Have you been wondering how to knit a bag? Bags are great projects to knit because you can start wearing and using them right away, no matter what the season! Today, I’m sharing my review of a book of knit bag designs and techniques. My review also includes an excerpted knitting pattern for the Flower Basket bag and your chance to win a copy of the book, so read on for details!
This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Search Press North America provided with a free review copy of How To Knit Beautiful Bags: 22 Gorgeous Designs by Sian Brown. Although I accept free products for review, I do not accept additional compensation, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions.
At first glance, How To Knit Beautiful Bags: 22 Gorgeous Designs by Sian Brown seems to be an above average collection of knit bag patterns, but once you dive deep into it, you’ll realize that it is much more! This book is actually a guide to how to knit bags in general, and provides all the information you’ll need to make not just these 22 projects, but ANY knit bag into something beautiful, functional, and durable.
The book opens with a visual Table of Contents with a thumbnail of each of the projects in the book so it’s easy to find a favorite bag pattern again. The book then moves on to an Introduction from Sian where she explains why she loves to knit bags (because they are relatively quick projects where you can try out new techniques). She also explains that each bag in this book is both lined and has pockets. (Spoiler alert: Don’t be intimidated about the lining, because it’s all explained later.)
The next section, Materials and Tools, covers everything you’ll need to knit the bags in this book. Most of the items are standard supplies that most knitters would have available, but Sian also includes a sewing machine (for creating the lining and pockets), wadding (also known as batting in the States), interfacing, and handles.
The next sections include the bag patterns. The patterns are organized into Simple Bags (7 patterns), Summer Bags (4 patterns), Cablework (4 patterns), Evening (3 patterns), and Colourwork (4 patterns). Each pattern includes a short description, the skill level, a list of equipment with needle sizes and yarn listed using both UK and US terminology, measurements (in both metric and US customary units), tension/gauge, and finished size. Each pattern also includes at least one full-page photograph of the bag, usually shown being worn or hung so you can see how it drapes, and 2-4 additional pictures.
In terms of skill level, there are 7 beginner patterns, 1 beginner/intermediate pattern, 11 intermediate patterns, and 3 advanced patterns. The patterns are written in abbreviations, but 5 patterns also include color charts.
Techniques is the final, 20-page section. It includes information about
- Colorwork (including stranded/Fair Isle and intarsia),
- How to embellish your bag (with written and illustrated tutorials for appliqué; 5 types of embroidery stitches; attaching beads, sequins, and knit flowers; and making pom poms),
- Finishing methods (including blocking, weaving in ends, and backstitch and mattress stitch seams),
- Fastening your bag (with zippers, buttons, snaps, and magnetic closures),
- Adding lining using batting or interfacing (for less bulk), and
- Making braided cords and attaching handles.
The book concludes with a list of pattern abbreviations, a yarn “translation” chart from UK to US to Australian terms for yarn weights, and a list of the specific yarns listed in each pattern.
Overall, it’s a wonderful reference guide to making your knit bags beautiful, adding lining, and finishing with lovely details. The patterns are a lot of fun, but this is more than just a pattern book. Although the Technique section in How To Knit Beautiful Bags is substantial, it really focuses on the specific techniques for finishing knit bags. There is no “how to knit” information in this book, so it is best suited to intermediate knitters or adventurous advanced beginners. If you’d love to learn how to knit a bag for yourself or to gift or sell, then I highly recommend How To Knit Beautiful Bags!
Knitting Pattern by Sian Brown
Published in How To Knit Beautiful Bags: 22 Gorgeous Designs.
Text © Sian Brown 2018. Photographs and design © Search Press Ltd 2018. Shared with permission from Search Press North America.
With simple garter stitch handles and top, this design features an attractive, basket-weave pattern for the body of the bag. Topped off with a delicate flower in a complementary colour using lightweight, mohair yarn, add some matching seed beads for a bit of sparkle and shine.
Notes from Underground Crafter
- This pattern uses standard knitting pattern abbreviations. You can find a master list of abbreviations here.
- The specific yarns used for the sample were 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Mauve (A) and a small amount of Debbie Bliss Angel in Lilac (B).
- The skill level for this pattern is listed as beginner. Several tutorials that are included in the book are not available with the excerpt. The following online resources are helpful alternatives.
- Knitting Needles
- 4.5mm (UK 7, US 7)
- 4 balls of aran (10-ply/worsted) yarn in mauve (A); 50g/98yd/90m
- Small amount of 1–3-ply (lace weight) yarn in lilac (B); 25g/218yd/200m
- 16 lilac seed beads
- Magnetic closure
- Lining and wadding/batting: 36 x 29cm (14 x 11.5in)
- Lining for pocket: 18 x 33cm (7 x 13in)
- Interfacing for pocket: 15 x 15cm (6 x 6in)
- Tension (Gauge)
- 24 sts x 32 rows over 10 x 10cm (4 x 4in) in pattern
- Finished Size
- 33 x 26cm (13 x 10.25in) excluding handles
Front and Back (Make 2)
- With yarn A, cast on 63 sts.
- Row 1: knit.
- Row 2: purl.
- Row 3 (RS): k4, *p7, k5, rep from * to last 11 sts, p7, k4.
- Row 4: p4, *k7, p5, rep from * to last 11 sts, k7, p4.
- Row 5: knit.
- Row 6: purl.
- Row 7: as row 3.
- Row 8: as row 4.
- Row 9: knit.
- Row 10: purl.
- Row 11: p5, *k5, p7, rep from * to last 10 sts, k5, p5.
- Row 12: k5, *p5, k7, rep from * to last 10 sts, p5, k5.
- Row 13: knit.
- Row 14: purl.
- Row 15: as row 11.
- Row 16: as row 12.
- These 16 rows form the pattern. Repeat three more times, then work rows 1–8 once more.
- Work 30 rows knit.
- Cast off.
Handle (Make 2)
- With yarn A, cast on 8 sts. Knit until handle measures 40cm (15.75in).
- Cast off.
Flower (Make 5 Petals)
- Using yarn B held double, cast on 6 sts.
- Row 1: knit.
- Row 2: purl.
- Repeat these 2 rows three more times.
- Row 9: k2tog, k2, k2tog (4 sts).
- Row 10: purl.
- Row 11: k2tog twice (2 sts).
- Row 12: purl.
- Row 13: k2tog.
- Fasten off.
- Press the main pieces of the bag under a damp cloth. Pin the flower petals to one side of the bag with the cast-on edges at the centre and sew in place. Sew the beads in the centre of the flower. With right sides facing, pin and sew the bottom seam using backstitch. Then sew the side seams using mattress stitch. Turn over the top border to half the depth, and slip stitch it in place. Pin and sew the handles to the inside top of the bag. Follow the lining instructions below to make and fit the lining and pocket, and the instructions below to fit the magnetic closure.
- Lining is used to neaten the inside of the bags so that you do not see the back of the knitting. It also adds another layer, and gives the inside of the bags a splash of colour and print. Choose your own lining fabrics to personalise your bag.
Lining the bags
- Cut out the lining fabric and wadding/batting for the main bag, and lining fabric and interfacing for the pocket according to measurements given in each pattern (NB: if the print on the lining does not have a specific direction, cut in one piece and fold it at the centre. If it does, cut it in two pieces and sew them together with the seam at the bottom, keeping the print on the pocket going in the same direction as the lining).
- Pin the wadding/batting to the lining if it is being used. Fold over to the WS a 1.5cm (5/8 in) seam allowance at the top of one side of the bag and machine stitch in place.
- Fold the lining fabric for the pocket right sides together and press. It is neater to have the folded edge at the top of the pocket. If using iron-on interfacing, press this on now, with one edge against the fold. Sew one side and the top. Clip corner, turn pocket right side out and press again. Pin and sew the remaining seam.
- Pin the seam allowance on the open side. Pin and sew the pocket in place around the sides and bottom, a little below the top at the centre.
- Fit the magnetic closure now if you are adding one.
- Pin the lining pieces together around the sides and bottom and try inside the bag for fi t, pinning around the top to check. Make sure that it fits well and adjust if needed (it is better for the lining to be slightly smaller than the bag in depth and width to avoid it looking loose).
- Once the fit is adjusted, sew the side and bottom seams, RS facing.
- Place the lining inside the bag, referring to the making up instructions, and pin to the knitted piece, then hand sew it in place.
- Snap fasteners are a practical way to fasten pieces together and easy to open and close. Choose a sewing thread close to the colour of the knitted pieces, and use a fine sewing needle. Doubling up the thread will make sewing on quicker and more secure.
- Snap fasteners come in two sections: a ball and socket (see above). The ball at the centre of one section presses or snaps tightly into the socket at the centre of the other.
- Decide where the snap fastener is to be placed. Secure the thread at the back of the work. Bring the needle up through one of the holes, around the edge and into the back. Repeat this a few times for each hole until the snap fastener is secure (see above).
- For the second half of the fastener, position it to line up with the first half and repeat step 2.
Now that you’ve read my review of How To Knit Beautiful Bags: 22 Gorgeous Designs by Sian Brown and tried the Flower Basket bag pattern, I’m guessing you’re ready to get your hands on the book. Well, the nice folks at Search Press North America have set aside a copy for one lucky winner!
This giveaway is open to readers with mailing addresses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, or other parts of Europe, except where prohibited by law. Enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, July 25, 2019. One winner will be chosen at random from the entries submitted via the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will receive 1 copy of How To Knit Beautiful Bags: 22 Gorgeous Designs, courtesy of Search Press North America. Good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway