For this gift project, I modified a Bernat pattern by reducing both the number of colors and squares used in order to make a cleaner, more streamlined end product.
Making the handles may have been my favorite part. I had never used this method before and was well-pleased by how soft and cushy the handles would be for small hands to hold. I simply made two rows of double crochet, then folded them in and crocheted them together with a line of single crochet. Couldn't have been easier.
However, do not let this bag deceive you. It took a lot more time than I originally anticipated it would. The floral squares are fun, but rather time consuming. The flowers are first crocheted and then the square is made off of their round centers. However, the petals still need to be individually woven onto the square. There are four flower squares on the front of the bag as well as on the back for a total of eight flowers. Eight flowers with six petals a piece equals a whopping 48 ends to weave. For someone rushing to meet a Christmas deadline, this discovery was not pleasant. But, I buckled down and had the bag done with four days to spare until Christmas. I was very proud of myself.
Crocheting the side and bottom pieces allowed me to try my hand at a new stitch ~ the reverse single crochet. Many of you, dear readers, have probably attempted this long ago, but I had somehow never run across it in my 14 years of crocheting. It took my brain a while to get used to the fact that I was crocheting backwards (from left to right instead of right to left), but I ended up enjoying the experience. My brain needed to be stretched a bit anyway. Since completing my masters back in August, I have needed a new challenge... haha.
I hope that wherever each of you may find yourselves this New Year's Eve that you will be in the company of those you hold dear. Many happy returns to you all as we blaze into 2011 together.
Oh, the crafting yet to be done! I can hardly wait!