Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winter is Coming Cowl

This one's destined to be another Christmas present, but for the moment my mom is modelling it. Chain mail's chilly north of the Wall, but this stylish, soft wool cowl has a gentle feel on chapped cheeks. It's done in a seed stitch, and wraps twice around the neck; you can bring it up over your ears if you like.

I used one-and-a-quarter 100-gram skeins of Mirasol Ushya in Platinum Grey (colour #1701), which is 98% Merino and 2% Polyamide, and also helps support schools in Peru. (I think I have enough left over to make a hat to go with it.) The pattern, which I made up, is very easy; feel free to cast on more stitches, as long as the total is an uneven number, or to make it wider.

Winter Is Coming Cowl (free pattern)
  • Using 6mm, 40-inch corded needles, loosely cast on 207 stitches.
  • Join up, being careful not to twist the row.
  • 1st round: K1, P1
  • 2nd and following rounds: K every P stitch and vice versa.
  • Round 32: Bind off loosely.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Girl's Cabled Tam with a Pom-Pom

As the yarn store clerk said to me earlier this week, the Christmas-present knitting season has begun. Since my family members don't read all my blog posts, I'm not too worried about posting a few things that will probably end up under the tree (if I don't break down and hand them out sooner).

I haven't done a lot of cabling, and I'm always surprised how much bang you get for relatively little fuss. This pattern comes from the Fall 2013 issue of KnitSimple magazine (page 30). The designer is Nitza Coto. In the magazine, it's shown in coral pink, and the suggested yarn is CHARLY by Filatura di Crosa, but I used Cascade's 100% Peruvian Highland Wool.

I added the pom-pom because it's for my 12-year-old niece and I seem to be operating under the delusion that she'll be attending a lot of skating parties with cocoa and Nutcracker premieres this winter. This was a very satisfying project that took me about four Downton Abbey episodes to knit, counting the fact that I misread the pattern and had to rip out about 15 rows of the cabling and redo it.

Technical point: in this pattern, M1 or "make one" means to wrap the yarn around the needle without knitting it. I normally would expect the abbreviation YO ("yarn over") for this move. Normally, I expect M1 to mean knitting into the front and back of a stitch, thereby increasing the count by one. In this pattern, they use KFB ("knit front & back") when they want you to do this. That's why I had to redo so many rows.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Streetknit Collects Knitting for Homeless Folks

It's quick, easy and inexpensive to knit a hat – or three – and there are people who need warm clothing on our cold winter nights. The Streetknit Project in Toronto connects the two sides of this potentially happy equation.

I was handed a skein of blue yarn at the Leslieville Farmers' Market earlier this year by a Streetknit volunteer. My task? Simply to knit something warm and drop it off at one of many participating yarn stores, like my local, the Purple Purl (1162 Queen East), the Knit Cafe (1050 Queen West), Lettuce Knit (86 Nassau) or Sew Be It Studio (2156 Yonge).

You may ask "why bother knitting when dollar stores are overflowing with cheap, warm hats and mitts?" Call me crazy, but I believe that the intention to help someone else makes its way into the garment. I even think that the act of knitting for someone else can be like a meditation or a prayer; I think it sends good vibes out into the universe. In any case, it can't hurt.

The Streetknit site has links to lots of easy free patterns for hats, scarves, mittens and (for the more ambitious) sweaters, as well as to similar organizations in other cities. (Knitting groups like this exist in many other  places beyond the links on the site, some of which have a different focus, like hats for premature babies or layettes for pregnant teens.)

I warn you, this can get addictive; I know of one Toronto woman who knits a hat every day for charity. I think I'll stop at two this year... but you never know; I have lots of yarn in my stash that's itching to be used.