Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bag Lady

One thing I did before leaving on vacation was to splurge on a Jordana Paige Bella bag. I have maybe 3 knitting bags (including the new Bella) and all of them are lacking in one way or another.

The first one, I got at Michaels and carried loyally for many months. It's just a plain bag with two pockets on the outside, and some interior pockets. Zips across the top. Nothing wrong with it. Functional, but not spectacular. Great as long as you don't mind carrying two bags, because no one would ever mistake this for a purse.

Then there are my Goknit pouches, which I love, and they've served me well, but - let's face it, they look kind of dorky hanging off of you or your bag. I actually kind of like putting them inside a larger bag to hold my yarn and keep it from tangling, because of the little loopy things. Why do so few people make knitting bags without the loopy things? Do they worry it will no longer appeal to nonknitters if it has loopy things? Well, is it a knitting bag or isn't it??

I also have a Namaste messenger bag. I bought it because it was on sale, honestly, and I kind of lost my head for a minute. This one really works the least for me. It's biggest, so I use it when I want to carry multiple projects. But, I have just never cared for messanger bags in general - way too much work to get to the inside - and it doesn't sit on the floor. I take it to game nights where I can hang it on the back of my chair. I tuck a ball of yarn in one of the front pockets and work from that, and that seems to work okay since the front pockets button. When I run out of yarn or if I want a different project, I can dig for it on the inside of the bag, tuck it in the front pocket and be fine.
Of all my bags so far, the Bella is by far my favorite, but it's not perfect either (let's face it, nothing is perfect unless you design it yourself, right?). It has two features I love - one, it can double as a purse. Two, it has the snap loop to pull your yarn through.  (It's also really cute, does that count as a 'feature'?)

JP calls them 'circlets' and I cannot fathom why they are not included in every knitting bag ever. Worse, I cannot fathom why so many knitting bag designers use a gromet for this. You have to be one comitted knitter to put your yarn through a metal gromet, knowing that the only way to then remove it is to cut the yarn. Somebody must like it that way because bags keep selling like this, but I am not that committed either to project or to bag at any given time, nor am I so delighted with the weaving in of ends, that I am happy to snip my yarn all the time.

The biggest issue I have with Bella is that it doesn't have enough structure. On the one hand, the lack of structure is great for people like me who never carry a purse on a plane. I always put my necessities in my carryon and pack my purse in my check bags to pull out when I arrive. The outside of the bag seems to have plenty of structure; it slumps, as one would expect with a bag this style, but it does sit up when full and it's not really a big deal. I think the problem comes in that the lining is not really attached to the bottom and sides of the bag, only the top and along the center line, so instead of staying against the outside of the bag, the linings moves around on its own, bunches up, etc, causing the pockets to act smaller than they really are. Others have complained about the pockets being short so that tools fall out of them, but I really don't think the issue is that the pockets are too short, I just think that because the lining is not attached, the lining bunches up and pushes the tools out of the pockets. If the lining would, again, just lay down and play nice, the tools wouldn't fall out. My biggest peeve in this respect really comes from the divider pocket. I really want a purse that has a pocket for my knitting, and then a pocket for my non-knitting paraphernalia. I'm sorry, the stuff that goes in my purse is just not stuff that I want anywhere near my knitting, so I want separate territories. At first, the divider pocket was too floppy and stuff was constantly overflowing across it. But, I stuffed the divider pocket with paper towels so now it stands up much better. Also, too be fair, the project I was carrying really grew larger than this bag was intended to accomodate, so it's not JP's fault at all that my knitting kept overflowing. I was just too stubborn to switch bags (or too cheap to buy one of the larger sizes, you decide). 

So, I'm kind of giving some thought to some of the more structured-looking JP bags, like maybe the Knitter's Satchel. Problem is, that's not really my style...I like the styling of Bella or even Rio much better.

Anyway, all this is a long-winded way of saying that it got me thinking about what I would make if I were designing the perfect bag, and I actually decided that there is no perfect bag for every purpose. I would like two different bags.

1. Project bag for Serious Knitting. This would be most similar to the bag from Michaels.

2. Bag that could double as a purse for times I want to take my knitting along but don't want to be carrying a separate knitting bag. This would be most similar to the JP bag.
Bag 1 Specifications:
--1 small pocket with some type of circlet equivalent. I would like this pocket to mostly close, leaving an opening on one side through which the yarn can travel (it seems to me that this would be easiest to accomplish with a zipper, but it would need something on the end of the zipper to make sure it didn't catch the yarn
--1 pocket in which to store the knit-in-progress, right next to the yarn pocket. I am ambivalent about how big I want this to be since size preferences would vary depending on what I was working on. Big enough to store at least half a sweater. After all, this bag is for Serious Knitting Business.
--1 pocket big enough to store addtional yarn in case I run out.
--Maybe a thin pocket somewhere for pattern materials?
--1 pocket for me to store whatever notions I have. I don't really need pockets inside this pocket, since I usually keep my notions in a zipper pouch that I can take out and move from bag to bag as neeeded (as I said, I am not a very committed knitter, and while I try to have a couple of these pouches, let's face it - you can never find one when you need it anyway, and the one you do find won't have what you need in it even if you invested significant funds to make them all EXACTLY ALIKE, because at some point you were at home and you needed a tape measure or a pair of scissors which you took out, used, and then left somewhere while you danced around or threw things, depending on your result)
--Feet on the bottom & a fairly flat bottom, so that it sits nicely.
Bag 2 Specifications
--Cute enough that I would buy it even if knitting was the last thing on my mind
--Black or brown so I don't have to worry about it matching my outfit
--1 small pocket with some type of circlet equivalent. I would like this pocket to mostly close, leaving an opening on one side through which the yarn can travel
--1 pocket in which to store the knit-in-progress, right next to the yarn pocket. I would want this much smaller in this bag, big enough for maybe a scarf but not much bigger.
--1 small pocket (maybe on the outside) where I could tuck in my notions pouch.
--1 large pocket that takes up the rest of the bag, where I could dump all the stuff I usually carry in a purse. Again, I don't really need credit card slots or anything that specific (although a cell phone pocket is always nice) because I have a wallet for that and I would rather move my wallet from purse to purse than have to transfer all my individual credit cards and my driver's licenses and stuff like that.
--Feet on the bottom & a fairly flat bottom, so that it sits nicely.
(As a side note, I have checked out the Tom Bihn Swift bag, and while functionally it looks pretty good - I just can't get on board with the style - or the price tag!  If I'm going to spend that much money, I want it to be on a bag that I find both useful AND aesthetically pleasing, and it's just not cute to me.)

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