How to Knit Your Own Reusable Produce Bags
Knitting your own reusable produce bags is a fun and rewarding way to reduce plastic waste. With just some yarn, knitting needles, and basic skills, you can make environmentally-friendly bags for all your fruits, vegetables, and other grocery items.
Selecting Yarn for Reusable Produce Bags
When choosing yarn for knitted produce bags, you’ll want to select a lightweight cotton, bamboo, or cotton/synthetic blend. Heavy yarns like wool work great for winter accessories but are too thick and heavy for produce bags. Lighter weight yarns in the #3 to #5 range are ideal. They provide structure while still being breathable and washable.
Consider whether you want your bags to feel more smooth and silky or have more grip and traction. Cotton or bamboo blend yarns will be smooth while yarns with some synthetic fibers will have a bit more grab to them to keep round fruits like apples, oranges, and avocados from rolling out.
Make sure to choose yarn that is machine washable so you can easily throw your used produce bags in the laundry. Stay away from 100% wool or other non-washable fibers.
Some great options for knitted produce bags include:
- Cotton yarn: Provides breathability and comfort.
- Bamboo yarn: Extremely soft with natural sheen.
- Cotton/acrylic blend: Mixes natural and synthetic fibers.
- Organic cotton: From sustainable sources.
Selecting Knitting Needles for Produce Bags
The knitting needles you use will determine the size and density of your finished produce bags. Most produce bags work best with US size 7 – 10 (4.5 mm – 6 mm) knitting needles.
- Smaller needles like US size 5 or 6 will create a denser, stiffer fabric.
- Larger needles like US size 10 or 11 allow for a looser, more open and flexible bag.
You can use any type of knitting needles you prefer:
- Straight needles are good for simple rectangles.
- Circular needles make knitting tubes easier.
- Double pointed needles helpful for closed ends.
Metal, wood, plastic, or bamboo needles all work well. Choose what feels most comfortable in your hands. A smooth yarn like cotton often works best with bamboo or wood needles to avoid split stitches.
Knitting Your First Reusable Produce Bag
Knitting a simple produce bag is easy, even for beginners. Here are step-by-step instructions to knit your first reusable cotton bag:
- Lightweight cotton yarn, about 100 grams
- US size 8 (5 mm) knitting needles
- Yarn needle for weaving ends
Cast on 18 stitches using the longtail cast on method.
Work in garter stitch (knit every row) until the piece measures 14 inches from the cast on edge.
Bind off all stitches.
Fold the knitted rectangle in half with wrong sides facing and sew side edges together using mattress stitch.
Weave in all yarn ends with a yarn needle.
Add handles by knitting two cords using the garter stitch, then attaching them to the top inside edges of the bag.
And you’re done! This simple knitted rectangle makes a great reusable produce bag for lettuces, apples, and other produce.
Variations for More Durable or Larger Bags
Once you’ve mastered the basic knitted produce bag, try experimenting with these variations:
Knit with two strands held together for a thicker, sturdier fabric. Just hold both strands as one while knitting.
Line the bags with mesh or cotton fabric to provide more structure. Sew the lining in after knitting the outer bag.
Make a double layer bag by knitting two rectangles then sewing them together, wrong sides facing to create a reversible bag.
Increase stitches and make wider/longer bags for larger produce like melons or bunches of kale. Just increase evenly across rows.
Add different stitches like seed stitch for texture or ribbing for elasticity around the top opening.
With countless options for yarn weights, needle sizes, and stitches, you can create your own personalized set of knitted reusable produce bags to reduce plastic usage!
Tips for Maintaining Your Knitted Produce Bags
Here are some tips for keeping your handmade cotton produce bags looking and functioning their best:
Wash regularly – toss used bags directly into the washing machine. Use cold water and gentle detergent.
Hang to dry – lay flat or hang bags to fully dry before reusing so they don’t get musty.
Mend any holes – darn any small holes that develop using the yarn tails or matching yarn.
Spot clean – for fresh stains, hand wash problem areas then let air dry.
Use bag liners – place especially dirty items in a mesh or fabric bag liner before putting them in your knitted outer bag.
Don’t overload – distribute weight evenly to avoid over-stretching the fabric.
Store neatly – fold or roll bags neatly to prevent creases or tangles.
With proper care, your handmade cotton produce bags can be used for many years to come! Going plastic-free has never been so stylish.