Principally felt

experiments in life, decorative felt, nuno, knit felt and mosaic

Dieppe, duffels and sailor stripes

Well to be honest the two things Dieppe and duffel bags are, as far as I know, not connected at all, except in my recent activities and, perhaps, by sailors.

The other weekend we had a very pleasant time wandering around Dieppe with two good friends of ours who live over in Normandy. I’ve always retained a soft spot for this French town after being sent there on a school trip aged about 13. I had my first experiences of drinking bowls of coffee at breakfast and eating steak frites in a small cafe in its centre. Here is the old harbour.


There is some fabulous renovation work going on in the harbour area.

Duffel bags however were first named apparently after the Belgian town of the same name where the cloth used in making them was made. To most of us they mean a cylindrical bag with a drawstring closure. They make us think of sailors and kit bags and they are also nowadays linked to surfer culture. That means the correct name is duffel bag but, of course, many people say duffle.

I’ve always had a thing about duffel bags. Not that I use them out and about often but I think making them is fun and there is a place for them decoratively, hanging from hooks. Their temptation is often in the potential for striped colour combinations. At the moment I am knitting this one in a dark red and French blue combination. Here it is about half way to the top.


Finding the right grommets and cord for the closure is always a challenge. I found some brass grommets on the Internet but haven’t been able to remember where from. I have a nice piece of natural cord at the moment.

You can make a knit / felt duffel any size from either a square base (which then goes to round) when you are knitting in the round. Or from a round base which you will have to crochet. Alternatively you could work top down but I have never tried that. I also don’t crochet. Once the square base has been knitted and stitches picked up in the round, the rest is just a question of working on up. No shaping is required. If you stop half way you can simply have an open sack to put things in anywhere in the room. I’ve got some amazing raffia-like Noro paper fibre which I am considering using in this way.

I love this phase of any creative activity. Different things come together in mind, some colours or fibres come into my imagination and off we go ..

2 comments on “Dieppe, duffels and sailor stripes

  1. Joanna Sugarman

    I assume the coats came from the same Belgian bled?

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