It was my father-in-law’s last year going on the annual Germaine family fishing trip near Cape Cod. Since my hubby hadn’t been back for the trip in probably a decade and my girls had never gone period, it served to reason we would return this year to make some lasting memories, especially for all the grandkids/cousins. (We certainly don’t choose New England over Montana for the fishing!) 😉
(On a side note, I stayed with my folks while Hubby pulled 24/7 Daddy Duty during the four-day fishing weekend.)
In prepping for this trip, I was eager to utilize the Ravenna satchel for the first time since I finished making it. With the trip now behind us, here is what I found for any interested parties out there:
First of all, this is a big bag! Had I to do it over again (give me a few years and I just might!), I would have put the bag through one more cycle in the washing machine to bind the fibers tighter and shrink the size a little more. That said, I was still able to tuck this beauty beneath the seat in front of me on all the planes we flew (we always have layovers and one of the two planes is usually pretty small: just two seats on either side of the aisle). So for all its girth, it was still “small enough.”
Secondly, the handle construction is not conducive for heavy-lifting. The handles themselves are strong, but where they attach to the bag is not. If you choose to attach the handles to rings and the rings to the bag, please make sure to sew through a piece of fabric on the inside of the bag when attaching the rings. Had I not done this, the rings might have ripped right off my bag. :O As it was, I “snuck” my heavy items, like my books, into one of my girls’ carry-on suitcases and left the lighter items, like my knitting and some snacks, for the satchel. I did slip my MacBook inside, as well. 🙂 Had I to do this part over again…well, I would have changed the construction of the bag itself.
There is a great method out there for binding off the top edge of a bag called the knit-cord bind off. Working this bind off three times (which will require you to pick up the stitches you just bound off) creates an extremely durable top border through which straps will not break (the straps would break before the edge ever would). It does mean the handles would slip through holes just beneath this bound off edge instead of being sewn to the side of the bag, which changes the bag’s overall appearance…but increases its strength. Another idea is something along the lines of the picture at the right. If you make the loops horizontal and have the straps running up and down and around the bottom of the bag, you would have one strong travel bag at your service. It would take some pre-mediation before knitting the bag to figure out where you would place the loops for the straps and the straps themselves would interrupt the bag’s pattern, but the end result might be worth it.
So really, aside from the handles, this bag worked great. I would recommend it as a challenging knitting/felting project—provided you don’t try to watch TV or a movie at the same time!—but I would highly suggest figuring out ahead of time how you want to handle the, uh, handles. 😉 And if anyone has another suggestion for working those handles, I would love it if you left a comment below!