A Japanese knot bag, frequently made with recycled kimono fabric, is a small roundish bag with 2 handles. The handles are usually of equal length and are carried with one handle over the other. This creates an interesting asymmetry and a closure that requires no extra accessories.
Knitted Japanese Knot Bag
Another way of making the Japanese knot bag is to knit it.
I have chosen to design one handle shorter than the other. I have also decided to position the shorter handle in front of the longer one. The idea is to loop the shorter handle over the longer one to act as closure in front of the bag. The usual position is side by side. It means no extra accessories for closure is required.
Finally, I have also used smaller sized needles than was recommended for the yarn so that I get a firmer and sturdier knitted fabric.
- 1 skein Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky Scuba
- Assortment of buttons
- 3.5mm knitting needles (double-pointed or circular needles)
- An extra pair of 3.5mm double-pointed needles.
- Sewing needle and thread in matching colour
Instructions for the body
Cast on 72 stitches. Bring the first stitch and the last stitch together. Place a marker between these 2 stitches. Join together and start knitting in the round by knitting the first stitch right after the last stitch
Knit in the round until the piece measures 17 cm. The body of the bag is basically a square. If the width of your bag is more than 17 cm, then knit till the height is the same as the width.
Some knitters told me that they do not like knitting in the round and prefer knitting flat and seaming. In this case, cast on 144 stitches and knit the stockinette stitch until the piece, when folded in half, is a square.
Instructions for the Handles
Transfer the first 18 stitches onto a single double-pointed needle. Then, knit these 18 stitches as follows: K2, P2, K10, P2, K2
Turn and knit the same 18 stitches as follows: P1, K1, P1, K1, P10, K1, P1, K1, P1
Repeat these 2 rows until the handle measures 25 cm or longer. Using Kitchener stitch, graft these 18 stitches to 18 stitches next to it. Once grafted, cut off the yarn and weave the ends into the bag neatly
I highly recommend the knitting needle method by Techknitter. Instead of sewing, you are still knitting. (https://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/05/easier-way-to-kitchener-stitch-also.html)
Repeat the same process for the other handle until it measures 13 cm. Using Kitchener stitch, graft these 18 stitches to the remaining 18 stitches on your circular needles.
The finished handles will look like this:
Sewing up the bottom of the Japanese knot bag
Position the bag so that the shorter handle is in front of the longer one. Using mattress stitch, sew up the bottom. If you are new to mattress stitch, watch this Youtube tutorial to learn how to do it. https://youtu.be/ObuZwHlmDCI
Accessorizing the bag
The bag is a little plain, use anything on hand to accessorize the bag. I sew a bunch of buttons to the body to pimp it up.
Remember, sew the buttons or any other ornaments that you like onto the bag first before you line it because you want to hide all the threads and endings underneath the lining. Double stitching motifs onto the bag is also another way to embellish the bag.
Lining the bag
Line the bag so that it lasts longer. I lined both the handles and the body.
Find any fabric that you can recycle. You can buy new fabric, but I think an old T-shirt works just fine. Measure and cut the fabric with about 1 inch extra for folding in. Two narrow strips for the handles and a long rectangle for the body.
Position and pin the narrow strips to the inside of the handles right side facing up. Fold the 1-inch border in and slip stitch along all the sides.
Fold the fabric for the body in half right-side together. Mark out the 1-inch border and stitch up the side and bottom. You can use the sewing machine for this if you have one.
Turn it out so that the right side is facing out. Turn the knot bag wrong side out and slip the body lining over the bag. Fold the 1-inch border at the top down and pin along the top of the bag overlaying over the lining of the handle.
Slip stitch along the edge. Turn the bag out and adjust the lining. Insert the longer handle into the shorter handle to close the bag. And you are done!
Enjoy your bag!
I tried to be as clear as possible but if you still have questions, feel free to ask.
This is a free knitting pattern. I’ll be thrilled if you use it. Please link back here if you do.
Some pictures of another knot bag I made using brown worsted weight yarn.
If you prefer the instructions available offline, consider getting this Kindle booklet: Japanese knot bag knitting pattern.