After ripping out and casting on over six times I was ready to admit defeat on this one. However, this afternoon I sat down and tried again. My problem had been the magical disappearance of stitches. I just couldn't understand why I was one stitch down every four or so rows. Then Deep Sea Knitter (Ravatar Taliesin) came to my rescue. I wasn't doing a YO on before the final knit stitch of the fourth row.
I'm now 19 cm (approx 7 1/2") in. I've never knit with cotton or with a 4 ply yarn on such large needles (5.5mm, US 9). If I'd known what I know now I'd probably go down a size, but having started and ripped so much I'll stick with it now. As a result I think my bag will be
quite light and open. The whole weekend awaits, no chores, just knitting and my camera - bliss!