Baskets and bags

Here are posts related to crocheting baskets and bags:

SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2014


Sturdy Baskets to crochet

One popular project with simple single crochet is the Basket.  It usually goes something like this: Start at the center with a small chain ring.  Single crochet 1 round into the ring, then continue in a coil in single crochet, increasing as needed (it generally averages out to about 6 stitches per round) until the base is as big as you want.  Then stop increasing, but continue stitching until the basket is as tall as you want (or you run out of yarn).  Finish the top edge simply with a round of slip stitch to make it nip in a bit.  For a fancier top edge, consider a pattern stitch:  Ripple, or chevron, adds a fancy edge and nips in, too.  For stability or extra sturdiness, make it tall enough for the top to fold down.  For a basket that holds its shape, use a sturdy yarn (more like cotton or a tough acrylic), nothing soft like alpaca or any acrylic intended to be soft.  All very well and good. 

Some years back, I made a bunch of sturdy baskets, holding 4 strands of worsted weight acrylic and stitching with a size I (5.5mm) hook.  It felt good and sturdy, and made baskets that did not stretch out of shape.  I was going through a divorce at the time, my life was in turmoil, and I had a lot of emotional energy to channel through my hands.  It felt perfectly normal.

Now that my life is much calmer, I simply cannot work that tightly.  It hurts my hands.  But I still make sturdy baskets – with bag stitch.  Here are samples of the old and the new:


The single crochet versions have rows that go straight across - two blue baskets in back.  The bag stitch versions have rows that look more diagonal.  The big one in front is made out of Zpaghetti, from Lion Brand.  The 2nd from the left is upside-down, making it a teacozy.

In rows, the stitch looks like this:  Set-up row:  Ch2, turn.  *skip 1sc, sc in the next ch space.  ** Repeat from * to corner, working (sc1, ch1, sc1 in the corner space.  Then repeat from * to ** to the end of the row, ending with sc1 in the last stitch.
Pattern row:  Ch2, turn.  *Skip 1sc, sc into the sc of the row before last, enclosing the ch1 of the last row. ** Repeat from * to the next corner, working (sc1, ch1, sc1) in the middle of the corner turn.  

Here is a sample instruction for a triangle, made in the round (from a previous post):   Bag stitch Triangle.  Ch3, sl sto to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: (ch1, sc1 in ring) 6 times.  Place marker in last st to mark end of round.  Rnd 2:  continuing in a coil, (ch1, sc1 in next ch1 space) 6 times.  Do not move marker just yet.  Rnd 3: *Ch1, (sc, ch1, sc - 1 increase made) in sc below next ch. Ch1, sc in sc below next ch.  Repeat from * around - 3 increase points made.  Move marker from rnd 1 to last st made into that sc.  Rnd 4: ch1, (sc, ch, sc) into middle ch of increase in previous row, then (ch1, sc into sc below next ch) across the side to next increase point.  Repeat rnd 4 for pattern for desired size of cloth (4-6 inches across is a good size, but that is just a suggestion, moving the marker every 2nd round, when you stitch into the marked stitch.  Finish off with 2 slip stitches, cut yarn, remove marker, and tuck in loose ends.  

I will have samples at my booth next month.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2013


I love Bag Stitch!


Taken from a sampler I made earlier this year, here is a pouch I made using Bag Stitch

This is a sc/ch fabric where you sc into the sc of the row before last, enclosing the ch of the previous row.  You never sc into a ch, always into the sc of the row before last, always enclosing the ch. The chain stitch keeps the single crochet from stretching out of shape.

Blue and Red Bag Stitch pouch
Historically - to the extent that anything in crochet is historical - the most common way to make a basket or pouch is to work VERY TIGHTLY in single crochet, which can hurt your hand.  By switching to this pattern stitch, you can save your hand from the pain of working in such a tight gauge (to make a sturdy fabric), bump up the hook size to something reasonable, and still end up with a sturdy bag fabric that does not need to be lined (unless you really want to). As an example, the Blue and Red pouch is a recent project.  I used a double strand of #10 cotton and a size D/3.25mm hook, and started with a base chain of 50 stitches.  This is worked in the round, but the stitch works well in rows, too. Using more than one color gives the added bonus of a faux Fair Isle effect when switching yarn color from one row to the next.  Reading at the pouch from the bottom up, there was:
  • (2 rounds blue, 2 rounds red) 3 times, then 
  • 3 rounds blue, then 
  • (3 rounds, 1 round, 3 rounds) of red/blue, then blue/red, then red/blue in the middle, then
  • mirroring the beginning pattern of 2 rounds of each color, and
  • Bag Stitch Pouch with closure
  • topping off the pouch with alternating rounds of blue and red -- which ends up making vertical stripes.

That is a nice bit of color work, with each round using only one color - remarkably brainless for as fancy as it looks.  You can see the round beginning/end jog especially well in the top bit.

Once the flat envelope pouch was done, I added a zipper going in the opposite direction, added I-cord loop at the bottom of the zipper (top of the photo), and another I-cord at the top of the zipper, joined to the zipper pull (left side of the photo).  When the pouch is zipped closed, the long I-cord strand folds to slip through the smaller I-cord loop to cinch up the top and make a handle/strap -- a fairly classic pouch shape.  And there was nothing in the bag to make it hold its shape in this picture.

Here is a diagram of the stitch in rows.  Starting at the bottom left corner, the diagram shows a starting row of ch10, sc in 4th ch from hook.   Note the ch-2 turning chain for each row.

SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2014

Sturdy Baskets to crochet

One popular project with simple single crochet is the Basket.  It usually goes something like this: Start at the center with a small chain ring.  Single crochet 1 round into the ring, then continue in a coil in single crochet, increasing as needed (it generally averages out to about 6 stitches per round) until the base is as big as you want.  Then stop increasing, but continue stitching until the basket is as tall as you want (or you run out of yarn).  Finish the top edge simply with a round of slip stitch to make it nip in a bit.  For a fancier top edge, consider a pattern stitch:  Ripple, or chevron, adds a fancy edge and nips in, too.  For stability or extra sturdiness, make it tall enough for the top to fold down.  For a basket that holds its shape, use a sturdy yarn (more like cotton or a tough acrylic), nothing soft like alpaca or any acrylic intended to be soft.  All very well and good. 

Some years back, I made a bunch of sturdy baskets, holding 4 strands of worsted weight acrylic and stitching with a size I (5.5mm) hook.  It felt good and sturdy, and made baskets that did not stretch out of shape.  I was going through a divorce at the time, my life was in turmoil, and I had a lot of emotional energy to channel through my hands.  It felt perfectly normal.

Now that my life is much calmer, I simply cannot work that tightly.  It hurts my hands.  But I still make sturdy baskets – with bag stitch.  Here are samples of the old and the new:


The single crochet versions have rows that go straight across - two blue baskets in back.  The bag stitch versions have rows that look more diagonal.  The big one in front is made out of Zpaghetti, from Lion Brand.  The 2nd from the left is upside-down, making it a teacozy.

In rows, the stitch looks like this:  Set-up row:  Ch2, turn.  *skip 1sc, sc in the next ch space.  ** Repeat from * to corner, working (sc1, ch1, sc1 in the corner space.  Then repeat from * to ** to the end of the row, ending with sc1 in the last stitch.
Pattern row:  Ch2, turn.  *Skip 1sc, sc into the sc of the row before last, enclosing the ch1 of the last row. ** Repeat from * to the next corner, working (sc1, ch1, sc1) in the middle of the corner turn.  

Here is a sample instruction for a triangle, made in the round (from a previous post):   Bag stitch Triangle.  Ch3, sl sto to join in a ring.  Rnd 1: (ch1, sc1 in ring) 6 times.  Place marker in last st to mark end of round.  Rnd 2:  continuing in a coil, (ch1, sc1 in next ch1 space) 6 times.  Do not move marker just yet.  Rnd 3: *Ch1, (sc, ch1, sc - 1 increase made) in sc below next ch. Ch1, sc in sc below next ch.  Repeat from * around - 3 increase points made.  Move marker from rnd 1 to last st made into that sc.  Rnd 4: ch1, (sc, ch, sc) into middle ch of increase in previous row, then (ch1, sc into sc below next ch) across the side to next increase point.  Repeat rnd 4 for pattern for desired size of cloth (4-6 inches across is a good size, but that is just a suggestion, moving the marker every 2nd round, when you stitch into the marked stitch.  Finish off with 2 slip stitches, cut yarn, remove marker, and tuck in loose ends.  

I will have samples at my booth next month.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2013

I love Bag Stitch!


Taken from a sampler I made earlier this year, here is a pouch I made using Bag Stitch

This is a sc/ch fabric where you sc into the sc of the row before last, enclosing the ch of the previous row.  You never sc into a ch, always into the sc of the row before last, always enclosing the ch. The chain stitch keeps the single crochet from stretching out of shape.

Blue and Red Bag Stitch pouch
Historically - to the extent that anything in crochet is historical - the most common way to make a basket or pouch is to work VERY TIGHTLY in single crochet, which can hurt your hand.  By switching to this pattern stitch, you can save your hand from the pain of working in such a tight gauge (to make a sturdy fabric), bump up the hook size to something reasonable, and still end up with a sturdy bag fabric that does not need to be lined (unless you really want to). As an example, the Blue and Red pouch is a recent project.  I used a double strand of #10 cotton and a size D/3.25mm hook, and started with a base chain of 50 stitches.  This is worked in the round, but the stitch works well in rows, too. Using more than one color gives the added bonus of a faux Fair Isle effect when switching yarn color from one row to the next.  Reading at the pouch from the bottom up, there was:
  • (2 rounds blue, 2 rounds red) 3 times, then 
  • 3 rounds blue, then 
  • (3 rounds, 1 round, 3 rounds) of red/blue, then blue/red, then red/blue in the middle, then
  • mirroring the beginning pattern of 2 rounds of each color, and
  • Bag Stitch Pouch with closure
  • topping off the pouch with alternating rounds of blue and red -- which ends up making vertical stripes.

That is a nice bit of color work, with each round using only one color - remarkably brainless for as fancy as it looks.  You can see the round beginning/end jog especially well in the top bit.

Once the flat envelope pouch was done, I added a zipper going in the opposite direction, added I-cord loop at the bottom of the zipper (top of the photo), and another I-cord at the top of the zipper, joined to the zipper pull (left side of the photo).  When the pouch is zipped closed, the long I-cord strand folds to slip through the smaller I-cord loop to cinch up the top and make a handle/strap -- a fairly classic pouch shape.  And there was nothing in the bag to make it hold its shape in this picture.

Here is a diagram of the stitch in rows.  Starting at the bottom left corner, the diagram shows a starting row of ch10, sc in 4th ch from hook.   Note the ch-2 turning chain for each row.

It can be tricky to see the chain stitches in round 2 when you want to sc into the skipped foundation chain.  It is possible to start with a foundation row of (sc, ch1), but that needs thinking, too:  The sample picture below shows 12 patt sts across, then rotated, continued along the bottom back to the start (12 more patt sts), rotated again to continue in a coil, and making 7 patt sts in the new row working into the 'skipped ch' (which looks a lot like the body of a dc lying sideways in foundation stitch).
Sample of foundation bag stitch

Until you get the hang of seeing your stitches, it is easiest to start the pattern with a full row of single crochet.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2008

The Purse



Here are pictures of two versions of the Spot Purse:

The one on the right is a prototype after felting -- that is the one with the flower on the flap. It used two skeins of yarn and has only one flap that goes from the top of one side over the purse opening. The one on the left hasn't been felted yet. You have seen this one in process all along.

I will be felting this one this weekend to see how it turns out. They both look big in the pictures, but the felted one is about 10 inches wide, and the unfelted one is about 13 inches wide and about 9-1/2 inches deep -- it will be smaller after washing. By having a flap on both sides, I used a good part of a 3rd skein of yarn.

This is a good sized purse for me, and I really enjoyed the process and how it turned out.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2008

Wrapping up the Spot Purse

The last post about this purse described the gusset and handles. Here is a picture of how that turns out. The other end looks just the same.



Just before the handle starts, the edge has a corner (near where the yarn is wandering away). There are 4 of these corners.



The next step is to fold the whole thing in half so the handles are next to each other, and stitch the side seams from those corners down to the bottom edge.



The handles right now are flat. Slip stitch the long edges together to make a tube for each handle, and it felts nicely into a rounded handle.



I'll have pictures of the finished item in the next post, with any luck.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2007

Spot Purse





The purse started out as a simple octagon --

The points don't show well, but there are 8 of them.




I kept going in a coil, working 1 round with increases and 1 round plain -- that way the piece would lay flat. And it got bigger:





At this point, it measures almost 20 inches from side to side.


The next step is to fold and sew the center inside seam, so it would be a tube like this:









The next step is to fold the bottom part up and make the gussets/handles.


To stitch the gusset, single crochet along the fold on the right side edge from the top to the bottom. At the bottom of the fold, chain 60 or so stitches (about 20 inches) for a handle, and then single crochet along the fold on the left side edge from the bottom to the top. Then chain the same number of stitches for the other handle. That finishes one round.


Do 3 more rounds along this base, working in (sc1, dc1) along the gusset and single crochet along the handles.

Then fold the piece up and stitch the gussets closed and slip stitch along the handles to make them into tubes.

I also slip stitched both layers together where the center seam is -- this made small interior pockets.

The next step is to rejoin the yarn at one top edge and double crochet a long flap in just plain rows back and forth.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2007

Purse Design

So there's two skeins of worsted weight wool. I'm thinking about a size I crochet hook (5.5 mm).

One way to go is to make a rectangle for the outside, fold and sew it, and add pockets and straps. That sounds too boxy and too much sewing.

I'm more in the mood for making a big piece that I fold and stitch and then add gusset/straps in one fell swoop. The one big piece would be fairly mindless to stitch, so I could do it while walking my dog (he walks slowly and stops to sniff). Then the other parts wouldn't take much time at all.

So -- for the big piece. An Octagon would be fun. That's 8 sides, or increase points. Crochet lies flat at 6 increase points in single crochet or about 12 increase points in double crochet. This is great because I want to use crocheted seed stitch, increasing 16 stitches every two rounds.

Crocheted seed stitch: (sc, dc) across, then in the next row/round, sc into the dc and dc into the sc. I'll start in the center with (ch3, slip stitch to form a ring), then (ch1, sc1 into the ring) 8 times to start a coil in the next round. It makes a fabric that is more solid than double crochet and doesn't stretch out of shape like single crochet.

Now I need to get started!

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2007

Purse Crisis

This is serious.

A simple purse.

You'd think this would be fairly easy: All I need is a simple purse. Bigger than a wallet. Small enough to carry my essentials in a professional, ladylike way. Fits into my tote bag that carries the rest of my life support system (binder, project(s), cell phone charger, address book, and whatnot). Easy to get into and pull things out of. A couple of pockets for small stuff. Strap(s) long enough to go over my shoulder but short enough to carry in my hand. Secure closure so things don't fall out. Classic style in a black-ish color to go with everything. No bells and whistles that will be out of style in a few months. Oh, yeah, and not expensive.

Can't find it anywhere.

Well, I do have lots of yarn. Maybe I could whip up a little prototype in worsted weight, see how I like it -- then I could make a nicer one in a thinner yarn (takes longer to make). It would have to be felted so it wouldn't need a lining. I don't do linings. I have a couple of skeins of Galway in off-black just calling me from the shelf. That's a start.

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