SEW! Thank you for the great comments about the bag. Ali really picked out some fun, stylish fabric and the directions were pretty clear, though there are things that I'd do differently or pay attention to more if I were to do it again. I have a funny relationship with sewing and with my machine. I don't sew a lot, but my machine is always handy -- very, very handy. I used to keep it in the old kitchen upstairs -- perfect location, nice room, lots of light, storage galore, but not handy. The machine found its way downstairs years ago and has taken up permanent residence on the floor under a window in the dining nook. It really only comes out a few times a year and usually for spurts of activity, such as the skirt spurt last November.
My mom sewed a lot when I was little, as did her mom (I have grandma's treadle machine), my dad's mom, and my dad's mom's mom (I have great grandma's treadle machine, too); my stepmom once owned a fabric store, so she definitely sewed, and she's the one who gave me the machine I use now. She didn't give me her machine, the one I used in high school -- that was earmarked for her only daughter, even though she hardly ever sewed at all -- but I totally understand that and mine is a very closely related workhorse. I've sewn many a curtain on that machine, lots of summer shorts sets for the girls (my favorites were the old-fashioned tops that tied at the shoulders or in the back), Halloween costumes (Raggedy Ann!), pants and skirts for the girls, even some machine-pieced quilty things, and I've mended plenty of blown out butt seams and ripped hems.
It was never a solitary activity for any of my predecessors, either, which is probably why the "sewing room" thing doesn't work for me. Sewing always took place in the kitchen or dining room; in fact, the treadle machines were part of the dining room furnishings in their respective homes.
I'm still sometimes surprised that not all women sew -- even just a little. Just as I always thought that every man had a nail trimmer in his pocket as standard equipment -- because my dad always did/does -- I always thought that every woman had a sewing machine.
In the realm of knitting, I'm pleased to announce that toe decreases on the second sock have begun! I can't believe I'm finally going to have a pair of my own hand-knit socks!