Friday, December 14, 2007

Knitternall Felted Tote

I needed something for my knitting - a bit girly and definitely noticeable. I love felted bags for this time of year. I decided a straightforward rectangular shape would work best, with minimal counting and shaping. The "plain jane" design gets its oomph from the rich purple and bright green wool and the simple flower accent. Here's the result, a free pattern for the "knitter in all" of us:

Knitternall Felted Tote
purple and proud of it!


Patons Classic Merino worsted weight wool

3 skeins in 210 Royal Purple

1 skein in 240 Leaf Green

1 skein in any shade pink you choose (I used a remnant of a Cascade 220 marled pink/salmon for the flower)

2 round plastic purse handles, 6" diameter

Size 10 ½ straight and circular needles Gauge: not essential to finished design Finished Dimensions: approximately 12 1/2" x 4" at base, 10 x 12 1/2" for body of bag, 6" diameter handles.

Note: yarn is held double for the base to increase stability. I used a single strand for the sides, but for added strength and an even larger tote you can continue doubling throughout. You'll need at least 2 more skeins of yarn if you double throughout.

On straight needles and holding two strands of purple together, cast on 60 stitches using long-tail method.

Knit 20 rows in garter stitch. (Note: some other knitters' completed projects have felted much narrower than my prototype. You may have to knit more rows to maximize the width of the base. You'll also have more stitches to pick up along the sides in the next step.)

With circular needles, pick up and knit 10 stitches along short side of base, 60 stitches along opposite long side of base, 10 stitches along other short side of base: 140 stitches in all.

Knit in the round until sides are approximately 18-20" from base.

Change to Leaf Green and bind off top of bag with I-Cord.

Finish base of bag by adding I-cord trim in Leaf Green.

(For instructions working with I-cord trims, there are many web-based tutorials, including one at


Holding a strand of Purple and a strand of Green together, single crochet yarn around each handle. This method creates a “seam” along the inside of the circles for added stability and dimension.

With straight needles, cast on six stitches in purple. Knit a flat piece in garter stitch approximately 12 inches in length. You will felt this piece, then cut it to attach the handles.


With pink wool and using straight needles, cast on 20 stitches.

Row 1: Purl

Row 2: Knit 1, K2tog, knit across to next to last stitch, K2tog, K1.

Row 3: Purl

Row 4: K1, K2tog, knit across to next to last stitch, K2tog, K1.

Continue this pattern until there are about 14 stitches on needles.

Bind off, leaving a 9” tail.

"Roll" strip into a coil, creating a rose shape. Thread tail into a tapestry needle and secure flower.

LEAF (make 2)

With green wool, cast on 4 stitches

Rows 1 – 3, knit across all stitches. 4 stitches

Row 4, K1, Kf&b, K2 = 5 stitches

Row 5, K1, kf&b, k1, kf&b, k1 =  7 stitches

Row 6, knit across = 7 stitches

Row 7, K1, Kf&b, K3, Kf&b, K1 = 9 stitches

Rows 8-16, knit across =  9 stitches

Row 17, K2tog, K6, K2tog = 7 stitches

Row 18, K2tog, K4, K2tog =  6 stitches

Row 19, K2tog, K3, K2tog = 5 stitches

Row 20, K2tog, K2 = 4 stitches

Rows 21, K2tog, K2 =  3 stitches

Row 22, K2tog, K1 = 1 stitch

Row 23, K2tog, pull yarn through loop to bind off.

Weave in ends.


Place all pieces into a zipped lingerie bag or pillow case. Felt in a top-loading washer at hottest water temperature. Check every ten minutes of wash cycle to assess felting. Wh

en you’re satisfied with the results, let wash continue through rinse and spin cycles.

Stretch and shape bag, rose, leaves, and handles, then air dry. Place main part of handbag upside down over a form. (I used two large cereal boxes wrapped in a plastic trash bag.)

Lay leaves and purple pieces flat to dry.


Cut purple strip into four equal sections of approximately 3” each. Wrap two around each handle and sew to main bag on the inside, just below the green icord trim (see photo).

Sew flower pieces onto main bag with purple or black thread held double. Be sure they are attached at multiple points for stability.

I like a very stable base in felted bags. For this one, I purchased a 12" x 3 1/2" piece of thin, unfinished wood (similar to balsa) at my

local crafts store. I sanded it, painted it a crisp gold, and let it dry. It inserts

neatly into the base of the tote, adding dimension and support.

Alternately, you can line your tote with a contrasting fabric.

Comments welcome! If you have any questions about the pattern or suggestions for writing the directions more clearly, please let me know. Thanks!


  1. I LOVE the bag! The flower is beautiful, too. You did a terrific job. Thank you for sharing!

  2. What a beautiful bag...thanks for sharing the pattern!

  3. Donna,

    I have just started knitting again. I LOVE THIS BAG!!! I have a question about the icord though. I went to the tutorial you mention but the instructions for knitting the icord aren't there. How many stitches for example? I also found a pattern for another bag that starts with a band of garter stitches at the top and in the final assembly is rolled down and stitched to the bag.........I might try that. Thank you for sharing!!!


  4. Hi, Dawn. I'm so glad you're trying this fun pattern. I've never tried rolling down the top - so I don't know if it'll be firm enough. I might try that some time!

    For the i-cord, I'll update the instructions so they're more detailed about the i-cord. Meanwhile, here is one technique from

    Knitting I-Cord:
    Using short double-pointed (DP) needles, cast on a small number of stitches, around 3 to 6.

    Knit all the stitches. Switch needles in your hands, so the needle with the stitches is in your left hand again. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle and pulling the yarn across the back of the stitches knit the row again. Continue this way, sliding and knitting, until the cord is the length you wish.

    Give the cord a tug to make the little carry across the back disappear, though there shouldn't be much of a carry if you're only knitting on 3 or 4 stitches.

    Attaching To The Edge Of A Finished Project As The I-Cord Is Knit :
    Knit across the I-cord to the last stitch, then knit the last stitch together with the first stitch of your project (sweater, jacket...). Pull the yarn across the back of the cord and slide the stitches to the other side of the DP needle as described above.

    I hope that helps!

  5. Love the bag, but have a question about the flower. If 20 are CO and two are deleted in every other row there will not be 15 stitches left on the needle--so how many stitches do I need before I bind off? Thanks.

  6. Talk about miscounting - eek! I was writing as I knitted and I must have decreased just one stitch on one row. No worries - it doesn't have to be precise - 15 or 14 at the bind-off point is fine. I'll correct the directions - thanks so much for helping me clarify!

  7. i know this sounds kinds of stupid, but how does one cast on when they plan on double knitting? i have to say i've never done it bfore. :(

  8. That's a great question - how to cast on holding 2 strands together. It feels a bit tricky at first, but all you do is cast on the normal way, but you're holding 2 strands of yarn together in your hand and grabbing 2 strands of yarn with each cast. Then, as you knit around, you're knitting into 2 strands for each knitted stitch. Try a swatch first - cast on 1 stitches holding 2 strands together, and just do straight garter stitching for 15-20 rows. Count each row. Even though you're knitting with two strands of yarn, you'll still have just 10 stitches in the swatch. It'll start feeling "right"!

  9. I tried making the rose but it turned out very small. It seems that 20 stitches are too few. Any suggestions?

  10. I'm so sorry! Felting is an inexact process - your smaller rose could be the result of anything from denser felting to a difference in gauge. You might want to try making it with two strands of wool held together throughout, or you can try the following links for another felted flower:

    Hope that works for you!


  11. Hi there-- this is my first felting project- i started knitting the base and i've knit 20 rows in garter stitch, but it barely measures 4 inches unfelted. I imagine when it is felted, it will shrink down quite a bit. Did i do something wrong ?? i'm using cascade220 wool.


  12. Hi, Lafayette Brownies! I'm so glad you're trying the tote. Are you holding two strands of the wool together for the base? That makes a huge difference in the total measurement. Plus, if you're a really tight knitter, you may have to go up a needle size. Felting reduces 100% worsted wool (NOT SUPERWASH!!) quite a bit, so it's good you're considering the dimensions now.

    The base affects the entire bag since you'll be knitting in the round, so this is the time to frog and try again.

    Though you're a new knitter, this is a fairly straitforward, "forgiving" project, so I'm sure you'll do fine. Don't hesitate to add stitches to your cast-on to get more length and more rows to add to the width.

    Good luck!

  13. hi. it's such an adorable bag that i'm knitting it but in black and white with a red rose. i'm almost finished knitting the base for the bag and i'm starting to wonder, "how do i pick up those extra 120 stitches?" can you share some insight? thanks.

  14. I love your color combination - that will look very striking. Picking up stitches can be tricky if your "seam" shows. With felting, it's way easier because everything tightens up during the finishing steps. There's a wonderful tutorial on picking up stitches at Check it out - the photos are really helpful!

  15. Thanks for the site! It's really helpful. :) But since it doesn't say specifically on the pattern, I was wondering is the sides and everything else is done in a double knit?

  16. Thanks for your suggestion - The instruction regarding doubling the yarn for the base base is kind of brief - that's a good point. The yarn is single for the sides. (Though if you want a really big/strong tote you can double throughout - you'll have to buy more yarn accordingly.) I'm amending it right now!

  17. This is my 1st felting project; I have a couple of questions. Please clarify attaching the green I-cord to the base. Is it to be knitted onto it as the I-cord is created, picking up stitches along the edge of the base? Or should the I-cord be knitted and then stitched on with embroidery floss? Also, should I knit the last row of the tote in green & then bind off w/green I-cord? THANKS for your help!

  18. I'm honored that this is your first! I hope you like the results. The i-cord is attached to the bag as you go, picking up stitches along the base and around the top. The green wool is in the i-cord alone - I knitted with the purple until the very "end" at the top.

    Also - err on the side of going "taller" with th bag than you think is realistic - it shortens quite a bit with felting : ).

    Good luck!

  19. I have made this bag 3 times and just love it!!!
    I too when knitting the base with 2 strands of yarn can not get anywhere near 4 inches and I am not astute enough to add more rows without an exact afraid the sides won't look good or will have to add more sticthes all the way around can you help please...having said all that it looks good the way it comes out now I would just like to see it wider.
    Thanks so much

  20. Isn't wool quirky? I, too, have made this bag several times and it always looks different! I'm delighted you like the pattern.

    If you want the base wider, I suggest adding double the amount of rows that you want it to felt down to. In other words, if 20 rows felts down to 4 inches for me but 2 inches for you, knit 40 rows for the base.

    I'm going to amend the pattern to reflect your input - it's very helpful!

  21. Hi,this is my first felting project...I am taking a class at the local library...I have not finished the bag yet..Started on the leaf and rows 17to 23 seem confusing...Row 20 states 24 stitches...where did they come from???Help>>>>

  22. Eek! Somehow the html code garbled the leaf instructions! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I've edited the post so that each leaf instruction row ends with the number of stitches.

    By the way - you can make your leaf larger or smaller by changing the cast-on row!

    Thanks for making the Felted Tote. I'd love to see the results : ).

  23. Sweet purse! Would like to try it as my first felting project. Just a quick Q: when it says to pick up 10 sts on the sides, do we pick up every other st? I ask b/c it says we knit 20 rows.

    Thanks for any help.

  24. Sweet purse! Would like to try it as my first felting project. Just a quick Q: when it says to pick up 10 sts on the sides, do we pick up every other st? I ask b/c it says we knit 20 rows.

    Thanks for any help.

  25. Picking every other stitch is fine - it's easiest to pick up the "bumps." Since the bag will be felted, you don't have to be precise : ).


  26. I'm a advanced beginner knitter, so can you tell me what length of circular 10 1/2 needles (my Christmas list is being made out). :>)

  27. For most projects, you want your circular needles to be shorter than the circumference of the project. Most of mine are between 20 and 32 inches. For this bag, I'd have a set between those lengths!

  28. Donna, this is just great! It's got everything going for it: utility and girlyness! I wanted to share my new discovery -- Peltex. It could be used for the bottom in place of the wood. I just finished a diaper bag (sewing) and used it to stabilize the base. Now to dig through the stash and start my posy tote! Thanks so much for sharing! Susan

  29. Brilliant! I will definitely check out Peltex. I love pass-along ideas : ).

  30. This is my all tme favorite purse and would like one in every color...but it takes so long for me to you think this bag would look just as awesome if it was done with double strand of yarn...if so can you tell me size needles etc and number of stitches???
    Thanks a million

  31. I really like the tote, and would like to make one myself -- I just started knitting after crocheting for many years (which I still love!). I might drill small holes in the balsa or other material at the 4 corners so I could stitch it in place at the bottom of the bag. Thanks for a great pattern that a beginner can make!

  32. when finishing bottom - do i bind off at the end of it and then pick up the ten to begin the sides????

  33. No, leave the stitches on the needles, then begin picking up the side stitches. You're working with circular needles at this point, so there's plenty of room for all the stitches. Then you begin knitting in the round.


  34. is it really necessary to purl? I hate purling. Sue

  35. I think you can choose garter stitch, though the texture will be different, even felted. The great thing about felting is that it's very "forgiving"!

  36. Thanks so much for sharing this with us all & making the pattern available. I was in search of a great little flower to add to my bags, & stumbled upon yours through Ravelry. It's exactly what I was looking for! So again thanks :)

  37. Hello - based on these questions, I'm several years late to the party. If it's not too late to ask, I'm wondering about felting the crochet around the plastic handles. It looks felted in the photos. Do you put the handles in the washer along with the other pieces?
    Thank you! Victoria


Thanks for sharing your thoughts - it's great to hear from you!