Friday 1 April 2016

Knitting a Bento Bag

This year, I thought I'd knit my sister a bag for her birthday.  In my stash, there were still a couple of hundred grams of Texere wool, aran weight, dyed two shades of greenish brown with larch bark a few winters ago.  This previously knitted up good and durable and I pondered on knitting it double with a colour change, dk weight single yarn in a silk/wool mix which I bought in an online sale.  Of course, the price was too good to
be true.  Heaven knows what was done to that silk before it got spun, but it has no shine and comes apart with the slightest tug. Fancied a slipped stitch pattern, which ought to spread the load of a bag between rows, allowing me to knit the weak yarn alone, but adapting a bag pattern to take account of slip stitch repeats 
would involve more knitting maths than I really fancied. Browsing about online, the Tolt Folded Bag looked a brilliant concept, based on the Japanese Bento Bag, which has a tied top.  Any piece of fabric or knitting which is three times as long as it is wide can be folded to make a curious and  
pleasingly shaped bag with the absolute minimum of seams. Hard to get my head around, so I made one with a piece of paper and when the origami worked, I made a hippy beach bag out of a big scarf which happened to be three times as long as it was wide.  The third fold is a diagonal down across the centre square left to right.  The big scarf made a huge bag, hanging off the shoulder to below the hip.

Three folds do interesting things to stripes.  I knitted Triple L Tweed slip stitch, casting on 49 stitches and knitting two shades of the aran and the colour change wool/silk blend in turn, til the length looked about right.  I left it live on the needle cord while I folded the bottom and crocheted the first seam, finding the
Triple L pattern made it easy to match the edges correctly and also, that I would need a few more rows than I thought to make the other side match.  Having cast off, I put a line of double crochet round the whole of the open top, to firm and even up the exposed selvedge to match the length of the cast on and cast off edges. 
I rather like the Bento shape.  My companion, Elinor Gotland, had her doubts.
"Funny looking bag, Beaut.  You won't tie handles in that thick knitting."
"What do you think I am, daft? The Tolt Folded Bag pattern has a knitted handle and I am going to crochet one for mine."
"Bit low in the middle though.  Your sister won't thank you when all her stuff falls out."
"Luckily, the 28cm starting row width made a 37 x 37cm bag that fits an A4 file rather neatly, which is just the sort of thing Pip needs to carry about.  See how well it hangs up on the back of the door."
Which I then shut, firmly and ran downstairs, whistling loudly.


  1. What a fab idea
    I van see my stash being used up for something useful . maybe not wanted. .. But useful. ..:-)
    Love your blogs dropping in my inbox
    may long they last
    Ali x

    1. Thanks :) It's a good way to try out stitch patterns, only I had forgotten how slowly slipped stitches increase in length.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. Must be onto something, himself wants a big one to use for gym kit. Manly colours, of course.

  3. I've done this shape in fabric, not in knitting yet - would have to be a big one for me, because I only travel with giant sacks:) there should be no shortage of yarn candidated - even in "manly" colours (what are those? grey, black and dark blue???)

    1. I'll have to ask him what he really means - seeing his spring lycra cycle gear, you'd be forgiven for thinking pink and lime green are his favourites.

  4. Verde, gris, azul y blanco , o el color de preferencia de quién lo recibirá.