s Cub, takes place about twenty years later and features Alastair’s son. I didn’t realize it was a series, and in fact I read the third book, Regency Buck, many years ago. Perhaps it’s time to revisit it.


Visual Verse is a neat online journal exclusively featuring ekphrastic poems and stories. Every month, they post a new image prompt and a challenge to submit a single 50-500 word response to it, written in no more than an hour.

This month, the image is a picture by poet Sarah-Jane Crowson, who is an internet-acquaintance of mine and creates surreal and dreamy visual poetry. I was very pleased that my response poem “Preservation” was one of those chosen for publication in this volume.

The poem is a “duplex” poem, a relatively recent form premiered by poet Jericho Brown. It’s constructed with a series of interlinked and repeating couplets, ending up something like a cross between a ghazal and a sonnet. I’ll be writing more of these.

Faith CAL, part 6

Previously: part 5, part 4, part 3, part 2, part 1

It’s been a while since the last update on this project! After finishing part 5 in December I took a good break to work on other, smaller projects. (It’s also now much too large to easily haul around for crocheting on the go.) At any rate, back in December the Faith blanket looked like this:

And it’s now wholly outgrown the easy chair and must be photographed on the loveseat instead:

Part 6 added a few inches to each side, first a section of crossed double crochets to match the lower border of part 5, and then the light blue band with the integrated green embellishments. This was constructed in five rows, the inner three of which were done with both yarns held together. This is the same sort of technique as is used in tapestry crochet; it’s mildly annoying to manage the two yarn balls without tangling, but the actual colourwork isn’t that difficult once you get the hang of it.

This is how the colourwork section ends up looking on the back side:

And with part 6 finished, I’m really into the home stretch now. Part 7 is quite short — only eight rows — and Part 8 is even shorter. The only question that remains for me is whether I’ll have to add an extension at the end to get the final size I need. No way to answer that except to keep going, of course — just as soon as I finish sewing in this section’s ends!