It is all gift knitting all the time in my apartment. I've decided that while I'm at home I should be working on my gift knitting exclusively so that I don't have to give too many gifts on the needles this year.
My mom is getting a set of BYOBs for her birthday this year (December 21) and as I've been working on them, I've come to appreciate the construction of the handles immensely. They are so cleaver and so utilitarian.
First, you cast on the number of stitches your handle is going to be and you knit a little strip of stockinette four rows tall.
Next you fold the strip horizontally with the purl sides together so you have a double-thick strip of stockinette only two rows tall. knit across the row knitting each live stitch together with one of the cast on stitches (which, since you've folded your fabric is up near your needles. (The pattern has you cast on using a provisional cast on so that you are knitting two sets of live stitches together. This is totally acceptable, but I find a provisional cast on slow and my way gives the exact same result.) Here is my handle strip half knit so you can see what I'm talking about.
The stitches on the right have been folded and knit together with the cast on row, the stitches on the left haven't been worked yet. Here it is from the back.
(Stitches on the left have been worked together, stitches on the right are waiting to be worked)
Once you've finished folding and working all your stitches across you have a double-thick round uber-squishy handle pad. (From the front then the back)
Once you've made your handle pads set them aside until you're ready to knit your handles. Bind off the number of stitches your handles call for. Then on the next round, instead of casting on over the gap as most patterns have you do, simply knit the stitches from your handle pad. The rolled double-thick cushion really makes a difference if you're carrying a loaded bag. It really cuts down on the way that handles can sometimes dig into your hands and makes the handle feel more substantial and less "fragile" than some bag handles feel.
The BYOBs come out huge, and I think a smaller size would really be more practical as a shopping bag, but even if I don't make the pattern again, I will definitely use this handle trick on future bags. Genius.