In an effort to rid our lives of plastic shopping bags — I can’t think of any aspect of consumer life in America that makes me feel more wretched on a weekly basis — I’m going to try out several knitted market bag patterns. I’m starting with the Everlasting Bagstopper from the current issue of Knitty (it was one of the bonus extra patterns, and what great timing).
The marvelous Amy Singer designed it in organically-grown hemp — no environmental impact. But after querying a fellow Raveller who knitted the pattern in the designated yarn, I decided not to hold out for the optimal materials. My second choice was organic or recycled yarn from my LYS, but when I visited last weekend, there was none in stock. So on to the third string: dishcloth cotton. Economical to a fault.
I had a much more enjoyable experience knitting the garter-stitch bottom in too-small needles than I expected. Can you believe that this is my first garter stitch since my wretched first practice swatches? I had thought of garter stitch as boring, but my spring-green bag bottom was beautiful! (You can just see it peeking out in the photo.)
But when it came to picking up stitches around the side of the flat-knitted bottom, I struggled. First with the cable length: The pattern calls for 24″ circs, but when I looked at the length of my KnitPicks Options U.S. 5 needle tips attached to the cables for 24-inch needles, I was confused. The length was virtually identical to my Boye Interchangeable needles with a 16″ cable attached. So thinking I needed a longer cable, I attached the Options cables for 32″ needles and slipped them around the rectangle. No dice — the circ was now far too long to stretch the knitting around. So I went back to the 24″ circs, finally realizing that the cable was about 16″ in order to make the total needle length 24″ (the needle tips are 4″ long each). For the Boye Interchangeable U.S. 11 needles to which I switched for the lace mesh, I had bought 21″ cables hoping that they would be long enough, but they made the total needle length too long — in this case, the cable wasn’t for a 21″ needle, but was simply 21 inches long. Back to the 16″ cable I went. Why these things can’t be standardized, I don’t quite understand.
And on top of that, I just had more trouble picking up the stitches than I have had in the past, related to bending the needles around those corners to get to the stitches. I didn’t recheck any instructions on how to pick up stitches before diving in, so I probably did it the hard way, or maybe just the wrong way. The next few rows knit around the bottom of the bag continued to be difficult. I need to check with some veterans of the pattern to see if they have any tips for getting into the round more smoothly.
The lace is going fast, when I get a chance to knit it, which I haven’t for the past two nights. Not sure yet what my plan is when I get to the top — I have the choice to attach fabric handles or make knitted handles. Stay tuned.