Knitted purses done right

As the warmer weather approaches I have been looking towards projects that aren’t so focused on keeping me warm. I have long wanted to make a knitted purse that I could use every day but I feel like this is a tricky project, and not because they are hard to make.

The problem with knitted purses is that they can end up looking really tacky.

There. I said it. I said the thing you aren’t supposed to say, but it is true! Weird Al is the only person who could pull off a lot of the knitted purses out there. (Sidenote: man do I love Weird Al! Going to his concert later this year! YEAH!) I love to knit and love the look of most knitted things, but I am fully and completely aware that it is very easy to make very tacky, kitschy, dare I say ugly knitted things. VERY easy. I am also prepared to admit that some of the things I have made are ugly. (Cabled Leg Warmers, I’m looking at you…) Knitting is already regarded as being a dorky hobby, no need to compound that by knitting tacky ugly things. I am far from being a slave to fashion, but I do think that how you look and present yourself to the world has an effect on how you are treated. Maybe it isn’t fair or right, but it is just how it is. Plus, I am a civil servant and (unfortunately) have the expectation upon me to look more or less professional and civil servant-y (whatever the hell that means) most of the time.

My other problem is that I have a long history of atrocious taste in purses. I LOVE purses and often end up buying the ugliest purses on the planet. I have literally had strangers come up to me and insult my purse. I have learned to approach purses very cautiously.

So, how do I do the knitted purse while still looking fashionable? There are a TON of patterns out there for knitted purses in every shape and style imaginable, so first I look for knitted purse patterns that have elements I like in the purses I would buy!

  1. Not too big but able to carry what I need without over-stuffing
  2. good pocket placement
  3. comfortable strap at a good length
  4. structured
  5. not overly detailed or fussy

Then I take out the ones that have knitted elements that I find tacky, like the use of novelty yarn. To me, novelty yarn is NEVER the right option. Never ever. (Except maybe in this cute hedgehog pattern…) I also assess whether I think a non-knitter would be likely to wear the purse. If not, well,… maybe it isn’t the best choice.

So what does that leave me with? A surprising amount actually! I think I have narrowed it down to the following patterns.

For purses on the more simple side of things, I love this Braided Cable Handle Tote by Amanda Silveira. (Free pattern) Uncomplicated but still interesting thanks to the cables. And it is felted, and we all know how much I like felting!

For something a little more detailed, the Bee’s Knees purse by Andre Sue is pretty fantasic. Love the pockes and the stitch patten, the straps are nice and wide, and a fun liner fabric can do a huge amount to make it extra exciting and fun (while still being fashionable and untacky). The only think I’m not in love with is the garter stitch for the handle, but that is easily changed.

This DROPS design Bag with cable pattern (free pattern) is pretty simple and I think could be nice if done in a solid colour. It is a pattern I keep coming back to but for some reason I just don’t think it is right for me personally. Maybe it is the shape.

This Pleats Purse I by Josephine Woo (paid pattern) is pretty, felted, and interesting with the pleats. I also LOVE the mustard colour of the purse in the project photos and it is possible I’m responding more to the colour than I am to the purse design.

One pattern I keep coming back to is The Cinch by Nora J. Bellows. Part of me thinks it is too big and bulbous, but man… I just love how it looks. The belted detail adds so much and would be well worth the hassle of having to buy the hardware and do the extra work to finish it. The pattern is a bit pricey at $8.50, but very possibly may be worth it for me.


But then I think, hey, a purse is just a big pocket with some straps… maybe I can design my own! And that may very well be what I end up doing. I do like all the above options (especially Bee’s Knees), so maybe I can take the different elements I like from the different patterns and create a brand new design that exactly matches what I want in a purse. It isn’t like designing a sweater where fit matters. Its just a purse, after all. And this is knitting. If it ends up ugly I can always frog. 🙂


I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!


Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:

Rounding the corner

I have been working a lot on my Sock Yarn Justification Blanket, which is extremely easy uncomplicated knitting. Enjoyable but pretty mindless, and I really feel like I need something more complicated to challenge myself with. I know I COULD be working on my Stripes Gone Crazy sweater, but another idea has struck me…

I have this idea for a hat, where the cables coming down from the top of the hat start small but get bigger, and then turn 90 degrees to become the bottom border as well. I haven’t seen a pattern like this, nor am I going to go looking for one. I want to see if I can create this pattern on my own and figure out how to make it work. Obviously the challenges are going to be:

1. making the cables grow from the top in a smooth way that maintains the look of the cables

2. pulling off the 90 degree turn while having the cabled pattern continue smoothly

3. doing a clean connection between the the rounded turn of the cable and the rest of the bottom band

Big part of this is going to be choosing a cable pattern that isn’t so complicated that rounding the turn is impossible. I’m sort of tossed up on whether to do this bottom up or top down. I can see how both are possible. Right now I am leaning towards top down for the hat construction, but before I start the hat as a whole I think I am going to have to do some test knits of how the cables will grow and how to pivot the design 90 degrees. Methinks there be some shortrows in my future…


Birthday Sprinkles Ski Bonnet


The hat before I blocked it.

This modified version of the Neon Ski Bonnet is fairly fabulous. The rainbow sparkle white yarn reminds me a lot of sprinkles on a birthday cake and makes me giggle every time I look at it. Yes, I am 32 and overjoyed to have a hat that reminds me of birthday sprinkles. Judge me if you wish. I’m not ashamed.

This hat only took me 4 days, which is twice as long as the first one took me but still not too long. I didn’t feel the big rush this time since I was making it for myself. My modified cable pattern (explained below) was faster to knit than the cable pattern in the original design, but how I did the wraps in the bonnet portion took me longer due to my changing my mind. 034I did a MUCH better job making a pompom this time! Hurray! I also totally stand by my decision to do it in two colours. Granted the pink and sparkly white isn’t for everyone but I love it. Life is too short not to wear ridiculous stuff like this.

And of course, as luck would have it, the day after I make this splended joy-making hat for myself the weather warms up to a point where a hat would be foolish. Mother Nature is really harshing my groove.


My Project Notes:

  1. Closeup of the sparkle yarn and the wrapped rib pattern

    I used of Loops & Threads Impeccable in Arbour Rose (about half a ball) and Loops & Threads Impeccable Glitter in Ice Queen (about 2/3 of a ball). Same as last time, this cheapo acrylic yarn knit up nicely, is soft, and frankly looks good. I swear the past two projects have really made reconsider acrylic yarn’s merit.

  2. For the band I cast on 44 stitches and divided it to be 26 on one needle (outside/visible of band), 18 on the other (inside/hidden part of the band). I knit it on the round. I did 6 repeats of the cable pattern found at the bottom of this post for the top of the band and just knit all the stitches for the bottom of the band.
  3. I didn’t block it or kill it because I actually really like the poofy chunky look of it. I may block it eventually just to better show the cable pattern but for now I’m happy as is. [Edit: I actually did block it and yeah, looks awesome. Worth blocking to really show off the cables! And it drapes better now too.]
  4. The bonnet portion (in the pretty pretty sparkle yarn!) I knit with a basic 2×2 ribbing and didn’t do the wraps until after I finished because I was intending to do the wrap sin the pink. It looked pretty terrible when I tried doing the wraps in the pink though, so I did them in the sparkly white, and did them every 5 rows and every pair of ribs. The end result is a much more intricate looking pattern that I adore, but damn, I wish I had done it while I was knitting the bonnet. What a pain it was doing it after the fact!
  5. The ties are braids with 24 strands (8 strands in each of the three braid pieces). I did it in both colours of yarns to tie the hat all together. They are nice and thick and match the weight of the hat.
  6. Did the pompom in both colours to tie it all together, same as the ties.


Cable Pattern:

Row 1-4: p2, k10, p2, k10, p2

Row 5: p2, C10B, p2, k10, p2030

Row 6-10: p2, k10, p2, k10, p2

Row 11:  p2, C10B, p2, k10, p2

Row 12-16: p2, k10, p2, k10, p2

Row 17: p2, k10, p2, C10B, p2

Row 18-22: p2, k10, p2, k10, p2

Row 23: p2, k10, p2, C10B, p2

Row 24: p2, k10, p2, k10, p2


C10B = slip 5 stitches to a cable needle and hold to the back of your work, knit 5, then knit the 5 from the cable needle

Neon Ski Bonnet (aka. Knitted Sympathy)

I don’t generally like knitting for other people. I feel too much pressure to make it PERFECT, and I always worry they won’t like it, or (worse) won’t appreciate it enough to justify the work that went in to it.

However, last week my very best friend (and cousin) found out that a job she was hoping for was given to someone else. This job would have had her moving to my city which would have meant we’d be able to see each other a lot more – as it stands we are only able to see each other once every few months – so we’re both extremely disappointed. When she called me to let me know she demanded “Knitted Sympathy” and a cousin visit. Well, I wasn’t going to say no…

Don’t I look snazzy?

Its a Neon Ski Bonnet. What a great pattern and what a great end result!!

I’m going to visit her this coming weekend and will bring it with me then but I couldn’t wait until then to see if she liked it so I emailed her a couple pictures of it. She LOVES it and has already forwarded pictures of it around to other people to brag about what I made her. So many thank yous and “Oh my god, look at the detail, that must have been so hard!” comments.

So I may not generally like knitting for other people, but she has made it 1000% worth it. She can consider herself officially added to my “People Who Are Knitworthy” list. 🙂 This brings the list to a total of 3 people (me, my kid, and her). LOL


My project notes:

  • I made the Adult Large size hat.
  • Used Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids yarn that I got on sale at Michael’s for $2.50 a ball. For being inexpensive acrylic yarn it actually knit up quite well and was fine to work with. I generally sort of hate using cheap ass yarn like this but I was in a hurry and I am sort of broke after Christmas… 🙁
  • The hat itself took almost exactly 1 ball of yarn, but then I needed to break in to a second ball to make the pompom and ties.
  • The time the hat took me to knit was pretty evenly divided between the cabled band, and everything else. I was really getting grumpy over the band and how it was a tube and therefore taking a lot longer to knit than I felt it should have, but now that it is done I fully support the tube band. Extra warm and thick, AND the weight of it contributes to the hat’s ability to stay comfortably on my head.
  • I could NOT get the twisted stitches in the band to look right so I eventually gave up and just did a tight cable on either side (cables going in opposite directions). Looks okay but I wouldn’t do it the same way again. The next time I make one (which will be very soon) I will either find a way to make the twisted stitches work, or, more likely, will devise a totally different cable motif for the band.
  • For a hat like this you need to make substantial ties for it to look right. I made small dainty ones (as seen in the above photo) and they look dwarfed and stupid. I will be redoing them to be about three times as thick, and I think I will braid instead of twist.
  • My pompom making skills leave a lot to be desired. Freg.