Handmade berry stitch knitted knitting bag with wooden handles

Berry Bag

Pattern:  Based on Knitting Needle Bag by Pam Allen (Interweave Knitting)
Yarn:  Rowan Classic Cashsoft Chunky (since discontinued) in Shiraz (711)
Needles:  7mm
Lining:  Plum cotton voile; pocket in cotton LillyBelle – Lacis in Spiceberry for Art Gallery

My knitting and crochet projects tend to follow me around in the plastic bags that the yarn was sold in, with a trail of needles, pattern, and other odds and ends. Some five or six years ago now, I earmarked this pattern to make myself a knitting bag; even buying the yarn in a sale and finding a beautiful pair of palmwood bag handles. Finally, then, this year I embarked upon this project for myself, so that my future projects shall have a more salubrious home – with plenty of space for yarn and notions, scissors and charts, all tidy together.

Construction Notes:

I found the berry stitch pleasant to work, particularly in this soft chunky yarn. A couple of knots in the yarn were disappointing, but otherwise I enjoyed working with it, and it knit up quickly into this basic bag.

I veered away from the pattern on the final row, binding off normally then hesitating for a while over how to finish the top of my bag. The original pattern glues the final row of live stitches onto large knitting needles, with soft garter stitch handles attached, but I was not taken with this aspect of the design. After some deliberation, I picked up some of the bound-off stitches on either edge of the side panels to create strips of stocking stitch that I gently tapered in from the sides, binding these off again then before attaching wooden handles with a tight whip stitch. The binding off and picking up does give me a ridge on the inside of the bag between the berry stitch section and stocking stitch ‘handles’ which I would eliminate if I knit this pattern again by continuing up into these pieces without binding off, but otherwise I would follow a similar method again as I like the finished shape.

With the shell complete, it was clear that this bag required lining, to prevent needles and hooks sticking out of the open weave of the knitted fabric and taking me unawares. I vacillated for some weeks over what form this should take; a single quilting cotton was unsuitable alone, as orientating the pattern to the inside would leave a pale reverse which would show through the knitting from the exterior. I then considered a double lining, with a suitable solid colour facing the outside to create a bag-within-a-bag of quilting cotton. Finally, I found this lovely silky soft cotton voile in plum, which is reversible so that both sides are identical in colour and texture. I still feared that it would be too delicate to take the pockets that I wanted to add, but eventually I decided to risk it.

Lining the bag was something of a challenge, given the tapering shape of the knitting, the gathering of this fabric onto the handles, and the side splits; but with a little swearing (!) and encouragement I managed to fashion something that I am quietly pleased with.

I love the deep wine-red colour, the texture of the berry stitch, soft silky lining and the lovely wooden handles, which are not the most practical (I am deliberately not thinking about the fun I will have removing and reattaching them should I need to wash the bag…) but are certainly things of beauty.

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