Hi folks 🙂
I love using up left over bits of yarn. In the last year or so, I have made a few bags with my leftovers and I thought you’d like to know how I do it.
This is not a pattern for you to follow, rather, it is a of series of tips and ideas for you to get creative with. I have made each of my bags with no clear plan in mind and made them all up as I went along. The basic method is the same. Once you know the basics, you’ll be right to go make your own bags.
I also want to say that if you know me and my normal pedantic, perfectionist work, this post may surprise you as there is a lot of “it’s ok if it’s not perfect” stuff in here.
What do you need?
Yarn of practically any type. I use mainly cotton yarns in my crochet, so the majority of mine are cotton as that’s what my leftovers are.
However, you don’t have to use cotton. Any yarn will work just fine. I like the results mercerised cottons give. They are hardy and have great stitch definition. My first wonky bag was made with mercerised cotton and it’s seen a lot of use. It’s holding up just fine. No signs of wear at all.
I have also used acrylic yarns with no problem at all. For no particular reason, I tend to use acrylic yarns with several balls at once to create thick baskets using much the same method as the bags. I’ll cover that in another post very soon.
Use a hook size smaller than you normally would with your yarn. I usually use a 5 mm hook with 8 ply cotton, but when making bags, I use a 4 mm. It gives a denser, less lacy, sturdier fabric.
All my bags were made using solely single crochet (US)/double crochet(UK). No fancy stitches needed. That’s what I mean when I refer to stitches in the rest of this tute – sc/dc, depending on what terms you use.
You’ll need a solid base for your bags. Check out my crochet circle tute and make one in sc/dc to the size you want you bag to be.
You have a couple of options when it’s time to end the base and move on the to bag sides.
- You can choose to end the base colour and begin the bag sides with a new colour. If doing this, then I recommend ending with an invisible join.
- You can continue the base colour up the sides. If doing this then just continue with it with it.
The sides are the easy bit after all those increases on the base. There are no more increases and no decreases. Working a stitch into each stitch will magically create the tube like sides of your bag. Woohoo! No more counting! (unless you’re doing tapestry crochet lol …see below)
For a definite transition from base to sides, work your first round of the side in the back loop only of the final base round.
Options to end each Round
If you’re not changing colours, you can choose to end each round with a slip stitch and begin the next round with a ch 1 & then dc/sc in each stitch. This will lead to a diagonal line in your work.
If you are changing colours, you can start the new colours in a new place each round, in a random, odd looking spot like my first one – not something I’d do again LOL. This was before I’d learnt about the invisible join and standing stitches.
If you’re really keen on a seamless look, you could end each round with an invisible join and begin each new round with a standing dc/sc, crocheting over your ends as you go. I haven’t done this in any of my bags. I know someone who has though – the very clever Michelle of Poppy and Bliss fame. She has a full pattern for a stripy bag using this technique you can read here.– this is her pic
Personally, I work in a spiral, not finishing each round – I just keep going. Sure it leaves a visible spot up the side of your bag, but I think it is part of the look of a handmade piece and I find it a heck of a lot quicker and easier.
All you do if you’re changing colours, is finish the last stitch of your old colour with your new colour.
Handles are optional of course. If you want them though, here’s how to do it.
When you think your bag is big enough, lay it down flat with the joiny bit at one side if you have one, and decide how big you want the handles to be. Place markers in 4 places – 2 on each side of the bag where you’ll need to skip stitches. Make sure they are roughly even. Begin your round as normal and stop when you get to your first marker.
Make a length of chain a few stitches longer than the number you are skipping – remember this number! In this example, I skipped 18 sts and chained 21.
Continue you round as normal, re-joining your round where your second marker is and continue around to your next marker and make the same length chain, then finish your round.
To make the handles, work your round as normal and work a few more stitches than you chained into your chains. Eg if you chained 21, work 25 sts into the ch sp.
Then it’s a simple matter of continuing your rounds as before, working a single stitch into each stitch below.
When you are done, end with an invisible join and that is it.
Now you know the how, it’s a matter of the design.
The only limit is your imagination. Here are some ideas I have had
There are so many options with stripes.
You can alternate between the colours you have with the same number of rounds for each, or you can choose an accent colour to do thin lines between thicker other colours. You can do just 2 colours and work from a small number of rounds to a large number or vice versa. You could do a random stripe thickness. I’m sure you can come up with many more.
Try throwing in a spike stitch every now and then. For my spike stitch bag, I crocheted 3 rounds of each colour and in the first round I alternated between short spike stitches into the round below and long stitches into 2 rounds below. I didn’t count, I just placed them where I felt they fitted.
Add some texture by only working into the back loops.
Use the wonders of tapestry crochet to create your own designs. I made up my tapestry patterns as I went – I didn’t write them down. As a result, there is some unevenness in my patterns along the join as you can see – particularly the purple & yellow bands, but I don’t mind that at all. It happened because I didn’t try to make my patterns fit in my stitch count. There were sometimes not enough stitches and other times too many. Unusually for me, I let it go and went with it.
If you want your patterns to be even, you are going to have to be a bit careful about your stitch count. You’ll want a number divisible by a few different numbers so you have options with your patterns. This is determined by your base so that’s where you’ll need to be making the magic number you need.
Or you can try something like this, where I made a spiral stripe using the tapestry crochet technique.
Tapestry crochet is quite easy once you get how it works, but I am by no means an expert in it’s execution. I still consider myself a beginner. If you want some great tutorials, then I can thoroughly recommend these awesome ones : Poppy and Bliss’ Tapestry Crochet Coin Purse and Little Woollie’s Tapestry Crochet Harlequin Pattern. These ladies sure do know what they are doing!
So, are you going stash diving now? I hope so. If you have any questions, just ask away.
I’ll see you soon with a follow on post showing how I make baskets like this