How to Knit Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags

How to Knit Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags

How to Knit Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags

Why knit your own grocery bags?

Knitting your own reusable grocery bags is a great way to reduce plastic waste and save money. Plastic bags are wasteful – most are used only once before being thrown away. Knitted bags are durable and can be used hundreds of times. Making them yourself allows you to customize the size, shape and style. It’s also a fun craft that helps the environment. Here are some key reasons to knit your own grocery bags:

  • Reduce plastic bag waste – Each knitted bag replaces hundreds of disposable plastic bags over its lifetime. This helps reduce plastic pollution.

  • Save money – Buying commercial reusable bags can get expensive. Knitting your own saves you money in the long run.

  • Custom options – You can knit bags in different sizes for groceries, produce, bread, etc. Choose colors and patterns you like.

  • Portable and convenient – Knitted bags are lightweight and compact. They easily fold up into your purse or pocket.

  • Creative outlet – Knitting is enjoyable and relaxing. It feels good to make something practical with your own hands.

  • Handmade charm – A homemade knitted bag has style and personality that store-bought bags lack. They also make great gifts!

Getting Started

Knitting your first reusable grocery bag is easy, even for beginners! Here’s what you need to get started:

Supplies

  • Yarn – Cotton or recycled yarn works best. Look for durable yarn that won’t stretch too much. Worsted or Aran weight yarn is a good choice. You’ll need about 300-600 yards total.

  • Knitting needles – Size US 8 to 11 needles are ideal, depending on yarn thickness. Circular needles work well.

  • Bag handle – Handles can be knitted directly into the bag, but attaching a cotton web handle is easier. Buy handles made for reusable bags.

  • Stitch marker

  • Darning needle

Skills

No special skills are required! Just know the basic knit and purl stitches. The bags are knit flat in simple stockinette stitch and seamed up. If you can knit a scarf, you can make a reusable grocery bag.

Pick a Pattern

Search online knitting sites like Ravelry for “reusable grocery bag knitting patterns.” Lots of free patterns are available. Choose one labeled easy or beginner. Look for knitted bottom styles so the bag stands upright.

Step-by-Step Knitting Instructions

Follow these general steps to knit your own reusable grocery bag:

1. Cast on stitches

  • The pattern will specify how many stitches to cast on. This sets the width of the bottom of the bag.

  • Cast on to circular needles held together to act as straight needles. Circulars allow you to accommodate the large number of stitches.

2. Knit the bag bottom

  • Work the first 4-8 inches in stockinette stitch as instructed in the pattern.

  • This forms a flat square that creates the base of the bag.

3. Divide for sides

  • The pattern will tell you how to divide stitches to begin knitting the sides.

  • For example, you may put half the stitches on a holder while knitting the first side with the other half.

4. Knit the sides

  • Continue working in stockinette stitch, creating two rectangular pieces for the bag’s front and back.

  • Make the pieces long enough to achieve the desired bag height, usually 12-16 inches.

5. Bind off stitches

  • When the knitted rectangles are the desired length, bind off all stitches.

6. Seam the sides

  • With wrong sides facing, pin the front and back pieces together at the sides.

  • Seam using the mattress stitch, being careful to match row heights.

7. Attach the base

  • With wrong sides facing, flatten the bottom of the bag so the cast on and bound off edges meet.

  • Seam these edges together using mattress stitch.

8. Add handles

  • Mark where to attach handles, usually 2-3 inches down from the bound off edge.

  • Attach purchased handles, or work crochet/I-cord ties.

9. Weave in ends

  • Weave in all loose yarn ends so they don’t unravel.

And you’re done – enjoy using your handmade reusable grocery bag!

Tips for Knitting Sturdy Grocery Bags

Here are some tips to make your homemade knitted bags extra durable:

  • Choose sturdy cotton, hemp, or recycled yarn with some stretch. Acrylic yarn is inexpensive but not as sturdy. Wool is too stretchy.

  • Use a tight gauge for dense, non-holey fabric. The thicker the yarn, the sturdier the bag.

  • Line bags with cotton fabric for added strength. Attach with sewing or fusible interfacing.

  • Create a gusset or square bottom for a bag that stands upright when full. Round bottoms sag.

  • Make wider, deeper bags to hold more weight. 10 inches across by 16 inches tall is a good grocery bag size.

  • Carry no more than 10 pounds in a reusable knitted bag to avoid stretching and strain.

  • Avoid sharp objects that can snag the yarn fibers. Plastic bottle caps are the worst offenders!

With a little care, your hand-knitted grocery bags can last for years and save hundreds of plastic bags from the landfill. Making them yourself is satisfying and better for the planet. Give it a try!