Sailor’s Delight Open Tote

In trying to think of an island connection for this bag design, I was reminded of the old adage “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”.  Both Shakespeare  (Venus and Adonis, 75th stanza) andred sky at night Jesus (Matthew 16:1–4) expressed similar meaning proverbial wisdom, and despite my growing up aside the ocean and in a fishing family, I never heard it before moving to Ireland.  Here, where much of the population fish for a living, and where travel by boat is the main mode for leaving the island, if a red sky occurs, it’s a matter seriously taken into account when formulating an opinion or plan about travelling. And it’s not without scientific merit.

DSCF2499 (2)Another crocheted bag–this time an open tote.  I didn’t use a pattern but this is what I did:  After making an oval base (same as a rug) I crocheted in the round for the bag’s body using US single crochet/UK double crochet continuously until I reached the desired height.

The straps are crocheted flat with rounded ends then wrapped around extra thick cording before being stitched closed.  With my sewing machine, I stitched the straps onto the bag.  It’s lined with a matching tan corduroy fabric that has a set in zipper pocket. The variegated yarn is Red Heart acrylic that I brought over from the States with me.

The picture is an island sunset taken by Johnny a couple years ago. The resemblance works and so I have named the bag  ‘Sailor’s Delight Open Tote’.

∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗ ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗   ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗ ∗  ∗  ∗   ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗  ∗

I have attached my notes.  They have not been tested other than the original creation but I feel confidant enough to pass them on. Sorry they are not typed out.  Though I am happy to share them, it was not my intention when I published this post.  I am honoured to have had them requested.  This was the quickest way and I’m tired.  Let me know if you have any questions.

DSCF3458   DSCF3459

DSCF3463 DSCF3464


**On row 14, it only implies to put skein through the loop–but do it.  This keeps it from unraveling while the contrast color row of trimming is added on, after which you will open the loop up again and continue on making the body. (you could probably put a safety pin through the loop rather than making the loose knot–you’ll figure it out 🙂 )


DSCF3448Light is horrible in the evening, but here is a pic of the beige contrast colour/CC stitched in back loop only.  It makes a nice detail and crisp transition from base to bag body.



I used a slip stitch to stitch the handles around the cording.

DSCF3443 Inside pocket

DSCF3449 The base–use three to four strands of yarn, a larger hook, and easily turns into a rug.

DSCF3452 The stitched up gap in lining; left open to turn all right side out after attaching lining to bag.


  1. Greg says:

    That’s a beautiful tote, Melissa. I really like the variegated yarn. My grandmother crocheted granny squares and then joined them to make all the grandkids Christmas stockings. After she passed away I taught myself to crochet to keep the tradition alive; yes, I’m man enough to admit that :0)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. oriana77 says:

    Melissa – it was the blog title that got my attention, and I can attest the red sky at night sailors delight and conversely red sky in morning sailors take warning are frequently good indicators. Only works in mid latitudes due to prevailing winds, not normally in tropics.

    Also learned an interesting fact last night that UK farmers have a similar saying replacing sailor with shepherd.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I am glad you mentioned that. I considered going into detail, but in the end decided to keep it short and sweet and just put a link that offered more info about it.

      Johnny tells me that when he was growing up they used to say ‘farmer’ as well as ‘sailor’. Maybe the one that I heard growing up would be more fitting worldwide–

      Seagull, seagull sitting on the sand.
      Bad weathers coming when you’re on the land.

      Hope you two are enjoying smooth sailing..your night sky pictures are stunning. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Roz Hill says:

    Hi you talented lady!! I love the way you line your bags and insert a zip pocket. Really professional. I love crochet too. Have you heard of free form crochet?…. If not, Google it! It opened up a new world of crochet for me. It is a brilliant way to teach kids to crochet ( combined with a Tunisian hook) it’s impossible to make mistakes, ie anything goes! 🌈🌈🌈

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have heard of free form crochet, in that I saw a gallery display of it. Wow is what I thought of it! I do have, and like your idea of letting them use a tunisian hook. I may just leave a basket with some yarn and a few hooks lying around and see who’s drawn to it. Normally, I’m very protective of my tools, but what the hey! I have three sets of tunisian hooks, silly to have them stored away really. Thanks for the good idea. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Roz Hill says:

        All you need to do is show them how to make a chain…. From there they make up their own stitches, inserting the hook wherever they want, it’s very inventive and it could just end up like as crunchy or a Pom pom. Suggest a few ideas ie, cast on, cast off, see what happens if you go into a hole more than once, or pull thread through more than one stitch. No rules, no one can make a mistake!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am in Ireland this coming October…..if you have yarn requests ( Lobster ?, maple syrup? fiddleheads?) let me know, I’ll bring some stash then send it up to you. Are there many spinners still on your Island? I love the variegated yarns as well and often dye or spin for this effect. Joy to you, denise

        Liked by 1 person

        • Funny you would mention fiddleheads…I was just thinking about them this week when my children picked something that resembled them. Thankfully, I can get maple syrup here, Canadian and Vermont so not complaining 🙂 Lobster, now you’re just teasing me 😉 Where abouts are you visiting in Ireland? Kerry is it? Would be seriously amazing to meet up. How long is your stay?

          Sadly, there are no more spinners on the island. Johnny’s family was known for it also. His generation is the first not to carry on the tradition. I seriously considered learning, but sewing is my skill and I’ve spent my lifetime at it. It didn’t make sense with my limited time and desire to teach sewing to pursue it. There was no teacher, no opportunity, and me with young children…a bit of a melancholy topic for me as I love traditional artisan craft.


          • Hi Melissa,
            I had been wondering about spinning on the Aran islands. Amazing to me that Ireland had such a reputation for knitting and spinning, and now it seems somewhat rare to find folks who do either. I hope it is a tradition that finds its way back. For someone who has raised sheep, spun, knit, and felted for over 25 years, it’s one of the first things I am curious about when experiencing a new place. I totally understand about not venturing into too many new territories with regards to traditional crafts or skills. I do not weave and wound’t dare………when would I do that??! I love learning new things but have to be careful about not “filling my dance card” with too many projects. Already I feel like a fiber hoarder……enough fabric and wool to sink a ship. And I like finishing projects, if there are too many on the table they don’t get completed ( I’m a Capricorn, I blame this for my need to see things through). And for you, raising your family, growing food, tending to those day to day( very important) tasks of family and community………well, that probably doesn’t leave oodles of time for craft exploration. Life is an art form, I like to think, so all the things we tend to, are part of that creative journey. Making bread… Sowing seeds into a bed…….art. Exploring the world with our children…….art. Nurturing our relationships……art. On your island , you have created a life lived well and certainly one that is drenched in creativity.
            About Ireland in October. I can’t quite remember the exact date of my heading over, I’ll be there for at least 3 weeks. First I will be up in Ballinasloe at the horse fair doing some interview work with my friend Sally. Then we will head back down to her home in Kilorglin ( County Kerry). It would be great to meet. Let’s work on that if possible. I sense we are quite kindred in many ways and I must say it’s been delightful to read about ” the Maine gal living in Ireland” The best of both worlds for you, I must say! Well, out to tackle nursery chores, feed sheep, and pot up the growing seedlings in the greenhouse. Do you and your family ever come back to Maine?
            And, yes….we all wait for fiddlehead season, so many having secret spots to harvest from. This always cracks me up. Fiddlehead territory, serious business!
            Enjoy you day! denise

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ah jeepers, funny you mention weaving because I came on to correct my previous statement…Johnny’s family were weavers, not spinners. Oops! It is very sad to see both dying out. The traditional knitting is going the same route I am afraid. There are so many imported sweaters that are produced for far less, made on machine and the tourist would rather pay €75 over €200. Understandable, but understandably frustrating also. Anyhoo, it isn’t all for sale of course, it is for pleasure, but not too many families sitting around the fire story telling, basketmaking, weaving, and knitting these day.
            I understand about the want to finish projects 🙂 It is hard though not to accumulate more and more ‘essentials’ for the craft room isn’t it?! I feel some relief with teaching sewing now…I knew someday all this stuff would come in handy for something! I did quite a bit of bargain buying at Jo-anne’s Fabrics before moving over, though I had no idea what I would use it for. Fortunately crocheted fabric rugs use up lots and lots of it.
            It is all art isn’t it, much only limited by imagination…that’s what I tell the children–‘put your own stamp on it’. ‘There’s more than one way to fry bacon’ is a saying I have because of a past experience and you may have just inspired me to a future blog which I will explain that in!!
            We do have much in common and will just have to make it work to meet up in October, one of the best times of year to visit I always felt. So much to look forward to and that is now on the list! Have a brilliant Sunday Denise and talk soon 🙂 🙂


  4. kim says:

    So clever! I have a long way to go before my crochet is up to this standard. The colours of the bag are so reminiscent of that beautiful sunset. I grew up with ‘shepherd’s delight’ in that verse too. It’s one of those that sticks in the mind – I already say it to my children – funny how these little sayings get passed on from generation to generation. Have a great weekend. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Kim, It’s all one simple stitch! Really simple but I’m thinking the patterned yarn makes it look more detailed than it is. I’m looking at my notes and the body instructions are only one sentence long. Really happy that it turned out so like the beautiful sunset. The sayings supposed origin dates back to Jesus Christ, lots of people must have been passing it on for a long, long time :). That is pretty amazing really isn’t it?!


    • I have heard that too, and Johnny mentioned farmer’s warning also. I haven’t heard of that yarn shop. But delighted to know there is somewhere other than Anthony Ryans to shop at. Thanks for the tip Sarah. I’ll check them out. I use lots of Tivoli washable wool because it’s sold on the island. They don’t do orange though. Kind of annoying as the Irish colours include orange and they are an Irish company. I have emailed them about it but no reply. Otherwise, I love the yarn. Always good to have choices though.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Hickeys does have yarn and fabric. But such a limited selection, especially of fabric. May be that I am spoiled for choice from America. Hickeys yarn is priced less than Anthony Ryans but selection is similar, small but nice quality. I can usually find yarn to fill a need, fabric I often order online. That’s okay, just need to plan ahead.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Melissa, love the bag and the red sky. I have never done any crochet, your instructions are like rocket science for me. I can knit and sew a little, one day maybe I can post one of my creations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you should Elizabeth, it’s fun to ‘sew & tell’. And I don’t know the equivalent saying for knitting 😀 but I would equally enjoy seeing that, and sure many would. I find it fun on the odd craft post to discover the hidden talents of fellow writers, photographers & poets. More connections made!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. By the way Melissa, I must rush to your defense… I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Lake Michigan (so big it could be an ocean) right there. We always said sailor’s take warning too. I suppose since you live where you do it must now be “shepherds.” Thanks again for the pattern. I copied all your pictures onto a word document and I will give it a try. You were fabulous to do that. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always wanted to visit the Great Lakes. The Grand Canyon too. Someday!
      We could probably name a dozen or so professions and hobbies that would take delight or warning from the red sky. Wouldn’t that be fun?! Hee hee… I hope you can read my writing ok.
      Have a happy Sunday Colleen. Nearly bedtime here…nighty night. Xx

      Liked by 1 person


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