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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
Blend
2
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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  • Portia/WA

    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

  • Doraoh

     Brilliant!  What a nice husband ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    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!!!
    Jennifer

  • Carolee

        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.

  • Jet1120

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

  • Jicohen1

    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.

  • Pat

    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.
    Pat

  • Ashleigh Bronner

    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!

  • Amy

    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!

  • Deena Packer

    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.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AK7XHEK6W375J3VJJZ473RLHDY Gail

    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?

  • BERTHA Harrison

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

  • Winniesipprell

    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!

  • Kathi

    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 :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/1CRAFTYGYRL Sandra Davis

    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! 

  • Bev

    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.

  • Becky

    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.

  • Pynoblem

    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.

    Michelle

  • Kdfhooked4life

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

  • Okiechefmom

    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!!

  • PeggiM

    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

  • Catherine Smith

    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!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165879654 Lea Ann Layland Milligan

    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!

  • Knitlady

    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!

  • Sharon Groves

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

  • Katie

    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!

  • Cindyflynn52

    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.

  • Leaceae

    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.

  • TrishN5

    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.

  • Amber Mendoza

    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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Leete/591011265 Jessica Leete

    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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1493226721 Lynn Ayars

    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. :)

  • Portia/WA

    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.

  • Jessi Linebarger

    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? :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sherriebeth Sherrie Alleman

    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...

  • Juanita Quinones

    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! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    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:  http://techshop.ws/  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!
    Jennifer

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    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!

  • Bethany

    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!

  • Carolee

        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.  : ' > 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    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!!!!

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/11/09/half-medallion-bag-crochet-along-getting-started/ Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Getting Started | Lion Brand Notebook

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    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!

  • Neeham3

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

  • carol ann

    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?

  • Jessi Linebarger

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

  • http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/11/17/half-medallion-bag-crochet-along-working-the-front-post-stitches/ Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Working the Front Post Stitches | Lion Brand Notebook

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