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Thursday, August 16, 2007

An alternative to plastic: string bags

There's been an awful lot of guilt-tripping about plastic bags. (I thought as long as we recycled them we could avoid guilt, but evidently not.) I remembered the net bags I bought in Russia (then, the Soviet Union) in 1972 and hauled them out of the closet. These netted bags were called syetki and came in all different sizes.

I actually used mine quite often back then so they're pretty worn out. I decided to make new ones. I developed this recipe, trial and error, I think it's a perfect size - it's actually very hard to tell what size it is till you put things in it because the chain stitching is so stretchy. The first one I made was so big it dragged on the ground when I filled it. These make great gifts - everybody who saw one wanted it.

So here's the pattern I developed; I've made it out of cotton thread (available at Walmart in a big ball), out of buttonhold thread, and, now, out of a wonderful red nylon line, string, or yarn (?) called Serilon (100% CF nylon). I just looked it up here: it's made by ÖZEN İPLİK and I bought it just outside the grand bazaar in Istanbul. Even though there are miles of line on each spool, I like the stuff so much I already wish I had more.

So anyway, while I was nervously waiting for all my various late planes yesterday I crocheted three of these bags, which are extremely strong and light.

Melinama's pattern for crocheted string bags:
(use cotton yarn, buttonhole thread or Serilon 20)

  1. Chain 7 and slip stitch into a circle;
  2. Eighteen double crochet into the circle;
  3. {Double crochet (dc) and chain one} into each of the 18 dc of the previous row;
  4. {dc, chain one} TWICE into each of the holes made by the chain stitches of the previous row (you now have 36 dcs and 36 chains);
  5. {single crochet (sc), chain three} into each of the 36 holes in previous row;
  6. {sc, chain four} into each hole for 14 rows;
  7. {dc, chain two} into each hole for 2 rows;
  8. {two dcs in each hole} for nine holes only! then:
  9. chain 30, turn around, and slip attach in two stitches to other end of the nine holes you just put two double crochets into;
  10. turn around one more time and {double crochet into two chains, skip one} 20 times. You now have 20 double crochets on the handle;
  11. {dc, chain two} into nine holes only;
  12. repeat steps 8-11 and you should be back where you started;
  13. dc into each of the 20 dcs of the handle;
  14. {dc, chain two} into nine holes;
  15. repeat steps 13-14, slip chain into a couple more stitches, and you're done.

One bag should take 2-3 hours depending on your speed and anxiety level. Be sure not to collapse (tighten) the stitches too much.

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At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the string bag and plan to make it as a little gift for friends to give with their Christmas card.
I have started making one but it is too small. I wonder if you could also provide the hook size that you used.

Thank you.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger melinama said...

I use the size G or 6 or 4 mm. I've made bags of all sizes - this one is perfect for roaming city streets, make it bigger and it's good for groceries. They're bigger than you think, though - the first one I made looked right but it's so big it drags on the ground.

At 4:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for these instructions. I have been looking to buy a mesh bag like this to have in my handbag, like the one I lent to someone years ago. Now I can make as many as I like and give them to people. I'll put one in the pocket of each jacket I own, and some in the car glove box. Our government has just banned plastic bags from supermarkets and I always forget to take my bulkier cloth bags if I'm not doing a big weekly shopping. Thanks for solving my problem.

At 3:04 PM, Blogger greygoosegranny said...

Thank you for sharing these instructions. Something so simple and practical has become popular and expensive to get instructions for. I made cloth bags for gifts last year, this year I will make these. (and a stash for myself....) :)

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pattern. I made mine in cotton worsted. Not as compact as yours, but a fun project and it looks great!

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pattern. I love these bags (using worsted cotton and k hook) and the pattern is easy to modify for other shapes and sizes. I used the (ch 3, sc 1) row for 7 rows and went straight to the handle to make a nice bag for my toddler. Cheers!

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that this might sound stupid, but using cotton worsted, is it supposed to warp? or am I making this too tight.


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