I have an issue with reviewing knitting bags. My feeling is this: If a bag can hold yarn and needles, which pretty much any bag can, then it's a knitting bag. Can one bag truly be better than another, simply because it is marketed directly to knitters?
Then why am I reviewing the Molly, you ask? Because I like how it takes a very common and functional form—the messenger bag—and lends a discreet knitting branding to it. This means that as you carry your Molly out there in the world, other knitters "in the know" will recognize the telltale Della Q stripes and be able to identify you as a knitter. It's the perfect secret knitter's handshake.
The Messenger Medium
My experience of messenger bags is limited to the industrial-strength variety. Over the last decade or so I've used nothing but Manhattan Portage and, more recently, Timbuk2 bags to carry all my earthly belongings.
What's different with the Molly? For starters, this is a softer, more human bag. It is not made of a ballistic material, it is not covered with reflective tabs, it does not have 42 specially shaped pockets for who knows what gadgets. It is not designed for a trek up Mount Everest, and—happiest news for this knitter—it is notably devoid of yarn-snagging velcro.
Nope, what you get with the Molly is a simple, straightforward messenger bag with a large lined interior and discreetly placed pockets. On the front inside, you have a single open flap behind a zipped rectangular pocket. And on the inside, you have another open flap and deep, water bottle-sized pockets on either side. That's it.
In the back, you have another large zippered pocket for flat things like patterns and booklets. Again, that's it. There's no padded compartment for your notebook, no dangling hook that you know you should use for your keys but you never quite bother to do so. Just a few pockets, and that's all.
The body of the bag is made from a soft cotton canvas that does not appear to be treated with any kind of waterproofing material. The front flap is lined with Della Q's signature striped silk fabric, with a Della Q tag sewn front and center. The inside of the bag is lined with what appears to be a lightweight nylon fabric.
Wide nylon shoulder straps are permanently secured to either side of the bag (no pivoting on removable clips, which means your bag won't squeak mercilessly like my Timbuk2 bag does in cold weather), and a cotton canvas pad slides along the strap to soften the spot where the bag sits on your shoulder. There is also a handle on the top middle of the bag. The handle is made of the same nylon material as the shoulder strap and lined with the same soft cotton canvas that forms the body of the bag.
The Molly messenger bag currently comes in three colors: blue stripes (shown here), fuchsia stripes, and green stripes. All bags are made in Vietnam, and Della Q donates a portion of its proceeds to a non-profit organization called Vietnam Quilts, which trains low-income and rural Vietnamese women in quilting.
A Critical Eye
What could possibly be wrong with this bag? I suppose it depends on your expectations. If you're looking for an ultra-durable bag with oodles of bells and whistles, something you can carry as you perform extreme knitting stunts while parachuting out of an airplane or skiing down a mountain, this may not be a perfect fit.
But if you're looking for a simple, flexibly styled bag you can use for knitting but can also carry, comfortably and discretely, into the rest of your life, this is a great option. The $58 price is lower than the bells-and-whistles ballistic messenger bags out there—and a small portion of your money is going to a good cause in Vietnam.
I'm not a huge fan of bags with dozens of pockets, so Molly's six-pocket format is fine for my needs. If you like more built-in organization, you can also put your gadgets in a smaller bag and toss it into Molly. If you're a circular needle person, you can organize them in Della Q's own Que, or, if you're a dedicated sock knitter, you will want to get one of Della Q's adorable little Solely Socks sock rolls. I've been using one steadily since TNNA and I love it. If you're a dedicated Denise knitter, the Denise Organizer would also be perfect—and it even has a complementary soft cotton exterior.
And best of all, as your bag accompanies you on your daily rounds, you may find yourself getting smiles and thumbs-up from unexpected people—fellow knitters, no doubt.