Pattern of
the Month

On the Needles
(...and Off the Needles)



About the
Idle Hands

July 2018

Colourful Kit Bag


Kit bags are yet another thing I have a weakness for; I still have and use a floral one I bought from the Gap at its flagship store in Richmond in the 1980s. I think it stems from when I was a little girl finding my Father's military kit bag in the attic with "Delhi" and "Bombay" stenciled* on it - conjuring all kind of exotic ideas and possibilities. [All us kids also used this kit bag for camping with the Scouts and Guides in those days].

Kit bags are a bit impractical for any activity other than that for which they were designed, but smaller ones can be used more successfully as hand bags. This one seems to be of a more useful size, and you can really make it to any size you feel like. If you use "any thickness" of yarn as suggested then even the size of the base is really up to you. Designed towards the end of WW2, in an era of extreme shortages - where even the manufacture of yarn was restricted never mind the rationing - it is made from "oddments" or "pulled back" wool. The paper the pattern was printed on is flimsy in the extreme and there are sympathetic references everywhere to the inability to source the materials required.

* As well as the destinations, there was also my Father's name, army number, and unit stenciled on his kit bag, and I remember being amazed that he could just recite it without thinking - when in fact his army days were not so very far distant then and of course the only thing you were ever obliged to reveal were "name, rank, and number" - so not so surprising other than to a tiny child who suddenly had a glimmer of an idea that her Father had a life before she existed.


The bag is really a free format design and quite simple to make. It's the details that can make it rather splendid.
The base is made as a reinforced cup shape (in leather or felt) with a base and short sides (border) - not so obvious but seen as blue in the picture.


[Editor's note: Since you are working to a non-specified tension, you might want to do the crochet part first and make the base to fit accordingly.]

Cut 2 circles of felt, one 8½ inches, the other 10 inches in diameter.
Cut 2 circles of cardboard, both 8½ inches in diameter.
Place both cardboard circles together on top of the large felt circle; turn felt over on to top of circle and stitch from one side to the other across centre, pulling stitches taut. Place second felt circle over this and slip-stitch in place.


Cut a piece of felt 9 inches wide and 27 inches long; then a strip of cardboard 26 inches long and 4 inches wide.
Wrap felt round cardboard so as to cover both sides, oversewing the edges neatly and not touching the stiffening. Close the whole border to form a ring; place over base, and stitch firmly all round.

Crochet top

With double wool, make 140 chain and close to form a ring.

[Editor's note: Or *not* with double wool - as you prefer and depending on the thickness of the yarn you are using; in fact of you really are using scraps of different thicknesses you might use some of them double and some not. In the 1940s, sweaters were generally made in fingering (thin) yarn so the assumption would have been that this is what you would have had to work with.
Now would also be a good time to check out your tension - albeit in a free format kind of a way - does 140 chain look like it will go round your base? There is something to be said for maybe making your base after you have done the crochet top so you can make it to fit.]

1st round: Make 3 chain to form first treble, then work 1 chain, 1 treble all round, and link up with first treble.
2nd round
: 3 ch, then 1 treble in 1 treble all round, linking up with first treble.

Repeat 2nd round for about 8 or 9 inches, changing colour as required.

Now start decreasing by missing a tr 4 times evenly in round.
Continue to decrease, thus every round until 100 trebles remain.

Divide the work so that you have 36 trebles for back and front with 14 at each side. Work 12 rows of trebles on each of the 36 tr.
Finish off.

Turn down each of these 2 (36 treble) top hems and slip a piece of cardboard into each to stiffen before finally stitching.


With double wool make 70 chain and join to form a circle.
Work 3 rounds of trebles and fasten off.
Make another the same, then stitch each over a circle of old lengths of wool.

[Editor's note: You are essentially using the yarn as stuffing for the handles.]

To Make Up

Stitch crochet top to edge of base on inside of it, making it very firm. Sew handles firmly to stiffened tops.

Make a length of crochet chain with a small tassel at each end to thread through open sides at each side of handle.



I was sufficiently smitten with this that I actually made one up for myself, with some adaptations of my own.

Firstly I did stick with the idea of using oddments I already had, but I used mostly chunky yarns so I did not have to work with the yarn doubled - which can be a bit of a nuisance when doing crochet, even though many old and new patterns seem to suggest it. As I selected my yarns based on colour, some of them were used double to achieve the thickness I wanted.

I also changed the stitch - I used a 4mm hook with my chunky yarn, and worked in double crochet (American single crochet) throughout instead of treble crochet in order to achieve a firmer fabric; trebles provide a moderately open fabric, which, even with a lining, was not the effect I wanted. If you want to do that yourself, bear in mind that working with dc is not as quick; however, I find crochet in general works up very quickly (as well as thicker) when compared with knitting.

[Editor's note: Worth noting here that although I settled on using chunky yarn, in my opinion, the original fingering (or 4 ply) yarn is about equivalent to an Aran or worsted weight yarn when used double; I say "in my opinion" as opinions do differ on this.

For the base, I used a rather thick leather (about 2mm) which was tough to work but made up surprisingly well. I bought it from leather4craft's selection of offcuts on eBay - but it did prove fairly expensive for all that. You could use a thin leather, or PVC, or recycled leather (which I found very easy to work with in the past) in which case you can treat it much like the felt although easing it may not be quite so easy.
If you choose thick enough leather, you might want to do away with the reinforcements of the cardboard, which is what I did, but I did line the inside of the whole bag with fabric.



I made the base to be an oval shape to suit the offcut of leather I had. I just took a rectangle about 12 by 8½ inches and rounded the corners (using a dinner plate as a guide), then attached the border in that shape; about ½ inch was used all round for the overlapping seam which gave a circumference fairly close to the original 9 inch circular base.
I made my crochet ring - in chunky yarn - to fit the shape (about 125-130 chain, or about 30 inches). The flattened circular shape actually matches the flattened effect of the top fastening and handles and I had to take that into account when positioning the handle flaps, for which I made rudimentary leather handles


Oddments of wool, any shade or ply.

A medium-sized crochet hook.
Corrugated paper or cardboard for base and handles.

Felt or leather for the base.
"Felt was used for the original, but it is scarce now."
("now" being 1944)


Dependent on the yarn and hook you use.

Size matters

The base of the bag is designed to be about 8½ inches.

Crochet abbreviations:

ch: chain
tr: treble
ss: slip stitch

Remember these are English crochet instructions where dc is equivalent to US single crochet - see "Terminology" in the side bar.

A Word on the Wool

I used some tough carpet wools in combination with any chunky yarns I could find in the right colours. I used a relatively smaller hook than usual for chunky in order to keep the fabric firm - and carpet-like.

I have seen some crochet work for sale at Woolfest using Herdwick wool which I liked a lot. It was similarly firm, making self- supporting small boxes. [I was less keen to try that out myself as I felt it would be quite tough on the hands.]


In transposing any pattern it is always a risk that errors will be introduced, in spite of dedicated proof reading.
If you have any problems with this pattern, please and I will try and assist.


So by now I expect you are thinking "...but hey! - what about that extremely snazzy and attractive belt she is wearing? where can I buy that?".
Well - good news! it's not a purchased item at all - it's a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted item you can make yourself! Here's how:


Again the materials are designed to be "make do and mend" oddments of old pulled-back knitting wool in any ply and any shade, worked with a medium-sized crochet hook.
You also need a piece of (faux or real) leather, felt or suitable material for the backing.

Each circle is made separately:
First collect together your most disreputable ends of wool and join them, a few strands at a time, to make the foundation over which the circles are crocheted.

Now make 6 chain and join into a circle closely.
1st round: Work 12 dc into ring, working over the foundation of the old wool.
2nd and 3rd rounds: 2 dc into 1 dc all round.
Pull this foundation from time to time to see that the circle keeps its proper shape and is flat.

Break foundation and working wool and finish off neatly.

[Editor's note: The intention here is to achieve a fairly solid roundel by working your stitches over a core of old yarn - as you might do in stumpwork embroidery or making a corded buttonhole. Obviously you can do as many rounds as you like to achieve the appropriate size.]

Arrange the 15 circles for front of belt as shown in photograph, and stitch to foundation material cut to shape.
Work 4 crosses in the centre spaces.
Six circles are used to belt round the back, and these are stitched to separate circles of foundation material and then stitched together so that they overlap. J
Join another 6 for the second side, then make a hook-and-eye fastening at the back.

June 2018

Flower Power



Note: Yarn is used double throughout, and the hats are made using a variation of double crochet:
Instead of working under the two loops at the top of each stitch as for
ordinary double crochet, insert the hook into the back loop only of the
stitch, ie, between the front and back loops at the top of the double crochet of the previous round, then into the top of the upright loop at the back and to the left of this double crochet, then complete the stitch as for an ordinary double crochet.

Basic Hat

Make 3 chain, join in a ring with slip stitch (ss) in 1st chain.
1st round: 1 ch, to count as first dc, work 5dc into circle. Join with ss to first ch. [6 sts]
2nd round: 1 ch, to count as first dc, 1 dc into same place, work 2 dc into each dc to end, remembering to work over the two separate threads. [12 sts]

Do not join after this round, but carry on working in continuous rounds, making a spiral. This will be easy if you mark the begninning of the next
round with a coloured thread so that you do not lose your place.
3rd round: Continue in pattern as given above, working (2 dc into next st, one dc into next st) to end. [18 sts]
4th round: Continue in pattern, working (2 dc into next st, one dc into each of the next 2 sts) to end. [24 sts]

Continue in pattern, increasing 6 stitches in every round in this way until there are 66 stitches.

Continue working in rounds of double crochet without shaping for a further 3½ inches (9cm).

For the basic hat - fasten off at this point. You can then decorate as required.


Make one small and one large daisy to sew on the basic hat. You should use a smaller crochet hook (2½ -3mm) and a single strand of the 4ply yarn.

Small daisy:
Make 7ch.
Join with a ss to first ch to form circle.
1st round: 3ch, work 17tr into circle. Join with a ss to third of first 3ch.
2nd round: * 3ch, miss next 2tr of previous round, 1 ss into next tr, repeat from * 4 times more, 3ch. Join with a ss to first of first 3ch.
[6 loops].
3rd round: Into each 3ch loop work (1dc, 1htr, 3tr, 1htr, 1dc). Join with a ss to first dc.
[Editors note: This makes shell shapes for the petals..]

Fasten off.

Large daisy:

Make 11ch.
Join with a ss to first ch to form circle.
1st round: 3ch to count as first tr, work 31tr into circle. Join with a ss to 3rd of first 3ch. [32tr]
2nd round: * 4ch, miss 3tr of previous round, 1ss into next tr, repeat from * 6 times more, 4ch, miss 3tr. Join with a ss to first of first 4ch.
[8 loops]
3rd round: Into each 4ch loop work (1dc, 1htr, 3tr, 1htr, 1dc). Join with a ss to first dc.
[8 petals]
4th round: * 4ch, 1ss into back loop of st on second round between next 2 petals, repeat from * 7 times more, joining last ss into first of first 4ch.
[Editors note: This creates a double row of petals.]

5th round: Into each 4ch loop work (1dc, 1htr, 5tr, 1htr, 1dc). Join with a ss to first dc.

[Editors note: If you want to create a medium sized flower you can stop here and fasten off - otherwise continue with 2 more rounds.]

6th round: * 5ch, 1ss into back of st on 4th round between next 2 petals, repeat from * 7 times more, joining last ss into first of first 5ch.
7th round: Into each 5ch loop work (1dc, 1htr, 2tr, 5dtr, 2tr, 1htr, 1dc). Join with a ss to first dc.
Fasten off.

White hat

This hat was made using raffia, using thread single throughout with a
No 5 (5½mm) crochet hook. The crown is worked as for the basic hat in double crochet. Instead of fastening off after working the 3½ inches (9cm), work a further round of eyelet holes to slot ribbon through:
work one treble into alternate double crochet with one chain between each.
Complete the hat with 2 double crochet worked into each chain space, and thread ribbon through the holes if desired.

Granny squares hat

Using a No 6 (5mm) crochet hook and double yarn, work crown as given for basic hat in double crochet pattern until there are 72 stitches. Fasten off.
Make 6 granny squares with 3 rounds in each, using the same crochet hook and having the yarn double throughout as follows:

Make 6 chain. Insert hook from front to back into first chain, yarn round hook and draw loop through chain and loop on hook in one movement. One slip stitch (ss) ss has been worked to join ch into a circle or ring.

1st round: 3ch to count as first tr, 2tr into circle working under ch, 2ch, work (3tr into circle, 2ch) 3 times. Join with ss to third of first 3ch.
2nd round: 2ch, work (3tr, 2ch, 3tr) into first 2ch space to form the corner, * 1ch, work (3tr, 2ch, 3tr) into next 2ch space, repeat from * twice more. Join with ss to second of first 2ch.

3rd round: 3ch, 2tr into first ch space to the left of ss join of previous round, 1ch, * work (3tr, 2ch, 3tr) into 2ch space, 1ch, 3tr into 1ch space, 1ch, repeat from * twice more, (3tr, 2ch, 3tr) into last 2ch space, 1ch. Join with ss to third of first 3ch.
Break off yarn, and fasten off, (ie draw end through loop on hook and draw up tightly).

You can work the square in a single colour or in multiple different colours, fastening off one colour and starting another at the end of each round.

Join the 6 squares into a circle. With main colour work 72 dc along
one edge, then work another round in double crochet.
Sew this edge in place around the crown.
Complete the lower edge with 2 more rounds of double crochet.

To Make Up

Sew in ends and embellish as desired referring to the photos:

- sew daisies to hat, or,
- thread ribbon through eyelet holes, or,
- sew granny squares into a circular band and attach to hat crown, or,
- make a plait long enough to fit round lower edge of hat and sew in place. (Use oddments of 3 colours, taking about 20 strands of each).


75g in 4ply fingering yarn, used double.
[Plus oddments for any trimmings].

A No 2 (7mm ) crochet hook


10 stitches and 7 rows measures 2 inches (5cm) over brim pattern.

Size matters

To fit "an average head"

Crochet abbreviations:

ch: chain
ss: slip stitch
dc: double crochet
htr: half treble
tr: treble
dtr: double treble

Remember these are English crochet instructions where dc is equivalent to US single crochet; htr is equivalent to US double crochet - see "Terminology" in the side bar.


In transposing any pattern it is always a risk that errors will be introduced, in spite of dedicated proof reading.
If you have any problems with this pattern, please and 1 will try and assist.


May 2018

Day Blouse


A pretty knitted "blouse" - spoken with a soft "s" as in "mouse" I suspect (maybe you pronounce it like that anyway). Presumably you could go wild and try wearing it other than in daylight hours.


Instructions for larger size is given in brackets. Where one set of figures is given this applies to both sizes.


Using the pair of No 13 (2¼mm) needles cast on 117 (127) stitches and work in rib as follows:

1st row (right side facing): * p2, k3; repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p2.
2nd row: * k2, p3; repeat from * to last 2 stitches, k2.
Repeat these 2 rows until work measures 3 inches ending with 2nd row.

Now increase as follows:

Next row: * p1, pick up horizontal thread before next stitch and purl into back of it, p1, k3; repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p1, pick up and purl horizontal thread as before, p1. [141 (153) sts]

Continue in k3, p3 rib until work measures 8 () inches from start. With right side facing, change to stocking stitch, starting with a knit row, and shape sides by increasing 1 stitch at each end of the 3rd (5th) and every following 6th row until there are 153 (163) stitches.
Continue straight until work measures 11½ (12) inches down centre.

With right side facing, shape armholes by casting off 9 (9) stitches at the beginning of the next 2 rows, then decrease 1 stitch at each end of every knit row until 121 (131) stitches remain.
Mark each end of the last row with a coloured thread.

Now continue straight in stocking stitch until armholes measure 6 () inches from markers. With right side facing, shape shoulders by casting off 10 (11) stitches at the beginning of the following 8 rows; cast off remaining 41 (43) stitches.


Work as for back from ** to **. [121 (131) sts]

Next row: Purl.

With right side facing, divide for neck as follows:
Next row: knit 60 (65), turn, and leave remaining stitches on a spare
needle or stitch holder.
Continue on first 60 (65) stitches, decreasing 1 stitch at the neck edge on every following knit row until 40 (44) stitches remain.
Work straight until armhole measures 6 () inches from marker.

With right side facing, shape shoulder by casting off 10 (11) stitches at the beginning of the next and following 3 alternate rows, at the armhole edge.

With right side facing, rejoin wool to remaining 61 (66) stitches, cast off centre stitch and knit to end.
Finish to correspond with first shoulder.

Making Up

Press only the stocking stitch parts on the wrong side under a damp
Join shoulder seams.

With the pair of No 13 needles and right side facing, pick up and knit 148 (156) stitches all round each armhole.
Work 7 rows in k2/p2 rib.
Cast off in rib.

Join side seams.

Using the set of four No 13 needles, or circular needle to facilitate working, continue for collar as follows:
Start by casting on 30 (30) stitches for the bow, then on to the same needle and with right side facing, pick up and knit 70 (75) stitches up right side of neck; on to the 2nd needle pick up and knit 41 (43) stitches across the back of the neck; on to the 3rd needle pick up and knit 70 (75) stitches down left side of neck, then finally cast on 30 (30) stitches for the other end of the bow. [241 (253) sts]

Divide the stitches equally on the 3 needles and continue as follows:

Next row: Purl.

* Continue in stocking-stitch, increasing 1 stitch at each end of the following 6 knit rows, then decreasing 1 stitch at each end of the following 6 knit rows*. Repeat from * to * once more.
Next row: Purl.
Cast off.

Fold the collar in half with right side inside, then join points and side edge of the cast-on stitches for bow. Turn right side out and press, then fold rest of collar in half all round neck to wrong side and slip-hem in position. Press seams and collar.

Slip ends of collar through scarf ring to form a bow as shown in photograph.

Altering the size

It would be feasible to increase the size by knitting in a thicker yarn - but you do need to make a swatch and do some arithmetic. Even changing to a 4 ply with 3¼mm needles could change your chest size from a modest 34 to over 40 inches.


6 (6) ozs 3 ply.

A pair of No 13 (2¼mm) needles.

A set of 4 No 13 (2¼mm) needles (or a circular) for the collar.

One scarf ring.


36 sts to 4 ins in garter stitch on No 13 needles.

Size matters

To fit 33-34 (35-36) inch chest; length from top of shoulders 18¾ (19¾) inches


k2tog or p2tog: knit or purl 2 sts together (decrease one stitch).

stocking stitch: one row knit and one row purl, ("stockinette")

A word on the wool.

Susan Crawford, who specialises in vintage knits, offers lovely Fenella wool which "knits up to that elusive vintage ‘3 ply’ tension".

Jamiesons have an excellent range of colours in "2ply laceweight" which states: This yarn can be used in vintage patterns which call for "3ply yarns".

John Arbon has some wonderful laceweight that looks suitable.


In transposing any pattern it is always a risk that errors will be introduced, in spite of dedicated proof reading.
If you have any problems with this pattern, please and I will try and assist.

© Christina Coutts 2007

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