It’s Not Too Late to Make a Last Minute Hostess Gift: My Top 5 Purses to Knit, Felt, and Finish Just In Time For Spring and Summer Visiting

by Nora J. Bellows

I’ve put together a list of five of my personal favorite purses to give as gifts on special occasions: for this selection, I’ve focused on small purses that you can knit quickly, finish quickly, and give as a gift just a day or two later. These projects are quick, but they don’t look quick. They look as gifts for special people on a special day should look: You took the time to make something unique for someone you love. Decorate with beads, knitted flowers, ribbons, or with screw-in embellishments. Knitting the perfect gift doesn’t have to take a long time. Take a look!

Amazing Grace Purse

1. Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is a smallish purse that is incredibly versatile: the cute handle you see here (with its felted cover) is removable! Gently pinch the base and it comes out of its hosing. Thus, it’s a clutch! There’s more: it has chain loops so you can attach a chain to make it a handbag (or 2 chains to make it a cross body bag). While not in use, the chain waits patiently for you on the inside of the purse.

It requires only 4 ounces of yarn: you will need 2 ounces of two colors plus any other colors you like for flowers. The only hardware you need is the purse frame and chain. This makes it a great purse for gift-giving. You still have time to knit it for Mother’s day!

I was inspired to make this bag as a gift for a dear friend of many years. She has had a rough few years: brutal divorce, raising her kids on her own now, diagnosed with, fought against, and won that battle with breast cancer, lost her mom to Covid (and almost her dad). And, yet, through all this (and it does get her down, but . . . ) she manages to pull herself out of her roughest days, by focusing on what she does have. She focuses on the blessings around her, the smiles (and even the petty tantrums) of her kids. She’s here to see it all. She inspires me: she is an amazing mom, an amazing teacher, smart, funny, gracious, generous. I adore her. And in the Month of May I will finally be able to give her this purse to show her how much she means to me.

Maybe this is the perfect purse for your Amazing Grace.

For size specifications, materials, and yarn requirements, go to the pattern page on the Noni Website or on the Noni Ravelry Page.

This tiny yellow and grey striped felted purse is decorated with yellow cherry blossom (knitted) flowers with grey beaded centers.
The Welcome, Spring! Purse fits in your palm.

2. Welcome Spring!

Welcome Spring! is a tiny little bag that will fit in the palm of your hand. You can purchase just the purse frame or purchase the hardware kit that includes a key-ring component so it can be clipped to the handle or inside of any purse, attached to a belt-loop, or clipped anywhere you need it. The instructions include the stripe pattern information as well as the flower pattern. This one is a great stash-buster, a super-fast knit and a fun finishing project. It is so quick to make, felt, and finish that you can make one for every special lady on your list before Mom’s Day.

This little cutie purse only requires 20 yards of each of two colors for the striped pattern or 40 yards of a single color, making it an amazing stash buster. And the flowers only need about 3 – 4 yards each. Take a look at the Additional Details tab on the Noni Website or the Noni Ravelry Page for more particulars.

Big Flirt

3. Big Flirt

Big Flirt is another diminutive purse that has a big impact visually. Fun to knit, a great stash buster, and quick to put together, this little cutie is perfect for tiny treasures, big enough for lipstick and change, and just so stinkin’ cute! Big Flirt is pretty darned irresistable. The hardware kit includes a handle that is easily attached with screw-in handle loops.

I’ve carried Big Flirt to a party when all I needed was my lipstick and a little mirror. I wore it all night dangling from my wrist like a bangle. Decorate it with sparkly beads or buttons or pretty ribbons for a gorgeous keepsake. The perfect purse to use as a fancy “gift box” for a jewelry or other rare and special gift. Also a great hostess present!

See the pattern page on the Noni Website or Ravelry for additional information about size, materials, and yarn requirements.

Hearts On My Sleeve are perfect for those close to your heart.

4. Heart On My Sleeve

Heart on My Sleeve is for anyone you love. It is for your oldest friend, your daughter just becase or on her wedding day, for your son’s new wife, for your mother when you want to say without words thank you . . . for everything, for putting up with me. Add cherry blossoms and all-over beading and it is a celebration of Spring for yourself. Cover it with sparkle rivets and it is a celebration of joy, of life.

How will you dress it so that it expesses your most heart-felt emotions?

This purse is the perfect size for your credit card, lip balm or lipstick, some change, a few bills. Or it is the perfect little container for a special gift of jewelry, or a heart-felt poem written small on slender paper.

It needs only the Classic Purse Frame and a Classic Purse Chain (in 10″, 12″, or 27″ lengths) for hardware. Pick a Seed Beads and Thread combination that matches the yarn you have chosen or pick a fun contrast for a delightful surprise.

See the Additional Details page on the Noni Website or the Noni Ravelry page for more information about yarn requirements, hardware, and other particulars.

Dragon Fruit Purses are elegant little treasures.

5. Dragon Fruit Purse

The Dragon Fruit Purses make lovely pouches for special gifts, or they are the gifts themselves. Diminutive, perfect for special treasures, or change, or a small assortment of cosmetics. These little purses are quick to knit and great for stash busting.

If you’ve never tried stranded colorwork, this might be the perfect project: small, easy to knit, and easy to felt and finish.

Take a look at the pattern page on the Noni Website or on Ravelry.

Noni Sale Happening Now!

RIGHT NOW the Amazing Grace complete kits are listed at 10% off. Use promocode 15more for an additional 15% off Amazing Grace as well as 15% off anything in the following categories: *Tiny Purses*, *Our Latest*, and all *Hardware and Accessories* except for leather handles. ALL orders over $100 will receive a free purse frame for Amazing Grace and all domestic orders over $100 will receive free shipping.

Press APPLY at checkout to activate your discount. Sale lasts until Sunday, May 2 (my birthday!) at Midnight.

Meet The Magnolia Tote: Or Why I Make My Own Luggage

The Magnolia Tote

It was over twenty years ago when I saw a knitted and felted purse on the counter of the yarn shop where I worked at the time. It was quite small–big enough for a wallet, keys, a few other items. In spite of its diminutive size, it had a big impact on me . . . I had never seen the way that knitting could become a three-dimensional object with structure, architectural integrity, durability, and style. I wanted that. It was in that single moment that knitted felt became a canvas for my creativity.

I love making my own fabric. I love that I can design and make my own bags, and totes, and make purses that are exactly what I want: understated and neutral, or vibrant and whimsical, covered with flowers, or bold with sleek hardware, tiny and romantic, for my own secret pleasure, or, like these bags, big and roomy, ready for any adventure. 

And I really loved designing, making, and now carrying the Magnolia Tote. It is a roomy tote, perfect for an I packed light overnight with a dear friend, or a trip to the farmer’s market, or a trip to the mall. I use it as a shoulder bag, a knitting bag, my put everthing in it when I am shopping bag.

And check out these three different ways to style the bag, depending on your mood and the way you are using the bag . . . today.

Lately, I have been working on a new colorwork bag: this new one, The Magnolia Travel Bag (you can pre-order both the pattern and the complete kit now), is the friend of the Medallion Travel Bag you see in the picture below. The Magnolia Travel Bag wears the same large medallion shared by both the Magnolia Tote and the Medallion Travel Bag and it will be a large bag, perfect for adventures, for traveling. I will carry it as my carry-on luggage. And sometimes it will be my only luggage.

The Medallion Travel Bag

I can’t tell you how great it feels to make my own luggage. Now, even my carry-on bag is an extension of my creativity.

Making these big bags is, however, a bit stressful. What if . . . something goes horribly wrong?

Don’t let fear or trepidation stop you.

I have a solution.

Making these big bags is, however, a bit stressful! All that knitting and what if the felting process goes horribly wrong? What if it is distorted, or won’t felt, or felts too much, or felts wacky? I have not had it happen . . . because I stand over the washer and baby these big colorwork bags through the whole process. I jimmy the top-loader door open so I can mess with it while it is felting (possible video . . . do you want to see what I do? Let me know in the comments).

I have a solution: my Felted Colorwork Tote class.

My Felted Colorwork Tote class is your opportunity to make one of these beautiful felted totes with the benefit of all the knitting, felting, and finishing tips and tricks I have learned over the past 20 years. In 12 hours of instruction, I will tell you all my secrets.

We begin with a new way of picking out colors, proceed to casting on, review chart reading, go over the unique requirements of knitting in two colors when you are going to felt, preview the challenges of felting large totes in either the top loading washer or the clothes dryer, then felt together via a zoom, block our bags together, then cover and practice professional fine finishing, make linings, and finally plan artful embellishing.

In this class, you get to make all the decisions when it comes to the Magnolia Tote, Magnolia Travel Bag, or the Medallion Travel Bag you carry: you choose the colors, how long the handles are, whether it is lined and how many pockets the has, how it is decorated, and whether there are matching accessory purses for all your must-have possessions.

What You Will Make

You get to choose from one of three patterns to make your own fabulous, felted, colorwork bag. Choose the soon-to-be released Magnolia Travel Bag, the recently released Magnolia Tote, or the classic Medallion Travel Bag. These gorgeous bags demand attention. And admiration. And now you can make one that is uniquely yours. . . The first component of your own luggage set!

What You Will Get

  • The pattern for the Magnolia Tote or the Medallion Travel Bag
  • 12 hours of hands-on, student-focused instruction divided between four 2-hour instruction and practice-focused meetings and 4 1-hour “check-in” meeting
  • $15 store credit you can apply toward anything in the Noni Store – this credit it placed on your account as soon as your class registration is confirmed by Noni
  • Access to the recordings of our zoom classroom sessions
  • Small class size that allows for personalized attention, including 1 thirty-minute personal meeting

What You Will Learn

In this class, consisting of 12 classroom hours of instruction, plus personal help when you need it, you will learn new skills and refine existing ones:

  • Use color theory and some unique strategies to pick colors that work together (or pick from Nora’s selection of curated colorways),
  • Learn how to read a color chart,
  • Learn different techniques to knit with two colors flat, for the bag bottom, and in the round in order to make either the stranded colorwork Magnolia Tote or The Medallion Travel Bag,
  • How to maintain the even tension required for stranded knitting that will subsequently be felted,
  • How to felt a large bag in the top-loading washer or the clothes dryer,
  • How to block your bag for a beautifully smooth felted fabric and crisp silhouette,
  • How to finish your bag so that it looks sleek and polished: learn how to apply bag feet, stiffen the bottom of the bag, use different types of magnetic snaps for the closure you want, apply a turnlock, set in a zipper, apply custom-made leather handles, and use other premium bag hardware for a beautiful finished product
  • Decorate your finished bag to take it from fabulous to art: short tutorials on knitting flowers, embroidering on felted fabric, beading, and more.

Class Dates

Dates of the instruction and practice classes: 2-hour meetings from 9 – 11am every other Saturday (to give you time to knit!):

May 8, May 22, and June 5 and June 19.

Dates of check-in meetings in the evenings from 7 – 8 pm on alternate Thursdays: 

May 13, May 27, June 10, and June 17.

Class Size

The class is limited to 10 participants so everyone gets individualized attention during our meetings. Each participant also receives 30 minutes of individualized meeting time and “emergency” support when needed.

There are still some spots left!

Through Sunday, I get a 10% discount on Noni classes. Use the code 10offclasses at checkout. Don’t forget to press apply to activate your discount.

Join me in class!