THE CASE FOR HAND KNIT HANDBAGS PART I – MY LOVE FOR WOOL

Ono Handbag

Diana Gordon modelling Ono

I always had a love for Knitting and I like to make things with my hands.  I wanted to put these two loves together so I started a company to try to fulfill both passions. I am here today to explain what makes my favorite fabric so special in making my handbags and I hope you will love it too.

I am a proud knitter and, we proud knitters all have our own preferences for the types of yarn we choose. I can literally spend hours online or in craft stores staring at yarn. The choices are enormous.  All of the colors, textures and variety of sources are breathtaking to me.

However, what is most amazing is that with all the options for materials, my preferred choice is always wool. To many in the mainstream fashion world, wool may not be the obvious choice. But it is for me, which is creating handbags.

Wool yarn is the building blocks for a knitter. There are myriad benefits hidden in the nature the fiber. I feel limited only by my own imagination. I find the process of choosing the yarn I love equally fascinating to the actual things I ultimately come up. I invite you to discover why I love wool so much.

Wool is made from shearing the fleece of animals (much like hair in that it contains keratin proteins). Then it is twisted, weaved, spun and dyed to make yarn.  Wool can come from a host of different animals. From the fleece of common domesticated animals like sheep, goats or rabbits, I can make sturdy fabrics for clothing and other accessories. You might know these fabrics as lambswool, mohair, cashmere or angora.  Considered luxurious because of their great insulating properties, their scarcity, and natural beauty, the wool from these animals have been used for centuries. Artisan skill is required to actually fabricate them into wearable items.

One type of wool, lambswool comes in grades from the fine merino to the coarse karakul.  A knitter has to choose what grade works best for them.  However, we are not limited to just these furry critters. More types of yarns are becoming available everyday. Now for a knitter like myself living and making bags in the United States, I am noticing the qualities of these newer offerings on the scene & from around the world. Yarn spun from exotic animals like muskox, camel, llama, and vicuña intrigue me. I have already begun to incorporate exotic yarn like alpaca in my fashion line this year. I would even like to try buffalo yarn (American bison) in the future.

Sweet Potato Pie / Ono

Ono Alpaca Handbag

Knitting is not a new thing.  In spite of the perception, it’s not just relegated to a Grandma weaving at her wooden loom and knitting booties in a rocking chair. Young people are doing it too and the craft is growing. [1] To the contrary, weaving and creating garments in wool, although an ancient craft, is making an astounding resurgence.  Knit and other handmade items have become more popular today by the growth of online stores like Etsy.com. You can find a Uhane Knits shop there as well. Etsy’s a handknit community with lots of great designers of handmade & household items, trinkets, clothing and wearable art.There has been evidence of wool fibers found in the Republic of Georgia in Eurasia dating back to 34,000 ago. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks all knitted in wool. All over the world, communities of weavers still make wool into yarn. This is great news for us industrious knitters determined to turn these building blocks into everything. From upholstery to rugs, from scarves & hats to sweaters, from socks to even diaper covers and to my favorite, handbags. It is amazing the amount of ways wool is utilized today to express creativity. God bless indigenous cultures & the crafters who keep this art alive.

Even in this modern age of machines, plastics, and synthetic fabrics, it is still the natural feel, unique breathing & binding qualities of wool that many of our customers prefer.[2] There is nothing like a handmade item that captures the interest, to give as gifts or to keep as an heirloom.

Today, with all the craftwork involved, wool is still an economically viable option.  The fiber is still used to make both functional and aesthetically fashionable items.  Mass Manufacturers to this day have not been able to reproduce wool effectively from artificial fibers. Discerning shoppers will always associate wool with things like sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens. With hand knit handbags, however, it is not generally known that wool is a viable option. It can hold its own in the pantheon of more famous bag materials like leather and suede.  Can we get the word out about this wonderful fiber?

 

Alpaca

Ono is made from highland Alpaca Wool

The Benefits Of Wool[3]


Resists wrinkles  wool springs back quickly 
Resists soiling  because the fiber is complex 
Is durable  multi-part fiber resists wear 
Repels moisture  fiber sheds water 
Retains shape  resilient fibers return to size 
Resists flames  fibers will not support combustion 
Is comfortable in all seasons  keeps layer of air next to skin
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