9 Sept 2013

Market Bag Knit-along #4 - Stitches and Selvedges

Base for BYOB Market Bag knitting pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

We have now reached the point in the Market Bag Tutorial/Knit-along where we can actually start knitting our bag, a single-coloured variation of the BYOB 2.0 - Bring Your Own Bag Pattern. 

If you have missed any of the three preceding blogposts in this series which dealt with Pre-washing your yarn, Gauge, and Provisional Cast-On choices, then please click here to go to the first blogpost in the series.

Stitch Patterns

The Base and lower section of the BYOB 2.0 pattern features Seed Stitch, which is an easy-to-work pattern giving a firm finish and attractive texture. I have to say I love this stitch. It's one my favourite "Zen" stitch patterns, where it is possible to totally immerse myself in an audiobook or watch a movie while productively knitting away. 

Double Moss Stitch from Reversible Knitting Stitches by Moira Ravenscroft & Anna Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

However, you can choose any stitch pattern that you like as long as it is fairly firm. It is surprising how different you can make something look with only a small change such as this!

Have a look through some stitch guides at your local library or on-line and see if you'd like to use a different stitch pattern. For example, the photo above shows Double Moss Stitch from our book, Reversible Knitting Stitches. This would be a good alternative if you would like to select something different for your new bag.

You will need to work a tension swatch in the pattern of your choice and also make sure that you have the right number of repeats across the row. For Seed Stitch, for example, the repeat is 4 sts +1 for the pattern and then we need to add 2 Selvedge stitches (Selv), one at each side. 

So we could cast on 38 sts +1 for the pattern +2 Selv sts, for a total of 41 sts.

However, if your pattern has a repeat of 4 sts +2, then you would work: 
36 sts +2 for the pattern +2 Selv sts, for a total of 40 sts.


Selvedges for BYOB Market Bag knitting pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Selvedge Stitches [also spelt: Selvage] are worked at each side of the knitting to give a neat edge. In this project we are going to pick stitches up along this edge when we start on the main body of the bag. 

The instructions in the main BYOB 2.0 pattern use the "English Selvedge" which is to knit the first and last stitch on all Right Side rows, and then slip them on all Wrong Side rows. The slipped stitches are worked without twisting (ie slip as if to purl). 

This gives a neat series of slightly-elongated knit stitches on the edge of the fabric. When you are ready to pick up the stitches along this edge, it is easy to insert the knitting needle into the spaces between as the selvedge stitches are only worked on every-other-row. 

However, if you have your own favourite way of working a Selvedge, then you can substitute that. There are a number of different versions, and they are mostly interchangeable, so feel free to innovate!

How many stitches? 

In the BYOB 2.0 pattern the base is shaped into an oval. However, for this Tutorial/Knit-along, we are going to simplify things and just work a plain rectangular base. This will make the base slightly smaller than the original BYOB version, but for a market bag that should work well.

If you would like a larger or smaller base for your bag, then you will need to adjust the number of stitches to cast on. Compare the size we are working to the bags you looked at last time and work out if you need to make any changes.

... And so to the bag 

Although the base is worked flat, it is a good idea to use circular needles at this point as they will be needed once we start working up the side. Also, I suggest that you start with needles at least 80cm/32 ins long as we will need the extra length when we come to picking up the stitches (more on this next time). 

So, using the Provisional Cast-On method of your choice and Waste Yarn, follow the Cast-On as in the BYOB Market Bag pattern, making any adjustments for the number of stitches to be cast on and the needle size to suit your swatch and calculations.

Then work straight until the work measures 15cm/6 ins.

See you again once you have your base knitted!

Happy Knitting!



  1. Dear Moira,

    I am attempting to knit this market bag, but I'm already stuck on the instructions and was hoping you could help me. On the base portion, ROW 2. The instructions are given to Sl 1, [k1, p1] to last 2 sts, k1, Sl 1. What I do not understand is the last stitch. The last slip one stitch doesn't make sense to me because if I slipped the last stitch my yarn would not be at the end of the needle but at the second last stitch in. I have searched online how to do this, but most examples either purl or knit the last stitch and just slip it on the first stitch of every row. Any clarification on this step would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for your message. There are actual a number of ways to work a selvedge / selvage and they each give a slightly different result. Let me post a link here so you can see the Vogue Knitting entry about selvedges:


      I prefer the "English" method, where the first and last stitch are slipped. However, you will see that in the "French" version, the first stitch is slipped and the last stitch is worked. Then the "German" one has the first stitch worked and the last one slipped. I believe that is the one most commonly used in the States.

      Try a small sample with the different versions and see which one you prefer. In the case of the Market Bag it really doesn't matter which one you use, so long as you end up with a selvedge at both sides. So choose whichever works best for you!

      Best wishes,



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