Today, we are going to finish up our BYOB Market Bags and look at handle options — both knitted and purchased. If you would like to go back to the start of this series and review all the sections so far, then please click here for the start of these Tutorial/Knit-along posts and follow the links at the bottom of each posting.
In the last blogpost we were working the central openwork section of the bag and so by now you should have arrived at the top band. If you are working to the same dimensions as I am, then your bag should now measure 30cm/12 ins from the middle of the base to the current round of knitting.
So, change back to your shorter-length 4.0mm/US #6 ndls and then follow the pattern, making any adjustments for your own gauge and stitch pattern.
Then continue until the top band is the length you want it to be. I am going to make my bag 35cm/14 ins long, so I want the top band to be 5cm/2 ins deep.
Now it is time to add the handles. For this bag, I am going to work two long handles with a button overlap detail on each. So on the next row, we are going to work across the stitches, binding off the sections in-between the handles and leaving the handle stitches on three stitch holders ready to work later.
So go ahead and follow the pattern for the next round, making sure you do not cut your yarn at the end of the round. You will now be at the point marked by the red arrow in the diagram below, ready to work the first handle:
Working over these first 11 sts, follow the pattern to commence the handle. You will see that the pattern gives a gentle shaping to form a small rounded "shoulder" from the top of the bag.
You will also see that the edges have a neat selvedge to either side. See back to the post on selvedges for more information on this, and as always if you have a selvedge method that you prefer, then please substitute it for the one I have suggested here.
Length of Handles
Handle length is a very personal thing. Some people like very long handles so that their bags hang at hip-height, others much shorter. Measure an ideal bag that you currently own and see what works for you.
The longer the knitted handle though, the more it can stretch, so you might need to back your handle with cloth or a woven tape if you find that is an issue.
I want my handles to be a total of 60cm/24 ins long, and I am going to work them so that they overlap with an attached button detail at one side. So I will make the first side of the handle 40cm/16 ins long plus a small amount for a button tab, and the 2nd side 22.5cm/9 ins long. This will give me 2.5cm/1 in for an overlap to sew the two handles together.
I used some vintage-style buttons, from an original 1941 design. You may have something just right in your button box! The ones I used measure 22mm or 7/8 ins wide. You will need 2 buttons in total, 1 for each side.
So work your first handle to the length that you require and then follow the pattern to form a shaped decrease for the button tab at the end. Cut yarn and pull through the last stitch. Finish off neatly on the WS. This forms a nicely pointed button tab at the end.
Replace the 2nd set of 11 sts onto the ndls, join in a new yarn end and work this strap in the same way. Continue until this measures 20cm/8 ins or the length you require and then place a marker at either end of the row.
Work a further 2.5cm/1 in and BO all sts, leaving a long tail of about 50cm/0.5 yd for finishing the handle.
Position the button tab over the strap just worked, matching the markers. Sew around the button tab, bringing the yarn through all the layers to secure well.
Take the yarn end to the WS and loosely oversew the open edge of the under-handle. Thread the yarn through to where you would like the button to be and secure into position. Finish yarn end off. Then do the same for the 2nd handle on the other side.
Other options: a) Single Handle
f you prefer to have a single handle on your bag, then you can modify the instructions above to work just one handle going from one side to the other. Either leave it plain, or back it with cloth or a woven band for extra strength.
b) Linen or Rope Handles
Or perhaps you would like to use a purchased handle of some kind. There are many available in the stores, or you could salvage an interesting handle from an old bag.
Alternatively, you could use linen straps or rope handles. Have a look at the Falmer Book Bag and Southampton Book Bag patterns as examples. These are knitted bags using craft-store linen tote liners. I replaced the standard handles with longer straps so that they can be carried on the shoulder.
A similar approach could be used with these market bags, attaching the straps to the base and sewing straight through the knitted fabric.
Or a length of cord or rope in a matching or contrasting colour could be fixed at the base and then woven in and out through the openwork section for a decorative effect. Knot them at the top for an easy and strong set of handles.
Sew in all the remaining ends neatly on the inside of your bag making sure to secure them very well and then block into shape. And you're done!
I will post one final blogpost in this series with details of this BYOB Market Bag written up as a separate pattern so that you will have the instructions in one place. Thanks for the messages so far — I am glad you are enjoying making these bags.
Make lots and give them to your friends too! The fewer plastic bags we all use the better.
Last Blogpost: Market Bag Knit-along #6 - The Two-Row SSK.
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