I don’t know if it’s just a New York thing, but it seems as though the appearance of muslin tote bags is as sure a sign of spring as blooming flowers and chirping birds.

As the wintery skies lift and coats are shed, so too are those heavy leather bags. So in true New York spring fashion, I started digging around for my freshest, cleanest tote, and as I often do, I wondered how it was I didn’t have a knit version of this object, this thing I love and use every time the sun shines!

I dressed up this simple sack with Louet’s Euroflax, a naturally chic 100% linen yarn. This hearty, elegant linen pairs perfectly with Tunisian stitch for a gently textured fabric with a whole lot of simple grace. Use this pretty Knit Tote for your shades and a lipstick or even for the early spring peas and radishes you’ll be grabbing at the market.

There’s still a bit of bite in the air here in New York, but I am yearning for the warmth and levity of spring. As soon as I can, I’ll be rocking a tote bag, just like so many of my neighbors! -Laura

Materials

Gauge

6 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch on larger needles

Size

12 inches wide x 13 inches tall and 22-inch handles

Pattern

Begin Body of the Bag

Using the circular needles and a Provisional Cast On, cast on 124 stitches.

Place a marker and join for working in the round, being careful to not twist the stitches.

Set-Up Round: K2, yo, *slip 1 knitwise with yarn still in front (wyif), wrap yarn over right needle and bring it to front again, repeat from * 58 more times, slip 1 knitwise wyif, bring yarn over right needle to back, place marker, k2, yo,*slip 1 knitwise wyif, wrap yarn over right needle and bring it to front again, repeat from * 58 more times, slip 1 knitwise wyif, bring yarn over right needle to back. (244 stitches)

Round 1: [K2, *k2tog (the yarn over and the slipped stitch) through the back loop (tbl), repeat from * to marker] two times. (124 stitches)

Round 2: [Slip 2 purlwise with yarn in back (wyib), yo, *slip 1 knitwise wyif, wrap yarn over right needle and bring it to front again, repeat from * to one stitch before marker, slip 1 knitwise wyif, bring yarn over right needle to back] 2 times. (244 stitches)

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until piece measures 12 3/4 inches, ending with Round 2.

Next Round: [K2, k2tog 16 times, mark previous stitch, k2tog 29 times, mark previous stitch, k2tog to marker, remove marker] two times. (124 stitches)

Bind off loosely in knit.

Make the Handles

Using the double pointed needles and a Provisional Cast On, cast on 3 stitches.

Starting at the second marked stitch, work an attached I-cord along the bound off edge of the bag, ending at the third marked stitch. Please visit our Attached I-cord Tutorial for complete instructions.

Work an unattached I-cord for 22 inches.

Rejoin the attached I-icord at next marked stitch, and work it to the last marked stitch (which is the first one you placed).

Work an unattached I-cord for 22 inches for second handle.

To complete the handles, remove the scrap yarn from the provisional cast on and place stitches onto a double pointed needle. Hold the two double pointed needles parallel and use the Kitchener Stitch to graft the handle I-cord to attached I-cord.

Graft the Bottom

Pull out the scrap yarn used for the Provisional Cast on, placing stitches onto the circular needle.

Slip the first stitch of the round onto the right needle so that it is now the last stitch of the round.

Divide the stitches in half, sliding 62 stitches to each end of the circular needle.

Holding the circular needles parallel, use the Kitchener Stitch to graft together the two sides of the bottom of the bag.

Finish the Bag

Weave in your ends and you are finished.

For a more relaxed feel, heavily block your bag. For a heartier tote, leave it as is. The linen will naturally relax with use.