Since single-use plastic bags are being phased out in Canada, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the good old-fashioned string bag. I could be wrong, but I feel like we were doing well reducing our plastic before COVID, but the pandemic seems to kind of disrupt that progress. Setbacks happen, we’ll just get back on the horse and forge forward! The following are some of my favourite patterns … both knit and crochet. I prefer crochet because the nature of the crochet stitch strengthens the structure of the bag, but in the end, it’s really all good, as long as we’re cutting back on plastic.
Qualities I look for in a yarn for making string bags:
- Washability: I want to be able to throw it in the washing machine.
- Strength: it needs to be strong enough to carry stuff and not break.
- Resilience: it needs to wear well, I want it to last.
Some philosophies believe that we are connected to everyone and everything on this planet. Since there is now garbage in orbit around the planet, I’ll just extend it a little further and say that you’re connected to everything in creation. You are tethered to everything, and this connection is centred in love. You are important, what you say is important, and what you do is especially important. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says we should be impeccable with our words, but I think it’s time we learn to be impeccable with our actions (as an aside, the audiobook narrator Peter Coyote is EXCELLENT).
During the early COVID shut-downs I noticed a LOT of plastic bags leaving the store, and it made me kind of queasy, so I started switching over to paper bags and biodegradable shipping bags. But paper isn’t the answer – it decomposes and recycles, but it’s substantially more expensive than plastic, it’s resource-heavy, and its manufacture and distribution generate lots of greenhouse gases. The solution is to not use resources that you don’t need to. We have to make new habits, but when you do, try to do it from a different context, try it from a place of love. Most of us live from a centre of fear, but I’ll be honest, I don’t think it’s working for us. When you approach things from a foundation of fear everything seems to be slow, jerky, resistant, and hard. When you come at it from a paradigm of love, things just seem to flow, they’re easy, and they move naturally. We have a lot of changes ahead of us, so if you can find a way to lean into it gracefully you’ll be leagues ahead of the game.
For more on the subject of living from love …
P.S. (Video Tutorials)
I tried to find you a suitable pattern with a video tutorial on Youtube, but while I was previewing them I started feeling really angry and frustrated, so I passed. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow one if you find one you like, it just means that I didn’t find anything that met my standards for referral (a combination of accessible skill level, clear instructions and happy energy).
P.P.S. (COVID Related Supply-Chain Disruptions)
Distribution disruptions due to COVID are still in the works, and I received a note from the distributor last week that the price of Cascade Ultra Pima is going up to $14.97/skein. Our inventory is still at the old price, $11.97/skein, so if you were thinking of picking some up best to do it before we have to raise the price.
French Market Bag (crochet)
Here’s a great one for the people who aren’t afraid of the hook – a gorgeous french market bag crocheted with cotton! I’ s a substantial bag that will hold a lot of whatever you’re carrying. We made our store sample with Cascade Ultra Pima and we used about 320m of yarn. I’d like to try it with a linen, like Quince & Co Sparrow, I love the sturdiness and resilience of linen. If you want an even bigger bag, level up to a 4.5mm or 5mm hook and use Lion Brand Pima Cotton.
- Cascade Ultra Pima: 2 skeins
- Quince & Co Sparrow: 3 skeins (use a 3.5mm or 3.75mm hook)
- Lion Brand Pima Cotton: 2 skeins (use a 4.5mm or 5mm hook)
Ilene Bag (knit)
Ilene is a great free bag pattern that’s been around a long time. It holds a lot, but if you want it bigger just make the body longer, and you can make the handle longer or shorter to suit your carrying needs.
- Cascade Ultra Pima: 2 skeins
- Quince & Co Sparrow: 2 skeins (use 3mm & 3.5mm needles)
- Lion Brand Pima Cotton: 2 skeins (a 4mm & 4.5mm needles)
Crochet Grocery Bag
I designed this little bag many, many moons ago and it’s still one of my favourites. My favourite version were the ones I made a few years ago with some Quince & Co Sparrow Linen – they’re sturdy, light, and put away up nicely! This bag also makes a great little gift.
- Cascade Ultra Pima: 1 skein
- Quince & Co Sparrow: 1 skeins (use a 3.5mm or 3.75mm hook)
- Lion Brand Pima Cotton: 1 skein (use a 4.5mm or 5mm hook)
Monteagle Bag (knit)
I’ve always liked the Monteagle bag because it’s just really groovy looking and reminds me of macrame. It’s like on larger needles to play up the stringiness of the string bag.
- 6mm/US10 – 16″ or 20″ circular needles
- Stitch marker
- Stitch holder or piece of string
- Extra knitting needle for the 3-needle bind-off
- Tapestry needle
- FREE pattern
Weightless Produce Bag (knit)
- Quince & Co Sparrow: 1 skein (2 skeins should make 3 bags)
- 5mm/US8 circular needles
- 3mm/US2.5 circular needles
- 5mm/US8 double-pointed needles
- 5mm/H crochet hook
Portofino Bag Set (crochet)
This mesh bag set is the ultimate duo in accessories! A roomy tote for market scores, beach day essentials, or picnic must-haves in addition to a chic bottle bag to ensure you are always hydrated make the perfect pair this season. These quick projects are stylish, quick, and functional – the best combo!