I paused in working on my Mythos sweater the past few days to whip up a Stow Away Shopping Bag by Oat Couture. It is by far my favorite market bag pattern and was well worth the pattern purchase, as I've made a dozen or so as gifts over the past two years. Not only does this bag expand exponentially when stuff is put inside, but when not in use, it can fold into itself like one of those parkas that you turn into the hood and snap in place. It's so cool and compact!
This time the bag is for Christine, a student and my neighbor across the street. She loves pink and purple, so off I went to Joann Fabrics last Saturday, to purchase some cotton yarn in those colors.
(Side note: I prefer to knit this pattern in cotton or linen. It just makes sense to knit a "tool" for organic living from organic fiber. I didn't always make that mental connection, so if you use Ravelry and check out some of the other market bags I've made, I used some synthetics and blended fibers. But now that I really thought about the whole purpose of these reusable bags, cotton or linen is all I use. Besides, it's good for these bags to be washable, too.)
So back to my original story, I purchased Lion Cotton in purple, and Sugar N Cream cotton in a variegated pink. I realized when I took it from the bag Sunday afternoon to start her bag that the Sugar N Cream said "Scents" on the label, because the yarn is scented like laundry sheets. Hmmm.... Novel, but a little strange. It wasn't a bad scent, but after knitting with it for an extended period of time, I got a bit tired of having that scent IN my nose all the time. I think I would pass on the "Scents" line in the future.
I decided to use the purple for the base/pocket, and the handles (which I made about 6 stitches larger than called for so Christine can put the bag over her shoulder if she wishes), and pink for the rest. But as I began the bag body, I felt rebellious and changed back to purple for a single 4-row pattern repeat, so there is now a stripe in the bag. I rather like it that way, and can imagine doing more 2-color bags in a similar fashion.
The bag itself always knits up rather quickly, which makes it the perfect project to grab when I'm feeling impatient (hahahaha) or recently unproductive. Three days after casting on, I have a bag! All that is left to do is attach the pink button to close the pocket, and tie off the yarn ends. I know it's often considered cheating, but I simply tie the loose ends into a knot (only on these market bags!). I wove in the ends on my first one, but within a dozen or so uses of the bag the ends were already slipping out (and I hadn't washed the bag yet). I don't want that to happen to someone who doesn't know what to do with ends. So I tie them; at least the recipient knows for certain that the bag won't unravel.