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Book Review: Bags That Rock: Knitting on the Road by Kelley Deal

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I was in high school when the alt-rock wave hit. And I was a fan of The Breeders. I defy you to show me someone who didn’t dig “Last Splash.” Anyway, they were kind of a blip on the mainstream alt-rock radar. I was both pleased and intrigued to find that Kelley Deal, vocalist and guitarist for the band, was a knit-o-holic. And hooray, she wrote a knitting book!

Bags That Rock by Kelley Deal is a collection of 20 knit handbag patterns. Not only are these bags pretty awesome (“they rock”) but they are inspired by Kelley’s experiences on the road (when she was “rocking”). Besides the typical knitting stuff, you will also find lots of photos of Kelley backstage, anecdotes from the road (like the time she got caught without a set of needles, and used an extra set of drumsticks to whip up a scarf), and lots of ways to take each base pattern and make it your own, simply by changing the strap, yarn, or embellishments.

“Easy Evening” is a small, simple evening bag whose charm comes from the drum lug casings and guitar string used as straps. Similarly, “Telephone” is another basic bag – slightly larger, and a slightly tapered shape – but with a telephone cord as the strap. “Free Bird” is a large bucket bag done in a super-fuzzy, felted yellow mohair, adorned with oversized glass beads. “Laura Petrie” is a cute checkerboard bag – strips of colored blocks (in this case, lavender, grape, and brown) are sewn together and felted. “The Tube” is a marled cylinder bag that is truly vintage-inspired – my grandmother gave me a patent leather bag in the same shape.

“Moe” is a cute felted bucket bag that features an embroidered drum kit on the front, and my favorite part – drumsticks in lieu of traditional handles. “Road” is a big carry-all with front flap and back pocket that is shown two ways – a solid color for everyday use, and a “denim” shaded version punked out with buttons and patches. “Propeller” is a stiff, structured handbag with intarsia propellers in random wrap-arounds. “Heart” is a fuzzy felted mohair bag in the shape of a – you guessed it – heart. “Hey Jute” uses jute to make a durable but ugly messenger bag. “Graffiti” is another simple shape, but with a funky graffiti intarsia design. Granted, it seems to defeat the purpose of graffiti to copy someone else’s design, but it’s still pretty cool.

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