Free Pattern Fridays – Mini Backpack Charms!

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The kids in my area are beginning to head back to school already … and I’m sure, similarly, your children are either back in school already or will be in the near future.  I don’t have any children, but I live a block away from an elementary school, so I always know when school’s back in session from the playground shouts and influx of traffic in the neighborhood!  So, this week’s pattern is a fun and special back-to-school item that your kids should love!  As usual, I’ve tried to make it so that it’s not just a kiddie item – and I think all the members of your family and friends will want one of their own!

It’s a small backpack charm, perfect for hanging on a backpack!  You may be asking why you’d need a backpack charm for a backpack … in which case, I’d say you’re probably reading the wrong blog. 😀

I must say, however, that I did design these cute little charms with a purpose in mind.  I designed these little backpacks so you could start a school tradition with your kids.  They have a small “secret” pocket on the back into which you can tuck little notes or candies.  I remember my mother used to write me notes on the paper napkin in my lunchbag – and it meant a lot to me.  I think that kids who know that there’s a loving family at home pulling for them to be the best they can be are more likely to believe in themselves and their ability to learn and succeed.  So tuck a new note into their little backpack pocket every morning and show them you’re their biggest fan!  Try writing a quick math problem onto a piece of paper and stick it in the pocket for your child to solve.  A joke or a riddle would be fun as well.  Draw or print out a small picture, surprise them with a small wrapped candy … your options are only limited by your imagination and the size of the pocket!

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The decoration of the backpack itself is also completely customizable, so you can tailor it to the recipient.  In fact, it doesn’t have to be just for kids!  Stick one on your purse or knitting bag to show off your love of the craft.  You can stick little notions in the back pocket, and even a few tapestry needles in the mini side pockets!  Have fun with it!

The backpacks measure about 2.5 inches tall.  You can attach them to a backpack or bag using a carabiner or other hook, or you can use a keychain fitting.  You could even just use a length of yarn to tie the charm to the backpack if you’re in a pinch, although that may prove to be a little less secure.

Mini Backpack Charms


by Ilana Marks


Small amounts of:

-Worsted Weight Black Yarn

-Worsted Weight Main Color (MC) Yarn – pictured here in light pink and blue

-Worsted Weight Silver/Gray Yarn

-Accent Color Yarns or Threads for decoration (see “decoration” section for more info)

-One Set of US Size 6 double pointed needles (dpns)

-Small amount of Polyester Fiberfill stuffing

-Tapestry Needle


Main Bag

Using Black Yarn and leaving a tail for seaming, cast on 18 stitches onto 3 dpns and join to knit in the round.

Rnd 1: Knit 1 round.

Join the Main Color (MC) Yarn, cut the black yarn and continue knitting with MC.

Rnd 2-16: Knit 15 rounds.

Rnd 17: ssk, k5, k2tog, ssk, k5, k2tog (14 st)

Rnd 18: ssk, k3, k2tog, ssk, k3, k2tog (10 st)

Rnd 19: ssk, k1, k2tog, ssk, k1, k2tog (6 st)

Cut the MC yarn, thread the tail into a tapestry needle and weave through all stitches on the needles, pulling tightly to close.

-Stuff the bag through the open cast-on edge, then use the cast-on tail to seam this edge using mattress stitch.


-Weave in the ends.

“Secret” Pocket

Using MC yarn, cast on 8 stitches onto one dpn to knit flat.

Rows 1-9: Beginning and ending with a purl row, work 9 rows of stockinette stitch.

Bind off all stitches knitwise, leaving a tail for seaming.

-Place the pocket on the back side of the bag, with the bottom of the pocket just above the last black round of the bag.  Pin the pocket in place if desired.


-Using the tail, seam around the edges of the pocket using mattress stitch.  Make sure to leave the top edge unstitched to create the pocket.


-Weave in the ends.


Turn the backpack so that the black bottom is facing you and the pocket is facing up.  Starting just beyond the right edge of the pocket and using MC yarn, pick up and knit 2 stitches using one dpn.  Proceed to work these stitches as i-cord.


Rnd 1-12: Work 12 rounds i-cord.

Cut the yarn, leaving a short tail for attaching.  Thread the tail from right to left through the two stitches on the needle, pulling tightly to finish off the strap.

-Fold the i-cord up towards the top of the bag and attach the top edge of the strap to the bag with a stitch or two.


To make a second strap, position the bag in the same manner as you did for the first strap, only this time pick up and knit two stitches from right to left near the left edge of the pocket.


Work these 2 stitches as for the first strap, then attach the top edge of this strap to the backpack in the same manner as the first strap.


Weave in the ends.

Side Pockets

-Turn the backpack so the black bottom edge faces you and the back pocket faces your right.

-Beginning near the bottom of the strap, using MC yarn and a single dpn, pick up and knit 3 stitches from right to left along or just above the last black round on the bag.


-Turn to work these stitches flat.

Rows 1-5: Beginning and ending with a purl row, work 5 rows of stockinette stitch.

-Bind off all stitches knitwise, leaving a tail for seaming.


-Fold the side pocket upward along the side of the bag and attach it to the bag around the edges using the tail and backstitch. (These side pockets are primarily for show, however if you leave the top edge open, and seam only around the very edges of the pocket, there is enough room to stick a few tapestry needles in these pockets.)


-To work the second side pocket, again position the backpack so that the black bottom edge faces you, however this time, the back pocket should face your left.  Beginning about 3 stitches to the right of the back strap and along or just above the last black round on the bag, pick up and knit 3 stitches onto a single dpn from right to left using MC yarn.


-Work and attach this side pocket in the same manner as for the first side pocket.


-Weave in the ends.


Cut a long length of silver or gray yarn (I used a metallic-flecked silver yarn) and thread it into a tapestry needle.  Beginning just above a side pocket, make a line of backstitches up and over the curve of the backpack, ending just above the opposite side pocket.  If you wish, you may go back over these stitches a second time to make the zipper more prominent.


-Weave in the ends.


(These are just my suggestions – feel free to customize!)

Hearts Backpack:

-Cut a length of Red Yarn and thread into a tapestry needle.

-To make the center large heart, begin just below the center front of the backpack and make 5 diagonal stitches radiating out to a point about 1 stitch to the left and 3 stitches up from your original point.  Repeat to make 5 more diagonal stitches radiating out to the right to make the other half of the heart.

backpack22 backpack23backpack24

-You can make mini “heart” accents by making random duplicate stitches in red around the front of the bag.

Rocket Backpack:

-Follow the chart to make the rocket ship “decal” using duplicate and straight stitches (Vs represent duplicate stitches, solid white lines represent straight stitches.)

rocket chartbackpack30 backpack31 backpack32

-Make several long straight stitches of orange coming out of the rear of the ship.


-Embroider small “x’s” with silver/gray yarn randomly around the bag to form the stars.


Hanging Loop

-Cut a length of MC yarn, and thread it under a stitch near the top center of the backpack.  Wrap this stich a few times with the yarn to secure.  Pull the yarn over to another stitch near the top of the backpack, a few stitches away from the first one.  Thread the yarn under this stitch, pulling through until you have a loop of the desired size.  At this point, wrap this second stitch a few times to lock the loop in place.  Weave in the ends.

backpack26 backpack27 backpack28backpack29

Attach fittings of your choice, hang on a bag or backpack, and enjoy your new charm!

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I hope you enjoy knitting this week’s free pattern!  For those of you who don’t knit, I have premade backpack charms, hand-knit by me, available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

I’m still working on the new Land and Air set, but trust me, it will be worth the wait for those of you who like to knit vehicles!  The first set with biplane and police car is still available for purchase on Ravelry, along with many other quirky, fun-to-knit, fun-to-play-with patterns!

Thanks for visiting!  If you have any back-to-school stories or anything you’d like to share, feel free to comment below or you can share pictures on my Facebook page or on Twitter (@DrFrankKnits)!  In the future, I’ll try to set up a Flickr group as well, to make photo sharing easy!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


2 thoughts on “Free Pattern Fridays – Mini Backpack Charms!”

  1. Hi, Ilana,
    I saw your tutorial for the Mini Backpack Charms, and love the idea! I am an editor at AllFreeKnitting and would love to feature your pattern on our site with full credit to you on. Please email me if you are interested and would like more information.

    I look forward to hearing from you!


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