UPDATE 22-APR-2013: I am working on an updated version of this pattern to be called the "BYOB 2.0". Please see my new blogpost here for further information, and I will update the links here when this is ready.
I have had a number of requests for printable copies of my "BYOB - Bring Your Own Bag!" pattern that was recently published in Knitty, Summer 08. I decided I would put the original pattern pdf up on Ravelry here, and then add some variations that you might want to try on this blog over the next few days. This pattern has the photos and descriptions more easily printed onto separate pages so that all the pattern instructions for a section of the bag are together. It also contains stitch charts and sizing diagrams in addition to the pattern text. I have also had a number of requests for further information, so I will answer some questions here:
Q: There are two different ways of working the Seed Stitch given. Why is that? Seed Stitch is worked as k1, p1 on an odd number of stitches when working flat, but when you are working in the round, then you need to start the 2nd round with a P1. Both options are shown in the pattern. However, it will always be that a knit stitch should fall above a purl 'bump' in the previous row, and a purl will come above a knit in the last row. The base also contains selvedge stitches and these are included in the row instructions.
Q: Do you need to bind off the base and pick up stitches? Can you not just keep on working? Seams add more time to the work, it is true, but they also add structure. The bag could actually be started in the center of the base and then worked outwards seamlessly to the handles. However, this will not sit as well at the check-out. The most stable form for loading items easily in the supermarket is to do a proper cast on and bind off and then pick up stitches all around. If you absolutely hate picking up stitches, then you can do a provisional CO and skip the BO, but it may not sit quite so well in use.
Q: Is it necessary to shape the base? I am having trouble getting the increases and decreases to look good in the Seed Stitch. Seed Stitch is a bit unforgiving and will unfortunately show up inconsistencies in your knitting. However if you work these increases and decreases firmly and close to the tips of the needles, then you should have no problems making these look good. The shaping again makes it easier to load the bags and for them to sit well at the check-out, but you can opt to work a rectangular base if you wish. You will not get such a smooth result with the pick-up as the base is a more angular shape, but if you are having problems with the increases/decreases then you might prefer that result.
Q: There are a lot of stitches to pick up at the base. Do you have any advice on how to organise these well? Start by folding the base piece first lengthwise and put a safety pin at each fold point. Now do the same widthwise. You will now have 4 pins marking the quarter points. In this bag pattern, you have to pick up and knit 165 sts, ie about 41 sts in each quarter with an extra one at the end. Start at the middle of one of the short sides of the bag and work until you get just around the corner and onto the long side. You should now have about 20 sts picked up. Adjust your rate of pick-up if you are very far from this number and by the time you get to the next pin you should be on track to have 41 sts in that section, 82 at the half-way point and so on.
The pick-up needs to be "crowded" to give a good amount of stitches without the need for further increasing in the main body of the bag. I use a 32"/80cm circular needle for the pick-up and use the "Magic Loop" technique until I have worked a few rows and can work without having to use this any more. I have written the pattern to advize starting with a shorter needle (24"/60cm) and then transferring to a longer one later. However, if you are happy to use the "Magic Loop" at the beginning, then you can avoid having to change needles.
Q: I am quite short. Can I change the length of the openwork panel so that the bags are shorter? Absolutely! These bags are a good size so that they will accommodate large items such as cereal packets. However, you might like to only work 3-4" of the lacy panel and have a shorter bag. Have a look also at the subsequent postings for other variations of this bag, so that you can see other sizes and styles of bags that you might wish to try.
Q: How much weight will the bags take?
They will carry about the same as a standard supermarket plastic bag without any difficulty. These particular BYOB bags are reasonably large so they can accomodate bulky items but I find they are still good with moderately heavy things in them when I carry them on my arm. When I head to the shops I take a couple of linen bags for the really heavy items, a few of these BYOB bags for all the bulky things and a few of the solid basketweave or Fibonacci bags for everything else. That seems a really good combination and avoids the need for all the plastic.
NB - ERRATA in the original BYOB pattern in Knitty:Sorry there was an error that crept in when the instructions were being changed into the Knitty house style. The correct instruction for the pick-up for the lower section should be:
“Using smaller sized circular needles in 24”/60cm length and starting from the mid-way point of one of the short sides on the base, pick-up and k165 sts in main color, then place marker to denote end of round. ”
In this photo, I have just worked the pick-up, placed my marker at the end of the row and then have worked the first few stitches in Rnd #1.
If you did not see this correction in time and are already part-way through your bag, then fret not. When you have completed the lace panel, break your yarn and start the top seed stitch section at the side of the bag. Just lay the bag down so far and mark the natural “side seam”. Start your seed stitch part there and all will be well!
If you are already beyond that point and about to add your handle, work a half-round extra to get to the side point, and then follow the instructions either from Knitty or from the original pattern here. The Knitty pattern has now been corrected, so these changes are only for people who downloaded their patterns early on before this was spotted.