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Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Welcome! Getting Materials & Gauge

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Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Welcome! Getting Materials & Gauge

Editor’s note: This is the first blog post by Dora Ohrenstein, designer of the Half Medallion Bag, and our host during this crochet-along. Join Dora each Thursday, as we work on this purse together!

I’m thrilled to be hosting a crochet-along at Lion Brand, a company that is truly committed to crochet!

What to expect during this crochet-along
For this Half Medallion Bag (click here to get the pattern), I wanted to create a three dimensional effect that radiates out from a center point. Bobbles and post stitches create this dimension.

Rather than a full circle for the bag, I decided on a half circle, because I think it’s such a pretty shape. While none of the stitches used here are difficult, in order to make the proper increases for the bag while also maintaining the 3D design, stitch counting on each row will be important. I’ll cover that in a future post.

For a bag to be practical, it needs to be lined. Obviously, the holes in crochet fabric are not conducive to carrying items like lipstick and glasses! The lining also helps the bag keep its shape, and provides greater stability and firmness in the fabric. I’m not an expert sewer, so I consulted my friend Leslie who is. She taught me a great way to line a bag with no sewing whatsoever! We will be exploring that later as we proceed in our bag.

Speaking of which, you may be wondering about the timeline for this crochet-along. Over the next 5 weeks, we’ll be working through gauge, counting stitches and placing increases, long post stitches, lining the bag, and then finishing the bag (seaming and attaching the handles). As with all crochet-alongs, you’re free to work at your own pace, since all of these blog posts will stay online.

But first…yarn selection
I was eager to try out the new Martha Stewart Craft™ Extra Soft Wool Blend for this project. It’s lovely to work with: soft and pliable, making the post stitches easy to execute. Other Lion Brand options to choose from are Vanna’s Choice®–always a great value–Wool-Ease®, another wool blend with a very different color palette, Fishermen’s Wool®, for those who like 100% wool, or Cotton-Ease®, for those who prefer a cotton-blend. You’ll need the following amounts depending on your yarn selection:

Yarn Number of Balls
Martha Stewart Craft™ Extra Soft Wool
Vanna’s Choice® 2
Wool-Ease® 2
Fishermen’s Wool® 1
Cotton-Ease® 2
Approximate yardage needed 325-350 yards

Getting gauge
For the first part of our CAL, let’s talk about how to get gauge for this project. If you were to make a gauge swatch with rows, you might not get the same size stitches as when you work this semi-circular design. For that reason, work the first few rows in pattern, and measure them for gauge. Here are some shots of my gauge swatch, worked in the same yarn as the finished bag but in a different color.

With the recommended hook size, a J-10, I worked rather loosely to get this gauge.

Since this is not a wearable item, you may think precise gauge is not important. Here is why I think it is: firstly, when a designer gives gauge, they are telling you what gauge creates attractive looking stitches in the yarn being used. You know how sometimes stitches look all tight and bunchy, and other times they look scrawny or limp? These are gauge problems! So, if you want your finished design to look like the original, please do pay attention to gauge.

Another reason gauge should be considered for this project is to determine how much fabric and interfacing you’ll need. If your project turns out bigger than the size given, you may need to buy a bit more of both.

Now it’s time for you to select your yarn and start swatching. Also, please say hello in our comments section, tell us a bit about yourself, and don’t forget to come back next week for the next step in the crochet-along!

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  • Poor eye sight precludes my reading the pattern as presented.  So, my husband took each row and broke them into one line per comma space and then highlighted each row a different color, increasing the font size to an 18.  Now I’m ready to start the most difficult project so far in my crochet journey!!!   YEA

    • I borrowed this idea!  Two kids under three keep me from concentrating on this, so now I can mark my spot!

    • Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an option to download the pattern in a larger font? ( Like the Large Type/Text books from the library.)

  •  Brilliant!  What a nice husband 😉

  • I’m excited to begin this!
    At first I set aside some Wool Ease in off-white, from my stash. 
    But I just couldn’t resist buying the Martha Stewart brand as suggested, so I have that in yellow also.
    I am first going to finish the crochet part.  Then, my boyfriend is going to cut the handles himself on a laser cutter or CNC Router.  They are digitally programmed by computer and multiples can be cut precisely.  I’m trying to think about the material (a special wood,  something upcycled maybe?), and also the design.  We can cut any shape at all for the overall shape or the hand grip!  In addition, we can use the laser to “burn” images into the handle too.  
    I love it when more than one craft is combined and I get to collaborate!!!

    • Will you be offering your handles for sale. i would be veruy interested

    • Green with envy re: having access to a CNC machine! What a luxury.
      I hope you will share your process and results.

    • i would also like to buy some handles!

  •     This is going to be fun with everyones ideas. Jennifer I like the idea of Yellow (with fall and all I didnt think bright colors) and being able to design and make your own wood handles AWSOME I cant wait to see what you do.

  • Hi…this is my first crochet along and I am looking forward to learning new stiches and ideas.

  • I love that you are doing an accessoray item as a CAL!  I love the look of this bag and can’t wait to get started.  I have a lot of Wool-Ease and Cotton Ease in my yarn closet, so I think I’m going to try Cotton-Ease in lime green.

  • This is also my first crochet along.  I have crocheted for years though.  It is fun to think that while I am
    making my purse others are working on it too.  I am envious of the custom handles.  What a great way
    to finish your project.

  • I’m going to get my yarn this weekend…most likely Vanna’s Choice. Can’t splurge too much on yarn with the upcoming holiday season. I’ve been crocheting since early this year and this will be my 2nd bag ever so I’m quite excited to begin!

  • Love the idea of the custom handles! Can’t wait to see them! I could not resist the Martha Stewart yarn as suggested in the Gerber Pink. But I may have to make more than 1 for gifts!

  • My name is Deena, and thuis is my first time with a crochet-along.  I’m excited to try this.  One little thing sort of bothers me, though.  In the picture, the purse isn’t as wide as the slot in the handle, and to me that makes it look like a mistake.  I’m not sure anything can be done about it, but I am going to try.

    • I agree – I like the pattern and love the other items made by the designer, but the handles in the picture don’t look like the fit quite right.  I think I’m going to have faith in the designer and give it a try any way.

  • I would love to do a Crochet-Along project but I don’t care for this design. Who picks the designs? Do people have a chance to vote on a project?

    • Hi, Gail. For most of our crochet/knit-alongs, we narrow down the field to 3-4 designs, then we ask participants to vote. However, we do have special C/KALs on occasion during which a designer guides us through one of her own patterns. Dora was kind enough to host this CAL for us with her own purse design.

  • I want to know how to order yarn from lion brand.

    • Just get on the lion brand web site.  Then go to the project you wish to do, and then you can order from there, and it will come standard shipping for your project.  Sometimes you can use a special with no shipping and handling; is nice because some of the yarn as you know can be expensive. I sometimes just get the brand and price it @ craft store, and it can actually be cheaper this way.  Hope this was of some help for you.  Happy Crocheting

    • Hi, Bertha. Just go to and click the “Shop” tab (in the upper right corner).

  • I saw this pattern and saved it and didn’t realize it was part of a CAL.   I am going to be joining in and will be checking my stash or using this as an excuse to go find some more yarn for this project.  Love the design!

  • Although I, like many of you no doubt, have several other projects in the works, I am excited about this CAL.  Can’t wait to get started.  I’m planning on trying cotton ease, shopping trip tomorrow 🙂

  • I’ve never done a CAL either.  I won’t be near the yarn shop until Wednesday but will definitely pick some yarn up.  Like many others, I’m anxious to see Jennifer’s custom made handles.  I certainly hope she posts a picture when she is finished.   It will be an extra special heirloom or gift! 

  • Can’t wait to get started.  I will be using a shade of blue similar to the picture.  I believe this will be good experience as well, in getting the gauge correct, and also the lining of the purse. I’m ready to start.

  • I’m excited about this.  Rarely do I ever check gauge.  I will this time.  I will be making a green bag, I think it will look great with brown handles. I hope to find the handles, have not really looked anywhere yet.

    • sells the handle in the photo

  • This is my first CAL, and I’m excited!  I am using blue wool-ease from my stash.  I have no idea about what type of handle I’ll use though.  It will probably depend largely on what Jo-anne’s has on stock.  I love that someone is having their husband custom cut one.  Maybe I can get my DH to do this.


  • I can’t wait to get started. I just started crocheting again after 21 years. This will be my first crochet along. YEAH!!!!!:>

  • This will be my first crochet along also!! My husband would scold me for picking up one more thing — but crocheting relaxes me and I haven’t been doing enough of it lately!! 🙂
    Look forward to joining all of you and seeing the outcome!!

  • Would love to join the crochet along, but I crochet left handed and find it somewhat difficult when making some items that the rows don’t always end the same.  Will the purse be the same shape and look like the pcture if it is made left handed? You can answer here.  PeggiM

    • I’m with Peggy, please include pictures with the instructions for those of us who are lefties.  I look forward to doing this.  I’ve had the yarn for awhile but my attempt at something like this failed.  This will be like a tutorial if you can help us lefties too. Thanks  Dee

      • Hi, Dee. Since the bag is worth back and forth in rows (instead of rounds), you don’t have to worry. The ends of your rows might look slightly different, but the overall project should look the same.

    • Hi, Peggi. The bag is worked back and forth in rows, so the overall project should end up looking the same.

  • I live in France and can’t afford to send away for yarn – I have lots of old yarn stashed away that people have given me, but I don’t know how I tell which is the right gauge – can anybody help (the yarn I have is usually stuff that has been knitted before so does not have its original label!)

    • There is a method called wraps-per-inch (WPI) you can try. Here is a website that explains it. You can also google search wraps per inch and see what you find.

      • Thanks very much for your help. I’ve looked at the link and it looks promising! I’ll try it out later. Many thanks again.

        • Absolutely, hope it works for you!

  • Hello,
    This is my first CAL and I’m ready to get started!  I chose a brown color and love the handles.  I’ve used basic crochet stitches in more of my crochet projects so far, so I am excited to learn these new stitches.  I look forward to taking part in this CAL!

  • I am excited about this crochet along.  I have antique handles which will be perfect with this purse.  I think I will use sage green Vana yarn.  I may have to do a little adapting to make the purse fit my handles.  Let’s go!

  • I have done only 1 CAL before, but enjoyed it so much. Can’t wait to get started! Thanks!!

  • Oh my! I have already attempted this pattern 3 times and every time I have done it it has come out wrong. I’m not a new crocheter, so I’m not sure what’s wrong. My clusters look uneven and my stitch count at the end of the rows are off. Eek! I think I might have to concede. Good luck to you all!

    • Katie, do not give up…..I’ve been crocheting for nearly 40yrs and sometimes it’s just a simple mis-read of the directions.  Start again and take your time.  Can’t wait to see your finished bag!!

      • I agree.  I started the purse in Vanna Choice yarn and didn’t have a problem with the pattern.  I was at attaching the handles when I decided to do the purse in a different color.  Wow I had a time after that, I couldn’t get any row right.  I started to question my decision to change color.  I kept ripping out and starting over, then I finally got it together and moved on.  I wondered how did not have a problem the first time 

    • I couldn’t get past the 3rd row and felt like just giving up. Then I undid the project, left it alone and came back to it a day later and got it going. Don’t give up… You’ll get it!

  • I’m so glad this is a crochet a long project, I purchased my yarn, Vanna in charcoal gray and have started the pattern. I’m excited about the pattern but after working six rows I’m also glad to have a place for questions. I’m an experienced crocheter, started when I was 8… (50 yrs) but am finding the 3 D a bit of a challenge. Looking forward to following along.

    • I’m using the same yarn 🙂 Isn’t is pretty? I love it.

  • Love this pattern, and love the idea of a crochet-along!  This should keep me on track.  I haven’t done a whole lot of crochet, so I’m looking forward to a community that will help me out of the inevitable bind.

  • I am a knitter.  Nana taught me to crochet years ago.  I can do the simple stuff.  Looking forward to trying this bag.  Little nervous and excited at the same time.

  • I’ll be honest, this is a bit intimidating! I am very excited, however 🙂

    I’ve found in doing my gauge swatch (using J-10) that the height is approx. 2 inches, but the width is only about 3.5 inches. Will this matter? Do I need to use a different hook? Thanks!

    • Hi, Amber. It sounds like your gauge is off a bit. I’d recommend trying a slightly larger hook (K-10.5). However, if you like the fabric that you’re getting, you could use the J-10 hook; keep in mind that your bag won’t be quite as wide as the pattern indicates, though.

  • This is my first CAL and I am super excited.  I am actually doing two at once, one in a charcoal grey and one in colonial blue (both Vanna’s’s Choice).  This is my first time doing a purse so I have a question.  When it says an opening of about 12” on the purse handles, does that mean the slits that the material goes through to connect the handles to the purse body needs to be 12” wide?  I am assuming so based on what I see in the pattern, but I am having a hard time finding handles that have a slit that wide, so I want to make sure.  Thanks for the help!

  • Hi I’m Lynn.  This will be my first CAL and crocheted bag.  i am excited about starting this.  I just hope I will follow through. 🙂

  • WHooopeee!!  I”ve been crocheting for several years and have never done a gauge.  I nailed it on the first try!!!
    Thanks soooo much to Bill for rewriting  the instructions for me.

  • Has anyone started this yet?  I couldn’t wait, and started this weekend.  After a failed gauge swatch, and two more starts, things look good…up until row 9, where my second set of clusters were increasingly off center from the previous clusters.  Did anyone else run into this? 🙂

    • Sort of….I think the trick is starting in the right stitch at the beginning of the row.

    • Yes!!!! I have tried a few times now, and I have been really careful counting. My first two clusters are perfect, but I have worked too many stitches by the time I get to the 3rd. Did you ever figure out what was going on?

    • I believe the stitch instructions were one stitch off in the original pattern, creating the second set of clusters to be one stitch off.  Looks like the pattern has now been corrected if you go back and take a look at it.

  • I am looking forward to starting this CAL.  I love the pattern. I haven’t decided on which yarn out of my stash to use. I have soooo much Vanna yarn, I should probably use that.  I am also real envious of the custom made handles.  Maybe I can get my husband to make me something also.  I would love to see pictures of Jennifer’s for ideas. I think I am going to make three or four of these purses for myself and my daughters for Christmas.  I can’t wait to get started…

  • Thanks to Dora for the beautiful bag. Thanks to Lion Brand for the CAL. I just need to buy the handles to finish. I did it with Vanna’s Choice in a Dark Grey Heather color and love it! 🙂

  • Hi all,
    Thanks for the encouragment with the homemade handles!  We have access to a CNC router at Techshop in Menlo Park CA; it’s like a gym membership for welders and carpenter types!  You can forward the link to DH’s:  They don’t have much in the way of textiles there, but they do have a long-arm quilting machine if that’s your bag.  But I digress!  
    Anyway, I am trying to find thin wooden items in the resale shops that I can upcycle into handles.  Today I hit the mother lode:  Some children’s toy plaques, and a wooden Checkerboard!  Score!  Of course with anything upcycled there is the possibility it could shatter…..
    So now I’m on the hunt for wooden game boards like chinese checkers, checkers, backgammon, etc to convert into purse handles.  I’m only willing to pay a few dollars each, though – part of the hunt for me!
    Oh yeah, and tonight I am going to get serious about beginning to crochet the pattern!

  • Thanks you guys for the info about the purse handle links being on Ravelry!  That was helpful.  
    I have bought several used pieces of wood from children’s toys, trays, game boards, etc.  Hopefully I have attached a picture here, with a ruler for perspective.  Any ideas about size, shape, etc on the purse handles?  I’ll share the adventure as I go!  Oh yeah, and I am now on row 4 crocheting…..just started last night!

    • Ugh, I think the picture was too big to attach.  You can see it on my Facebook page: .

  • My gauge turned out right, so I’ll continue on. I’m using Vanna’s Choice in Chocolate. My last CAL was the pullover this summer, and I learned that I need to really slow down and pay attention. Hopefully this time I won’t have to re-do so many times!

  •     Hi Jennifer I think the dark oval palter cut length wise  would be nice handles it would follow the half moon look of the bag. I was so excided when I read about the custom handles your getting I told my husband how cool it was and I would love custom handles. Well he just texted me has some scrap  wood from work and a buddy of his can ruff cut what I want and hubby can finish it up. Maybe use the wood burning kit he has.  Sharing these ideas is so much fun with so much in put from every one from colors to yarn type. CALs are great!!  I just want this to end so I can see pictures !!!  my bag is done except for lining  and handles of course.  ( had a very quite weekend ) so I might do a couple more.  : ‘ > 

  • Okay, first half done!   Not yet blocked.  I used Martha’s yarn in the yellow.  This isn’t blocked yet.  Of course I ignored some of the directions:
    I didn’t fuse fabric to purse or measure before I did the handle rows.
    My gauge is really off; handle length would be 7 1/2 inches for the slot.
    I didn’t fasten off between purse & handle rows; because there are 8 rows back & forth, RS and WS won’t matter.
    I left a long tail so I can sew the flap to itself.
    I really like the yarn!  And, I LOVE the pattern!  It wasn’t until I was almost done that I realized this was top-down, I couldn’t figure it out.
    It helps a lot for me to be alone in the quiet; this pattern has quite a bit of counting.
    With the color, I am channeling HONEYBEES!  I am thinking of lining it in a black fabric that has little honeybee figures in it (if I can find something).  Of course we’re going to make the handles (so the gauge won’t matter so much); I am thinking the handle can mirror the shape of the purse and we can laser-burn HONEYBEES onto the handle.  Oh cuteness!  Maybe even a little honeybee crocheted motif in the center medallion near the handles….  It would also have been cute to have that last row (4dc cluster with hdc alternating) in black for a little honeybee stripe at the bottom.  That would also keep it from getting as dirty.
    I can’t wait to see everybody else’s!!!  Thank you so much, all of you, for the inspiration!!!!

  • […] Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Welcome! Getting Materials & Gauge […]

  • I just had an idea…
    I have a stash of old felted sweaters from the thrift store.  (past project!)  I am going to use a thin one (this is a women’s size L that felted down really small) as the purse lining with the iron-on fusible webbing.  I hope it works; will report to the group!
    Sorry for all of the posts, I have a cold and am home sick with a sudafed-fueled brain!

  • Sorry help I do not understand roll 6 FPtr, could any one Help me?

  • So, this is my first CAL, will be interesting and hopefully squeese in between quilting, my first love. Now for first question, I would like to know how wide the section of the purse that goes on the handles are, I have a metal purse handle which I just love, it is aprox 5.5 inches, I suppose a little gathering won’t hurt?

    • Hi Carol Ann,
      It kind of depends on your gauge.  Since my DH is (still!) working on my custom handles, I didn’t worry about gauge.  So we have cut some test lucite ones, and we may end up doing some wood ones and some lucite ones.  The inside slit on my handles was 8″.  I agree that a little gathering won’t hurt; but honestly the thickness of the crocheted fabric that wraps around the handle is the limiting factor.  When you are crocheting the purse flap, you could actually decrease even more than the pattern says (it bows in a little in the pattern) to narrow the flap width where it bends over the handle’s slit.  Boy I feel like I over-explained; but hope that helps.  
      Hey everybody, where are the pictures???

  • I have just finished steam blocking both sides and I am very happy how it looks so far 🙂  How is everyone else doing?

    • Jessi – your purse sides look great!  What yarn did you go with?  The stitch definition came out very crisp and I love the color!  

      • Thanks!  I went with the suggested Martha Stewart Extra Soft Wool Blend, the color is called Winter Sky.  It is nice to work with, not a fussy yarn at all.  I found the same handles that are in the original photo online, I just attached them last night.  I have a tendency to want to replicate the original as closely as possible the first time I do a pattern, and then get creative the second time around.  How is yours going?  You’re using Vanna’s Choice, right?

        • I will have to try the Martha Stewart yarn sometime – it looks really nice for your purse.  You will have to post some pictures with the handles attached!  The project is going well for me.  I am making two – I have finished the first except handles (having arrived in the mail yet) and need to just sew together and add the lining and handles to the second.  I went with Vanna’s Choice, mostly because I was looking for specific colors and Vanna’s Choice had the ones I was looking for.  

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