Why Knit A Bag?

Weekend Getaway Satchel

My husband Nicholas is the perfect knitter’s husband: adorable, patient, and tolerates both long afternoons spent in yarn shops and large piles of yarn in the linen closet with equal parts humor and grace. However, he was mystified by the entire concept of me knitting a bag to carry things in.

“Why would anyone want to knit a bag? Knitted bags are kind of fuzzy, and shapeless, and they’re not as sturdy as a leather or cloth bag. Seems like a waste of time to me.”

Mind you, this is the same husband who begged me to teach him how to knit socks. (His current project: a pair of cabled socks for me. Now that’s love.) So he gets the knitting part, and he understands the wearing-a-handmade-goodie part. He loves yarn, and he even went a little crazy at last year’s Estes Park Wool Market buying his own little mini-stash. So, needless to say, I was a bit puzzled why he didn’t get the whole knitted bag idea.

Then I realized that a handbag means something different to those who carry one every single day. For women, a bag is a deeply personal item that holds our most precious daily items: photos of our loved ones, the two different kinds of lip balm we use (one tastes good, the other actually works better), our money, our identification, that scrap of yarn we are trying to match, a pair of socks on the needles, hand lotion, cell phone. Our handbags hark back to historical times when people literally carried their homes with them, from hunting ground to hunting ground. A woman may lose her keys or her cell phone, but chances are she always knows where her handbag is, because purses are the little bit of home we can take with us.

In more modern times, the handbag has become a symbol of status, fashion, and self-expression as well as a way to bring homey comforts wherever we go. Given all this, it is only natural that we knitters would want to make our own bags, out of the yarns that speak to our hearts, from the techniques that set us apart from non-knitters.

A knitted handbag, as it turns out, need not be fuzzy or shapeless. There are lovely felted bags, and intarsia bags; amazing fair isle totes, and exotic purses knit out of paper yarn. The knitterly imagination, when it comes to knitting something to carry other things in, is both boundless and delightful.

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