Knitting Bags

We all have one.  It doesn't matter what form it takes -- might be a nice big canvas bag, might be the front pocket of your backpack, might be a project bag stuffed into a purse or a big coat pocket.  No matter what sort of thing you carry your knitting and crochet around in, you've probably noticed that knitting bags accumulate things.

A knitter who shall remain unnamed mentioned offhand yesterday that it would sure be nice to use her big knitting bag again.  We looked at the bag, and an idea began to take shape...

This is the bag in question.

This is the bag in question.

Today, finding myself with a spare hour, I decided to clean out that knitting bag.  I have posted my method here for anyone else who may, upon looking at their knitting bag, realize that they too need to engage in some drastic measures.

Examine the knitting bag.  How big is it?  Would you reasonably expect it to carry, say, a gallon of milk?  A small child?  Determine the likely amount of contents and find a clean surface on which to work.  I used the kitchen table.

Look at the top of the knitting bag.  What's visible?  In this case, it was the circular needle case and a bunch of yarn.  Nothing too surprising, right?

Shake the bag a bit.  Does it sound like there's anything fragile in it?  No?  Good.  (If there is something fragile, you may want to skip this next step.)

Now -- this part is not for the faint of heart, dear knitters, but I believe in you -- grab the bag by the bottom and turn it upside down.

Don't worry, I got permission to do this.

Don't worry, I got permission to do this.

Got that?  Okay, good.  I understand that you may want to sit down for a minute at this point.  It can be traumatizing to do that to your knitting bag, but remember: it had to be done.

Now, we knew what was in this bag, at least a bit.  The Knitter had said that it held "one big project, most of my circulars, and probably some other stuff."  I, knowing what the big project was (a sweater), was expecting to find a quantity of yarn fit for that project (a sweater's worth of yarn).  This was not the case.

Once you have recovered sufficiently to move on, try to sort out what was in the bag.  First, remove any projects, whole or partial, and put them to one side.  If you find more yarn that was clearly intended to go with a project, put that there too.

The inch of sweater was made out of this yarn, so I put a few skeins of this aside.

The inch of sweater was made out of this yarn, so I put a few skeins of this aside.

The goal here is to put like with like and find out what, exactly, needs to be in the ba.  I anticipated returning about a sweater's worth of fingering weight yarn to the bag, but then I realized that the sweater in question was meant to be a fair isle, steeked cardigan, and that there was a LOT of that yarn in the bag.

So I put it in its own pile and turned my attention to other things.

Pictured: a sweater (?)

Pictured: a sweater (?)

From here, dear knitter, you are probably going to have smaller piles.  I ended up with a good deal of the sweater yarn (filed under "partial projects and associated yarn"), a bit of other yarn (something purple, two skeins of a weird variegated yellow-green-blue, odds and ends of other yarn, a piece of grey roving, and some pink embroidery floss).

Here is where things got organizational.  Finding myself short on table space, I put the sweater and all of its yarn back in the bag and hung it on a chair.  Somehow it didn't look any smaller for the yarn I'd removed, but I figured that was probably okay.  (If this happens to you: it is probably okay.)

I got a plastic bag and scooped all of the other yarn and the circular needle case into it.  That's going into the studio -- a room that houses the yarn, the sewing machine, the washer, and a bunch of household detritus that gets sucked in and usually only makes its way out in a big bag marked "GOODWILL."  It's basically the room equivalent of this knitting bag... but I digress.  Anyway, the other yarn is going there.

At the bottom of the bag, as at the bottom of many bags and backpacks, was a thin layer of associated tools.  I found...

  • a single size 3 DPN, 7 inches long
  • a tag for a skein of green Lamb's Pride
  • a button
  • a dime
  • a loose stitch marker
  • a small plastic bag containing two stitch markers and another button (different from the first button)
  • a cable protector for an mp3 player
  • a plastic envelope full of LYS business cards
  • an unopened bag of heart shaped stitch markers

All in all, this wasn't a bad bag.  Everything in it (with the possible exception of the dime) is something that one would expect -- or even want -- in a knitting bag.  The problem, as the owner of this bag said, is that because there were things in it that are not associated with the Big Project, she hadn't touched the bag in weeks, and so everything in it was effectively lost. 

So, dear knitter, now that you have made it to the end of my adventure... I challenge you: clean out your knitting bag.  You too can salvage projects, find your findings, and recover use of your favorite project container once more. 

Take some pictures of the process (and the product!) and send 'em to us over here at the Facebook page.  One (1) free internet to the taker of the best picture!