Knitting purses

This is Gail Lambert’s “She Sells Seashells Bag.” I’ve had the pattern in my paper pattern stash almost since when it was first published in 1997. I’d link to the pattern on Ravelry, where it’s not downloadable, except that there’s only a pattern photo and one project shown there. And this Rav orphan’s pattern photo is, well, yours truly’s. Oh heck. Here’s the link.

Of course the purse’s name is a play on the old childish tongue twister: “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.” While researching how long those six words have been twisting tongues I discovered that “it is often said” (and it’s wrong) that the British songwriter Terry Sullivan first wrote the words in a song he dedicated to the British paleontologist Mary Anning. Wrong in a few different ways.

Anning was an early nineteenth century paleontologist whose work was highly underrated. I suppose her reputation might not have been much enhanced by being one of the discoverers of coprolite. Coprolite is fossilized animal poop. Anyway, it’s not at all clear that Sullivan had Anning in mind when he wrote his song. Plus he definitely didn’t think up the tongue twister. This great Library of Congress article by Stephen Winick traces the twister and recounts several versions of it that pre-date Sullivan’s song. But I digress.

Digressing a bit more, here’s a copy (in the public domain) of a portrait of Anning pointing at what appears to be an ammonite fossil, definitely not coprolite. Although, possibly, Anning is pointing at her similarly shaped sleeping pup.

You have been tolerant. Back to knitting.

The Seashells purse is knit in doubled worsted weight cotton. Now that I think about it that’s possibly why I took so long to knit the pattern. Apparently one evening I wanted some hand-strengthening exercises. It’s knit flat, from the top down. Each side of the purse is knit separately using slipped stitches and short rows to form the bottom section of the shell. And the I-cord is knit separately and sewn on. I used Knit Picks Dishie. It was a fun, though painful, knit. And my granddaughter liked it. She’d asked if I could knit her a purse.

I sometimes try not to put all my grandkids’ knit eggs in one basket. So I knit Evelyn a second purse around the same time.

This is Susan Dittrich’s Flapper Purse. It’s a freebie downloadable via Ravelry. This cutie was totally fun to knit. Possibly except for a little more than nine feet of 4-stitch I-Cord. One of those mechanical I-Cord makers would have come in handy. But heck, I like knitting even when it’s a tad boring. You knit 3 lengths of I-cord and then braid them together. It worked well as a purse strap. I used Plymouth Encore and knit at a tight gauge on US size 5 needles.

Once the knitting is complete, you learn that Dittrich is definitely correct that the purse needs a sewn-in lining to stabilize it. So check this out:

Lordy. A lining. This horribly sewing impaired knitter sewed a lining. Um. No. My good knit buddy Marty, informed of my plight, sewed me a selection of pouches–for this project and a few others. I am carefully guarding those others because someday I’ll use them all. The floral print Marty selected was perfect for Evelyn’s sunny yellow purse. I managed to sew the pouch in place. And I even found a great vintage button.