Until recently, when I started listening to knitting podcasts and following knitters on Instagram, I didn’t realize that project bags for knitting were such a THING. When I was teaching knitting, I used a knitting bag, but it had a little bit of everything – patterns I frequently used, my current projects, notions, snacks, etc.
When I didn’t want to carry the whole bag and wanted to just take a small project with me in my purse, I have to confess I used…. this.
Gallon Ziploc bags are the right size for anything smaller than an adult sweater, are clear so I can see what’s inside, keep my knitting clean and dry, and are surprisingly resistant to having the needles poke through them. Did I mention cheap? Replaceable? Cheap?
Then, in February 2013, I went on my first knitting retreat with The Knitting Boutique. One of the items of swag I received was a Skacel bag – probably intended to be a lunch box. It took me embarrassingly long to realize I could put knitting in a it – a pair of socks was the perfect size, along with the necessary notions. Metal sock-sized dpns, though, will occasionally poke through.
Then came the podcast listening, and I realized there’s this whole obsession with project bags. Sew your own, acquire at knitting trade shows, stalk your favorite producers on Etsy and snatch up when they do shop updates… Extra points if your project bag matches your knitting project. This… I *kind of* get? But I don’t. Project bags are reusable. So how many project bags does a person need? I decided to acquire a few to try to discover the appeal.
Why Have Multiple Project Bags?
Part of my confusion, I think, stems from the type of knitter I am. Not to digress too much, but most every knitter has heard of the project vs. process knitters. Do you knit because you want the thing at the end, or do you knit because you enjoy the process? However, I recently came across a discussion on the Prairie Girls Knit and Spin podcast Ravelry forum (though apparently it wasn’t original to there) that added a dimension – progress vs. pizzazz. Do you sit and knit on one thing, or do you cast on with abandon, regardless of the status of your other projects?
Now, while I’ve got some languishing Works in Progress (WIPs) just like any other knitter, I do tend to focus on one project at a time, meaning my languishing WIPs have TRULY languished. They’re not from last week or last month. They’re from 2006. Not kidding. So if you’re only working (generally) on one project at a time, why would you need more than one project bag? You knit your thing, boom, you’re done, then you fill the bag with the next project. I’m firmly in the process/progress quadrant. Does this make me boring? (I kind of resent that the chart is made such that I fall in the lower-left quadrant = negative/negative. Also that I didn’t know you could spell it”pizazz” OR “pizzazz.”)
That said, I’ve been juggling some Christmas and baby (due mid-Jan) knitting lately. I have several things going because you can’t knit a gift for someone in front of that person, so I pull out baby stuff when I’m not alone. It seemed like a perfect time to see if I could try out the multiple-project-bag way of life.
At Second Story Knits in Bethesda, MD, I bought a Pretty Cheep project bag. It’s Pretty. It’s definitely cheap material. I used it to carry around my Welcome to the Flock project and some sock projects – and got stabbed repeatedly by needle tips coming through the bag.
In the interest of repurposing, I took a cloth case that enclosed a sheet we bought. The right size for a sock project, yes? Yes. But VELCRO AND YARN TOGETHER ARE A TERRIBLE IDEA. This experiment lasted about 2 seconds..
For larger projects, like a sweater I’m knitting, larger tote bags still do the trick – especially if your magazine subscription sends them to you for free.
Finally, last week, I was at the Bizarre Bazaar in Nairobi and visited the Kenya Kanga booth. Kangas are brightly printed rectangles of fabric with some sort of proverb in Swahili on them. Kenyans use them for all sorts of things – wrap skirts, baby carriers, bags, etc. Kenya Kanga has capitalized on the mzungu (foreigner, or, more accurately, white guy) market by turning kangas into all sorts of beautiful clothes and household items, like this toiletry case. I think I’ve finally hit the jackpot. Right-sized, beautiful, and sturdy enough that needles won’t poke through. Plus, it’s not like anyone else is going to have the same one.
As I said, my Ziploc bags are clear, so I always know what’s in them. I wasn’t committed enough to this experiment to try to match project to bag, especially since I plan to reuse them. So you gotta remember what’s inside.
What about notions? I do have a small pouch that I use to carry around notions – but remembering to transfer it from project bag to project bag was annoying. What’s the solution? Multiple notions cases?
So, in conclusion… do you project bag? Do you have one or multiple? What’s your favorite kind? Do you match to the project inside? How do you handle the issue of notions? And where are you on the process vs. product vs. progress vs. pizzazz scale? Leave a comment below and let me know – I’m really curious about this. 🙂 I really like my new kanga bag and will make it my new sock bag, but I think totes and Ziplocs might still be the way for me to (mostly) go…