Turkish Stitch String Bag

[Knitted string bag holding 8 skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky] The Turkish Stitch used for the body of the bag is one of the family of faggotting stitches that goes back to knitting antiquity. Its purled cousin is called Purse Stitch, which indicates its historic use for objects like this string bag.

This bag can be knitted in any string or thread--preferably of a non-stretching fiber like cotton--from crochet cotton to sport weight, maybe thicker, using any very large needle size. This pattern is about as "mindless" as knitting gets, and goes very fast.


This works best with a nonstretchy yarn like cotton, linen, or hemp. It is shown in a #10 crochet cotton but a heavier yarn makes a more substantial bag.

16" circular needle, size US 13 (9 mm). Double points will work, but are a lot fussier.

Bottom of bag

Cast on 15 stitches and, working back and forth on the circular needle, knit 32 rows, making a garter stitch square with 16 ridges on each side.

Continuing from the corner where the final row finishes, pick up and knit 15 stitches along each of the other three sides of the square (total 60 stitches). Place a marker; this will be the beginning of the round for the body of the bag.

Double the stitch count by working (YO, K1) around (120 sts).

Body of bag

Work the body of the bag in Turkish Stitch to a length of 12" from the pick-up round.

Turkish Stitch

Rnd 1: (K2tog, YO) around.
Rnd 2: (YO, K2tog) around.
Note that this will make a double YO at the change of round (where the marker is) on one round and two adjacent knit stitches on the other. Watch as you knit to make sure the slant of the thread on each round slants the opposite direction from the round below, to form a vertical zigzag. If you find the slants are going the same direction, forming a diagonal ladder, this means you have lost a yarnover somewhere; back up until you find the spot and reach down and catch a thread from the row below to make the missing YO.

Top Edge

Decrease round: (K2tog) 15 times; K 30; (K2tog) 15 times, K30.
Work 8 rounds garter stitch. Since you're working in the round this means: (Knit one round, Purl one round) 4 times.

Shoulder Strap

Bindoff round: K 15; bind off 30 sts very loosely; K 15 and place these 15 sts on a stitch holder; bind off 30 sts very loosely. 15 sts will remain on the needle.

Work back and forth in garter stitch (knit every row) until strap measures 12 to 18 inches long when stretched smooth. The one in the photo was 24 inches and stretched way too long!

Slide the 15 stitches from the holder onto a spare needle of any size. Carefully align the two needles so that they are both pointing the same direction and the right sides of the fabric are together; your goal is to do a 3-needle bindoff to join the strap to the far side of the bag without twisting it, and with the seam on the inside.

Three-needle bindoff:

Slide your working needle (the loose end of the circular needle) through the first stitch on the front needle and the first stitch on the rear needle and knit through these two stitches, sliding them both off their needles.

Do the same for the next stitch on each needle. Pass the first stitch over the second stitch. One stitch bound off.

Continue until all stitches are bound off and the strap is joined. Make sure it's right before cutting the thread and tying off the end.

Variations on this bag

Notice that all the stitch counts given in the instructions are simple multiples of the 15 stitches originally cast on. The size of the bag can be varied by substituting throughout for the "15" and "30" stitches a number that is equal to a different cast-on and double that number. The number of garter rows on the bottom will be equal to the cast-on number plus one.

Enterprising knitter Karen Fegelman used thick yarn and a cast-on of only 5 stitches to make a Bag Hat for her daughter.

Late-breaking news: a local knitter accidentally made a contrast band around the center of her bag but didn't know how she had done it. It looked very nice, and it would be worth discovering how it was done. I suspect she just zoned out and continued for several rounds forgetting to switch back and forth between Round 1 and Round 2. I haven't tried it yet, but if you do, please report back!

© Judy Gibson, 2003. Permission is granted to print and use this pattern for personal noncommercial use, provided this notice is included. No commercial use or publication of this design--in hard copy or electronic form--are permitted without explicit consent from the designer. Contact me at jgibson (at) cts (dot) com.

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Judy Gibson, Descanso, California.
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