As a mathematician, I wanted
to incorporate some numbers that have personal
importance into a project and see what would
happen. I simply cast on, stitched repeats of
some of my favorite numbers (in this case I
used multiples of 11), used simple increases
and decreases for shaping, and knit in the round
until my eyes and hands were satisfied. Then,
I strung simple crochet cords through the eyelets
created by the yarn over increases, and this
bag was born. I quickly took notes, knowing
that I wanted to create another one, this time
felted. I also wanted to use a color combination
I am fond of, as well as one of my favorite
yarns in the world (wool by Manos del Uruguay).
The first version I
made (out of Debbie Bliss merino dk that was
hand-dyed by my wife and children) was shaped
like a slender, delicate vase. The recipient
has used it as a purse, an ice pack holder for
a non-knitting related neck injury, and as an
"unruly yarn ball containment system".
The second attempt, featured
here, was knit using the same pattern but with
two strands of a bulkier yarn held together.
What a surprise to see that this version created
a pottery-style vessel more like examples from
the American Southwest. Even before it was felted,
the shape of the bag was markedly different
from the prototype.
The cords, which are optional,
can be merely decorative, or they can be used
as handles to carry the bag.
Feel free to change the yarn
choices and colors, of course. Make it lacy,
or stitch it tightly. Incorporate Fair Isle
stranded knitting to add color, or add repeats
of your favorite textural stitches. Leave it
loose or felt it in hot water. Substitute your
own favorite (or lucky) numbers for my numbers
in the pattern, and see what you get!
Stephen K. Hartley
Base - 16 inches
Mouth - 6.5 inches
Height - 16 inches
Cords - approx. 45 inches
Base - 10 inches
Mouth - 4 inches
Height - 7 inches
Cords - approx. 30 inches
Manos del Uruguay (100% wool; 138 yd/126 m per
[MC] Color: #03 Lavender; 2 skeins*
[CC] Color: G Coffee; 2 skeins *
*I only used a little of the second skein of
each color. Some knitters may only need one
1 set US #15/10mm double-point needle
1 16-inch US #15/10mm circular needle (optional)
US K/7mm crochet hook
Large stitch marker (Note: If you don't
have a stitch marker large enough to fit the
large needles used for this project, make one
by tying a piece of waste yarn into a ring.)
rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch before
For once, gauge is not important.
If you are not going to felt the bag, you may
wish to use a smaller needle and knit at a tighter
gauge. For a loose bag, use a larger needle.
Swatch and experiment; felt the swatch if you
intend to felt the bag.
[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations
can be found here]
Note: Bag is
worked from top down.
Using one strand each of
MC and CC held together, CO 33 sts onto double-point
needles. Distribute sts evenly between needles,
place marker and join to begin working in
the round, being careful not to twist.
K 11 rounds.
Next Round: [K3, yo] to end. 44 sts.
K 3 rounds.
Next Round: [K2,
yo] around. 66 sts. (If desired, begin working
with circular needle at this point.)
K 7 rounds.
Next Round: [K5,
kfb] around. 77 sts.
K 22 rounds.
Next Round: P1,
[k2, p2] around.
Repeat this round twice more.
If working on circular needle,
switch back to double-point needles on next
Next Round: P1, [k2tog] to last st.
39 sts rem.
K 1 round.
Next Round: [K1,
k2tog] around. 26 sts rem.
K 1 round.
Next Round: [K2tog]
around. 13 sts rem. Remove marker.
Continue to k2tog around until 1 st rem. Break
yarn and draw through last st; pull tight.
Using 2 strands MC and 1 strand CC, work 2
crochet chains, each 111 sts long. Knot ends,
leaving 3-inch tails.
[Note: If you have not wound
the yarn into a center-pull ball, you may
wish to cut pieces of MC before working the
cords. Each piece should be 5 yds long.]
Weave in ends.
Weave each cord through one half of the top
row of eyelets, so that the cords meet on each
Felt the entire piece. I put mine inside of
a zippered pillowcase in a small load on the
HOT setting with a pair of jeans and two tennis
balls for agitation, along with about a teaspoon
of gentle liquid soap. Agitate for 5-10 minutes
at a time until the bag achieves a size and
texture that you like. Rinse all soap out in
a sink with cold running water, roll bag in
towels to remove excess moisture, and manipulate
it into desired shape. Let dry.
K. Hartley is a mathematician, a fine art photographer,
and an obsessive knitter living in the hot,
hot, hot Phoenix desert. He learned to knit
in December 2004 with minimal prodding from
his young daughters and his wife, who were already
voracious knitters. After a quick purling lesson
from the seven-year-old, he started designing
his own pieces, many of which incorporate photographic
images and words written by his wife, writer
Catherine J. Hall.
You can see the work of the
entire Hall Hartley clan at their
on-line studio. You can also read about
what they've made today under the site's blog
section. Stephen reminds you to be bold and
to learn for yourself how knitting can highlight
other aspects of your life. That can result
in new ways of looking at both.