Thoughts and lessons learned from the Bedouin Bag

Felting and felted bags are something I’ve been in and out of love with ever since I opened the shop. Currently, I am in love, mainly because of my new Bedouin Bag, which I think is an unqualified success. 

Felting is a magical process that completely transforms knitted fabric.  It can be rustic and earthy, fun and frivolous, or elegant and chic.  The difference is in the design and the details – finishing, embellishments, and hardware.  Here are a few important lessons I learned from the Bedouin Bag.

  1. Nora Bellows  (Noni Designs) is an extremely talented and meticulous designer.  Her patterns are carefully written and tested, and she understands that a felted bag without interesting details is just, well, a felted bag.  Her designs are really without equal.  Anywhere. If you don’t believe me, take a quick tour of the other felted bag designs on Ravelry…
  2. The right hardware is an essential component.  Whether a focal feature of the bag or a well placed detail, without great hardware, it’s just a felted bag.  With great hardware, it’s a signature piece that shows your style as well as your skills. 
  3. Laura Bellows, (Jul Designs), is also tremendously talented.  Her pieces are interesting and different, and they are hand crafted with great attention to detail and quality.  She and Nora often collaborate – Noni bags and Jul handles seem so perfect for one another because they were designed to work together beautifully
  4. If  you are felting something with a wide opening, baste the opening closed with sewing thread so that the edges of the opening don’t stretch out and splay unattractively.
  5. Heather yarns make a slightly different fabric than non-heathers. Heather felt is more dimensional and textured, non-heathers are more crisp. Both are really lovely – it just depends on the look you want. 
  6. Felted fabric heals itself, if you make openings with a knitting needle rather than with scissors.  That means that if you put a Jul handle on in the wrong spot, you can move it, and chances are good that no one will be able to see where you changed your mind.  
  7. Good quality hardware – and I mean snaps and feet – not just straps – make a real difference in form and function.  The Noni Amazing Snaps, are pricey, but they are mechanical and will hold together, while simple magnetic, or pressure snaps may not.  
  8. Noni bags and Jul handles are one piece of the creative process.  You add your creative energy to the bag as you choose your own colors, and felt the fabric to the texture and size you like.  It’s your bag – make it how you like it.  

Bedouin Bag final felting

After Nishaya brought in her Bedouin Bag, I realized that mine was not finished felting.  I had run it through the regular cycle once, but not the rinse.  It was felted, certainly, but not enough.  See how much bigger mine on the right is.

We put the handles on her bag, and it looks just fabulous!


Nishaya’s Bedouin Bag in three colors

So I went home and put mine through another cycle.  I pulled it out of the machine before the first spin started because I didn’t want it to adopt some twisted shape as it spun, so after the water had drained from the machine, I laid the bag in against the wall of the tub and let it spin.  When the spin was nearly over, I opened the machine and pulled the bag out.  It was nearly dry and quite firmly felted.  Just for fun I let the bag go through the rinse cycle and repeated the spin process with the bag against the wall.  It hadn’t felted any further, but it looked smaller and more manageable.

The additional handles arrived Friday, and I put them on my bag, as well as the mechanical snap closure that I decided I really did want after all.  (I have a few in stock if you think you would like one on yours as well.

 I’m SO happy with it now!  

Here are the specs of this one – I used the Berries colorway of Shepherd’s Wool, made the smallest size, and attached the 26″ Jul handles so that the circle of the handle (at the top) is just above the top of the bag, and the bottom of the handle tabs is just above the first welt.

I learn something with every project, which is as it should be.  I’ve put together some thoughts/lessons learned from this project which I will post soon.