The Little Swift

Available yarn can be found here. Available fibre is here.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of the naming party for Tom Bihn’s new knitting bag,  The Swift, and loved the bag so much, I wrote a review of it.

Tom Bihn has recently introduced The Swift’s little sibling:  The Little Swift.  I’ve been in possession of a Little Swift for about 2 weeks now, and it was love at first sight.

Little Swift in Kiwi/Kiwi ballistic nylon, empty

It’s lime green!  (There may have been jumping up and down when I saw it)

The Materials:

The Little Swift is currently available for pre-order (for shipment in July) in Kiwi ballistic nylon, dark brown (Cacao) waterproof Ultrasuede, Cork, and natural Vulcana Hemp/Recycled Rubber.  I’ve spent quality time with all of these materials, except the Cork.

The Ultrasuede is yummy and rich, but I find that pet hair and fluff stick to it quite easily.

The hemp/rubber is very nice.  It was softer than I expected.  I thought it would be a hair/fluff magnet — it wasn’t AT ALL.  It stood up to rubbing, friction and moisture quite well; it would survive a rainstorm/snowstorm well and won’t wear away at your clothes.

The ballistic nylon is my favourite…but that could be because I prefer colour to neutrals.  It’s durable, but soft to the touch…no wearing away at your clothing.  It withstands weather well…on one of our first dates, we had to walk around downtown Toronto in a torential downpour.  Nothing inside got wet.  And the colour is outstanding!

Size Matters:

So what’s the size like in comparison to the Swift?  Here they are lying one on top of the other:

And side by side by side:

Little Swift in Kiwi/Kiwi; Swift in Indigo/Black - both ballistic nylon

The Little Swift is 80% of the size of the Swift, but the handles are the same size!  One of my favourite things about my Swift is that I can pick it up with one hand and swing it over my shoulder.  Lots of elbow clearance, but it still sits solidly on my shoulder without slipping off.  The Little Swift is no different.  Even with a thick sweater and my heavy, down winter coat on, I can still wear the Little Swift on my shoulder.  And the padded handles are still there.  So I can carry it FULL of heavy things and my shoulder/hand is cushioned.

The size is PERFECT for me.  I’m 5′ tall and the Little Swift sits neatly under my arm and nestles into my waist.  I’ve had a few friends of different heights try it on and they all love how the bag feels on.

Side by side comparison of the regular Swift on me (5’0″ tall) and Susanne (5’9″ tall  AND Smart-Ass Knitter/World Domination artisan):

The bottom of the bag hits me at the top of my thigh.  It hits Susanne at mid-hip.

And the Little Swift:

The bottom of the Little Swift hits me at mid-hip, and ends at the top of Susanne’s hip.

But how much can you put in the Little Swift?  I’ve been using it as my “everyday” bag for 2 weeks.  There’s plenty of room for my everyday purse stuff (wallet, glasses, makeup case, etc.) plus a small knitting project and my small knitting tool-case.  Or, I can carry my everyday purse stuff, a few work files and my 13″ MacBook.

Here’s the Little Swift full:

(L-R:  front view, top view, side view)

What’s inside:  cardigan back in progress, 1 200g yarn cake, wallet, glasses, keys and book (Veronik Avery‘s Knitting 24/7) in the main body of the bag; cell phone, small makeup case, pens in one pocket; knitting tools in the other pocket.   I’ve also tried it with a Tall Yarn Stuff Sack filled with a spindle and roving instead of a knitting project.  That also fits nicely.  Big enough to carry what I need for the day, yet small enough to prevent me from overloading my bag with everything I own.  Perfect.

This is not going to be your big project knitting bag.  If used for knitting alone, you could easily fit a couple of small knitting projects (socks, mittens), a scarf or shawl project or parts of a sweater.  For storage of large projects (full sweater or large shawl), the Swift is a better choice.  I have both and use both.

Other Features:

Let’s take a look at the other features of the Little Swift.

1.  New!  All Swifts and Little Swifts have a reinforced well surrounding the bottom.  

This helps the bag sit upright on its own.  My original Swift tends to fall over unless it’s full.  The new ones don’t!

2.  Like the Swift, it has 2 inside side pockets with clear fronts.  These span the width of the bag and about halfway down the side of the bag.

inside: my knitting toolkit, inside a mini organizer pouch

For comparison, the same pouch inside the Swift’s side pocket:

3.  There are also 4 plastic grommets for hooking your Stuff Sack or keys, etc. to.  Two deep inside the bag:

located just inside the deep "V" on either side of the bag

And two on each of the handle sides of the bag:

Outside the vinyl pocket on one side; inside the vinyl pocket on the other

4.  Each Little Swift comes with a Small Stuff Sack…about an inch shorter than the regular Stuff Sack.  Tom Bihn has gone through many versions of the yarn guide inside the Stuff Sacks.  Mine came with the new version:

It’s a little carabiner!  It’s the best one yet.  Lots of room for the yarn to move around and nowhere for the yarn to get caught.  I’ve tried it with several weights of yarn from very fine silk lace to heavy, aran weight handspun.  No issues with any of them.  I was finding my yarn would occasionally get caught on the snap on the old version:

Snap version is at bottom of photo

As far as I know, both versions will be included in future Stuff Sacks, so you can choose the one that works best.  (OR!  Use both for fair isle/colourwork)


Other accessories I’ve found useful, that work well with the Little Swift:

Clear Organizer Pouches

This is my travelling knitting toolkit.  It’s a mini clear organizer pouch containing stitch markers, a tape measure, row counter, 3 cable needles, 3 tapestry needles and a pencil.  I’ve attached my scissors to the pouch with a key strap.

I also have my keys attached to a key strap and a clear organizer wallet:

Like the clear organizer pouches, but with 2 ultrasuede dividers to help keep you organized.

This is not going to be your big project knitting bag.  If used for knitting alone, you could easily fit a couple of small knitting projects (socks, mittens), a scarf or shawl project or parts of a sweater.  For storage of large projects (full sweater or large shawl), the Swift is a better choice.  I have both and use both.

Three Years Later:

I’ve had my original Swift in Plum/Grey cordura for almost 3 years.  I’ve used it almost constantly for those 3 years.  It still looks new.  There is absolutely no change in the colour or the state of the fabric.  Amazing.  There is no sign of wear anywhere.  No broken plastic parts, no tears or dents in the vinyl pockets. There is no sign of wear anywhere.  I’ve never washed it in a washing machine (this would void the Tom Bihn warranty).  But I’ve put it through hell and back.  I’ve spilled food and drink on it, have dropped it in the mud, have been sprayed from head to toe with slush and salt by a passing truck and a bird has pooped on it.  All dirt and stains have been removed with a little soap and water or vinegar and a sponge.    It is the most versatile and adaptable bag I own.  Great for everyday, for work, for a weekend of walking around a fibre festival.  I have yet to meet its equal.  Clearly, I don’t have to.

11 thoughts on “The Little Swift

  1. This is a wonderful review – thanks so much! I’ve been putting off a purchase of the Swift due to the price, but I realize now that may be shortsighted. You see, I find a bag that I think will solve all my problems, I buy it and wear the hell out of it, it starts falling apart in six months, then I’m on to the next new thing. Maybe investing in a Swift (and/or little Swift!) is the way to go!

  2. Rats! I LOVE my cork Swift, and had pretty much convinced myself that I don’t need a Little Swift. And then you go and do this – I am powerless, and it’s all your fault… I hope you’re proud of yourself, Kim…

  3. I’ve had my original swift for 4 years and it’s still good as new. I did wash mine in the machine (had to, full bottle of olive oil soaked in…) and it’s still as good as new.

    Now I really want a little swift in Cork. Lots.

    Great review!

  4. Your first review of the original Swift inspired me to purchase mine last year and I have since purchased a second one! Now I want a little Swift also!
    I have knit for many years and also sew bags and since I purchased my Swift(s) I have not carried another bag. Great design, wonderful to carry–you are so right on about the handles on one’s shoulder, it holds a lot yet still sits trim against your body when carried. It always looks so good I just want to pack it and go! No sign of wear after daily use and several airplane trips–it is a great travel bag/purse/knitting tote also (at least for me).
    Three of my knitting friends now carry Tom Bihn Swifts also and several more still lust!!!
    I love my Tom Bihn Swifts!!

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  8. Great review! I just discovered the Tom Bihn brand and the Swift and ordered a Little Swift that I have had a couple weeks and LOVE. Debating ordering a Swift but not sure I need that big but I love this bag so much I don’t want to have to ever use my old bags. Luckily they are out of stock on the color I want to gives me plenty of time to try and talk myself out of it as unsuccessful as that will be. : )

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