The mysterious vanishing stitches

Okay…I have a strange problem…

I am making a bag. It’s fairly straight forward pattern on straight needles made in two panals, front and back.

So, I made the first panal and casted on my stitches, (56) and worked the pattern. The first 5 rows in seed stitch and the rest of the piece in stockingette until you got to the handle, then back to seed stitch. My stockingette rows are nice and neat…trouble is, by the time I finished the front panal I realized…I now had only 51 stitches on the needle. Where di the other stitches go?? I don’t want to fix the front of the bag, but how can I make the back piece to match if I don’t know where those stitches went?

Help please!

It’s unlikely that 5 stitches will make that much difference. You could just decrease evenly up the sides of the second panel a couple of times–a stitch on each side and then once again on one side. This way you’ll know the tops will have the same number of stitches.