Welcome to Produce Bags, episode 73 of The Ordinary Knitter, the knitting podcast that’s (mostly) about the projects. Find it on iTunes or acast, or subscribe via the feed link on the right hand bar (https://www.theordinaryknitter.net/feed/podcast).
Ft cast ons:
Lately I’ve been dedicating myself to produce bags. I don’t skip from grocer to baker with my basket over my arm, I go to the supermarket like everyone else, but I do avoid plastic wrapping where feasible. This takes many forms and hasn’t come together overnight, but buying loose fruit and veg is an obvious step.
The problem I have is that I can’t carry six apples at once. I often end up dropping one, so to speak, then at the self-service tills if I have to put them on the bagging scale in two lots the till squawks at me because it thinks I’ve tried to sneak on an item I haven’t paid for. Produce bags are the answer.
I made one before, in February last year, but because it’s just the one and as I have about twenty shopping bags in the car boot I never have it to hand. I decided to make a few more, to use up aran odds and ends. It helps that gauge is (in my opinion) utterly unimportant for these projects, so you can use up what you have and tweak the pattern. I should make the distinction here between shopping bags and produce bags. I’m not making a bag to take round town to fill with purchases. These are just for holding loose fruit and veg together for containment purposes in your trolley and going through the till. Ideally they’re sufficiently light that you won’t be charged extra for your produce or upset the all-seeing bagging scale. The main distinction is in size and attachment of a handle.
Jackie’s Goodie Bag
My favourite pattern is Jackie’s Goodie Bag. The finished article is designed to have a handle but as that’s added at the end it’s easy to leave it out. This bag has a simple yarnover element for extra stretch and a seed stitch band at the top. It’s designed to be knitted top down, but! I used the supposedly foolproof method of knitting the seed stitch band rows flat then joining to knit in the round – the idea being it’s much easier to spot and prevent any twisting as you join, I still twisted the bloody thing so I made a change of tack. I decided instead to cast on with Judy’s magic cast-on, designed for sock toes. This gives you a seamless base to the bag. In progress it looks like a mitten, but as soon as you have produce in the bag it will flatten out. So I’ve done that, casting-on with half the required number of stitches and working alternate increase and knit rounds, exactly like a sock toe increase. I got up to the normal required number of cast on stitches and began the pattern at that point.
I made a small one a week or two ago, managing to join without twisting, using 5 ply and small needles – 3.5mm, something like that. It will be ideal for 10 or so mushrooms. That used up a bit more of the lake of lilac 5ply I bought in Aldi ages ago. I’m currently doing another in 10 ply, the lovely Lily Sugar’n Cream Twists that I bought to make a hat and sleep sack for my cousin’s baby last summer. There won’t be enough of it, so when it runs out I’ll move on to the Sirdar Cotton Rich Aran I bought to make Purl Soho’s Evening Shrug three years ago. The colours will go well together and are cheerful reddish shades and orange. This is the one I’ve started bottom up.
Tia Stanfield’s Reusable Produce Bag
I know Jackie’s Goodie Bag is a reliable pattern, but I thought I should try something else too, so I found Tia Stanfield’s Reusable Produce Bag. This has far more yarnover action and a longer repeat than Jackie’s Goodie bag – not one I can keep in my head this time – and it does up with a ribbon, which is probably straying slightly into twee territory for me and I’ll likely not actually do that.
It’s a pick-up and knit construction, with picking-up around a section you’ve knitted flat. I don’t usually rate my skills and pick-up-and-knit but this was a good practice project as it’s not going to bother the onions if the bag base is slightly lumpy. From the picking up you naturally knit in the round. I found I had extra stitches once or twice, probably because I was adding in a YO at the start or end of a round without noticing, and I dropped stiches here and there too and as I picked them up would have been skewing the stitch count. In the end this pattern is a little too involved for me, but it was interesting to try it. This isn’t to give a negative review in the slightest, it just doesn’t suit my style as well as Jackie’s Goodie Bag.
“Carpe Diem” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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