I did a few things different: I used a 3 stitch I-cord method to bind off the top, knitting extra I-cord for the knot in front and then making a small opening at the back (for the closure). Next, I knit the handles 60" long with a 4 stitch I-cord using two strands. After felting and drying, I weaved the cord in and out in different directions.
Did I mention ~ I LOVE MY BAG??