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Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Getting Started

November 9th, 2011

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Most crocheters have worked in the round and know the “standard” formula for increasing to make a circle: you add the same number of stitches in each round. You might start with a round of eight stitches, for instance, and in the second round you put two stitches in each stitch, in the third round two stitches in every second stitch, in the fourth round, two stitches in every third stitch, etc. This bag follows a similar plan, but some variation was necessary, for two reasons: Firstly, it’s a semicircle, and secondly, we have a decorative pattern that calls for special stitches in some rows, which effects how we count stitches and how the increases are placed.

To make a semicircle at this gauge, I figured out after much experimentation, I would start with 4 stitches and increase 4 stitches on each round. Basically, this pattern follows the standard formula — adding one more stitch between increases on each row, except for the rows where there are special stitches. But, as I experimented with the design, I saw that if I followed that method in this half circle shape, it wouldn’t come out symmetrical: wherever your increase points are, you get little “points” in the circle shape, and they would end up in different places on the right and left sides of the semi-circle — no good! So I had to figure out a solution for that.

What I did was make a center stitch in each row, and the increases are mirrored on each half of the bag. For example, in row 4 of this pattern, you need an increase every 3 stitches. The pattern has hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, then a center stitch (also an hdc), then on the second half of the row you have 2 hdc, hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, hdc, hdc. Up to the halfway point, the increases come at the end of the group, after the center stitch they come at the beginning of the group.

That same method is used on every row of the bag. I think if you take note of this, it will make stitch counting much easier. You might want to place marker in that center stitch and check that your rows look symmetrical on each side of the marker. Keep in mind that the ch 2 that starts each row is counted as the first stitch (as noted in row 2 of the pattern).

On the rows with Bobbles (Clusters), I followed the same plan. The Clusters count as one stitch in the row. Let’s look at row 5 closely and you’ll see what I mean. In row 5 the increases happen every 4th stitch.

Row 5 (Cluster Row): Ch 2, turn, sk first st, hdc in next 2 sts, (5-dc Cl, hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, 5-dc Cl in next st, 2 hdc in next st, hdc in next st, 2 hdc in next st, 5-dc Cl in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (hdc, 5-dc Cl) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, hdc in top of beg ch – 21 sts at the end of this row.

Ch 2 at the beginning is one stitch, then there are two more hdc, and then we need an increase, because we are at the 4th stitch. Since that’s where the first Cluster goes, we need a Cluster and an hdc in that spot. We work hdcs in the next 2 sts, a Cluster in the next stitch, and now we’re at the 4th stitch again, so we work 2 hdc. The next hdc marks the center of the row, and after that we do everything in reverse: 2 hdcs, then a Cluster, then hdc in next two stitches — that’s our first group of 4. In the next group, hdc and cluster in the same spot and 2 more hdcs for the next group of 4.

In this way, the two halves — right and left – are mirrors of each other. Is it starting to make sense?

In the rows with post stitches, I departed from the grand plan described here. In row 6 for example, I knew we would need 8 post stitches to go around the 4 Bobbles. So, when making 4 of them, we also work into the hdc behind the Post, which makes 4 increases in the row. On the other 4 Post stitches in the same row, we skip the hdc behind the post.

Now, I know this leads to some long lines of instruction, but perhaps understanding the designer’s “logic” can make it easier to follow.

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  • Juanita Quinones

    By highlighting sections of the row made it easier to also position in the correct place in the row. For example on Row 5 I highlighted the 5-dc CL. I knew I was going to end with 4. and I knew if I was before or after each of them.

  • Bethany

    Thanks for the explanations! It really helped me to think about the symmetry as I start into what is for me the tricky section – the post stitches. Also, I appreciated the close-up photo above; my counting was off and my posts were not around the cluster as they should have been. Sometimes a picture makes it extremely obvious what I’m doing wrong, and that was certainly the case with row 6! I’m happy to say it looks great and I expect it to get a bit easier.

  • Dora

    Glad this helped Bethany!  And thanks for the suggestion Juanita!

  • Neeham3

    Sorry, HELP I don’t understand row 6, the FPtr, please help

    • Bethany

      Here’s a video showing a FPtr. The only thing I don’t like about it is it shows the stitch in subsequent rows, not the first one, so you can’t see how to get it started. Hope it helps a little, though.

      • Neeham3

        Thank you I got it now :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Leete/591011265 Jessica Leete

    I sort of did the same thing as Juanita.  I didn’t print off the pattern, so I am following the online version.  I found  that every time I took my eyes off the pattern I had a hard time finding what part of the row I was on.  I therefore, using my mouse, highlighted the text explaining the first few stitches in the row.  Once I completed those stitches, I highlighted the text explaining the next few stitches.  This way when I took my eyes off the pattern I was able to easily find the highlighted text again, and highlighting as I go helped me easily stay on track.  I am going to do two purses, so I started last week.  I have all of the first side completed (minus section to attach handles because I am not yet sure what handles I am using) and have just hlfe of the last row on the second side.My practice swatch had the correct gauge, but my actual sides came out with incorrect measurements.  My sides are coming out around 12.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches tall.

    I picked the material I am lining both with – for my grey (in picture) I am lining with a light grey with white polka dots material, and my colonial blue will be lined with a white with small dark blue flowers material.  I wanted something that would pop when you opened the purses, so I am exciting for how the combinations will turn out. 

    • Doraoh

      Your lining looks great!  Very cool!1

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    Thanks so much Dora for this helpful post!
    I am all done except the handles, but am definitely going to make another one, and stay with the group to learn more!  
    My bright idea of the felted sweater as a lining did NOT work, even though it was thin.  It didn’t stick to the webbing.  I guess it was either too thick for the heat to get through, or I had rinsed it in fabric softener, or wool doesn’t work.  So instead I grabbed just a thin piece of cotton, cut it with pinking shears, and it worked like a charm!  You’re supposed to wash both the purse and the lining before you fuse it, to help it stick, but I didn’t.  I get in a rush to finish!  Impatient Crafter!  
    Also, I joined the two halves with a sc instead of a sl st.  I like the evenness of it from both sides.  
    You know what would make a cute lining?  An old work bandanna!  Or you could even cut up vintage hankies from thrift stores.
    My next purse I will plan out better.  Now, DH, about those custom handles….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Krychiw/100001202306264 Jane Krychiw

    I made a word doc from the pdf because it was so “compacted” I kept losing my place. With a word doc I could also enlarge the print which also helped. I also use a sticky note to keep my place. I had some counting problems in the beginning but got a friend to help with that. I also had to change to a K hook because I knit and apparently crochet pretty tight. All that said I am now progressing nicely.  

  • Carolee

      Thank God for Sticky Notes !!!!!

  • Granadagirl

    Thank you for the beautiful Half Medallion Bag pattern. I have made both sides and have joined them together with a slip stitch. I am unsure how far toward the top of the bag I should go to fasten off the ends of yarn I used to slip stitch the bag together. Should the top edge of the first cluster stitch be sewn together? Is there any type of stitch that should be used to fasten the bag together? Thank you for your help.

    • Dora

      Yes, I used the long tails to sew the top edge of the first cluster together. No special stitch, just in an out a bunch of times to make it secure.  Since the bag will be opened and closed many times, you want it to withstand that and not work itself loose over time.

  • Barbara

    I love this bag, but I’m not crazy about the handle.  Has anyone used anything different?

    • Doraoh

      Some people have posted photos of the bag on ravelry with a really nice rounded handle.  Check out the Lion Brand CAL group on ravelry.  Or maybe we can get people to put up photos here — hello — anyone?

      • Barbara

        Thanks Dora.  I really appeciate that.  Never would have thought to look there,

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Leete/591011265 Jessica Leete

    Here are some pictures of my sides for the two purses and the materials I am using to line them.  I am going to head to Joann’s to check out some handles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-S-Williams/100001078443744 Jennifer S. Williams

    Jessica – great job!!!  I am SO impressed with your work, color choices, and with the lining selection!  Are you going to sew the lining or fuse it?
    That was one limitation of the Martha’s yarn, is that it only came (at least at my store) in pastels.  I adore the grey.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Leete/591011265 Jessica Leete

      Thanks Jennifer!  I think I am going to try sewing one and if it works ok I will sew the other one as well.  Also, I think what I am going to do is flip the purse inside out and sew tip of the bottom of the lining to the bottom of the purse – then I will flip the purse back right side out and do the normal sewing at the top as the pattern advises.  That way hopefully the lining will not pull out, which is what I expect could happen if you only sew the top of the lining.

  • Anne

    This really helps understand the “rhythm” of the pattern.  It has a mirror, symmetry with the center.

  • Anne

    I’m using the Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool and really loving this yarn!  Thank you Lion!  I’ve never used this yarn before but will definitely be using it again.  The only problem I’m having is that I can’t seem to get a good picture of it. 

  • Marsha

    Thius is very helpful and I love the bag. However, please learn where to use “affect” and “effect”. The word in the last sentence of the first paragraph should have been “affect”.

  • Pingback: Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Working the Front Post Stitches | Lion Brand Notebook

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cheeta-Barnes/100002168252147 Cheeta Barnes

    Dora…You must just love what you do. I think you have a great camera too. I am teaching myself how to knit. I love to crochet. I find it easy to keep busy with yarn & hook in hand. Keep up the good work and thanks for your facebook help !!!

    Cheeta Barnes  Absarokee, Montana

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cheeta-Barnes/100002168252147 Cheeta Barnes

    Hi, hope to visit often. Cheeta