(this post was originally published on 4 july, 2007, with the title "to market, to market, with a bag big enough to hold a fat pig".)
in which i come up with half a solution for half a problem.
during the summer, ella's preschool has water play day on fridays. the first friday, i packed ella's swimsuit and towel in a bag i had made on the blue knifty knitter long loom. her teacher loved it, and of course i tried to convince her that she could make one too but like most people miss jenny insists she is inept. so even though i KNOW she could make one herself, i went ahead and made one for both her teachers because ella is very concerned that miss jenny and miss sue won't have any way to carry their towels to the beach.
the half problem is in the bottom of the bag. i make the bottoms of bags in the exact same way the brims of hats are made--i knit a few rows then pull the bottom up and put it on pegs to continue knitting. however, if you do this the way the knifty knitter instructions tell you to do it, you will be putting the bars BETWEEN the stitches on pegs, which offsets the rows by half a stitch and causes the work to twist:
to solve this problem, i lift up the bars on BOTH sides of a stitch and put them on the peg together--thus keeping the stitches aligned as i continue in the round:
the reason this is only half a solution is that you will end up with one row that has a reverse in the stitch pattern but it is pretty inconspicuous in this situation and much more appealing that a bag that won't lay flat.
on the end pegs, make sure you twist the stitches, to keep them consistent with the rest.
ok, enough chit-chat, here's a very wordy description of how i make these bags:
i use 100% cotton, worsted weight yarn, ella picked out a very specific color pattern for miss jenny and miss sue. and being her father's child, she picked out an immortal-size ball of yarn that made 5 bags and three washcloths and still i have enough left over to knit half of another washcloth, or perhaps a bag to hold an apple. :)
using the blue knifty knitter long loom, i cast onto one side of the board, using only the odd number pegs and ignoring the end pegs. i wrap and knit 6 rows (counting the cast on row as row 1)--this gets the working yarn back to peg 1. then i lift up the bottom row and wrap it on the pegs of the opposite side of the loom, which will form the bottom of the bag.
from here on, i knit in the round 33 rows.
SIDEBAR THE FIRST: ok, here's the deal: i like the number 3--as ella reminds me everyday, three is a magic number. so i use it. you don't have to, if you prefer even, round numbers, then round up or down as you wish.
as you knit, the bag will look wrong--the loops on the ends will be HUGE and the looms in the middle will not be at all huge, and the ends of the bag will droop, and basically you will be thinking that this whole thing is a joke and that you are wasting your time. do not despair, it will be ok, i promise.
SIDEBAR THE NEXT: do NOT knit the bags until they look long enough. loom knitted things are always very drawn up while still on the loom. if you knit your bag until it looks long enough, when it is off the loom and full of stuff it will be long enough to hold a german shepherd.
to remove the bag from the loom, i will use a crochet hook and crochet into each loom stitch and also three chain stitches between loom stitches. i continue crocheting around the top of the bag three more times and then cut the yarn.
SIDEBAR THE LAST: it turns out i don't know how to crochet. :) i thought i was doing the single crochet stitch but then i saw someone on TV crocheting and she was doing something completely different, so i looked it up and found i had actually been doing the slip stitch. oh well, i like how it looks so i'm sticking with it. if you know how to crochet (gayle), then by all means use whatever stitch you like.
now, i work a little magic: i put my hands inside the bag, all the way to the bottom, then PULL my hands apart and stretch out the bag. TA-DA! all the stitches even out, the sides draw up, and the whole thing becomes very bag-like and glorious.
to make the straps, i start by crocheting directly thru the band--i don't like sewing yarn things together, i don't do it well and it never looks right to me and intuitively it doesn't seem sturdy enough for a bag such as this, so i just put my hook thru the band and start making stitches.
i make a strap 83 :) stitches long, crocheting it into the band on the other end, and then i go back and forth three times (doing the rowena single crochet AKA actual slip stitch), crocheting into the band on each pass, and then i cut the yarn and weave all the loose ends in, which i am proud to say i HAVE learned to do with a high degree of polish and thankfully no flare.
as i mentioned, i have made several of these bags, using each of the different long loom, putting different length straps on them, but the first ones i made were done using all the pegs, and those bags are super stretchy in length but not very stretchy across. i like the ones done on every other peg better, they are more like the pretty market bags that chic french women use to do their chic french shopping in their chic french markets.
and now that you, too, are addicted to making these bags, here's what else you can do with them: make a wide, shallow bag, put short loops on the ends and hang it on your child's wall as a toy hammock--make a wide, shallow bag with a loop on just one end, hang it in the bathtub to drip dry you child's bath toys--make a wide, very deep bag and hang it on the back of the passenger-side car seat to hold all the stuff that collects in cars--make a HUGE bag to hold laundry--make a tiny bag to hold, oh, i don't know--tiny stuff. like an apple.