You know that old adage, “It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind?” Well, the same thing holds true for knitters (and crocheters!) We can find a project pattern we like, but then decide to adjust the finished size, the yarn type, or as in the case with today’s Sea Breeze Bag hack, completely change the gauge. With the help of a little math, the will to swatch, and by swapping out embellishments you’ll find that accessory patterns (which translate easier than garments, because fit isn’t as important) can often be used as a basic outline for your own interpretation of a project. This makes a few, core patterns and yarns in your personal library interchangeable resulting in a plethora of finished product possibilities! Let me explain.
Starting with a great pattern, like this bag designed by Bernat’s Svetlana Avrakh, examine the existing pattern for suggested materials. This bag required a worsted-weight cotton, and size 8 (5 mm) needles. I love the look of the original bag, but am really digging the “big knits” trend right now, and thought that the drop stitch pattern of the project would lend itself well to the rope-y look of a bulkier yarn. I also wanted my bag to be a bit larger than originally written (I have 3 kids, so on a trip to the pool our towels alone would fill-up the smaller version.) I decided on the approximate width I wanted (22″/55 cm), worked up a swatch in bulky yarn and, using my Takumi Bamboo needles, figured out how many stitches per inch/cm are achieved. I multiplied that number (which happened to be 2 sts per inch/5 cm ) by my desired measurement (22″/55 cm), and came up with an approximate, cast-on number (44 sts.) Lastly, I double-checked for repeats in the pattern, and noticed that the decreases at the end require multiples of 5. I rounded up to accommodate that, and came up with my actual cast-on amount (45 sts.)
From there all of my adjustments were purely aesthetic. I wanted the color of the lining to be visible from both the inside and outside of the bag, so I doubled it (see below.) I also love metallics, so opted for silver vinyl straps instead of twisted yarn. That’s really it. Just have fun, and know that just because instructions are written, that doesn’t mean they are done so in stone. Play a little. You may make some mistakes along the way, but you’ll probably learn something and might even discover a design feature that’s truly and uniquely YOU. Now, let’s get knitting!
Bag Hack Instructions
Approx 300 yds. durable, super bulky yarn (I used, Bernat Softee Chunky)
Size U.S. 11 (8mm), Takumi Bamboo Circular Needles (The cord helps hold the weight of the bulkier yarn!)
Super Jumbo Tapestry Needle
2, 32″/81.5 cm pieces, vinyl strapping
Sewing machine & coordinating thread
1 yd fabric
Craft paper & pen
Approx 22.5″/57 cm wide
Back and Front (make alike):
With MC, cast on 45 sts .
Knit 5 rows.
Proceed in Drop St Pat as follows:
1st-6th Rows: Knit.
7th row: *K1, wrapping yarn around needle 3 times. Rep from * to end of row. 8th row: *Knit, dropping extra loops. Rep from * to end of row.
These 8 rows form Drop St Pat. Cont in pat until work from beg measures approx 19” [48 cm], ending on a 7th row.
Next row: (Dec row). *[K5tog, dropping extra loops of each st], 6 times. –15 sts rem.
*NOTE: I found it was easier to sl the k sts to the RH needle, drop any wrapped sts off the LH needle, then k5tog (through the back loop) on the RH needle. Whatever gets the job done for you, though is great!
Using a tapestry needle and yarn, sew sides and bottom of Front and Back together.
Make lining (optional):
- Trace around bag onto craft paper, adding about a 1/2″/1 cm allowance; cut out.
- Cut 4, bag shapes out of fabric.
- With RS facing, and using approx 1/2″/1 cm seam allowance, seam together sides and bottom. Repeat for remaining two pieces.
- With RS facing, pin together and sew tops of both lining pieces together, leaving an opening for turning.
- Clip curved edges with scissors; press seams.
- Turn linings RS out, so one is inside the other; top seam around perimeter of lining, closing turning gap.
- Hand sew lining to bag.
Machine sew handle ends to top knit rows of Front bag, 5 1/2″/14 cm in from side seams. Repeat for Back piece.
You’re done! Now you have a bulky, go-to bag for all of your summer needs!
Yarn Arts Ambassador, Clover