While this knitting project is definitely a challenge for me, this part of it – which is the front and back of the bag knitted all at once – was actually a lot easier than the strap, because I was always on the knit side of the piece while working. Also, the pattern repeats were shorter, making the counting a lot easier.
I was more than halfway through with the knitting before I realized I had twisted the piece when I joined up the cast-on stitches. For those who have never knit in the round: this was knit on a circular needle (two points with a cable attaching them to each other). A long circular needle. Which means, after I cast on my 470+ stitches, I had to be super careful with the first stitch I knit, making sure that the cast-on stitches were all lined up properly to avoid a twist. I checked multiple times before commiting to that first stitch, but I still messed up.
There I was, with weeks of work done and a major problem on my hands. Because of the decreasing row lengths, my piece needed to lie flat so I could get the circle I ended up with (as seen above). Only this twist was going to make that impossible. My first thought was that I was going to have to rip everything out and do it all over. Not a happy thought. I’ve ripped things out to fix mistakes before, but considering all the counting and different yarns involved in this project, I knew that once I pulled it apart, it would be a long time before I started on it again.
Then I had a great insight. Cut the steek! Because this is actually two separate pieces being knit all at once, the stripey section running through the middle of the circle is a bridge or steek – extra stitches that give you a place to cut the two pieces apart*. I realized I could just cut one part of the steek early, untwist the piece, and go right on knitting. Man am I glad I thought of this. Not only did it work, but it saved me major hair-pulling and swearing, and means I will be finishing this bag sometime soon, instead of never.
Next to do: cut the front and back apart, then knit the bag flap onto the back section of the bag.
*Steeks have to be reinforced before cutting – you stitch or crochet on both sides of the place you are going to cut to keep the knitting from unraveling. I tried to find a good quick on-line explanation of this technique and was seriously disappointed. Lots of detailed instructions, but they were light on clear illustrations and they assumed too much knowledge up-front, which is why I wound up with the bland but clear Wikipedia definition for my steek link.