My friend Yumiko has a huge collection of Japanese craft books of all sorts, and she brought a few of her crochet ones to our stitch group a couple months ago to show me. I fell in love with two of the flower ones so I searched them up on Yes Asia and bought them, along with this book on hemp bags (ISBN978-4-7778-1482-4). I had no idea what was in it really, I managed to find a few photos online, but it was a bit of a gamble! When they arrived I was pleased I'd taken the chance and am looking forward to doing several of them.
Hemp isn't the most common yarn but luckily the Hemp Store on K'Road here in Auckland carries twine, which is the same thing I think, and there are sources online. I don't often go down to K'Road so it was a nice outing and the Hemp Store was pretty much as I'd expected - incense, reggae, bongs and a really good assortment of different weights of hemp twine, along with rope and some webbing. I did feel like I should have a big sign with me that said "I'M ONLY HERE FOR THE TWINE" though. That's probably hopelessly middle-class of me! Actually I probably looked hopelessly middle-class with Hazel in tow and no-one had any illusions about me at all, but I'll pretend I'm hip enough for there to be doubts ;) I was hoping Yumiko would be at group this morning to help me get started but she wasn't, so I puzzled through the pattern instructions with the help of Christina. Yumiko did tell me that Japanese patterns aren't nearly as prescriptive as western ones, so there's no gauge or hook size, and as usual, very little in terms of instructions just good illustrations. It's not like a bag is hard though, do a rectangle (this one is just back and forth) and then start up the sides by going around and around. Oh boy though, it's hard work doing the actual crocheting because the twine's so stiff! The others were laughing at me making little noises of effort at the end as my hands tired, and I'm pretty sure they will be sore tomorrow! It's clearly not a project I'll be done in a hurry, an hour here or there will be the only way I can survive. The twine itself is nice to touch as it's waxed so it has a smooth texture and a pleasing stiffness when crocheted. It does twist and curl though, so depending on whether the sides push the bottom flat, or if they twist themselves, I may need to investigate how to block hemp.