The BobWilson123 cluster stitch bag is one of the August projects for the Bagalong facebook group. Its a great pattern and works up very quickly in chunky or super chunky yarn. It also works well with ordinary DK yarn worked doubled up.
There are so many lovely bag patterns around, we had plenty of ideas for what to do next but, after a little group vote, the cluster bag came out in front. When I checked the tutorial on YouTube and the downloadable pattern, they were very clear but used US terms. Some of the UK members of the group who are quite new to crochet understandably find that confusing so I thought it would be good to do a UK version.
But first, some links for you…
You can watch the BobWilson123.org video tutorial on YouTube here:
- Download the printable pattern from BobWilson123.org here
- Download the UK version of the printable pattern from me, Crafternoon Treats, here
I’ve been able to go ahead with the UK version only after I contacted Clare, the Australian designer, to ask if it was OK. Sadly, I didn’t realise when I sent the first message that Clare’s mum is currently seriously ill with a brain tumour and has only weeks to live. Of course that means she is spending her time caring for her mum and is not working for the next few weeks.
When I saw an update on YouTube I thought that there was no way that I would get a reply so was unsure of how to proceed. Its very tricky to use someone else’s pattern in this way if they haven’t agreed to it in normal circumstances, but even more so as Clare is going through so much just now.
But a few days ago I did receive an email from one of her colleagues who had spoken to Clare and they agreed that doing a UK version was fine! Yay!
I’ve now finished my lovely cluster bag and am very pleased with it. In this post I’m going to explain how I did it in a bit of a written tutorial with the pictures that I took when it was in progress.
My cluster bag
I decided to use some super chunky yarn for this bag – Stylecraft Weekender in four lovely vintage pastel tones including my favourite pink and duck egg blue. The actual shade names are petal (pink), duck egg, cream and clay.
I also used a 6mm Soft Touch Clover crochet hook so that the crochet was nice and firm. Tough on the hands but worth it for the results!
Techniques you will need to know
I made my circle for the bag base as neat as possible using two really easy techniques that may be new to you… the treble standing stitch and the neat joining technique for closing circles.
The treble standing stitch
This is a lot easier to show than to explain in words…
Closing a circle with a neat join
The cluster bag base – UK terms
The bag base is a circle worked in different coloured yarn for each round.
Make four chains. Join with a slip stitch to form a ring. Work 2 chains to start then work 12 trebles into the ring. Close with a neat join rather than a slip stitch (see video above).
This produces a perfect flat circle to start you off and no obvious join…
Join a new colour using a treble standing stitch into the top two loops of one of the trebles of round 1. Work a second ordinary treble into that same stitch.
Work two trebles into each remaining stitch all the way around and join using the neat joining technique. You will have 24 trebles in total.
Can you see the join? Hopefully not!!!!
Join a new colour by working a treble standing stitch into the top of one of the trebles of round 2. Work a second ordinary treble into that same stitch. Then work one treble into the following stitch. Continue all round, working 2 trebles in the next stitch and one treble into the stitch after. Close with the neat joining technique. You will have 36 trebles at the end of round 3.
Join your next colour using a treble standing stitch into the top of one of the trebles from round 3. Work a second ordinary treble into the same stitch. Then, work one treble into each of the next two stitches. Continue working two trebles, then one treble and one treble, all round. You will have 48 trebles in round 4. Join using the neat joining technique.
Join your next colour yarn going into the top of one of the stitches from round 4. Work a treble standing stitch and an ordinary treble into that stitch. Work a single treble into the next three stitches. Continue working two trebles into the next stitch and then one treble into the three following stitches all the way round. You will have 60 trebles at the end of this round. Close with the neat joining technique.
Join your next colour yarn into the top of one of the stitches from round 5. Use a treble standing stitch to start and then make an ordinary treble into that same stitch. Then work a single treble into the next four stitches. Continue all round working two trebles into the next stitch and then one treble into the next four stitches. You will have 72 trebles at the end of round 6. Join using the neat joining technique.
At this point my bag based measured about 8 inches (20 cm) so I then moved onto making the cluster stitch for the sides of the bag.
Want a bigger bag?
If you want to make a bigger bag, continue in exactly the same way, increase the number of single trebles between your increases as you go through each round. So, in round 7, you would work two trebles into the first stitch and then one treble into the next 5 stitches. In round 7, two trebles then one treble in the next 6 stitches. And so on, as far as you wanted to go!
Working the sides of the cluster bag – UK terms
Join your next colour into the top of one of the stitches from the last round of you bag base. Use a standing stitch treble once more but do not complete it. Leave two loops on the hook. Insert your hook again into the same stitch and work an ordinary treble but do not complete it. Leave the last two loops on your hook. In total you will now have 4 loops on the hook. Make a third treble and pull through two loops. You will now have 6 loops on your hook. Yarn over and pull through all 6 loops. Make a chain.
Miss the next stitch.
Make your next cluster stitch into the next stitch, using three trebles worked together. Work the first treble leaving two loops on the hook. Insert your hook into the same stitch and work the second treble, leaving the last two loops on the hook. You will now have four loops on your hook. Insert your hook into the same stitch again and work the third treble, leaving the last two loops on the hook. You will now have 6 loops on your hook. Yarn over and draw the yarn through all six loops. Make a chain
At the end of round one of your first cluster stitch row, make a chain and then join with a slip stitch into the main loop at the top of the first cluster stitch.
Round 2 and onwards
Start in the same way with a cluster stitch starting with a standing treble into one of the spaces between the cluster stitches of the first round. Continue making cluster stitches all round in the spaces. Close with a slip stitch in the same way.
Make as many rounds as you like for the size of your bag. In total I made 14 cluster stitch rounds.
Finishing the top of the bag and the handles
If you are changing yarn colour, join through the top two loops of the stitch at the top of one of your cluster stitches in the last round. Make 2 chains and one half treble into the same stitch. Then make a half treble into the chain separating the cluster stitches. Continue all around, making half trebles, one into the top of each cluster stitch and one into each of the chains between them.
I repeated this first round again, so that I had two rounds of half trebles in the same colour. I then changed yarn colour and completed one more rounds of half trebles in clay and then three rounds in duck egg blue, making the handles as instructed on the BobWilson123.org video.
I prefer to fold over the top of the handle, sewing the top of the last round to the base of the first round of that final colour to give firmer handles but it looks just as good if you leave the handles as they are.
Decorating your cluster bag
You can really get creative here but I decided to keep it simple as I really liked the way the colours looked in my bag. I made a basic Crafternoon Treats flower using this super chunky wool, which came out quite big. I then made three curly whirlies but making a chain of 20 stitches and then, starting in the second chain from the hook, working 3 double crochet stitches into each stitch. The chain then curls up on its own. I sewed on the flower and then attached the curly whirlies under the flower using the tail ends.
TaDah!!! My finished cluster bag