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I recently went on a small bag binge (the binge was small, not the bags) and produced two violently coloured samples of knit bags with cables. One was a quick knit and the other had to suffer from my neglect for a while, but both came out fine. So I’m clubbing them together to present to you.

Brea bag

Here’s a very popular pattern.

Pattern: Brea by Norah Gaughan, free on the Berroco website (Rav link here). The sides went very quickly, as they start along the long edge and every other row is a decrease row. I almost confused myself with the moss stitch in the interstices, before realising it was double moss stitch. The gusset took a while longer, but the handle the longest. The pattern has you use a leather belt, but I didn’t have a suitable one. Although I got some D rings, the belt I had wouldn’t fit through and even if it did, how would I fasten it? After much agonising, I decided to do a knit handle, a simple 9-stitch cable from one of the Harmony Guides. That worked fine as far as it goes, but I think I shall have to unknit one or two repeats, as it has predictably stretched and I’m much happier with shoulder bags rather than long ones. Attaching the gusset to the sides was also difficult. I’m never happy making the horizontal knit match the vertical one. This one I managed with stitch markers, and starting and ending the seams at several places. Getting the lining to fit was another problem, as my cutting and sewing skills are absolutely zero. But it’s been finally done. My Rav project page is here.

Yarn: Woolcraft New Fashion Double Knitting, which a friend from the UK sent me, worked with two strands held together. Generic acrylic, I wouldn’t want it next to my skin.

Needles: 5.5mm

Time: The bag went by in a flash, the sewing up and lining took ages.

Size: 13″ x 7″

Extras: Loved the ingenuity of the side pattern, could have done without the separate gusset. I used 3 magnetic closures to close the top, my first time using the technology.

And here’s the second bag.


This one went on my Rav queue as soon as it entered the database, and I even cast on for it a few months ago. Then it went into hibernation, for reasons I discovered when I picked it up again to finish it.

Pattern: Quinn Cabled Bag by Yvonne Kao (Rav link here). It’s got plenty of cables, as you can see. Though there are some very interesting projects on Rav which modified it to work without the central panel or a different body. Those are on my favourites list, but obviously I haven’t got the ingenuity to make any such modifications. I’d made the top loop quickly enough, and then miraculously picked up stitches for the body without any undesired pleats. And then I took the needle tips off (I was using Denise circulars), placed the bag on stoppers and dumped it. As I discovered when I picked it up again, this wasn’t because of a problem with the pattern, but with my materials. The acrylic yarn on the Denise cables and the tight fit of the stitches on the needle made each row a struggle, not helped by the cables wanting to come off every time I tugged the stitches around. With a circular needle that has a thinner cable, you shouldn’t have a problem. There is a slight discrepancy between the top loop pattern as charted and the one that is shown in the pattern picture, but that isn’t something that makes a difference. It’s just a matter of whether the cables are crossing over or under. I bound off the body using a three needle bindoff, having no grafting ability to speak of. Also, I was in no mood to make 4×4 feet of 2-stitch I-cord, so I chose a slipped moss stitch pattern for the handle instead. It does curl a bit, but I’m ignoring that. Lining was mostly straightforward, as there was no gusset to worry about, but I had to think a bit to figure out how to attach the handle and sew the lining over it. I used a single magnetic closure, but I think I am going to add a zip so things don’t fall out. My Rav page here.

Yarn: Generic acrylic, the same that I swiped from Jaishree and made the Lambe bag with. I don’t know about wearables, but it’s good for bags, especially when held two stranded and worked at a slightly tighter gauge than usual. I still have two skeins left. Another bag perhaps.

Needles: 4mm. That at least was the size I ended the bag on, having forgotten completely what size I began with. Perhaps it was a different size, which might explain why the body seems to swell rather than remaining square. I think also that I am falling out of love with my resinous needles. Having the sizes all in one box is neat, but the cables are too thick.

Size: I haven’t measured it at all, but I should think about 13″ long and a few inches less wide. Whatever, the thing fits even my bulky sunglasses case and a book or a project quite nicely.

Time: The knitting itself didn’t take too long, but the effort of pushing the stitches round on the thick cable will stay with me for a while and made me push the project into hibernation for a few months. I think I actually thought that as the body went on, it would become easier, but it didn’t. Did I mention that I found the cable too thick?

Extra: The husband actually approves of this bag, which must make it unique among all my projects so far. It’s become my regular bag, which leaves the Brea free for me to give away perhaps. Let’s see.

I used iron-on interfacing for lining both these bags, a thicker version for Brea and a lighter one for Quinn. It does add structure to the bags, although it also adds time and effort to the cutting of the lining.

I haven’t got a third bag to show you, but a metaphoric bag went empty this morning when I got a cryptic email from a company I freelance for saying “Please don’t do any more edits.” Just that. You notice there are no specifics about whether they are talking about this day, this month or this life. So, it appears I have no career. Hence, only two bags full 😉

Oh, and I wanted to add, I tried a swatch with the small amount of stripey Sugar’n’Cream I’ve got left, and it wouldn’t work for the Ten Stitch Blanket. Let alone that these kitchen cottons don’t wash well, the colour lengths are too long. So that’s that. At least I seem to have inspired a few of my friends to add the pattern to their queues!

This particular pattern is very popular and I see that Ravelry alone has 647 projects made from it. My customisation was to make it a shoulder bag and add a knit thingummy.



Yarn: Acrylic that Yasmin sent me and I used for my Tunisian baby jacket a while ago. It’s squeaky and fuzzy, but works fine for a bag. Plus the colours go well together. I used up the pink completely, but have amounts of the white and purple left over.

Pattern: Haekelbeutel (PDF link, German also available), of course, by Inga Joana Mertens. The Rav page is here. Instead of making the 16 squares, I made 6 squares and 4 triangles, because it was fairly obvious that the number of rows I chose to make them would give me a huge sack and also, I was feeling too lazy to make so many of them. Since I had an even number of pieces and an odd number (3) of colours, I did my best to randomise the order of the colour changes, and then make two of each so the opposite sides of the bag would match. You could choose any square pattern, solid or not, as you wished, which is the beauty of this pattern. And the size of the square would determine how big your bag is. Nothing would stop you from knitting the squares, either. Although then it would be a Strickebeutel, I suppose. (Mine is just a Beutling, should have been a Beutchen).

Hook: 3.00mm

Size: About 13″ x 8″

Time: About 4 days to finish the bag and as many weeks months to actually line it. No, about 2 months to line it. Seriously, I’m terrified of sewing, whether by hand or machine.

Extra #1. I used the polka dot fabric from the dress I blogged about almost a month ago. Nobody could ever accuse me of having an eye for colour or taste. (Polka dots with stripes! In non-matching colours!) Luckily, my revulsion of feeling after the lining was done was not matched by everyone and I gave the bag away to the MIL who took a shine to it. I also made a tiny pouch for a cell phone with the leftover bits of fabric. More pics on either my Flickr page ( click through from that photo) or my Rav project page.

#2. Even with such a simple construction, I confused myself when crocheting the pieces together and had to frog once not to end up with an unidentifiable 3D object like one of those hyperbolic art pieces.

#3. My favourite part of the bag though is the two-colour thingummy I made at the top. Due entirely to my tight gauge with two yarns, the thingummy (is a technical term, I swear) drew in on itself, thus making an opening smaller than the actual bag body. Neat, what? I went around on a circular needle after picking up stitches around the top, knit in stockinette for as long as I wanted the thingummy to be high, then purled one row with a contrast colour, knit for the same number of rows again. Folded it over at the purl row (which forms a natural hinge) and knit the final row together with the back of the first row. Voila, a nice neat thingummy. Makes me proud, it does. The actual knitting involved knitting the stitches of one colour on one pass while slipping the stitches of the other colour, and then doing the reverse on the second pass. I must strand very tightly, hence the thing drew together to become smaller than it began its life. On the inside I just used the white and left the purple out. Perhaps I slipped stitches again…how did the inside end up as small as the outside? Maybe a different size needle. Hmm.

#4. The handle was a lengthwise chain followed by sort of tapestry crocheting (crocheting over the unused colour), attached to curtain rings with their hooks broken off and crocheted over.

That’s it, really. And I don’t even have to carry it around.

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