A Japanese Knot Bag with a Neat Knot Closure | Knitting Pattern

japanese knot bag

Use this Japanese knot bag knitting pattern to make a small wristlet with an interesting closure requiring no additional accessories.

A 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.

In this knitting pattern, one shorter handle is positioned in front of the longer handle. It is then looped over the longer handle to form the closure. This bag is knitted in the round.

I have chosen to design one handle shorter than the other. I have also decided to position the shorter handle in front of the longer one. The idea is to loop the shorter handle over the longer one to act as closure in front of the bag. The usual position is side by side. It means no extra accessories for closure are required.

Finally, I have also used smaller-sized needles than was recommended for the yarn so that I get a firmer and sturdier knitted fabric.


1 skein of bulky wool yarn in a colour you like – The initial project was made with Knitpicks Wool of the Andes bulky yarn. But any bulky yarn, either wool or acrylic, is fine. Lion Brand’s Red heart comes to mind (https://amzn.to/3VqeJW9).

An assortment of buttons – I had wanted to use buttons I collected from old clothes over the years. However, the colours and designs are too dull. In the end, I bought a bag of colourful and cute buttons from a craft shop. I recently came across this uber cute bag of animal buttons on Amazon. For your consideration.


  • 3.5mm / US 4 knitting needles (double-pointed or circular needles)
  • A set of 3.5mm double-pointed needles.
  • Sewing needle and thread in matching colour
  • Stitch markers

Gauge and Measurement

My gauge using 3.5mm needles and 9 WPI bulky yarn is 20 stitches / 28 rows = 10 cm /4 inches in stockinette stitch unblocked.

The body of the bag measures 7 inch (18cm) wide by 7 inch tall (not including handles) unblocked.

Instructions for the body

Knitting in the Round

Cast on 72 stitches.

Bring the first stitch and the last stitch together. Place a marker between these 2 stitches. Join together and start knitting in the round by knitting the first stitch right after the last stitch

Knit in the round until the piece measures 18 cm / 7 inches. The body of the bag is basically a square. If the width of your bag is more than 18 cm, then knit till the height is the same as the width.

Japanese knot bag body knitted in the round
Finished body knitted in the round

Knitting Flat

Some knitters told me that they do not like knitting in the round and prefer knitting flat. Here is the instructions.

Cast on 72 stitches. (Tip: You may want to leave a long tail of yarn sufficient to seam the sides and the bottom later.)

Knit in stockinette stitch until you get a rectangle with a height that is half the width. Ideally, the piece should measure 7 inches by 14 inches. When you fold the piece in half, you should get a square.

Do not bind off. Transfer the live stitches to waste yarn or a circular needle so that you can fold it.

Fold the piece in half so that the 2 sides meet. Seam the two sides together using the mattress stitch.

Instructions for the Handles

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

Transfer the first 18 stitches onto a single double-pointed needle. Knit these 18 stitches as follows:

Row 1: K2, P2, K10, P2, K2, turn the work

Row 2: P1, K1, P1, K1, P10, K1, P1, K1, P1

Repeat these 2 rows until the handle measures 25 cm / 10 inches long.

Using the Kitchener stitch, graft these 18 stitches to the 18 stitches next to it. I highly recommend the knitting needle method by Techknitter. (https://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/05/easier-way-to-kitchener-stitch-also.html)

Japanese knot bag attaching the handle
Attaching the Handle to the Body Using the Kitchener Stitch

Once grafted, cut off the yarn and weave the ends into the bag neatly.

Repeat the same process with the shorter handle. This time knit until the handle measures 13 cm / 5 inches. Graft these 18 stitches to the remaining 18 stitches on your needles using the Kitchener stitch.

The finished handles will look like this:

japanese knot bag before seaming the bottom
Handles long and short

Sewing up the bottom of the Japanese knot bag

Position the bag so that the shorter handle is in front of the longer one. Using mattress stitch, sew up the bottom. If you are new to mattress stitch, watch this Youtube tutorial to learn how to do it.

japanese knot bag before seaming the bottom
Front view of the bag

Accessorizing the bag

The bag is a little plain, use anything on hand to accessorize the bag. I sew a bunch of buttons to the body to pimp it up.

Remember, sew the buttons or any other ornaments that you like onto the bag first before you line it because you want to hide all the threads and endings underneath the lining. Double stitching motifs onto the bag is also another way to embellish the bag.

Lining the bag

Line the bag so that it lasts longer. I lined both the handles and the body.

Find any fabric that you can recycle. You can buy new fabric, but I think an old T-shirt works just fine. Measure and cut the fabric with about 1 inch extra for folding in. Two narrow strips for the handles and a long rectangle for the body.

Position and pin the narrow strips to the inside of the handles right side facing up. Fold the 1-inch border in and slip stitch along all the sides.

Fold the fabric for the body in half right-side together. Mark out the 1-inch border and stitch up the side and bottom. You can use the sewing machine for this if you have one.

japanese knot bag lining the bag
Lining the bag of the Japanese knot bag

Turn it out so that the right side is facing out. Turn the knot bag wrong side out and slip the body lining over the bag. Fold the 1-inch border at the top down and pin along the top of the bag overlaying over the lining of the handle.

Slip stitch along the edge. Turn the bag out and adjust the lining. Insert the longer handle into the shorter handle to close the bag. And you are done!

Wanna Keep an Offline Copy of the Japanese Knot Bag Knitting Pattern?

Did you make this project? Share it with me by posting to my Magic of Hand Knitting Facebook Page or Ravelry.

Pictures of a knot bag I made using brown worsted weight yarn with duplicate stitching embellishments.

We have come to the end of this post. I hope you found what you are looking for. Let me know, okay?

Happy knitting

9 responses to “A Japanese Knot Bag with a Neat Knot Closure | Knitting Pattern”

  1. feebine Avatar

    Thank you for the patterns . That’s very kind. ♥

    1. Phoebe Avatar

      You are welcome. Let me know if you make this bag. 🙂

  2. Caroline Csak Avatar
    Caroline Csak

    Hi! I’m trying to knit this on straight needles but am not understanding the instructions. I wonder if you could clarify. Thanks

    1. Phoebe Avatar

      Hi Caroline, I have added more details to the instructions. Hope it helps.

  3. Judith Evans Avatar
    Judith Evans

    Thank you so much for sharing your pattern, really happy to find a flat knit pattern. My bag seems to be huge but I’m sticking with it 😅. Could you explain how I would do the straps with 144 stitches please?
    Thank you

    1. Phoebe Avatar

      My apologies, Judith. Your bag is big because I made a mistake. The cast on should still be 72 stitches.

      1. Judith Evans Avatar
        Judith Evans

        Really appreciate you replying. I abandoned my HUGE bag and started again. I should have realised myself. Up to the handles now so 🤞. Thank you

      2. Judith Evans Avatar
        Judith Evans

        I’ve just finished my bag and I love it, thank you! I made it to auction, for a dog charity I support, tempted to bid on it myself! I can’t work out how to share a photo though, sorry! Thank you

      3. Phoebe Avatar

        How nice! I hope it fetched a good price. 🙂

        Would really love to see the finished object.

        Do you use Ravelry.com? If yes, you can share the project pictures at Ravelry and I can link it to my design page.

        Or Facebook? My FB page is called Magic of Hand Knitting Facebook. The post link is https://bit.ly/44mrWSN. You can add the pictures under Comments. 🙂

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