15 Sept 2013

Market Bag Knit-along #5 - Picking up stitches

BYOB Market Bag knitting pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

So we come to the 5th blogpost in this tutorial/knit-along series, working a slightly simplified version of the BYOB 2.0 - Bring Your Own Bag pattern – and if you are new to the Blog: "Welcome!" 

Please find the first post in the series here, then follow the links forward to read all the rest of the posts. You can also find the completed BYOB Market Bag pattern here.

BYOB Market Bag knitting pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

Today, we are going to pick up the stitches around the base of our bags so that we can start working the sides. 

In the diagram above, we are currently at #1. The last wrong side row of the base has been worked, and a long-ish circular needle is ready to commence the pick-up. 

How many stitches to pick up? 

So the first thing we need to do is to calculate the number of stitches for the body of the bag. 

I want my bag to be 36cm/14.5 ins wide, so that is a circumference of 72cm/29 ins. At my gauge of 18 sts:10cm/4 ins this is 130.5 sts. I need an odd number of stitches to suit the Seed Stitch pattern I am using, so I will round that up to 131. 

You may need a different number of stitches if your gauge is different from mine, or if you are working a different size or using a different stitch pattern. And remember the old adage: 

"Your first piece of knitting is a large tension square!" 

I suppose we more typically say 'gauge swatch' these days rather than 'tension square', but the idea is the same. The gauge of your main piece of knitting can often vary considerably from your original small sample, so remeasure after a bit just to make sure you end up with the right size. 

Then be ready to make any necessary changes if they are needed, even if that means undoing a few rounds. Better to redo a small amount of work here than ending up with a bag which doesn't suit you.

Setting the new Start of Round position 

Work in Seed Stitch or your current stitch pattern until you get to the last two stitches of the row, knit into the front and then the back of the next stitch (kfb), then knit the last stitch. Now you're at position #2 on the diagram. 

This gives us an even number of stitches at the top edge. If you are using my numbers, you will now have 42 sts on the needle. 

Now fold the base in half with the cast-on edge up by the needles, and place a pin or safety pin at the half-way point of the first short side (#3 on the diagram). This will be the start of all subsequent rounds for the bag. 

Our trusty friend the crochet hook again...

BYOB Market Bag knitting pattern by Moira Ravenscroft, Wyndlestraw Designs

I like to use a crochet hook to pick up stitches, as I find it gives a neater finish. Just make sure to use a hook that has a thin solid shaft, not one that has a handle on it!

Insert the tip of the crochet hook into the space under the first selvedge stitch and draw a thread through, then continue to do the same until you get to your pin-mark. Place a marker for the start of the row and then continue to pick up stitches down the side, picking up one stitch for each selvedge stitch.

Count how many stitches you picked up as you will want to have the same number on the other side. I picked up 22 sts, and arranged these with 12 sts before the start of row marker and 10 sts afterwards, as I want to work with even numbers.

Slip these onto your knitting needle, making sure that the stitches are not twisted. 

Unzipping the Provisional Cast-On

Now pick up a spare needle and return to the Provisional Cast-On at the bottom. Open up the waste yarn (WY) chain and pull this very gently until the yarn end comes free (#4 on the diagram above, and previous post here.) Loop this yarn end over the needle and secure it behind with another safety pin. This is the first stitch.

Gently pull the provisional cast-on chain again and capture the first loop as it becomes detached from the WY. Work across in this way, one stitch at a time, until you have captured all the stitches on your spare needle. 

The next part of the pattern can be a little tight to work, so use the "Half Magic Loop" method to draw out a small section of circular needle cord just behind where you are working to make this easier. Then follow the remaining instructions for the "Transition Row" in the pattern. You should now have 129 sts if you are working to the pattern numbers.

Working the sides

So from my calculations above, I still need 2 more stitches to get to the number I require for my pattern and gauge and I will add these in the next round. 

If you are using my numbers, then go ahead and work Rnd 1 of the pattern to get to 131 sts.

See how your figures are working out and plan how many more stitches you need at this point, incorporating any increases / decreases near the corners of the base to be as invisible as possible.

And off we go! 

And then we're all set. So continue in your pattern until the lower band is the depth you want it to be. For my market bag I want to have a long central openwork section to give a nicely flexible bag able to accommodate awkwardly shaped vegetables at the farmers' market, so I have worked a slightly shorter Seed Stitch band as compared to the original BYOB 2.0 pattern. If you'd like to do the same, work 5cm/2 ins in Seed Stitch, or the stitch of your choice. 

By the way, you can switch to shorter length circular needles a short way into this band and then your knitting will go faster. 

Now, you will need a multiple of 5 stitches going into the openwork panel, so for my pattern I will work two stitches together at the end of the next round to give me 130 stitches. If you are working with other numbers, just make sure that you have a multiple of 5 stitches and then the openwork stitch pattern will work. 

When we come back next time we will work the central openwork pattern. I will also give you some hints on an SSK stitch method that will help work this decrease both more quickly and more neatly than the usual instructions. 

See you next time for this "Two Row SSK"!

Until then – Happy Knitting!


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