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As a child, when we traveled, my father always carried a satchel. It was a handwoven satchel from India, and the colors of the time: olive green and gold. Dad's satchel was well traveled, keeping safe the camera, wallet, passports, maps, etc. I'm not sure what happened to his bag -- it has been replaced by many more now -- but lives on in our family vacation photos.

Inspired by his travel satchel, this modern messenger bag is knit on large needles with double-stranded wool, and then felted. The entire bag is knit in stockinette stitch, mostly in the round, and is seamless. Small gussets give dimension and the I-cord detailing adds a finished look. I rated the difficulty as tangy, but really anyone can knit it. All your mistakes will be felted away.

model: Stephen Broyles (Dad) & Konstantine Shiman photos: Stephanie Shiman

SIZE [Smaller striped version]

Sized to fit a manuscript book & papers, or a small notebook computer

 

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
[laid flat]

Before felting
Height: 17 inches
Width: 16 inches
Strap Length: 65 inches

After felting:
Height: 12 inches
Width: 13.5 inches
Strap Length: 52 inches

 

MATERIALS
Cascade 220 [100% Peruvian Wool; 220 yd/198m per 100g skein]
[MC] Color: #4011; 3 skeins
[CC] Color: #9460; 2 skeins

1 set US 13/9mm double-point needles
1 24-inch US 13/9mm circular needle
Tapestry needle
Stitch marker
Stitch holder

GAUGE
Approx. 10 sts/14 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch with double strand of yarn
(exact gauge is not important)
PATTERN NOTES

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations can be found here]

I-Cord BO
With RS of work facing and using cable or twisted loop method, CO 3 sts. (Cast these new sts on in addition to sts already on needle.)

Next Row: Using a double-pointed needle, k2, ssk. (Last I-Cord st has been worked together with first picked-up st on needle.) Slide 3 sts just worked to other end of a double-pointed needle and bring yarn around back of work, ready to begin working the next row.

Repeat this row for each st to be bound off, working next st from circular needle tog with last st on double-pointed needle for each ssk.

 
DIRECTIONS

Note: Knit with two strands of yarn held together throughout.

Using circular needle and MC, loosely CO 38 sts.
Beg with a RS row, work 7 rows in stockinette st.
At end of last row, do not turn work but pick up and k 6 sts down adjacent edge of work, pick up and k 38 sts along CO edge, pick up and k 6 sts along rem edge of work. 88 sts on needle. Place marker and beg working in stockinette st in the round, working stripe patt as follows:
7 rows MC
7 rows CC
3 rows MC
3 rows CC

3 rows MC
7 rows CC
7 rows MC
3 rows CC

3 rows MC
3 rows CC
7 rows MC
7 rows CC

Next Round: Using CC, k38 sts with CC, BO rem sts using I-Cord BO. At end of round, place I-Cord sts on st holder.

Flap
Working back and forth in stockinette st on 38 rem sts, work stripe patt as follows:

2 rows MC
7 rows CC

7 rows MC
3 rows CC
3 rows MC
3 rows CC
7 rows MC
7 rows CC

Break yarn at end of last row. Place all sts on hold on double-pointed needles.
With WS facing, using CC and circular needle, beg at corner where flap attaches to bag (lower right corner when WS facing), pick up and p 30 sts along edge of flap (pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows), p held sts from double-pointed needles, pick up and p 30 sts down rem edge of flap, ending next to held sts from I-Cord BO. 98 sts on needle.
With RS facing, rejoin CC to held I-Cord sts and BO all sts around flap using I-Cord BO. When all sts have been bound off, sew end of I-Cord to CO end of I-Cord.

Strap
Using MC, CO 10 sts.
Work in stockinette st until work measures 65 inches.
BO all sts.

Pocket
Using MC, CO 24 sts.
Work in stockinette st, working stripe patt as follows
2 rows MC
3 rows CC

3 rows MC
7 rows CC
7 rows MC

Using CC, BO using I-Cord BO. BO I-Cord sts.

(You can make as many pockets as you have yarn for! Choose the spot on the bag where you'd like your pocket to go, count the stripes and knit accordingly.)


FINISHING

Secure the ends or weave them in. I just tied little knots to secure the yarn at the color changes, you can easily cut all these pieces off once the bag is felted and it won't unravel. Place satchel, strap and pocket in a tied (a rubber band works well) pillow case and put into a washing machine full of hot, soapy water. Agitate in the wash cycle until bag is felted to desired size and density. Watch carefully! The shrinking might be sudden -- check every couple of minutes to be safe.

Once your bag is felted, take it out and rinse it if necessary. Be sure to use hot water, the shock of cold water will cause it to shrink more. Roll it in a towel and squeeze out the excess water. Shape it by pulling and tugging, cut off all the yarn tails.

Rinse the pocket and strap. Let the pocket dry flat. You might want to run the strap through another wash cycle; the more felted it is, the less it will stretch. To ensure that my strap didn't curl, I rolled it tightly into a coil. Roll with the WS facing out. Fasten the coil with a rubber band and leave it to dry.

Stuff your bag to ensure that it will have the shape you desire when it dries. A box, towels or almost any rectangular thing of the appropriate size will work. I used a large phone book (tied in a plastic bag) to shape my bag. Place your bag on towels to dry, change the towels when they get too wet. Allow the bag a day or two to dry completely.

After your bag is dry, you are ready to sew on the pocket(s) and strap. All of the sewing can be done with matching or contrasting yarn, depending on the look you want. Take some sharp scissors and trim the edges of the pocket (but not the I-Cord edge) to make them nice and straight. Cut the strap to about 4 inches longer than the desired length. Place the ends of the strap about 2 inches below the top of the bag, right where the back becomes the flap -- this will keep the bag from tipping forward. Sew it on very securely with small, tight stitches, forming a 2-inch square. (See illustrations/photos.)

Position pockets as desired and sew then on using small, tight stitches, near the edges of the pocket.

Head out for adventure.

SIZE [Larger solid version]

Fits a larger laptop computer; sized for use as school bag or carry-on luggage

 

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
[laid flat]

Before felting
Height: 19 inches
Width: 22 inches
Strap Length: 65 inches

After felting:
Height: 13 inches
Width: 17 inches
Strap Length: 52 inches
Gusset Depth: 2.5 inches

 

MATERIALS
Cascade 220 [100% Peruvian Wool; 220 yd/198m per 100g skein]
[MC] Color: #9402; 6 skeins
[CC] Color: #8400; 2 skeins

1 set US 13/9mm double-point needles
1 24-inch US 13/9mm circular needle
Tapestry needle
Stitch marker
Stitch holder

GAUGE
Approx. 10 sts/14 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch with double strand of yarn
(exact gauge is not important)
 
DIRECTIONS

Using circular needle and MC, loosely CO 52 sts.
Beg with a RS row, work 13 rows in stockinette st.
At end of last row, do not turn work but pick up and k 12 sts down adjacent edge of work, pick up and k 52 sts along CO edge, pick up and k 12 sts along rem edge of work. 128 sts on needle. Place marker and beg working in stockinette st in the round.Cont until work measures 18 inches from edge of base.
Next Round: Using MC k52, using CC BO rem sts using I-Cord BO. At end of round, place I-Cord sts on st holder.

Flap
Using MC, Work back and forth in stockinette st on 52 rem sts for 52 rows.
Break yarn at end of last row. Place all sts on hold on double-pointed needles.
With WS facing, using CC and circular needle, beg at corner where flap attaches to bag (lower right corner when WS facing), pick up and p 39 sts along edge of flap (pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows), p held sts from double-pointed needles, pick up and p 39 sts down rem edge of flap, ending next to held sts from I-Cord BO. 130 sts on needle.
With RS facing, rejoin CC to held I-Cord sts and BO all sts around flap using I-Cord BO. When all sts have been bound off, sew end of I-Cord to CO end of I-Cord.

Strap
Using MC, CO 12 sts.
Work in stockinette st until work measures 65 inches.
BO all sts.
Pockets (Make 2):
Using MC, CO 22 sts.
Work 30 rows in stockinette st.
Using CC, BO using I-Cord BO. BO I-Cord sts.

FINISHING

See directions for smaller bag.

ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Right about now, Stephanie and family are unpacking in their home in Marlboro, Vermont, where they hope they'll like it enough to stay forever.

When she's not busy chasing four-year-old daughter Adaylia; Stephanie spends her time knitting, spinning, sewing and dabbling in other fiber-related activities.

Stephanie's newest fiber adventure is importing a plethora of recycled silk yarn from Nepal; you can read more about that at her website.