If you would like to go back to the start of this series and review all the blogposts so far, then please click here for the first of these Tutorial/Knit-along posts and follow the links at the bottom of each page until you get back to this point.
In the last blogpost we were working the central openwork section of the bag and by now you should have arrived at the top band. So now is a good time to double-check the dimensions of your bag and make sure everything is right for you before adding the top band. I am just working a narrow band at the top of my bag, but see what you want to do and make sure your work is the right length at this point.
Then change back to your shorter-length needles as instructed in the pattern and work the top band, making any adjustments for your own gauge and stitch pattern as at the beginning.
So now it is time to add the handles. For this bag, I am going to work two long handles with a button overlap detail on each. So on the next row, we are going to work across the stitches, binding off the sections in-between the handles and leaving the handle stitches on three stitch holders ready to work later.
So go ahead and follow the pattern for the next round, making sure you do not cut your yarn at the end of the round. You will now be at the right point to start work on your handles. I have worked these over 11 stitches, but you can make them narrower or wider as you prefer.
Follow the pattern to commence the handle and you will see that the pattern gives a gentle shaping to form a small rounded "shoulder" from the top of the bag. This also strengthens this part of the handle too.
You will also see that the edges have a neat selvedge to either side. Please refer back to the post on selvedges for more information on this, and as always if you have a selvedge method that you prefer, then please substitute it for the one I have suggested here.
Then having decided on the width of the handle, you now need to decide on the length. Handle length is a very personal thing. Some people like very long handles so that their bags hang at hip-height, others much shorter. So measure an ideal bag that you currently own and see what works for you.
However, the longer the knitted handle the more it can stretch, so you might need to back your handle with cloth or a woven tape if you find that is an issue. Please have a look at the Weymouth Shoulder Bag pattern on my website as an example of a bag where I have added a fabric backing for extra strength. The material was fairly lightweight in that bag, but worked really well to make the handles less stretchy yet still remain nicely flexible.
I want my handles to be a total of 60cm/24 ins long with an overlap so I can add a button detail at one side. So I will make the first side of the handle 40cm/16 ins long plus a small amount for a button tab, and the second side 22.5cm/9 ins long. This will give me 2.5cm/1 in for an overlap to sew the two handles together.
So if you'd like to do this too, work your first handle to the length that you require and then follow the pattern to form a shaped button tab. Then work the second part of the strap as instructed. Position the button tab over the strap just worked, matching the markers and sew through all the layers to secure well before adding the button.
Other options: a) Single Handle
If you prefer to have a single handle on your bag, then you can modify the instructions above to work just one handle going from one side to the other. Again you can either leave this plain, or back it with cloth or a woven band for extra strength.
Or perhaps you would like to use a purchased handle of some kind. There are many available in the stores, or you could salvage an interesting handle from an old bag.
Alternatively, you could use woven webbing for the handles as in the Southampton Book Bag in the photo above. This design has a dyed canvas tote as a liner but I replaced the tote bag handles with longer cotton webbing straps so it could be carried as a shoulder bag.
A similar approach could be used with these Market Bags, attaching the straps to the base and then running them up to the top, sewing straight through the knitted fabric.
Or alternatively, a length of cord or rope in a matching or contrasting colour could be fixed at the base and then woven in and out through the openwork section for a decorative effect. Knot them at the top for an easy and strong set of handles.
Sew in all the remaining ends neatly on the inside of your bag making sure to secure them very well and then block into shape. And you're done! I will post one final blogpost in this series with a further suggestion and that is to add a lining to your BYOB Market Bag so you could use it as a day-bag too.
Thanks so much for the messages so far – I am glad you are enjoying making these bags. Make lots and give them to your friends too! The fewer plastic bags we all use the better.