SoapBox: Support Designers/Designs You Love

I recently was browsing the shelves of a local large chain bookstore.  I came across the work of Stephanie Japel. I have to say, I LOVE what she does with a sweater. I have had Fitted Knits for a while but it was Glam Knits I came across. The photography is sexy but the models look real (how often do we see both in one photograph?).

There is so much I love about this book of sweaters! I bought it. Not because I will likely knit any of the sweaters (I’m being realistic about my time, you see). No, I just don’t have the time to knit anything other than something for Noni except for maybe twice a year for about two days. No, I bought her book because I love what she is doing.  I love her style, the passion that comes out in her designs, her appreciation for the feminine form, the understated sensuality that is evident in every sweater.

I bought her book, in short, because I want to see what she does next.  I want her to write another book, and another.  I want her to keep designing.

As an Indie designer who has been fortunate enough to make a living from selling my designs in my own pattern line for a couple of years (I started Noni five years ago this August 19), I must confess that I am struggling to keep Noni alive.  If designers are to keep creating new and wonderful items, they need to be paid for their expertise and time.

The only way I, and other designers like me, can continue to concentrate on producing excellent design is if you, gentle knitter, and all your like-minded knitting friends pay for the designs you love.  Most patterns cost about the same or less than a ball of good, high quality yarn.  And a good pattern can bring you years, even decades of pleasure.  You can use it repeatedly, make unique gifts for countless others. The instructions in a good pattern are priceless, do more, and outlast any single ball of yarn.  Design is a precious thing, something that should be thoughtfully nurtured, supported.  If you enjoy unique and well-written patterns, buy one for your self and buy some for your friends. What a thoughtful gift that keeps on giving.

As well as writing patterns for you, I am working on a book of 50 unique flower patterns as well as 6 – 7 projects that utilize those flowers. It is a labor of love and I am enjoying every minute. It is a further extension of my creative self.  When it is finally in print, I hope you will enjoy my book as much as I enjoy purchasing books by Japel and other designers.  To keep the creative juices flowing – please support your favorite designers- purchase their patterns instead of copying or sharing them.

Thank you for supporting Noni. Look for more postings about the book flowers and projects in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Un-Felting: or How to Use Any Noni Bag Pattern to Make a Knitted (not felted) Bag

If you love bags but you’re just not crazy about felting (admittedly, the larger and more structured bags are a lot of work sometimes . . . but worth the effort, I think).  OR you just want to make a knitted but not felted bag for Spring or Summer, here is how to do it using your favorite Noni bag pattern.

It’s actually quite simple. All you have to do is achieve in your knitted bag the “felted” gauge and then follow the instructions in the pattern as written.

Magic Gauge for Double-Strand Felted Bags:

Bags that call for a double-strand of worsted weight feltable yarn using a size 11 (8 mm) needle:  4 sts and 6 rows per inch or 16 sts and 24 rows over 4 inches (10 cm) on a size 9 -10 1/2  (5.5 – 6.5 mm) needle or size to obtain gauge.

Magic Gauge for Single-Strand Felted Bags:

Bags that call for a single-strand of worsted weight feltable yarn using a size 8 (5 mm) needle: 6 sts and 8 rows per inch or 24 sts and 32 rows over 4 inches /10 cm on size 4 (3.5 mm) needle or size to obtain gauge.

Best Choices

If you love fine finishing, the entire Noni pattern collection is your world.  Pick anything and have at it.

If you are less crazy about structuring and finishing, then it’s best to pick the more unstructured bags that don’t require as much work to make them look good.  Here are some of my top picks:

Adventure Bag

Nomad Bag

Flamenco Bag

Bowling Ball Bag

3 Confections

Pretty Bauble

3 Nights in a Row–the flowers also look great unfelted with a little blocking

Little Bags

Sheep Bag

Sunflower Beach Bag (use a very stiff, sturdy fiber, such as linen or raffia)

Perfect Fit Laptop Bag (also use a stiff fiber)

Ok, the list is getting a bit long.  I also like Petit Four Bag, Cherry Blossom Bag, Lattice Bag would be really cool with the cable work and some stiffener in the bottom only and a zipper top closure. Market would be nice, and lots of others. If you make one of these on the list or another of your favorites, please send a picture to me at and I’ll put the picture of your bag in this posting. Please include what fiber you used, your needle size, and let us know other details, such as whether you feel it should be lined or can be left unlined.

Yarn Options I’ve Swatched

This is a partial list, of course.  There are LOTS of options in any knitting store and likely some in your existing stash.  I took some time a few days ago to peruse my shelves of yarn, to swatch some things I love, and to try out new fibers. Here are the results of a few hours of swatching.  If you have tried other fibers that work well or find something after reading this posting, please comment below with fibers that work.  Let us know whether you held the yarn double or not, what size needle you used, etc., so we can duplicate your results.

to convert double-strand felted bags . . .

  • Crystal Palace Yarns’ Deco Ribbon single on a US 10/6 mm (70% acrylic 30% nylon) 88 yds/81 m.
  • Frog Tree Yarns’ Picoboo doubled on a US 10/6 mm (60% cotton 40% bamboo) 116 yds/106 m.
  • Louet’s Merlin doubled on a US 9/5.5 mm (70% merino 30% linen) 156 yds/142 m.
  • Plymouth Yarn’s Fantasy Naturale single on a US 9/5.5 mm (100% mercerized cotton) 140 yds/128 m.
  • Schaefer Yarns’ Laurel single on a US 9/5.5 mm (100% mercerized Pima cotton) 400 yds/365 m.
  • Schaefer Yarns’ Sandra single on a US 9/5.5 mm (78% cotton 22% rayon) 225 yds/205 m.
  • Skacel Collection’s Urban Silk doubled on a US 9/5.5 mm (80% silk 20% cotton) 93 yds/85 m.
  • Universal Yarns’ Panda doubled on a US 9/5.5 mm  (100% Bamboo) 98 yds/90 m.

to convert single-strand felted bags . . .

  • ArtYarns’ Beaded Ensemble on a US 4/3.5 mm (85% silk & beads, 35% Cashmere & metallic thread) 125 yds/114 m.
  • Frog Tree Yarns’ Picoboo on a US 4/3.5 mm (60% cotton 40% bamboo) 116 yds/106 m.
  • Louet’s Merlin on a US 4/3.5 mm (70% merino 30% linen) 156 yds/143 m.
  • Schaefer Yarn’s Susan on a US 5/3.75 mm (100% mercerized Pima cotton) 470 yds/430 m.
  • Tilli Tomas’s Disco Lights on a US 4/3.5 mm (100% silk with sequins) 225 yds/206 m.
  • Tilli Tomas’s Plie on a US 4/3.5 mm (100% spun silk, embellished or not) 120 yds/110 m.

Mixed Media

I have recently made several bags that have incorporated non-felted elements and have loved the results.  My goal here, then, is to make a plea that you start thinking of ways to add unfelted elements–bits of ribbon, fabric, embroidery, buttons, beads, or a combination of these–to your felted bags and flower and to send me the results in digital picture form.  I will append them to this entry.

Here are pictures of the two bags I recently finished.

Faith's little bag with red roses

Bag for St. John's Parish School fundraiser

Both of these designs were made using the 3 Nights in a Row Pattern.  The chocolate brown one above (Tilli Tomas Flurries in Chocolate Cherry) is decorated with silk roses and the texture difference between the silk and the felt creates a lushness that I emphasized with a matching silk lining. It was delectable to put your hand inside to get out a lipstick or keys.  The one just above (Tilli Tomas Whistler bag in Natural with Beaded flowers in Flurries Raspberry and Red with Moss Green stems) has knitted, felted Stephanotis and rosettes (included in the pattern).  I added silk velvet pieces cut to look as though a velvet ribbon was wrapped or tied around the stems to hold them all together. Again, the addition of the fabric creates a vividness and lush quality that draws attention to the felted flowers.  This bag was donated to a fundraiser auction for a local school called St. John’s Parish School, a lovely school doing some inspiring work with young people.

Below is a mixed media bag (inspired by a Noni bag I am told)  that was made by Gini Aten Erving of Loopy: Knit/Crochet and her mom made the flowers using the Noni Camellias as the embellishment. As you can see, the fabric embellishment in colors that talk to the flowers and strap adds something really fun and happy to the bag.  It’s a great looking purse and it, too, was auctioned for a fundraiser for a school, this time for the Missoula International School, the only Spanish-immersion, International Baccalaurate World School authorized for the Primary Years Program in the Northwestern US.  It provides a wonderful and exciting educational environment, and brings an international perspective to children in (relatively) isolated Montana.


If you have a Noni or Noni-inspired mixed media bag already or make one after reading this post, please send me a picture and I’ll add it to this posting.  Please tell me a little bit about the bag, if it was a fund-raiser bag, let me know that, too.