A million years ago when I was a student, I had a summer job in one of those pioneer villages where staff dress up in more-or-less period-appropriate clothes and perform more-or-less period-appropriate tasks. But authentic pioneer tasks tend to be fairly involved and unpleasant and require a lot of materials that weren’t in our budget, so… I learned to crochet. I honestly don’t know enough about the history of crocheting or pioneers to know whether it was an authentic activity, but nobody ever complained, so… yay!
That said, I never learned to crochet well, partly because I don’t have the patience to count stitches, and partly because I was always drawn to the more nubbly, peculiar yarns that make it really difficult to see what you’re doing and really easy to ignore mistakes. So I would make anything rectangular—no shaping means no counting! Mostly scarves, because I could make them as wide as I felt like and then just keep crocheting until I ran out of yarn. That’s my kind of craft, but after filling my scarf drawer and the drawers of everyone I knew, I more or less abandoned it.
But a few years ago I received a bottle of wine in a really fun crocheted bag and it inspired me to try to replicate the process. I had no pattern, and no real skill. Also very little patience. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it turns out that wine bottle bags, at least the way I make them, are super easy!
So, here’s my how-to:
Step One – pick a funky yarn. Seriously, if you follow these directions there will be no artistry, no craftsmanship, no precision… the yarn is the only thing you’ll have going for you. Search out the remainder bins and dredge through to find the most peculiar yarn available—that’s your winner.
Step Two – use whatever crochet hook you have handy. I think there’s probably a connection between thicker yarn and thicker hooks? But I’ve never gotten too scientific about it.
Step Three – learn to crochet. Possibly this should have come earlier in the instructions, but seriously, it should take about ten minutes to learn well enough to make these bags. There are loads of on-line tutorials… don’t get too fancy, just learn the basic stitch, learn the idea of double- or triple-crocheting, and then shut that browser window and move on with your life.
Step Four – start crocheting! Start with a little circle of maybe four stitches, and then just—get bigger. Add stitches, I guess? Damn, I really don’t know what I’m doing. But… yeah, add stitches. Like, if you were going in a straight line you’d add one stitch in the new row at the bottom of every stitch in the first row, but you’re going in a circle, so add two stitches? Nah, probably not that many. Add a stitch when it feels right. Maybe every other stitch from the home row gets an extra stitch? I don’t know. I’m terrible at this. On the plus side, it doesn’t really matter! It’ll work anyway! Nubbly yarn is as cooperative and forgiving as a Labrador Retriever.
Step Five – keep adding rows to the circle, keep adding stitches to the row. Do this until… until you think it’s about enough. If you happen to have a wine bottle handy (and THAT should have been an important earlier step—get a wine bottle, and if it’s a little too heavy to work with, maybe you need to pour a little of that wine out into a nearby glass…) then you can use the wine bottle as a sort of tester. Your circle should be big enough to fit out around the edges of the wine bottle.
Step Six – stop adding stitches and just crochet in a circle until you get tired of it or run out of yarn or think you’re done. There will be a stage at which you will realize you’ve made a really cute cap for a doll. (I didn’t have a doll in the house, so the illustration for this stage consists of the “doll cap” stretched over a wine glass. Don’t judge!) It’s totally normal to consider giving up at this stage. Somebody has to help dolls keep their heads warm, after all, but that’s not YOUR job. You are dedicated to keeping wine bottles cold. Or warm. Or, really, just making them cute before you give them away. THAT’S your mission, not doll hats. Stay strong.
Step Seven – I don’t know—I feel like we’re done, now. Don’t you feel like we’re done? Tuck that end chunk of yarn in somewhere, stuff a wine bottle in the bag, see how it looks. If you’re feeling fancy, you can weave a chunk of yarn through the bag at the appropriate height and make a little tie-off. Damn, that’s some advanced crafting you’re doing, now!
(Now is the time to set your wine bags up in a variety of absurd poses all over your house, preferably in some sort of “artistic” arrangement. Or with your dog. Whatever works for you.)
If you ran out of yarn half-way through a bag, don’t worry about it. That’s a demi-poche—it’s the next big thing!
And there we have it. A do-it-yourself project from someone with no skill whatsoever. Sometimes, confidence trumps competence! If you start to crochet wine bags (and, honestly, how can you resist?) send me pictures!!!
Check out All That Glitters today!
No matter what he tells himself, wealthy NYC architect Liam has never been able to forget his first love, Ben. But as he approaches midlife and realizes something is missing, can he forgive himself for the worst mistake he ever made—the one that left a hole no amount of career success can fill? Or will fear keep him from the full life he really wants?
Liam and Ben were childhood sweethearts, then college boyfriends. But when Liam cheated on Ben, Ben forced himself to cut ties and move on. He’s still living in the small town where they grew up, teaching, but it’s not the life he imagined for himself as a younger man. Still, when Liam returns, he can’t risk his heart again. He certainly can’t allow himself to love Liam again after fighting so hard to get over him.
Neither man wants to let go of the past and face their apprehension at starting over. They don’t want to fall in love a second time—but sometimes love happens whether it’s wanted or not.
Kate Sherwood started writing at about the same time she got back on a horse after a twenty-year break. She’d like to think she’s far too young for it to be a midlife crisis, but apparently she was ready for a few changes!
Kate’s writing focuses on characters and relationships, people trying to find out how much of themselves they need to keep, and how much they can afford to give away. She tries to find a careful balance between drama and humor—she wants readers to have an intense experience and feel drawn into the book, but she also wants them to enjoy the time they spend reading.