If you're a woman who's reading this, chances are that you are periodically on the lookout for "The Bag." Somewhere out there is a perfect bag for everyone, the right amount of pockets, in the right places, big/small enough to hold everything you need, the perfect color, not too heavy, and at a price point that doesn't make you feel like you need to take out a mortgage to buy it. Each of these things are different for every one of us (hence the dizzying array of handbags available), and they are all subject to change depending on the season or what's going on in our lives.
I've been carrying Vera Bradley bags for several years now because they're lightweight, come in a huge range of colors and they're cheap enough that I don't feel guilty switching bags when my mood changes. I love the totes (the Vera, Villager, and Pleated Tote are all favorites) for big knitting projects and I was carrying a Lisa B all Winter. I loved the outside zipper pockets - one for iPhone, one for car keys, and the inside of the purse was roomy enough for all my purse stuff, but if I needed a knitting project, I would have to carry a second bag. I've been keeping a sock-in-progress in a Go Knits pouch (small) in the center console of my car for a while now, but even though I can clip it to my purse strap, it doesn't look as neat as it would if everything was all in one bag. I tend to be anti Big Bag, but with what I'm doing these days, waiting to pick Caleb up from school and then waiting for him while he does extra curricular things (which are 2-3 days a week during the school year and pick up to 4 days a week during the Summer), I keep finding myself dragging the little knitting bag around.
What I needed was something that I could put purse stuff and knitting stuff into and I didn't want them fraternizing in the same pocket. I need a secure but easy to get to pocket for my phone and I want a bag that I can put on my shoulder and tuck under my arm, so it couldn't be too wide.
I started looking at the Namaste bags - they're made for knitting and purse duty and quickly decided I liked the look and size of the Monroe bag (this link is for the Monroe in red, I got the Hollywood Pink, but it also comes in black, peacock, lime and eggplant). It has three inside pockets, two with zippers at the top and one with three magnets (the magnetic pocket is the one towards the back of the back, so it's more secure being right next to your body. There's also a slip pocket on the back of the bag, big enough to tuck a magazine or knitting pattern into. The front and back inside pockets of the bag both have a small zipper pocket inside them and they also have slip pockets of their own (perfect for the iPhone). The middle inside pocket has no additional pockets inside of it - it's the one for your knitting (or at least it's the one for my knitting). What I couldn't understand before I got the bag (hooray for The Loopy Ewe and their super fast shipping), was how I'd get a knitting project and purse stuff into a bag that's only 5 inches wide. Want to know how they did it? The two purse pockets (front and back inside pocket) "float" above the bottom of the bag. They don't go down the full depth of the bag - making it easier to find things inside of them and making the center inside pocket the full width and length of the base, giving you room for several skeins of yarn! I don't think you'd want to tote a full sweater's worth of yarn in your handbag, but you could easily keep 2 or 3 skeins, plus needles, notions and whatever piece of a sweater you're working on in this bag. The bag also has feet on it and (I didn't see this mentioned anywhere on the Internets when I was looking at the bag), it comes with a dust cover so you can store it nicely when you're not carrying it. It's made of a non PVC fake leather stuff (I'm sure they call it something nicer, but you know what I mean) but it looks really good for a fake. I'm not above carrying fake leather, but it better look like it could be real - this has enough texture and color variation that it looks real and it has a nice feel to it too. It's not as lightweight as the Vera Bradley bags, but for now, it suits my purse needs better. Did I mention it is pink?