KT and the Squid

Shelley Tote Free Knit Pattern

The Shelley Tote Free Knit Pattern is perfect for beginner knitters because it uses mostly garter stitch and very little assembly. I love using my tote as an everyday bag or for a small shopping trip.

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Can I let you in on a little secret? I hate sewing! But I don’t let that get in my way of making a great, useful bag. A little trick I’ve used again and again over the years is lining my knit and crochet bags with ready-made canvas totes. It makes the bag nice and sturdy plus it looks professionally made. Of course, if you enjoy sewing you can make your own lining and if you’d like this bag to be an open mesh produce bag you can skip the lining all together and add your own handles.

For this bag I used the new Cottonsmooth DK from King Cole as part of the Spring Accessories Make Along. This make along includes some knit and crochet patterns from the King Cole Ambassador team from North America. If you haven’t joined yet you can find the full schedule and project links HERE

I don’t often use cotton yarns but when I do I’m pretty picky about the, Cottonsmooth DK is 100% Mercerised Cotton. It has a lovely soft sheen. This cotton is durable yet smooth. I can see it holding up wonderful overtime. It’s been a while since I’ve knit a project so I had to rip out my work a few times and there was no pilling. Speaking of knitting, it knitted up very nicely. Not too grippy or slippery. It was lovely! 

You can find this yarn at your local yarn shop. Find a shop using this link.


the Hues colorways are new. They all looked so beautiful I knew I had to try them. If solid colorways are more your thing Uptown Worsted is the perfect substitute.

Use #ShelleyTote and tag me @ktandthesquid when sharing on social media!

Before you get started here are some helpful links.

I’ve used Uptown Worsted Hues from Universal Yarn. You can find a King Cole Stockist HERE

If you have any questions please use the my Contact Me form and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can

Shelley Tote ©2022 KT and the SquidAll rights reserved. You may not sell, trade, share or redistribute this pattern in any way. You may sell finished items made from this pattern.


15” wide by 16” tall


2 skeins King Cole Cottonsmooth DK (100% Mercerised Cotton; 218yds/100g; DK weight)

-You might want a 3rd skein for a proper gauge swatch.


US size 6/5 mm straight or circular needles


CO = cast on

ws = wrong side

k = knit

k2tog = knit 2 together

yo = yarn over

BO = bind off

Other Materials

1 tote bag approx. 15” by 16”

I used THIS bag but you can use any tote about the same size.


Purse handles

Fabric glue or a sewing needle and thread

This bag is worked in 2 pieces that will be sewn together. For the sample I used a canvas tote bag as a lining. You can find the bag I used from Amazon HERE.

You can also make your own lining or use other purse straps if you’d like. 


21 sts by 30 rows in garter st = 4” square (blocked)

Shelley Tote Free Knit Pattern Instructions

Bag Body (make 2)

CO 78

Work garter stitch for 3”

Repeat the following mesh pattern 5 total times. 

Row 1 (ws): K, (k2tog, yo), k. 

Rows 2-4: K

Work garter stitch until the piece measures 8”

Repeat the mesh pattern 5 times.

Work garter stitch until the piece measures 13”

Repeat mesh pattern 5 times.

Work garter stitch until the piece measures 16”



Sew two pieces together across the side, bottom (cast on edge) and second side.


Attach purse handles or sew/glue in tote bag as lining.

If using a bag as a lining, insert the tote into the knit bag. You can sew it in with a needle and thread or use fabric glue to attach it. Because the tote will be holding the weight of anything put in the bag fabric glue should hold it just fine.

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