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Elisa's Nest Tote

elisa9.jpgThis pretty tote bag was designed by Elisa, an Italian knitter and blogger who saw the Climbing Trellis Lace Pattern here on the Purl Bee.  She calls it her "No More Plastic Bag, Thank You!" It is a fast knit that takes only a few hours to complete.

Elisa's Nest Tote can be made from just about any cotton yarn (linen or hemp yarn work nicely, too). The stretchy lace stitch makes this bag practical and quite durable.

We would choose this dainty and durable tote over a plastic bag any day! 



Elisa's Nest Tote measures about 8 inches wide and 12 inches long when empty.  Depending on the size of the yarn you use, the bag may be bigger or smaller.  It will stretch when filled.  


Here's a copy of Elisa's Nest Tote for you to keep.  Enjoy! 



one skein or approximately 175-200 yards cotton yarn
We used Rowan 4-ply Cotton in Tutti Frutti

one pair straight needles a few sizes larger than recommended for your yarn
We used US size 9 needles. 

double pointed needles in the size recommended for your yarn
We used US size 3 needles. 

crochet hook in the size recommended for your yarn
We used a 3.5mm hook.

tapestry needle 



k2tog      decrease; knit two stitches together

psso       pass slipped stitch over 

ssk         decrease; slip, slip, knit

yo          increase; yarn over 

Check out our Decrease Tutorial for help with the techniques used in this pattern.

You can learn more about I-Cords in our I-Cord Tutorial


With larger needles, cast on 41 stitches.

Rows 1 and 3:  Purl.
Row 2:  K1, *yo, k2tog, repeat from * to end of row.
Row 4:  *Ssk, yo, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Repeat Rows 1 - 4 until fabric measures approximately 24 inches, or twice desired length of the finished bag.

Bind off loosely.

elisa13.jpg1. Fold the bag in half, right sides together so that the cast on and bind off edges form the top of the bag. You will join together the parallel long edges of the bag using a crochet hook. 

2. Using a 1 yard length of the same yarn that you used to knit the bag, make a slip knot on the hook. Leave a 6 inch tail of yarn.

3. Insert your crochet hook under the loops of the first edge stitch on the front side, at the corner with the top edge of the bag.  Then insert the hook through the first edge stitch on the back side. 

4.  Wrap the yarn around the hook, then draw the hook back through the two edge stitches. You now have two stitches on the hook.


5.  Wrap the yarn around the hook and draw it through both stitches on the hook.  You have just one stitch on the hook now. 


Continue joining the front and back edges of the bag, repeat steps 3 - 5 along the length of the bag. When you reach the bottom of the bag, where the knitted fabric is folded in half, draw the remaining yarn all the way through the final stitch to secure it.

Weave in your ends using a tapestry needle or your crochet hook.

Repeat for the second side of the bag.


This Applied I-Cord makes a nice finished edge for the top of the bag and a strong handle, too! You'll need only two of your double-pointed needles, plus a tapestry needle for joining the circular handle together.


With smaller needles, cast on 6 stitches.

Round 1:  K5, sl 1. Beginning at the right front edge of the top of the bag, pick up one stitch and place it on the left needle.  Knit it onto the right needle, then pass the slipped stitch over it and off the right needle.  You have six stitches on the right needle, and the yarn is coming from the last stitch on the left, closest to the point of the needle.


Round 2 Preparation:  Without turning the needle, slide the stitches down the needle to the opposite end and move the needle to your left hand.  The yarn is coming from the last stitch on the left, now furthest from the point of the needle.

Round 2:  K5, sl 1.  Pick up the next edge stitch and place it on the left needle.  K1, psso.

Repeat Round 2 until all of the edge stitches along the front of the bag have been incorporated into the I-Cord. 




Once you have completed the Applied I-cord Border, continue knitting the I-cord handle until you reach the desired length.  Remember that the handle will stretch a lot when the bag is full.  For a hand bag, we recommend knitting an 8 inch long I-cord handle; for a shoulder bag, knit until the I-cord is approximately 16 inches long.


Kitchener stitch is a seamless way to join "live" stitches, or stitches that are still on the needle.  For this project, one end of the I-cord is live, but the other end is the cast on edge.  To set up for Kitchener stitch, pick up six stitches from the cast on edge on one needle.  Now you have six stitches on each needle.


1.  Break the yarn, leaving a 20 inch length.  Thread it onto a tapestry needle.

2.  Hold the needles parallel, so that the stitches on the front needle come from the I-cord border, and the stitches on the back needle come from the I-cord handle.  The yarn is coming from the first stitch on the back needle.

3.  Draw the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle, as if to purl.  Leave the stitch on the knitting needle.

4.  Draw the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle, as if to knit.  Leave the stitch on the knitting needle.

5. Front Needle
a. Draw the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the front needle as if to knit.  Slip the stitch off the knitting needle.

b. Draw the tapestry needle through the following stitch on the front needle as if to purl and leave it on the knitting needle.

6.  Back Needle
a. Draw the tapestry needle through the first stitch on the back needle as if to purl.  Slip the stitch off the knitting needle.

b. Draw the tapestry needle through the following stitch on the back needle as if to knit and leave it on the knitting needle.

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for remaining stitches.

Draw the yarn through the last stitch to secure it, then weave in the tails.


Knit the Applied I-cord Border and I-cord Handle for the back of the bag.  Make sure the handles are the same length!   



We hope you use your Nest Bag for groceries, books, yarn, and all the bits and pieces that make up your life.  Enjoy!

Reader Comments (25)

love it! thank you.
June 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjodi
Thank you for this pattern. I am on my second bag!
July 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEllen
That is pretty, will have a go at this sometime.
August 27, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterangie
I'm 16" into the 24" that I have to knit! I'm getting near the end! It's a fun pattern, as long as you don't forget any yarnovers! LOL!
December 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDawnK
Thank you for the pattern! I found the reference to your site in my newspaper (The Daily Breeze) here in the Los Angeles area. california is currently moving to ban plastic shopping bags that we have gotten into the habit of using -- but which are now clogging our landfills. So this is a great pattern to use for me to make my own shopping bags. By the way -- your site is beautiful.

Happy Knitting!
January 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPauline in USA
I must be a moron but I really don't see the pattern, can someone send me the link. This is adorable
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjodifur
Hi Jodi,
You can find the full pattern by clicking on this link:
August 11, 2008 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I just finished my first bag and I made it out of some old scrap yarn and it is wonderful, so you are definitely not limited to a cotton. This was also my first I-cord and I love it...gonna go I-cord crazy now. Thanks for such a great pattern.
September 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy
I love the idea of ridding the world of plastic bags, but I just finished my one and only nest tote. I'm satisfied with the result, but this took me a VERY long time, and I'm not a beginner. I just thought knitters should know that it will probably take more than "a few hours." Now I need to find something to do with the other 6 skeins of Rowan 4 ply cotton that I bought. Any ideas?
January 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie
Thank you for the link. This was my first time on the site, what a great page for info!!

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Thank you so much for this pattern! It only took me three days to knit and I've only been knitting for three months. I got to work on my crocheting, i-cord, and other skills, and it wasn't tough to make at all. I am in love with the bag. It's so beautiful!!!!! I prance around my house wearing it becasue I love it so much. Thanks again!!!!!
February 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin
Thanks for the great pattern! Made 2 for a bridal shower and was sad to see them go. Now it's time to make some for myself - any tips on making a bigger opening to fit a big ol box of cheerios into it? Thanks again!
May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie G
mine came out with lost of stiches, question, with the ssk i looked on line do you slip , slip and then knit thoses two together for a decrease, that would make sence but the pattern didnt say to knit the two slip stiches together, i am so confused,, help me quick..
June 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbetty
I started this bag the other day and somehow I keep adding more and more stitches! I start with 41 stitches....does anyone know how stitches there are supposed to be in the following rows? Thank you for any answers in advance!
March 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRin
Hi Rin,

You should have 41 stitches the whole time you knit the bag. It sounds like you might be doing something funny with your yarn overs. Make sure that you're just bringing the yarn forward into the purl position and then doing the k2tog's or ssk's. Remember that you don't really "knit" a yarn over; it's created by what you do after it!

Please let us know if you're still having problems and thanks for your question!

March 30, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I made this and I love it. I lined the inside and changed the handle a bit. You can read about here if you want:
October 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCandace
Thanks so much for this pattern! I made a smaller tote as a handbag, but I found the opening really small after knitting the I-cord handles (I do love the I-cord!!). Could this be because the needles I used were too small? Thanks for any advice!
November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBear
Hi Bear,

It's possible your needles were too small, but more likely that you didn't pick up enough stitches as you knit the handle. Picking up too few stitches will result in a pretty tight opening which is no good for grapefruits and cabbages!

Thanks for asking!
November 9, 2012 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I don't see how this makes a cord at all. What I've got following these instructions is a flat border piece with a big chunk of yarn running across the back between rows.
May 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela M. Cable
Hi Angela,

I'd love to help, but I'm not sure where you're encountering problems. Is it with the Attached I-cord? Have you checked out our tutorial? It's right here:

Otherwise, if you can be more specific with your situation, I'm sure we'll work it out!

May 13, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hello, when I found your site and then this pattern I thought great- must give this a go. Have tried to get started ( even purchased the exact same wool as described - rowan 4 ply cotton 'tutti frutti'), but I am struggling much like a previous post to maintain 41 stitches. Even so the bag still looks quite small - am really not sure what I am doing wrong here, any input gratefully received thanks vicki
June 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVicki
Hello Vicki.
Can you explain to me what you mean about maintaining 41 stitches.
June 20, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Laura, I cast on 41 as indicated and then having read an earlier comment, got the impression that I should always have 41 stitches ( in other words maintain my cast on number of stitches throughout the piece) ... Is this correct? I seem to have 41 then get an increase to over 50 + stitches which sort of felt wrong but I am at a loss to know why this is so. Thanks
June 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVicki
superbe superbe quelle chouette idée (very good idea !!!)
July 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereugeniegwada
Love this pattern! Bag turned out beautiful! Going to be making these for Xmas gifts. Thanks!
November 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

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