How to Knit Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags From Recycled Materials

How to Knit Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags From Recycled Materials

How to Knit Your Own Reusable Grocery Bags From Recycled Materials

I’ve been wanting to find a way to reduce my plastic waste and be more eco-friendly. One simple change I’ve made is to knit my own reusable grocery bags from recycled materials. This allows me to avoid using plastic bags at the store while giving old clothes and fabric scraps new life.

Gather Your Materials

The great thing about knitting reusable grocery bags is that you can use materials you already have at home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Yarn – Recycled yarn or unused yarn you have on hand works perfectly. Some old sweaters can even be unraveled to reuse the yarn. Look for durable yarns like wool or cotton.

  • Knitting needles – You’ll need a pair in the size recommended for the yarn you choose. Medium weight yarn works well for bags so needles sized 7-10 are ideal.

  • Fabric – Scraps of sturdy fabric like denim, canvas, or cotton can make the bag handles and base. Reuse old jeans, curtains, towels, or t-shirts.

  • Scissors, sewing needle, and thread – These will be used to construct the bag handles and base.

Choose a Simple Pattern

As a beginner knitter, I looked for a very simple pattern without too many complicated stitches or shaping. The Easter Basket Bag on Ravelry is perfect for using up leftover yarn in a beginner-friendly project.

Some key things to look for in a reusable grocery bag pattern:

  • Basic knit/purl stitches – Avoid patterns with cables, lace, or colorwork.

  • Rectangular shape – Simple straight sides make construction easier.

  • Medium weight yarn – This makes a durable fabric that can hold heavier items.

  • Handles – Look for straps constructed from fabric, not knitted handles which stretch over time.

Knit the Bag

Once you choose your pattern, it’s time to knit! Here are a few tips for knitting your grocery bag:

  • Cast on the number of stitches specified in the pattern.

  • Use larger needles – Go up 1-2 needle sizes to create a loose, flexible fabric that drapes well.

  • Check gauge – Knit a 4-6 inch swatch before you start to ensure you match the pattern gauge.

  • Join new yarn – Try to add new yarn at the start of rows to minimize loose ends to weave later.

  • Read ahead – Don’t memorize the pattern row by row. Read ahead a section so you know what techniques are coming up.

  • When the knitted portion is complete, bind off loosely so the top edge is flexible enough to fold over.

Assemble the Bag

Finishing the bag only requires a few simple steps:

  • Weave in ends – Neatly weave in all remaining yarn tails along the wrong side.

  • Block pieces – Wet blocking helps even out the stitches. Pin damp pieces to measurements and let dry.

  • Sew straps – Fold over top edge 1-2″ and stitch fabric handles in place a few inches down from the top.

  • Add rigid base – For structure, sew a square of heavyweight fabric to the bottom.

And that’s it – you’ve successfully knitted your own reusable grocery bag! Make a few in different colors and sizes for all your shopping needs. It’s incredibly satisfying to tote groceries in bags I made myself from recycled materials. Give it a try!

Tips for Continued Use

Here are some helpful tips for getting the most use out of your handmade reusable grocery bags:

  • Attach ID tag – Sew a tag with your name/number on the inside or outside of each bag. This makes it easier to get lost bags returned.

  • Spot clean when needed – For minor stains, spot clean with a small amount of gentle laundry detergent and cold water. Avoid excessive agitation.

  • Wash occasionally – When dirtier, wash in a mesh bag on the gentle cycle and air dry. This helps revive bags.

  • Limit weight – Don’t overload or overstretch bags. 10-15 pounds is reasonable for medium weight cotton or wool bags.

  • Fold or roll for storage – Hanging bags long term can stretch them out. Fold or roll them to maintain shape.

  • Make a variety – Knit bags in small, medium and large sizes so you always have the right one for each shopping trip!

With proper care and maintenance, your handknit grocery bags can provide years of usefulness. There’s no better feeling than repurposing materials that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.