Knitting a Base

I have all these great patterns for purses and bags but just can’t visualize the instuctions for knitting the base. I understand casting-on a certain number of stiches and dropping a stitch every row. What I don’t understand is the “knit 72 rows so there are 36 stitches on each side of the base.” What sides? Is there another way to word this so I can visual what the sides are? Any thoughts or suggestions would be great help.

If the base is knit in garter stitch, and you knit 72 rows, you probably need to pick up a stitch between every garter rib, which would give you 36 stitches on the ends.

The bag directions I’ve seen usually have you knit a rectangular base, then pick up stitches all the way around to knit the body in the round. The 36 stitches would be on the short ends of the rectangle with the longer edges turning into the sides.

And if all else fails–just do it and see what happens. Sometimes visualizing doesn’t work until you have the knitting in front of you.