How to Make Folk Bags

Folk Bag Workbook - Instructions on how to design and make creative drawstring pouches

Since 2008, I have had a dream: teaching how to design and make folk bags. When I invented the idea of the folk bag, I drew a sketch. That sketch was the first piece in the pile of documentation gathered for the workbook.

The workbook has 40 pages and about 100 images. You will be guided from the planning to the making of unique folk bags which you can keep, give away or sell.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet

I feel so happy and relieved at the moment!

The book includes instructions for three folk bags: one small with stripes, another large with solid-colored fabrics and third medium with printed fabrics. But the best thing in the workbook is that it guides you how to create unique bags in various sizes. Starting from choosing the theme and fabric and ending with setting the final decorations in place!

Folk Bag Workbook - Instructions on how to design and make creative drawstring pouches

Buy the book for 15 euros (about 18.50 USD) here or from my Ravelry store

Writing a Craft Pattern

At first, I should probably give you a warning: I am in the middle of the chaos, this not so organized as my posts usually are! With this post, I invite you to the process of writing a craft pattern. I have had this idea for 6 years and it has become hugely important to me.

Sewing Folk Bags, by Peony and Parakeet

I designed a drawstring pouch which combines yarn and fabric in 2008. I have made tens of those bags, which I call folk bags, during the years and dreamed about writing instructions of how to create them. Within years I have learned a lot of making these bags. What first started a simple idea and simple sketch of a pattern, has become much more. It became clear when I began working with the pattern that I won’t be writing a regular craft pattern. I am writing instructions and formulas about how to design and customize folk bags so that you can make your own unique bags.

Fabric Stash

Writing a pattern is not just writing. I have to test each sentence for many times. So I need to actually make more bags while I am writing.  Going to the fabric stash in the morning feels as inspiring as grabbing the pens and paints. What I find challenging is to go back and forth from knitting and sewing to writing. I do not know if it was a good idea to make the pattern both in English and in Finnish – and write the both language versions at the same time! Sometimes I get so mxed up that I have to translate the most simple words from English to my mother tongue Finnish! The good thing with working with two languages at the same time is that the instructions get checked much more carefully.

Folk bag Emily by Peony and Parakeet

I knew I had taken a lot of photos of my bags during the years. It seemed to be a good thing. All the ideas that I have had and that had been implemented are recorded. Furthermore, I have a special folder in the photo organizing software where they all are. And yes, that’s great. But there are over 500 photos plus the new ones I have took during the writing. I need to pick the best images for each chapter and then process them. There’s still 250 photos to go through and few more to shoot.

A Folk Bag by Peony and Parakeet

After all this, I still have to confess that my heart sings when I am writing the pattern. I hope that with this work I am able to spread more joy than if only I made the bags. I wish that there will be more people experience the joy of both making the bags and receiving them.

A Folk Bag by Peony and Parakeet

I hope to get the pattern published in this month. I already have finished many chapters and soon I will begin to insert the texts and images to the desktop publishing program. The working title of the pattern is Folk Bag Workbook. It will be available for purchase in my web site and at Ravelry.

Folk Bags by Peony and Parakeet

Next week I have more news, also textile related in a way!

Mixed Media Pie Party

Mixed Media pies, Karelian pies by Peony and Parakeet

Karelian pies – tears come to my eyes when I remember a childhood memory of my past mother making them. And her story of my grandmother who made a pile of those for her six daughters every Saturday. Just some water, flour, rice and butter was needed. Or well, that’s what I thought before I made some by myself after moving away from home. Patience too, I recognized!

Mixed Media pies. Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

I wanted to experiment with creating something not so serious. So I recreated Karelian pies. These mixed media pies are made of fabric, wool, lace, beads, buttons etc. And they look like baked after I added some fabric dye in the edges.

Mixed Media pie. Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

When making these I remembered the emotional connection I have for the Karelian pies. They represent caring and love for me. In the area where I grew there where no celebration nor funeral where Karelian pies would not be served. The finer the occasion, the smaller the pies – and there were a hundred of them!

Mixed Media Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

I thought I would create a fantasy world with my pies, linens and fancy tea but my thoughts became more real than I had ever suspected. I became to think how important people from the past quietly fade away when the time goes by. And how we can bring them back to our minds. Like inviting them for a cup of tea, even only in our thoughts.

Mixed Media Karelian Pies by Peony and Parakeet

While taking the photos I remembered a small table linen that I had embroidered as a teenager. Back then I dreamt about the future and wanted to make something very traditional Karelian for myself to treasure. I was inspired by the stories of how young women made their linen before they stepped into the marriage. That embroidered piece combined with the Karelian pies really speaks to me.

Art is freedom. Give yourself the freedom to create! You will get something precious in return.

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Collage Mittens

Knitted mittens, collage mittens, knitting, crochet, by Peony and Parakeet

I needed new mittens so knitted them using some leftover yarns. But when finished, my knitted mittens looked so plain! Even if I had knitted stripes to make them more interesting. I got an idea: I crocheted embellishments which I sewed on the mittens. Yes, I like them now! Very folk with a modern twist!

Collage mittens, knitting, crochet, by Peony and Parakeet

The mittens were finished but this story is not over. I began to think how I got the idea about the crocheted embellishments. Well, you know my love for collages. I was thinking about collage mittens! I find these words most inspiring when combined: collage and mittens. I got plenty of ideas how I could take the concept even further and begin combining crochet, knit, quilted fabric, ribbons and so on. Probably I will make those crazy collage mittens next winter.

Remember, if you need new ideas, think about naming your project by thinking how they would call it in another substance area. For example, how would carved mittens look like?

Knitted mittens, collage mittens, knitting, crochet, by Peony and Parakeet, Päivi Eerola

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A Decorated Box Using Mixed Media

Decorated box filled with ink bottlesTrash can become a treasure

It was only a small cardboard box but I wanted to take it to the extreme. There’s something extremely satisfying in taking  trash and treating it like a treasure. Many times when I draw I miss working with 3-dimensional objects. This time I wanted to enjoy playing with the box and use all its’ sides. Mixed media was the driving factor here too.

Preparation

First removed all the extra tapes from the box surface. Then I covered the box with white gesso. It would give colors better background than brown cardboard.

Inside

I painted the inside panels yellow. It is one of my favorite colors and I often use it when I want to add light but do not want to do that with white. As you may know, I am not a big fan of white!

Adding collage elements to the inside panels of the box

Plain yellow surface looked little bare so I added some collage elements. These were made by coloring pages from children’s books with color pencils and then  randomly cutting circles from the colored areas. I glued the circles with gel medium.

The bottom of the box needed something different. I decided to crochet a piece that would fit inside the box. I began with a small square and crocheted around it using a couple of colors. Finally I finished the pice by embroidering a flower.

At this phase the box reminded me about the sunflowers in the end of the summer. Then I began to decorate the outside of the box.

Crocheted bottom of the decorated box

Crocheted edge on the bottom of the decorated box

Outside

I continued with crochet. I made flowers and a long chain which I used in the outside bottom. It feels great to lay the box onto the table when there’s soft wool in the edges!

The I wondered how to attach the decorations like the crocheted flowers and various buttons to the outside edges. They were pretty heavy. Golden Fiber Paste was the perfect stuff! It created the textured surface and attached all the little pieces securely.

A decorated box using mixed media, a closeup

The end result is unusual looking but perfect for my indian ink bottles!

Folk Bag with Imagination

Folk Bag, Dancing With Imagination, by Peony and Parakeet

I finished this bag in the summer but have been saving this for blogging. Now when the autumn has come to Finland, showing this feels appropriate.

Folk Bag, Dancing With Imagination, by Peony and Parakeet

When making this my goal was to create something based on my own style so I created everything myself. All the patterns and ornaments are my own designs.

This bag is inspired by nature in the way many folk style objects were. It also represents the design process where wild plants change to stiff ornaments.

I named the bag after another of my work. This is called Dancing With Imagination because it is so much alike than the art journal page that I made a while ago.

Painting With Wool

For a long time I have believed that the most valuable things are those that you can make yourself from start to finish. The question is only, where to start. This project was a very special one as I started with natural white wool. I had the idea of painting with fiber and I thought I could take a layered approach as what I have done with papers.

My first step was to dye the wool by painting colors over it. Here’s one of the rovings I dyed.

Then I spun the wool.

Here’s some of the finished yarn. With spinning I added “painted” layers.

Then I chose the pattern. I could have designed it myself but I find so perfect one I decided to go with it. It’s Stockport by Sarah Hutton from Rowan magazine nr 46. I chose to make mine it a little longer to really show off the yarn.

When knitting the sweater I made random stripes, another layer of paint. I think that the result really proves that the layered look can be done with fiber too!