If you haven’t seen a Swoop Bag and play mat, I bet you’ll join the rest of us in thinking it is a brilliant idea. It is a large-diameter (44 inches) circular canvas mat with a strong casing around the edge and a drawstring. For oodles of kids, this means they can pile Lego brick onto the mat, play and sort them there, and then just cinch up the drawstring and hang up the bag or pile it into a cubby with all those pesky blocks safely corralled. The global level of nagging is measurably reduced.
Others use it for dolls or Hot Wheels, but clearly Lego storage is the Google query that Swoop was made to answer.
I approached Swoop from a different perspective. Years ago, I thought I could make a dent in the organizational challenges in our home by finding or creating sorting-slash-storage containers. I came up with the idea for little circles of fabric with drawstrings, but mine were more on the scale of a gallon zip-lock bag. We could store crafting, needlework, modeling, art, etc., supplies in the bags and stash them in small spaces. I did research on the materials to use but never followed through on actually making them, but the idea continued to pop up every now and then.
When I saw the Swoop Bag, it instantly resonated with me, and my adventures with my bag have reinforced the fascination with my original idea. My Swoop showed up folded into a small rectangular package and unfolded to a full flat circle of red canvas bordered by a natural-colored casing for the drawstring, which is a sturdy nylon cord. Swoops come in two sizes, 44 or 16 inch diameter, in six bright colors of 100% cotton canvas. The company is owned by Sarah Kirk, whose own mother replaced the original bag, which Sarah’s grandmother made for Sarah’s brother’s Lego collection. Sarah recognized that value and longevity and the company was born.
I don’t have much Lego action at my house anymore, so here are some other challenges I tried with my Swoop:
+ Carting around exercise balls (my favorite): Those giant balls should really come with handles, but since they usually don’t, try carrying one with a Swoop. Set it down on the Swoop and draw up the cord: voila! For a large (65 cm) ball, the drawstring is too short to reach over the ball and act as a handle, as you can see in the photo below, but I just added a bungee cord connecting drawstrings on the two sides of the ball and it was like having a super-sized custom tote bag. With a 55 cm ball, the Swoop was enough.
+ Toting around holiday gifts: I had to transport a collection of oddly shaped presents to an event over the holidays, and the Swoop was my brainstorm for getting them from the house to the car to the destination, without a challenge of playing Tetris to pack them into bags or boxes. The Swoop also worked for collecting wrapping paper and trash to throw away, and then packing up all the gifts and paraphernalia to take home again.
+ Gift wrap: I’ve now realized that with some forethought, the Swoop itself could serve as wrapping for an awkwardly shaped large gift. Bonus points if the gift recipient is named “Swoop” because the gift tag is already applied!
+ Plushie mover: We also used the Swoop to relocate a mountain of variously sized stuffed animals—a perfect use for it. We could pile them in and move a foothill all at once.
+ Moving books: We took a heavy load of books to the library for donation. This is awkward with bags; my cloth tote bags are too small, or break after the hard use, or I don’t want them out of commission on the library runs. Disposable/recyclable bags can’t carry many books. The Swoop worked great as long as we exercised a little care about how we loaded the books into it. The drawstrings don’t make good shoulder straps for heavy loads, but we didn’t have to carry it very far. For longer trips, I would recommend some padding between strap and shoulder.
+ Charity donations: We used the Swoop to move clothes and other household donation items around the house and out to the car and into the final destination container. The Swoop’s shape makes it easy to pour or slide contents into another container.
+ The Future: Someday I will teach grandkids to keep their Lego bricks in the Swoop, playing on it when they want to build, and then scooping them all up into the drawstring bag when they’re done. Hopefully this will not clash with my book donation runs…
The Swoop made these tasks much easier and my husband is thrilled that I am not hoarding cardboard boxes to handle such jobs. The success has rekindled my interest in my original idea of personal sized versions of the Swoop (called a Swoop Mini—16 inch diameter).
Now I am scheming toward the day when I have a Swoop Original full of Mini bags filled with crafting, needlework, and hobby supplies. Meta-Swoop!
The Swoop Original ($48) and Mini ($24) are available in six colors in 100% cotton canvas from Swoop.
Other posts on GeekMom that share a similar reuse and crafting view include Lisa’s Repurposed Holiday Crafts for the Obsessive-Compulsive at Christmas and Natania’s 3 Ways Post-it Brand and Evernote Can Simplify Your Work Life.