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find a retailer at Offhand Designs

Zelda Grand
by Offhand Designs

$150-160usd [price varies by retailer]
Loopy floral shown

I am, without question, a bag ho.

I get quite giddy over the possibility of finding the perfect knitting bag that will hold everything I may ever want to knit, whatever it might be.

I don't know if that's possible, but this bag is exactly what the name says: grand.

It starts with your choice of vintage upholstery exterior, which makes you want to touch it. The exterior bottom and straps are made in matching velvet and the bag sits up on four brass feet. That also means it sits flat and isn't prone to tipping. My sample was lined in a pinky beige faille, which is durable and makes it easy for me to spot little things I've tucked in the many pockets.

But my favorite feature is the insanely cool hinge: the bag opens really wide so you can get at every corner. And it closes neatly so things don't fall out. I love this hinge. You can also leave your working ball of yarn inside the bag and let the strand snake out of the top. The ball will stay inside.

The bag holds tons of yarn, straight or circular needles and lots of accessories.

My only unmet need was for extra height...a pattern or magazine will fit in if you curl it up or fold it in half, but my Denise set wouldn't make it in.

If you're like me and want a little more height, I hear the new Zelda Tote fits the bill. It's a little narrower, but noticeably taller.

The Zelda Grand is an elegant, classy knitting bag that you'll feel comfortable bringing anywhere. The style and shape are distinctive and if you ask me, it'd make a fine purse, too.



Available at Debbie Bliss Online

Debbie Bliss The Club
• UK / Ireland: £24
• Europe: £25
• Rest of World: £28

[around $50usd]

Debbie Bliss makes yummy yarns. She designs classic, elegant and often adorable patterns. And she's also a very nice person. So I was really excited to hear that she'd launched her own yarn club this January.

Debbie Bliss "The Club" is a brand new offering from Debbie's brand new website. For one annual fee, you get:
• An exclusive pattern [this year's pattern is the beret and cravat shown at left]
• The yarn you'll need to make the pattern -- 4 balls of Alpaca Silk in luscious cranberry
• A quarterly pattern (issued in March, June, September and December of each year), designed just for the club, and available only to the club.
• A signed copy of one of Debbie's new autumn pattern books each year
• A chat room where you can mingle with fellow knitters
• A quarterly newsletter with tips and information...including sneak peeks at upcoming yarns and patterns
• And more

If you love Debbie Bliss, joining her club is a great way to treat yourself. The patterns, yarn and book are easily worth more than the club membership fee, and there's nothing cooler than getting to know what Debbie's working on before the general public does.


Available at Amazon

Stitch 'n Bitch Nation

Workman Publishing Company
$15.95us [paperback]

You wanna know? I like this one better. I do. Debbie's first book was great fun and not only broke new ground; it paved it and put up the street signs.

But this one has a little more oomph and is a little less cutesy. Maybe that's because it has 50 [fifty!] patterns. Maybe it's the detailed, helpful section on how to make patterns work for YOU, written in language that even the math-impaired [like me] can understand. The profiles of SnBs around the world are also most excellent.

But I think it's the Joey Ramone doll. Because any book that shows you how to knit your own Ramone just wins. Period.

There are patterns of all sorts, and I'm not going to list them all. I'm just going to say what I said about Deb's first book: buy it. It's a bargain and full of so much fun stuff that I'll be shocked if you don't want to knit at least one thing.


kits available at

Pussy Cat2 Kits
$28-55usd per kit
Noelle kit shown $36usd

I am a sucker for a cute little bag, and one you can make yourself with all parts included in the kit always gets my interest. At Stitches East this fall, I spotted these bags and was really impressed.

The sample I received was the seasonally appropriate Noelle bag, done in pale blue cotton yarn, adorned with sparkly snowflake dangles and featuring an organza ribbon handle/closure. In the kit, you'll find full-color instructions, a clear photo of the finished bag, so you know what you're working toward, the snowflakes, ribbon and best of all -- the lining, cut to size and pre-stiffened to give the bag structure. The kit comes in a durable clear plastic zippered bag with handles, which will be useful for other little projects when you're done your purse.

Most cleverly, the designers have chosen a yarn that splits into plies, so you can sew the lining in place with the same yarn it's made from. They've thought of everything!

Other Pussy Cat2 designs feature bamboo handles, interesting shapes and my favorite...the one that looks like a piece of candy corn, appropriately shaped and striped in orange and yellow as you'd expect.

Available at Amazon

Hollywood Knits Style

Stewart Tabori & Chang
$27.95us [hardcover]

Warning: This book contains celebrity knitting and ponchos. Aren't they on a list somewhere? Ok, ok, Suss Cousins has earned the right to do both ponchos -- she's credited with starting the "rectangle makes a cool asymmetrical poncho" trend; and celebrities - she is the knitter to the stars and the movies in La La Land. All of that snide aside, Suss is an ass-kicking designer. He stuff is knittable, wearable & lust-afterable. 30 modern yet simple patterns from pillows to dog sweaters to coats (& yes, there is a poncho), and beyond the patterns is a load of material on sharing knitting -- hosting parties, giving gifts, music to knit by, living and decorating with yarn, etc. A well-rounded knitting book.


Available at Amazon

The Knitted Teddy Bear

$19.95us [softcover]

Adorable, adorable, @#$%^&*! adorable. The have personality! They have clothes! The have names! How could you resist Bertie, Sam or Polly? This book has patterns for 12 different teddies, including beginning patterns, and a whole wardrobe of clothes, so that your bearfriend may live a life of sartorial splendor. The patterns are detailed and easy to follow, more so than the Debbie Bliss bears, which I find confusing. My favorite part of the book is a sidebar about embroidery entitled Facial Expressions, which lets you know how well thought out this book is. If you are a fan of bears, you must.


Available at Amazon

Last-Minute Knitted Gifts

Stewart, Tabori & Chang
$24.95us [hardcover]

Maybe this book should be called Weekend Knitting 2: Return of the Cool Knitting Book. Groovy yet timeless patterns and photography so gorgeous it makes you want to eat the book. The book is divided in to three sections: Basics, which includes a worth-the-price-of- admission discussion on color; Patterns, 27 of them, which are divided further into the amounts of time it takes to complete them, ranging from Less than Two Hours to More than Eight Hours; and a Technique section full of how-to's including nine different ways to wrap or embellish a wrapped knitted gift. If Martha Stewart had a younger, hipper sister who knit, she might do a book just like this. It's a cool thing.


Available at Amazon

Simply Felt:
20 Easy and Elegant Designs in Wool

Interweave Press
$24.95us [softcover]

This is not a book about knitted, then "throw in your washer and hope for the best" felt, this is a book about hand manipulated, throw down, "you talkin' to me", squooshy, squeezy kind of felt. Simply Felt is 120-ish pages and so packed full of patterns and information, it made me tired to read through it. There are 25 patterns for all types of things -- eyeglass case, hats, bags, scarves, a throw, slippers, a child's jacket, vessels, etc.

The directions are concise, yet thorough and liberally illustrated with colorful clear drawings. Color is something these authors are not frightened of. Don't let the Zen-like cover of the book lead you astray. The inside is a party with saturated and color and up close and personal photography doing a sassy cha-cha.

The extras in this book don't disappoint either, you can learn about dyeing wool, caring for felt, step-by-step how to full wool into flat felt, embroidery, and most importantly- where to shop for the wool you need.


Available at Amazon

the yarn girls' guide to kid knits:
patterns for babies and toddlers

Clarkson Potter
$30.00us [hardcover]

The Yarn Girls are back and this time kids are getting the treatment.

The Yarn Girls are masters of easy, colorful designs with a flair. Their designs make you smile, always. This book is full of knit 'em in a weekend knitwear for the 3 and under set. There's also good technical illustrations and information in here, and they write about gauge in a way that doesn't make you want to hide.


Available at Amazon

Teen Knitting Club: Chill Out and Knit

Trafalgar Square
$19.95us [hardcover]

Oh my god, not another beginning knitting book for kiddos! Doesn't every person on the planet, no matter their age, know how to knit by now? I guess not. Well, and here's the thing, this is a great beginning book, not just for teens, but for anyone. The how-to and why section is engaging and clear; the instructions are understandable, the patterns, while the same idea scarves, hats, sweater, bags -- are made fresh by their yarn choice and photography. There's teen-centric info on starting your own knitting club, keeping a scrapbook and knitting for others. The design of this book is gorgeous; it's the type of knitting book you'll love to just flip through. The photos and quotes are my favorite parts, the photos are of teen knitters from Minneapolis, the quotes, from across the country are all random quotes about knitting -- both things makes the book not only beautiful, but human.



Available at Amazon

1000 Great Knitting Motifs

Trafalgar Square
$19.95us [hardcover]

This book is like the Christmas stocking part of Christmas morning -- lots of little things you didn't know you wanted. I don't do intarsia or much color work at all; I've always been a texture girl. Yet there is something about this book that stirs a little known or used itch in me. All of the motifs are traditional, not a skull and cross bones among them. Traditional, but multicultural -- Fair Isle, Scandinavia, Asia, South America, Africa, Middle Eastern and India are all represented. There are also animals, alphabets, flowers and other generic charts. There's instruction on placing motifs within your knitting and basic instruction on multi color knitting techniques. No time soon will you be seeing me throw down a Kaffe Fassett Foolish Virgins, but this books gives me the know-how and the goods to do a little something with a two colored Celtic swirl.

Available at Amazon

Gorgeous Knitted Afghans:
33 Great Designs for Creative Knitters

Lark Books
$24.95us [hardcover]

Three sisters designed the afghans in this new collection. In their introduction, they explain how the beauty of the Middle Eastern and Indian crafts that they grew up with inspired their designs. But rather than limiting themselves to motifs and patterns which strictly adhere to their own cultural background, they instead have expressed the beauty of many cultures in this lovely book. The patterns are quite diverse, which is especially important as afghans are essentially home décor items which must fit into highly personal environments. Celtic cables and bobbles; beautiful lace; luxe mohair in simple stitch patterns – it’s all represented here, as well as a nod to the ubiquitous novelty yarns that are so popular today. A fresh interpretation of Kashmir paisley makes a lively and colorful throw, and the bold graphic of a simplified plaid afghan would look great in a cozy room. All skill levels are covered, and best of all, the authors have carefully described the weights and characteristics of the yarns used so that knitters can easily substitute yarns of their choice.