This summer, the county I lived in abolished plastic bags at the stores. We can still get paper bags, but I’m trying my best to take my own bags. I’ve become really good over the past 5 years or so, taking my bags to buy groceries. But I just can’t remember to take them into Target, Kohls, Michaels…where I buy things other than food. I even keep them in my car, but forget them when I get to the store! I guess I’m just too excited about shopping!
Way back in college, I had string shopping bags that I used (I was already pretty crunchy, even then!), but they’ve gotten lost or perhaps disintegrated throughout the last few decades. So I decided to knit some! I made one last summer, but gave it away before I took photos, so when I made this one, I took lots of pics.
I found a pattern I liked from Martha Stewart, at the Lion Brand site. I had impulse-bought (imagine that!) a giant skein of Bernat cotton yarn last fall, because I loved the colors. It had 710 yards on it, which will make 2 of these Mini-Market Bags. The name of the pattern is “mini” but I think they’re pretty generously sized.
You can download the instructions, but I found a few helpful tips as I knit.
1. The base of the bag and a few rows of the body are knit with two strands of yarn. To do that, I pulled the end from the center of the skein, then the other from the outside. If you were a good estimator, you could just pull from the center and pull out as much as you would need for those rows. But I’m not that good at estimating.
The starting directions from the website:
With 2 strands of yarn held tog, cast on 24 sts.
Work back and forth on circular needle as if working on straight needles.
Rows 1-19: Knit.
Note: Work will now proceed in the round.
Set-Up Rnd: Knit, do not turn, pick up and k10 sts across short side of Base, 24 sts across cast-on edge of Base, and 10 sts across rem short side – 68 sts at the end of this rnd. Place marker for beg of rnd. Join by working the first st on left hand needle with the working yarn from the right hand needle.
Rnds 1-3: Knit.
Cut 1 strand of yarn, leaving a long tail to weave in. With 1 strand of yarn, beg with Rnd 1 of pattern, work in Lace Pattern until piece measures about 10 in. (25.5 cm) from Base, end with a Rnd 4 of pattern. Note: End with a Rnd 4 means that the last rnd you work should be a Rnd 4, and the next rnd that you are ready to work will be a Rnd 1.
2. Once the base and the few rows of the body are started on circular needles, the lace pattern is simple to remember. It’s important to use a stitch marker, so you know where each row begins. The directions continue:
ssk (slip, slip, knit) Slip next 2 sts as if to knit, one at a time, to right needle; insert left needle into fronts of these 2 sts and knit them tog – 1 st decreased.
Lace Pattern (worked in the round)
Rnd 1: *(Yo, k2tog); rep from * to end of rnd.
Rnd 2: Knit.
Rnd 3: *(Ssk, yo); rep from * to end of rnd.
Rnd 4: Knit.
Rep Rnds 1-4 for Lace Pattern.
3. When the body of the bag is about 11”, you’ll bind off part of it and use the remainder to shape the handles, per the directions.
Next Rnd: K26, bind off 8 sts, k26 and slip these 26 sts to a holder, bind off 8 sts – 2 sets of 26 sts for each side of handle.
Work rem 26 sts back and forth in rows for first half of handle.
Row 1 (RS): K2tog *(yo, k2tog); rep from * to last 2 sts, k2tog – 24 sts at the end of this row.
Row 2 and all WS rows: Purl.
Row 3: K1, ssk, *(yo, ssk); rep from * to last 3 sts, ssk, k1 – 22 sts at the end of this row.
Row 5: K1, k2tog, *(yo, k2tog); rep from * to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1 – 20 sts.
Row 7: Ssk, *(ssk, yo); rep from * to last 2 sts, ssk – 18 sts.
Row 9: K1, k2tog, *(yo, k2tog); rep from * to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1 – 16 sts.
Row 10: Purl.
Rep Rows 7-10 until there are 6 sts rem, end with a Row 8.
Work rem 6 sts as follows:
Row 1: K1, (yo, k2tog) 2 times, k1.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: K1, (ssk, yo) 2 times, k1.
Row 4: Purl.
Rep Rows 1-4 twice more, then rep Rows 1 and 2 once. Bind off loosely, leaving a long tail for sewing ends of handle tog. Rejoin yarn to 26 sts on holder and work same as for first half of handle.
4. You’ll make the handles separately, then sew them together, a simple step. After they’re joined, the directions for the edging are simple. It’s important to pick up as many stitches as you can, to fit all 78 in evenly. It seems as though you’re picking up way too many, but if you pick up too few, the edging will be too tight and you won’t be able to carry the bag on your shoulder. Trust me. I know.
Sew ends of handle tog.
With RS facing and 1 strand of yarn, beg at handle seam, pick up and k78 sts evenly spaced around one side of handle and top of Tote. Place marker for beg of rnd. Join by working the first st on left hand needle with the working yarn from the right hand needle.
Rnd 1: Purl.
Rnd 2: Knit.
Bind off loosely.
Rep border on opposite side of Tote. Weave in ends.
There…done! Don’t you need a couple? Each bag takes about 8 hours to knit. And listen to this blog dedication…see those first few photos, that look like they might be on a towel? Well, they were taken on a towel, on our Alaska cruise. It was the only what background I could find, and I didn’t want to miss photographing a step, or wait until we were home to finish the bag. I had planned to spend a lot of time on our verandah, knitting and reading, and that’s just what I did…it was fabulously relaxing!