|Heather French Ltd. Button Bag|| |
Please note: As of January 2006, we have been informed that Heather French is no longer manufacturing these bags. For archival purposes, we are leaving our review below intact.
I've been asked many times to review knitting bags, but so far I haven't. Why? Simply because it's as vast and loosely defined a market as, say, water or air.
If it has a container-like structure, it qualifies as a knitting bag. Old garden boots, watering cans, empty cardboard boxes, carry-on luggage, you name it, I'd have to start reviewing them.
But then I saw this new knitting bag, and my resolve weakened. Not only is it a beautiful bag, but it represents a common dream many of us have: starting our own small creatively fulfilling business that brings us closer to our knitting.
A Bag is Born
Heather Boissoneau learned to knit seven years ago and was quickly hooked. Time passed, she collected more yarn and projects, and started looking for unusual bags to hold it all.
Unable to find anything she really liked, she got out her sewing machine and made her own. The whole process sparked such creative delight for Heather that she decided to go to the next level and make a business out of it.
Her first bags were released last year under the Boss-an-oh label. I'll confess I found them too firm and minimalist for my taste. Earlier this year she shifted to a far softer aesthetic and relaunched her business as Heather French Ltd.
A mother of two children, one of whom has Asperger's syndrome, Heather also donates a percentage of her Web sales to Autism research.
Anatomy of a Button Bag
The bags are sewn in Vermont by a small family-run business. Pieces of soft wool felt are kettle-dyed using natural plant extracts, then cut and sewn together with black cotton lining (the dark color made it a little hard for me to see what was inside my bag).
An open inside pocket holds small gadgets, and two buttons directly above the pocket (and at the join of each handle) allow you to add an optional insert with several additional pockets.
Although the optional pouch sits directly on top of the inside pocket, the supporting buttons are wide enough that you can still reach in behind the pouch and access the pocket—a nice, subtle design touch.
For me, the bag's crowning detail is its large, stunning lampworked glass button (from Moving Mud). It sits in the center of the front of the bag, and a buttonholed flap from the back side of the bag reaches over to keep your bag closed and its contents secure.
My only fear is that the heavy button will eventually pull through the felt on which it's attached—but for now, it has stayed put.
With its rumpled 1930s styling, this bag reminds me of something Charlie Chaplin would've carried. When empty, its soft sides collapse into each other like a tired clown. When full, the handles still flop over but the sides stay up by themselves.
Only time will tell how well the soft felt exterior holds up to wear and tear.
The Price of Prettiness
Heather has spared no detail with these bags. And as we all know, care and detail come at a cost.
The Button Bag's $119 price tag bumps it to the outer limits of my budget. As such, I don't ever see it being as widely accepted as, say, the Lantern Moon baskets that retail for under $25.
Will I cave in and get one for myself? Most likely yes. Even if it means brown-bagging my lunches for a month.
Just as I lose all sense of reason in the presence of yarn, I'm even worse in the presence of a beautiful knitting bag.
I appreciate the care that has gone into this bag, and I like the idea of helping someone make a career out of her love of knitting.