the last pattern from Coming Home isn’t a knitting pattern, but a stitching tutorial for a beautiful notions pouch – a home to keep all your valuable knitting notions safe & sound. this sweet notions pouch is designed by Lorna Reid, a brilliant stitcher, designer, teacher, and creator of amazing hand-sewn lovely things. i’ve known Lorna for nearly ten years, and as well as being an amazing designer, she’s also an amazing friend!
My part in the story of this book began during a conversation last March. Lilith and I were sitting down with a well-earned gin after an exhilarating day at Edinburgh Yarn Festival (as well as all the other things I do, I’m also the OMA studio extra pair of hands) and she mentioned she was thinking of doing a book for her 10th anniversary. We chatted about ideas and she asked if I would be interested in contributing a sewing project. (Would I?!!). When she decided on the theme of “Coming Home”, I began to collect various ideas of what that meant to me.
Home for me is the West coast of Scotland, where I live in a small village by the sea with my family. Home is also where I work as a designer and maker, and home is my community of friends who, like me, are creative in lots of wonderful ways. When I returned home from Edinburgh last year I also realised that home is the things I miss when I’m away – certainly my family, but also my cat who is an unexpected delight in my life.
I have had an allergy to cats since I was a child, and until recently was against the idea of having one. My husband grew up with cats and was always keen and when Kirsty (my daughter) grew up and wanted an animal, ANY animal the pressure was real. Five years ago we heard of a cat that was looking for a home – she was fourteen weeks old and was the last of two litters, unwanted because she was black and small.
Somehow I found myself agreeing to a trip to Glasgow to visit her; I had a “get out of jail free” card as my friend had recently got a kitten of her own and was willing to take her if things didn’t turn out. After 6 months of medication and a lot of hoovering things did turn out alright and now Luna is a permanent and very welcome fixture in our home. She’s a funny cat – always with us, but never too friendly. Until we go to bed, that is – then she hops up and settles herself down for the night. One of my favourite things is her little feet padding over me and across the bed. Obviously, she had to be included in the sewing project!
My other source of inspiration is a longtime WIP. I am hand stitching a hexagon patchwork quilt that brings together all the collected scraps and carefully hoarded fabrics from years of sewing; vintage, new, outgrown, worn out. When it’s finished I will have a beautiful blanket for my bed, years of memories in hours of stitching. I have a fabric memory – looking at photographs from years before, I remember the feel of the fabric against my skin. I remember times in my life not from what I was doing but from a particular garment I owned. The time a goat once chewed a pink gingham dress at a farm; running around a hay field in a black Swiss milkmaid number; the papery feel of the rustling silk of my wedding dress; the warmth of corduroy dungarees for my winter baby. All these and more contribute to my love of fabric, and my stash has a special section of fabrics which I’ve held onto for the hexagon memory quilt of my dreams – it brings together all the collected scraps and carefully hoarded fabrics from my years of sewing.
For “Coming Home”, I’ve designed a hand-stitched pouch made from wool felt, “a home for your notions”. You don’t need a sewing machine or any special techniques to make this – it’s sewn completely by hand in simple stitches that you may have learned in school or can pick up easily. It’s shaped like a pencil case so you can store dpns, crochet hooks or even pencils and features a handy pocket on the back. The front panel features small hexagons which can be placed however you like, as well as the option to include a cat if you wish (judging from the number of cats in Ravelry project photos, I can’t be the only one to whom a cat means home!). The back pocket is made of larger hexagons and it’s finished with a neat covered button.
Fast forward to now, a few weeks before the launch of the book at this year’s EYF and we are sitting in the studio (with tea this time!) and we have the advance copy of the book in our hands! It’s truly beautiful and I’m so excited that it has my sewing project in it. Encouragement from a great friend is empowering; Lilith is a fantastic friend to have as she has the ability to enable me to push myself that bit further. I texted her late at night recently to tell her I was knitting lace from a chart – I’ve knitted for years (nearly as long as I’ve been sewing) and it’s only in the past few years that I’ve really pushed myself to do new things because she told me I could.
I’d love to see this sewing project become something that you can share with your friends – it’s ideal for using up small amounts of special fabric or scraps from larger projects so if you don’t already have your own carefully hoarded stash of fabric scraps, maybe you can swap with crafty friends and create new stitched memories together.
(what Lorna hasn’t mentioned is that this works both ways – i do encourage her to try new things, but she’s a huge source of encouragement for me as well and has essentially held my hand throughout this whole book process, even coming to the rescue with emergency chocolate when i nearly fainted at my first sight of the advance copy of the book!!)
this sewing project is perfect for stitchers of any experience level – even if you don’t have any sewing background, it’s clearly designed & easy to follow, and uses simple hand-stitching techniques that are easily picked up. Lorna will be selling a few kits at this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Fest, but it would also be fantastic if we could arrange a fabric scrap swap, maybe over on the Old Maiden Aunt group on Ravelry, and create some beautiful hand-stitched pouches that incorporate special fabrics from across the OMA community to celebrate the friendships we all share.