Knitting a Japanese Knot Bag with Square Bottom

japanese knot bag with square bottom

Some knitters have asked for a Japanese knot bag with square bottom after seeing my first knot bag pattern. It took me a while but here it is. The square bottom is knitted from the centre out. This bag is still knitted in the round.

A Japanese knot bag is a small roundish bag with two handles. In Japan, they are frequently made with recycled kimono fabric. The bag is carried with one handle over the other. This creates an interesting asymmetry and a neat closure that requires no extra accessories.

Supplies

  • 1.5 skein of 100g bulky yarn (wool or acrylic)
  • 1 set of 3.75mm / US 5 double-pointed knitting needles or a pair of circular knitting needles for knitting in the round. 3.75mm is smaller than the recommended size for the yarn. This is deliberate because I wanted to create a firmer and sturdier knitted fabric. Cable length recommended is 80 cm or 32 inches
  • 1 set of 3.75mm double pointed needles (optional)
  • Stitch markers

Gauge and Measurement

My gauge using 3.75mm needles and 9 WPI bulky yarn is 21 stitches / 28 rows = 10 cm /4 inches in stockinette stitch unblocked.

The body of the bag measures 6 inches (15cm) tall (not including handles). 4.6 inches (12cm) wide. Circumference of bag is 18.5 inches (47cm). Length of longer handle 5 inches (13cm). Length of shorter handle is 2.5 inches (6.5cm).

Techniques Used

1. Turkish Cast On

The traditional way to knit in the round is to cast on a number of stitches and then join them together. I find that extremely fiddly and prone to joining the wrong sides together.

I find it easier to use the Turkish cast on. It doesn’t require any complicated yarn wrapping. Just wind the yarn over 2 needles anti-clockwise and then knitting the loops. The centre stitches may not radiate out like the other techniques but it is neat enough.

2. Magic Loop Technique

I use the Magic loop technique to execute the Turkish Cast On.

I like using circular needles to knit so it is natural to pick the Magic loop technique. If you are new to magic loop, watch this video tutorial.

Double pointed needles (DPN) are equally good for the job. There are a couple of Youtube tutorials demonstrating how to do the Turkish cast on using DPNs. Search “Turkish cast on using DPNs”  

DPNs are quite good for knitting a square because the stitches can be distributed equally amongst 4 DPNs. Increases are done on the 1st and the last stitch on the needles. Less stitch counting to do.

3. KFB or KTBL

Increases can be done using any methods. I prefer Knit Front Back (KFB) or yarn over and then knitting into the back of the yarn over (KTBL) at the next round.

KFB will produce a more pronounced cross at the bottom of the bag. Yarn overs are added after the 1st stitch and before the last stitch.

4. Grafting

The handles are attached to the body using Kitchener grafting. I prefer to knit the Kitchener stitches rather than sewing them. I find this written tutorial https://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/05/easier-way-to-kitchener-stitch-also.html and the video tutorial below extremely helpful.

Square Bottom

Using the Turkish cast on method, cast on 8 stitches (4 stitches per needle).

Round 1: KFB across all stitches (16 stitches)
Round 2: Knit all

Place stitch markers after every 4 stitches to mark out 4 sections. Use a different marker for the beginning stitch.  

Round 3: KFB the first stitch, knit until last stitch left, KFB the last stitch, repeat for the other 3 sections.
Round 4: Knit all

Continue by repeating Round 3 and Round 4 until you have 96 stitches (24 stitches per section).

Body

Repeat Round 4 until the body measures 15 cm or 6 inches tall.

Handles

The handles are made up of a stockinette band with a garter stitch border.

Knot bag side view

As I want the handles to face the sides and not the corners of the bag, I need to reposition the 4 sections.

Knit 12 stitches, place stitch marker, count 24 stitches, place stitch marker. These 24 stitches form the first handle. Place all the rest of the stitches into a stitch holder or waste yarn (including the initial 12 stitches). They can be left on the circular needles too.    

For double pointed needles users, knit 12 stitches, shift the next 24 stitches onto the left needle to be worked on. The other stitches can be left on the DPNs or place them into a stitch holder.    

There are now 24 stitches on the needle. Knit these 24 stitches as follows:

Row 1: Knit across, turn the work

Row 2: K4, purl 16, K4

Repeat these 2 rows until the shorter handle measures 13 cm / 5 inches long.

Using the Kitchener stitch, graft these 24 stitches to the 24 stitches next to it.

Repeat the same process with the longer handle. This time knit until the handle measures 25 cm / 10 inches long. The length of the longer handle is adjustable. I have slim arms, so 10 inches is good enough to hang it on my arm. Just be aware that it does stretches a fair bit when loaded with items.

Once all stitches are grafted, weave in the loose ends.

The bag is basically done and usable.

Accessorising

The knot bag is a plain one. Accessorize and embellish. I may sew a bunch of colourful buttons to the body just like my Buttons Ahoy Knot Bag. I may buy some pretty iron-ons to sew onto the bag. I could also duplicate stitch some letters, flowers or shapes. Badges or pins is another possibility. 

Lining

Lining the bag is probably a good idea. But I have no idea how to line a square bag. If you do, do share.

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