Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ode to a Craft Bag

So, no pattern for today just a rambling.  Woo.  And a teaser.  (-:  I've gotten a motif pattern working for the bright yellow afghan I've been wanting to make.  So here's an up close teaser pic of the afghan to be (assuming of course that I don't run out of yarn before it's big enough).

A while back I noticed a post that Lion Brand had made on Facebook.  They asked "What's your idea of the perfect project bag for your yarn crafting?"  I had to laugh.  It feels like only yesterday (when it was, in fact, in late May, maybe early June) that I asked myself that very same question.  If you have a minute, let me spin you the tale of the Quest for the Ultimate Craft Bag.

I was so sick and tired of having only a tote bag to put my stuff in.  I think tote bags are terrible for yarn projects, personally, though that's largely because I am incapable of only having one project at a time.  Multiple projects, multiple yarns, multiple tools, and you end up with a giant, knotted mess plus totes tend to be on the small side. I needed something better.

I started looking at knitting bags and was promptly beaten about the head by unfortunate reality.  Knitting bags can be stupendously expensive.  Double frustrating is that they are that expensive and most are no better than a glorified tote bag!  Why on earth would I pay $80 for something that I would have to buy storage pouches for?  Sure, it's made from pretty fabric and contains no velcro (velcro + yarn = a mess no yarn crafter wants to contemplate) but $80?  Seriously?!  My search went on for weeks without finding so much as a hint of an affordable bag that was more than one pouch.  I started to wonder why no one else saw a problem with this.  Surely I can't be the only person who has had this problem, but it certainly started feeling that way.

At this point I was so incredibly frustrated that I started plans to design my own bag.  I'm marginally good at sewing, but I was terrified that my design was going to be way too complicated.  I wanted sections for yarn and sections for projects.  I had planned for a needle case, hook books, notions, measuring tapes, scissors, and pretty much any other useful tool I could think of.  Plus the bag was going to be partially collapsible so that I could expand it or store it as needed. To top it off, it was going to be fully closeable.  Cats, you know.  I even got as far as figuring out what manner of materials to make it out of.  Nuts to cutesy prints, I wanted something more like the material they make backpacks out of.  This thing was going to hold my precious yarn, after all, so it ought to be as sturdy and waterproof as possible.  Naturally, when I started hunting about in craft stores I could find nothing that fit the bill.  To further plunge me into despair, I started trying to figure out the measurements to make the pattern.  Didn't go so well.  Then, I stumbled upon a ray of hope.

Searching about online one day I came across a post where someone had changed their old diaper bag into a project bag.  Makes good sense, too.  Lots of pockets for storage, good size, sturdy, almost everything I could ask for.  I was heartened enough to actually start looking through baby aisles in stores to see if I could find the perfect diaper bag for my projects.  Let me tell you though, reality blows.  No sooner than I had gotten all excited about the prospect of a new bag than I started encountering difficulties.  Velcro, predominantly.  Baby bag makers love their velcro.  Presumably this is because it holds things in place well enough that they can't escape and also because it can be opened one handed thus not allowing a child to escape while mom opens the bag.  This is just a guess, mind you, I'm not a fan of children that aren't 4 legged and don't purr.  I have very little experience with the 2 legged kind.  Anyway, the quantity of velcro rendered about 90% of the bags useless.

Thwarted once again, I decided to make one last ditch effort to find a workable bag before I began the attempt at constructing my own.  My mom came to visit over a weekend and we undertook the Quest for the Ultimate Craft Bag together.  We looked over diaper bags, makeup bags, duffle bags, purses, totes...if it was portable and could hold things, we looked at it.  At one point we even went to a sporting goods store to look at equipment bags.  As we wandered the aisles of balls, bats, nets, and sundry we were struck with a great epiphany.  There is one group of people more nuts than crafters.  These people are fishermen.  We ought to have known that of course, my dad fishes and ties flies.  He's got so many boxes of bits and hooks and string that I was amazed we hadn't thought of it to begin with. In less than 20 minutes, I had my miracle bag.  A soft sided tackle box saved the day and rescued me from the certain futility of sewing an elaborate craft bag.  Take a minute to stop laughing, it is pretty absurd, and I'll tell you about this amazing bag.

The pockets, oh the pockets!  It has the same general flaw of 'one big open space' but the pockets, and a little something extra I discovered, made it so worth it.  This thing is positively covered in pockets.  It has pockets on each side, in the lid, and on the front.  It even has pockets on pockets!  One is a hard case for sunglasses that happens to be fantastic if you have something on the fragile side, like say a light up crochet hook that you don't want crunched but that doesn't fit a hook book.  The pockets inside the front pocket are truly fantastic. I have two hook books, it has two pouches that are just the right size for them and pouches in front of those which can hold notions.

There's also the fabric to consider.  Fishing involves water at some point so the whole bag is water resistant. It also has a hard formed bottom so things won't soak into it (which also makes it perfect for putting a pattern book in the bottom, it can't poke at you).  Then the real treasure.  As I investigated all the zippers and bits I came across a very tiny, flat pocket.  It contained a thin fabric piece edged with elastic.  I had found the rain fly.  That's right!  I could have my bag open and still have it covered if I wanted.  The alternative was better.  The rain fly holds my excess yarn, the main compartment holds my books, needle roll, and working projects.

Plus it has handles and a cushioned shoulder strap.  On the back of the bag is a curious bit of plastic.  Turns out its purpose is to allow you to hook a worm binder to the bag.  It sounds odd, I know, but knitters actually seem to LOVE worm binders.  It seems they make a great storage and organization system for circular needles.  Mine live in a Mary Kay pouch in a side pocket, but the option of a separate piece is nice.

So far you've only seen the bag as I'm using it.  It also had 6 plastic, adjustable storage tubs which now help organize my craft closet.  And here's the real kicker.  It was $20 less than the most popular/coveted and well reviewed craft bag I came across.

If you're looking for a stellar craft bag I highly recommend looking at tackle boxes.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, I know I was!


  1. I would love to know where you got it! A link would be great so I can order online. :)

  2. I got my bag at Academy, you can find it here: http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_10051_312351_-1?N=97010236+4294966997