String Market Bag Knitting Pattern

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For some time I’d been wanting to try my hand at knitting a string shopping bag that would look like the french market bags but then never seemed to get around to it. There always seemed to be other craft projects that took priority. But then came the stay-at-home orders and suddenly I found myself looking for ways to keep busy at home. And whenever I start looking for something to fill my time, knitting starts happening! And that’s how at long last I finally began my knitted market bag project.

Of course the irony was not lost on me that during a time when I could go nowhere, I decided to knit a shopping bag. I told myself I was looking forward to better times ahead. ๐Ÿ™‚

Knit string bags hanging on a chair

Many elements of this knit string bag are also based on the fact that during my first attempt at this pattern, I limited myself to using supplies I already had at home and was not purchasing anything new. But ultimately, all these things turned out to be features I liked such as:

  • I had no fancy yarn in my stash, just the ordinary Sugar ‘N Cream cotton yarn, but it made a nice weight bag that was colorful too – and I liked it!
  • I didn’t have enough of any one color to make a complete bag in a larger size so I made a slightly smaller bag with a contrasting color top and bottom – and I liked it!
  • The only needles I had in all three types I needed (circular, double pointed, and straight) was size 6 which made for a tighter knit bag but it still had some stretch – and I liked it!

All these elements played into the final pattern that I’m sharing here today. I made a few tweaks and refinements along the way (for instance I’m now using size 7 needles) but most of the inspiration from my first attempts while staying busy at home knitting these bags has remained in the pattern.

knit string bags made with cotton yarn

How To Knit A Mesh String Bag

To begin these knit string bags, I select two cotton yarns – a variegated yarn and a complimentary plain color yarn. You’ll only need about 1 ounce of the plain color. For the variegated color I use a 2 oz size ball and then use up the entire ball for the body of the bag.

The color combinations shown below are all examples of how I used a Sugar ‘N Cream variegated (or ombre) color yarn with a Sugar ‘N Cream solid color yarn.

More specifically, my finished bags were made using:

Coral Seas Ombre + Tea Rose
Earth Ombre + Jute
Emerald Isle + Soft Ecru
Key Lime Pie + White

And if you find a variegated color you like and it’s in the larger 3 oz ball, no worries! Just knit for about 48 rows, or until the mesh portion measures about 7″ and it’s all good.

To begin the knitting of the string bag you’ll be casting on using circular needles in the 16″ length and knitting in the round to create a seamless piece for the body of the bag. The bag features an easy rolled rim, with an increase row before starting the body of the bag to help give the bag a little more width. The increase row uses the simple “knit-front-and back” type of increase.

A knit string bag with a rolled brim and a garter stitch handle

The mesh portion of the bag is a simple two row repeat that utilizes a yarn over to create the mesh pattern. You will need some kind of a stitch marker so you know when you’ve completed a round. I also like to use my knitting needle point protectors when I set my work down to keep any stitches from slipping off.

And even though I avoid double pointed needles as much as possible, they’re really the best way to have a smooth finish to the bottom of the bag. It was only for the last three rounds so I told myself to quit complaining and just use them. ๐Ÿ™‚

how to knit a mesh market bag

However if you’re a beginner, you could also skip those last three rows on the DP’s, and just proceed on to gather the remaining 30 stitches off the needle and tighten to close the hole, taking a few extra stitches if necessary. I tried this method too and it works, however the bottom looks a little more bunchy.

Finally you’ll finish up by making a handle that’s just a small strip of garter stitch where you knit every row. I use a separate pair of straight needles to do this, but you could also just use your circulars and knit back and forth instead of joining, or you could use a couple of your DP’s to knit back and forth and accomplish this too. The finished handle is then sewn to the sides of the bag.

Knitting pattern for a mesh string market bag

Enjoy Your New Knit Shopping Bag!

Even though the bag might look a little small when you’re done, I’ve found that it expands out very nicely and can hold more than you think. The mesh is stretchy but the holes are small enough to keep things safely in the bag too.

Knit string market bag

Have fun deciding what colors you’ll use, and whenever we all start going out and about a little bit more again, we’ll be ready with our colorful bags!

String Market Bag Knitting Pattern

This stretchy bag knits up quickly and will come in handy for quick shopping trips to the market or for any time you need to carry a few things along with you.
Knitting abbreviations:
K = Knit | K2 tog = Knit 2 together | YO = Yarn Over
KFB = Increase by knitting into the front and back of a stitch
Author: Beverly

Equipment:

  • Size 7 Circular Needles (18")
  • Size 7 Double Pointed Needles
  • Size 7 Straight Needles (optional for handle)
  • Stitch Marker
  • Blunt Large Eye Needle
  • 2 oz Ball of Sugar 'N Cream Cotton Yarn in a variegated color
  • 1 oz of Sugar 'N Cream Cotton Yarn in a complimentary solid color

Instructions:

  • Cast On
    Using the circular needles and the solid color yarn, cast on 60 stitches.
    Place a marker and join to begin knitting in the round, being careful not to twist the stitches.
  • Bag Rim:
    Rounds 1 – 6: Knit
    Round 7: { K2, KFB } across round (80 sts)
    Round 8: Knit
    Break off the solid color yarn and attach the variegated yarn.
  • Begin Mesh Pattern using the variegated yarn:
    Round 1: { YO, K2 tog } across round
    Round 2: Knit
    Repeat these two pattern rows until you have used up the 2 oz ball of variegated yarn, ending with a Round 2 row. This should be about 48 rows, and the mesh portion should measure about 7".
    Break off the variegated yarn and attach the solid color yarn.
  • Bag Bottom using the solid yarn:
    Round 1: Knit
    Round 2: { K6, K2 tog } around (70 sts)
    Round 3: Knit
    Round 4: { K5, K2 tog} around (60 sts)
    Round 5: Knit
    Round 6: { K4, K2 tog } around (50 sts)
    Round 7: Knit
    Round 8: { K3, K2 tog } around (40 sts)
    Round 9: Knit
    Round 10: { K2, K2 tog } around (30 sts)
    Round 11: Knit
    Change to double pointed needles, placing 12 stitches on one needle, 9 stitches on another needle, and 9 stitches on another needle.
    Round 12: { K1, K2 tog } around (20 sts)
    Round 13: Knit
    Round 14: { K2 tog} around (10 sts)
    Cut yarn leaving a long tail. Thread yarn through a large eye blunt needle and then draw through the remaining stitches, removing them from the needles. Pull tight and take any additional stitches necessary to close the hole. Tie a knot, and weave in the end.
  • Bag Handle:
    ( The handle can be knit on the straight needles, or by working back and forth on two DP needles or the circular needles),
    Using the solid color yarn, Cast on 7 stitches. Work in garter stitch (knit every row) until piece measures 16". Bind off. Sew the ends of the handle to opposite sides of the bag.

Notes:

Optional Bag Bottom:ย  If you are a beginner knitter and do not want to use the double pointed needles for the last three rows, an alternate method for the bottom is to stop at row 11 and just proceed on to finish the bag using the instructions to gather the remaining stitches and pulling to close the hole (however the bottom of the bag may look just a little bunchier).

More Knitting Projects To Try:

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5 Comments

  1. I, too, knit the market bag and love it. It was a fun project! I’d like to make another, but bigger. Not sure how many stitches to cast on and then increase. Suggestions, please.

  2. I made the string market bag and love it. I would like to make a bigger one. Not sure how. Wider and longer. could you get back to me please

    1. After playing around with the math, I’m quite sure that casting on in any number that is a multiple of 3 will work with this pattern. So perhaps you could try casting on 72 or 78 to make the bag a bit bigger. You would also want to knit the body of the bag a bit longer than specified in the original pattern. The decrease rows at the pattern should still come out OK, you’ll just have different numbers for the final stitch counts in that row.

  3. I am just learning to knit and I would love to knit this bag,so can I knit it on straight
    needles as I have never used circular needles thanks

    1. I don’t think straight needles would work for this pattern as you would then have to seam the bag (which would be challenging because of the mesh design).