Knitting pattern for Japanese Knot Bag

This is a knitting pattern for a bag inspired by the Japanese knot bag. It is a clever bag design that requires no extra accessories for closure.

A Japanese knot bag is a small roundish bag with 2 handles. It is frequently made with recycled kimono fabric. It is carried with one handle over the other to create an interesting asymmetry. The handles could be of equal length or one could be significantly shorter than the other.

In this pattern, I have chosen to knit one handle shorter than the other. I have also decided to position the shorter handle in front of the longer one. The idea is to loop the shorter handle over the longer one to act as closure in front of the bag. The usual position is side by side.

I have also used smaller sized needles than was recommended for the yarn so that I get a firmer and sturdier knitted fabric.

Japanese Knot Bag - Finished
Japanese Knot Bag – Complete with an assortment of buttons


  • 1 skein Knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky Scuba (100% Peruvian Highland Wool)
  • Assortment of buttons


  • 3.5mm knitting needles (double-pointed or circular needles)
  • An extra pair of 3.5mm double-pointed needles.
  • Sewing needle and thread in matching colour

ravelry button

Directions for the body

Cast on 72 stitches

Bring the first stitch and the last stitch together

Place a marker between these 2 stitches

Join together and start knitting in the round by knitting the first stitch right after the last stitch

Knit in the round until the piece measures 17 cm. The body of the bag is basically a square. If the width of the bag is more than 17 cm, then knit till the height is the same as the width.

Japanese Knot Bag - Body
Body knitted in the round

Directions for the Handles

Adjust the first 18 stitches onto a single needle

Then, knit these 18 stitches as follows: K2, P2, K10, P2, K2

Turn and knit the same 18 stitches as follows: P1, K1, P1, K1, P10, K1, P1, K1, P1

Repeat these 2 rows until the handle measures 25cm

Using kitchener stitch, graft these 18 stitches to 18 stitches next to it.

Once grafted, cut off the yarn and weave the ends into the bag neatly

Start step 2 and 3 again with the next 18 stitches

Repeat these 2 rows until the handle measures 13cm

Japanese Knot Bag - Attaching the Handle to the Body
Attaching the Handle to the Body Using the Kitchener Stitch

Using kitchener stitch, graft these 18 stitches to the remaining 18 stitches on your circular needles.

Bring the two edges together for the kitchener stitch

The finished handles will look like this:

Japanese Knot Bag - Handles
Handles long and short

The handles, one longer than the other

Sewing up the bottom

Position the bag so that the shorter handle is in front of the longer one

Sew up the bottom using mattress stitch

Japanese Knot Bag - Front view
Front view of the bag

Attaching the buttons

Using a sewing needle, attach assortment of buttons to the body of the bag.

Lining the bag

Line the bag and it lasts longer. I lined both the handles and the body.

Find any fabric that you can re-cycle. You can buy new fabric too but I think an old T-shirt works just fine. Measure and cut the fabric with about 1 inch extra for folding in. Two narrow strips for the handles and a long rectangle for the body.

Position and pin the narrow strips to the inside of the handles right side facing up. Fold the 1-inch border in and slip stitch along all the sides.

Fold the fabric for the body in half right-side together. Mark out the 1 inch border and stitch up the side and bottom. You can use the sewing machine for this if you have one. Turn it out so that the right side is facing out. Turn the knot bag wrong side out and slip the body lining in. Fold the 1-inch border and pin along the opening of the bag over the handle lining.

Japanese Knot Bag - Lining it
Lining the bag

Remember, sew the buttons or any other ornaments that you like onto the bag first before you line it because you want to hide all the threads and endings underneath the lining.

I tried to be as clear as possible but if you still have questions, feel free to ask.

This is a free knitting pattern. I’ll be thrilled if you use it. Please link back here if you do.

My other bag patterns

Aran Cable Tote Bag
Garter Stitch Square Bag
Garter Stitch On A Bias Bag
Sock Yarn Handbag

Happy Knitting! Phoebe

22 thoughts on “Knitting pattern for Japanese Knot Bag

  1. I used chunky number 5 yarn and my width is 12-13 inches. so the length will be the same. how long should the handle be? still the same as the instruction 25 and 13cm? or what’s best for my size of bag please help

  2. I loved your bag, but my pet hate are circular needles, so I made my version using straight needles. I made it corner to corner for both back and front, then the handle loops, then I crocheted the sides by slip stitching.
    I kept the yarn intact without snipping from beginning to end. Hope you like my version of your Japanese knot bag.

    1. Hi Sharon, haha, how ingenious. Do you have a picture of it? Do share it here. I think this Disqus comment system allows you to upload a pic.

      1. Here is a collage of my design of your Japanese knot bag, I am going to line it with felt and embellish the outside :-))

  3. Is it possible to not make hte body of the bag in the round? Will it affect how it looks? I only have normal knitting needles, but I really want to make this.

    1. Hi Jackie,
      So sorry for the late reply. My disqus was acting up. Yes, you can make the body in the normal way. Either make it long and fold it in half and seam up the side or make it wide and fold it in half and seam up bottom and side. If you knit it long, you should use a provisional cast on so that you get live stitches to make the handles.

    1. Hi there, the bag can be made bigger in 2 ways. Using chunkier yarns or increasing cast on stitches. The handles are divided evenly, so any additional increases in stitches must be divisible by 4. If the handles are too wide, you can decrease some stitches when working on the handles. Make sure the decreases are evenly done for both handles. Hope this helps.

  4. thanks for sharing!! been wanting to get a small bag, but now i can knit one for myself! anyway, just to check, the 17X 17 square, do i have to roll out the end that curls up?? =)

    1. Hi Gillian, you are referring to the bottom of the bag? What do you mean by rolling it out? I seam the end together using the mattress stitch. Then I line the bag.

      1. yup, as in when im knitting in st stitch in the round, the end of the bag tends to roll up.. do i need to straighten out the base to measure the 17 cm before i start knitting the handles?

  5. I really like this bag a lot! I made a tiny one to carry around poops bags when I walk my dog. I’m also making another small one (bigger than the first one I made) for my niece whose turning 2 on Friday. She has begun to carry around my sister’s purse so now she’ll have her own.

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I love it!

    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for trying out the pattern. Glad that you like it. Do you think you can show me a picture of it? Are you on

  6. This is extremely cute. Thanks so much for the pattern! I’m going to knit it for my son’s girlfriend who is half Japanese. I was looking for a small purse or tote bag and this one looks perfect! I do have one question before starting: Does the lining show on the handles when you close the bag? Is there a definite need to line the handles?


    1. Hi Tere,

      If you look at the last picture you will noticed that the lining is only up to the stockinette part of the handle. The edge of the handle will curl and should cover the lining.

      I tend to overstuff my bag so I require extra support from the lining to prevent the handle from stretching too much.

      You can skip the lining if you want.

  7. This was the free pattern on Daily Knitter (dot com) today. I love the way this bag fastens and plan to knit it for myself (and possibly my granddaughters for Christmas). Checked out your site too. Very nice!

    1. Hi there, thank you for leaving a note to let me know you like my bag pattern. I would love to see how the bag turns out in another knitter’s hand.

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