Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Monday, 6 February 2012

Come on Ireland...Please?

It is now February and I seem to be getting through my New Years Resolutions alright.  In fact I'm almost proud of myself.

My birthday is next month and I've been scouting for possible presents (when you are on a buying ban, this becomes all the more exciting!) so Google is almost dying of exhaustion on my laptop.  Coupled with the fact that this past weekend was my Grandparents 1st and 5th anniversary's and I needed to cheer myself up a little with some fake retail therapy.  

My possibles list doesn't amount to much. Over the past few years, especially since my redundancy, I've had to stop and think before I buy.  Do I actually need it?  Do I actually want it?  Do I have something similar already?  How many 'x' do I need?  Is it worth the price tag?  I could go on but you know what I mean.  

I have a shortlist of things I like/collect -

  1. Knitting - I'm destashing and have enough pattern/yarn combos to last me a year or more, so yarn is out of the question.  I have all the knitty paraphernalia I need, bags, gadgets etc. so I don't need anything there, unless I take on spinning???  Though that would leave less time for knitting wouldn't it?  
  2. Reading - Love books, I've been a member of a library since I could be read to.  Living in a small cottage with frig all storage and a bookshelf about to split at the seams leaves me with only 1 viable option, a kindle?  I do prefer to hold a physical book but I may have to compromise.
  3. Leather Handbags - I do so love them, though I'm quite fussy in my criteria!  Full grain leather, looks good, will last forever.  I scare myself silly with some of the prices.  At the moment I own 4 really good last for ever bags, 2 from Saddleback Leather (beautifully made, feel and smell divine, but unrelentingly heavy and the metal rings jingle which can get irritating), 1 from Pierotucci in Florence in Navy embossed leather and kidskin lined (I'm a sucker for leather lining) and the last is a vintage (from the 1990's) Coach black bag with brass fittings.  It's small and dinky and feels so good! Bought on Etsy for about €40.
  4. Steiff Teddy Bears - My little collection of bears were blogged here.  I don't think I'll be adding to the collection as I am running out of space!

So that really leaves me with either a kindle or a bag option.  The kindle is easy to research and I'd probably buy from Amazon.  Just think of all the fun I'd have with all the free classics?  I'd be kept in reading material for the rest of my days and beyond!

As for the bag option.  I had looked up a few websites but noticed that google was throwing up a lot of either US or UK company's.  With the way things are I thought maybe there was an Irish equivalent and I'd buy local.  I have to say I came away disappointed in more than just my choice.  I'm disappointed in how badly marketed and advertised Irish craft is and how little there is to be found with a fairly dedicated search. I mean all I want is a nicely made full grain leather bag for a reasonable price.  

So far my little search has shown just how many small one man companies have fallen foul of the recession, I came across so many beautiful leather items that are no longer available that I began to wonder whether my quest was a viable one.  

On the other hand there are companies out there, and these are the ones that I have found:
  1. Holden Leather Goods in Dingle, Co Kerry.  I have not seen these bags in real life, but they look gorgeous.  They also have a healthy pricetag.  I have e-mailed Conor Holden himself and he answered all my queries quickly and politely.  He was also holding Leather Handbag Design courses last Summer, which sounds like something I would love to do once I win the lotto!
  2. ELF Exclusively Lorna Fitzgerald in Dublin.  I do love her Everyday Bag but she's a little shiny and young for my classical/casual taste.
  3. Chesneau Designs There used to be a shop beside Brown Thomas's but I noticed that it's closed the last time I was in Dublin.  They use really heavy beautiful leathers and they smell gorgeous.  The website is being updated at the moment so hopefully new bags will be added.  Also a tad pricey, but they should last a lifetime.  Sometimes you can be lucky to see a bag or two on Ebay, but it seems people like to keep them! 
  4. Ana Faye I have seen some of her beautiful bags on sale in Carrick on Shannon and they are beautifully soft and tactile.  Will definitely have another look when I'm there next.  Go Connaught!
  5. Rodolfo Dequina a surprise the search engine threw me up, never came across this maker before and he has many eye catching bags.
  6. Several other designers can be found on Style Tonic but they really are designer prices too.

As you can see, you can buy plenty of expensive Irish leather work.  

What happened to all the leather workers working at their kitchen tables to make beautiful handmade original but affordable pieces?  There used to be a lovely man from Fermanagh I think who used to do the craft fairs at Christmas, but I haven't seen him in a few years.  I think I am just looking in all the wrong places.  I think a road trip around all the craft fairs and farmers markets is the only thing to do.  But are they actually out there?  

On the other hand it seems small leather business's with affordable and original pieces are thriving across the Irish Sea.  I found a plethora of lovely bags that might find there way back to me with the click of a mouse!

My shortlist includes:
  1. Journeyman Leather in Shetland.  Simple but effective and you can even get in touch and discuss your requirements to make a completely unique one off bag.  The NB Shopper caught my eye as it has a tooled 'fair isle' design down the side so it amused the knitter in me!
  2. Maxwell Scott OK, so not on the very affordable side, but definitely to save up for!  I can almost smell the leather and their customer service is superb.  The only conundrum is which bag to pick!
  3. Modalu A brand I have had my eye on for a long time, I see them occasionally at TK Maxx too, reduced, which is great.  Their leather feels lovely and soft.
  4. Vintage Leather Handbags I check here every once in a while, there are some gorgeous vintage finds.
  5. Cambridge Satchel They are just sooooo pretty!  I'm impatient though and I think the wait for the bag to be made would drive me crazy :)
  6. Scaramanga A definite runner, I would love to feel the leather first before I buy though, the satchels and flight bags look perfect.
  7. Hilary Johnson stumbled upon this site and was pleasantly surprised, very nice bags, nice price range too.

So after all that research I'm not sure if I found what I was really looking for (which is usually the case when I get engrossed in a quest with a search engine).  I will most likely choose something completely different.

If anyone has any nice suggestions or links, please leave a comment.

I will have finished my latest knitting project in the next week so you can expect a blog post then!

The wool for my Rams & Yowes blanket by Kate Davies arrived this morning, so I'm in a state of utter excitement until I can start it :)

Happy knitting xxx


  1. Kindles are LOVELY for listening to old books while knitting lace. I love mine for it. Current book: Persuasion, by Jane Austen.

    1. I never thought of the audio part to it! Through speakers or earphones? Now that really might sway my decision, thanks for that!

  2. After all that research, you deserve!! a lovely new bag. You have good taste, can't beat leather can you? I particularly like your navy one. Often difficult to find that colour.

    The rams and Yowes blanket will be a lovely project, specially like the rams part of it. I can just imagine how warm it will be. I am certainly feeling the benefit of my first pair of hand knitted socks and still proud of them as a first four needle project.