Kay and I met Julia Hilbrandt a number of years ago, in a sheep stall at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds.
There she was, in the red-hot center of the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, surrounded by yarnmakers who had brought drifts of yarn, roving, fiber and fleeces. And sheep.
Julia’s booth was different.
No yarn, no sheep. Julia’s booth was an oasis of sleek, elegant design. Julia is a maker of handmade bags, designed using a very specific palette of materials: leather handles and felt. Black leather handles. Gray wool industrial felt, to be specific.
So modern, so sturdy. So lightweight. These bags, and Julia’s quiet good humor, were instantly memorable.
Years Pass . . .
Fast forward to the day when we found ourselves in a position to collaborate with Julia. We’re still kind of amazed that this has happened at all, but here you go: we have worked with Julia over the past months to create the knitter’s bag of our dreams.
The bag of our dreams is of a very specific size and proportion, one that Kay and I have both loved for decades. For as long as I’ve known her, Kay has lugged around a beloved and frankly ratty-looking Tesco shopping bag from England. For the decade I worked in book publishing, my tote was always rectangular. Made of heavy leather, it weighed a ton unloaded, and two tons on a two-manuscript weekend.
This very specific shape—this rectangle—has always been The One, for both of us. And in our endless market research (aka watching bags go by at fiber festivals), a great knitting bag is one that sits on the floor, is wide at the top, and generous in capacity.
Kay shipped off her precious Tesco shopping bag to Julia as the template for the bag we’ve been dreaming of. Julia made short work of it, and soon we had Julia’s interpretation of the tote that we’ve always craved.
Here it is:
The Knitter’s Tote
It has the design elements that Julia has perfected over her years of making these extraordinary bags.
The sturdy seams are sewn on her sewing machine built to stitch sails. The leather becomes supple very quickly, and the rivets are made to last.
It has Julia’s trademark hand-felted dot on it, in vermilion, to distinguish it from any other industrial felt tote that might be lying around.
We have been field testing The Knitter’s Tote for weeks now. The only modification we made was to make sure the interior pockets are the proper size to carry a Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide.
It has two such pockets because a knitter needs options.
It’s so light to carry. Even stuffed with Field Guides and multiple knitting projects, I hardly know it’s on my shoulder. And at 15″ wide by 12″ high by 8″ deep, it can easily hold a weekend’s worth of clothes for those times when you really need to bug out.
This is a special thing, a design exclusive to MDK, made one at a time in Rhinebeck, New York. We offer The Knitter’s Tote with great pride—we’re lucky to have the chance to work with this talented maker, and happy to offer you a tote that will last and last, through many years of knitting adventures.
Order your own Knitter’s Tote here.