Friday, December 22, 2006

free pattern friday: quickie cowl

New! Get the printer-friendly free Ravelry download here.

Just three more knitting days until Christmas... Need a lightning-quick last-minute gift? Break into your stash and find just one skein of something soft and chunky, and you'll have this little cowl wrapped and waiting under the tree come Christmas morning.

The cowl can be worn as a scarf or a headband. The modified lace rib looks a little fancy but is easy and quick to knit. Now, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and get to work - time is running out!

size: one size.

One skein Misti Alpaca Chunky (109 yards/100g), shown in color #3317. About 100 yards of any chunky-weight yarn will do - just make sure it's very soft!
US size 10.5 needles
Tapestry needle

3.5 st/in over stockinette stitch

modified lace rib
Row 1 and all WS rows: *K2, P3. Repeat from * to end. K2.
Row 2 (RS): P2. *K1, YO, K2tog, P2. Repeat from * to end.
Row 4: P2. *K3, P2. Repeat from * to end.
Repeat these four rows.

knit the cowl
The outer edges are made with a 3-stitch border of garter st (K every row), slipping the first stitch of every row with the yarn held in front to create a nice, clean edge.

CO 38.
First row: K3. Begin lace rib patt, knitting until 3 st remain. K to end.
Next row: Slip one wyif, K2. Knit in patt until 3 st remain. K to end.
Next row: Slip one wyif, K2. Knit in patt until 3 st remain. K to end.

Continue knitting in this manner until the cowl measures about 19 inches long, ending on a WS row. BO all st loosely.


Now use your tapestry needle to sew the two ends together using mattress stitch. Weave in loose ends. The structure is basically a very short scarf with the ends sewn together to create a tube that can be pulled on over the head.

Have another cup of hot chocolate - you're done!

Got a question about this pattern, or need a little help? Check out the new help page.

important notice: This is a free pattern and you are welcome to use it for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce this pattern to sell, and you may not sell what you make with it. You may donate what you make with it to charity, and you may use it for charity fundraisers only if 100% of the proceeds are donated to the charity (and by charity I don't mean your kid's college fund). Thanks for understanding!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

a year tangled in yarn

It's the last week before Christmas and I'm finally getting my knitting/crafting act together. On the crafting side, I have basically given myself permission to not make all the sweet and hilarious gifts I had planned for friends and family, because we are idiots and moved into a new house 2 weeks before Christmas. Maybe we'll make it up to everyone with a slammin' housewarming party in January. Or perhaps February.

On the knitting side, I have revised my "socks for everyone" plan to be a "socks for those I knit in October and scarves for everyone else" plan. Sorry, mom. But she has a birthday in March - still a good time for handknit socks.

All this plan-revision and late-night scarf-designing has left me a without much focus in the daylight hours, but luckily Elizabeth has swooped in with a little questionnaire for knitting reflection at the end of the year. Thanks, Elizabeth! I don't even have to unpack the camera to take a photo!

Year's End Knit-analysis

1. What is your absolute favorite project you've ever knit (one that fulfilled both process and product)?

Gosh, this is a tough question. One of my favorite projects is this little yellow sweater I made in 2004 for my friend's daughter (partly because of the photo). It was my first time knitting any kind of openwork (it has a diamond lace pattern at the cuffs and bottom edge), and it fit her beautifully. As you can see, she enjoyed wearing it.


2. Which of your handknits do you wear the most often?

I wear Claudette and Oliveta all the time, especially under a blazer.


3. Which of your handknits are you most proud of?

Actually, I am really proud of the Mossy Jacket, which I just bragged about recently. I designed and knitted it in December for a friend's new baby, and I just love the yarn combination, the structure, everything about it. It was really fun to knit and the recipient (who was a guy, by the way) loved it.

peek at mossy

4. What was your favorite gift to knit?

I had a great time knitting the Girlfriend Swing Coat Sweater, which the recipient calls her "cloak," during the '06 Knitting Olympics. It was a LOT of fun and the yarn - Cascade Siera Quatro - was a real pleasure to use. This is the same kid as the one wearing the yellow sweater in picture #1 - can you tell I like knitting for her? She is adorable.


5. Which of your handknits are gathering dust your closet?

Oh geez, so many. I just took a shawl I knitted in 2002 to the thrift shop. The baby tiger scarf is an embarrassment. I have another gorgeous scarf (sorry no photo) that I adore and would wear every day, except that the yarn has mohair content and it makes me want to scratch my own neck off.

6. Which of your handknits have you gotten rid of?

Uh year, see #5 above. I think that was the only one.

7. If you've knit socks, what is your favorite pattern?

Do I knit socks? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear... never mind. I friggin love knitting socks. I have tried toe-up a couple of times, and I've tried short-row heels and I'm currently eyeing the afterthought heel, but for me the True and Beautiful Way is a top-down sock with a heel flap. They can be done on DPN's or with the Magic Loop, depending on one's mood, and I have come to the point that I can knit them reliably with no pattern and no safety net. I have rhapsodised about the joys of sock knitting many times on this here blog, and I intend to keep it up.

stripey anklets

8. What would you like to make in 2007?

Oh, so many wonderful, beautiful things! For HWWLLB's 2007 Christmas present (I'm planning ahead this year), I'm planning to break my one-color-only rule and knit a Lopi sweater called Fönn.

I really and truly am going to knit a few things for myself: a red scarf with some beautiful yarn that Bugheart recently sent me, and a jacket I've been designing in my notebook for a while now - I have a gift certificate to the LYS that has been burning a hole in my pocket since July! I also have a big bag of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran that really wants to become a cardigan for me, but so far I've had only false starts.

The adorable child in photos #1 and #4 has asked for a green cloak, and how can you say no to that? I'm also planning to use up some black alpaca from my stash to make a vest/wrap for myself, basically as a vehicle for a Moving Mud closure (swoon!), and I have a big stash of sock yarn waiting to be made into birthday gifts.

9. What have you learned about your craft in 2006?

Um, that knitting is the greatest winter sport? Knitting and red wine mix well, but not so much with mixed drinks? I have learned that you can't knit and read a book at the same time; you can knit and talk on the phone at the same time, but only if you use a headset or you'll get a crick in your neck, and only if the other person is very talkative; conference calls totally suck without knitting; don't try to knit in the bathroom or people will start knocking and asking "are you okay?" ("YES I'm fine I just need some PRIVACY!"). I have also learned that when someone asks "did you knit that?" they usually mean it as a compliment, even if they are asking because it looks "rustic," as my friend Heather would say, or "shitty" in common parlance. Because they are impressed that you can knit something at all, even if it looks kind of shitty.

10. What events/sites have you particularly enjoyed in the blogosphere in 2006?

The Knitting Olympics was so much fun I almost peed my pants. I love the community of knitters, and watching everyone proceed towards their own Personal Best was just great. Also any excuse to visit the Yarn Harlot is good by me. I also really enjoyed Lolly's Socktoberfest, most of all for some of the amazing sock photos in the Flickr group (this one was my absolute favorite). Also, I loved Secret Pal #7, in which I got to be pals with Paloma, who is the bomb.


I can't believe the year is almost out and I'm sitting here reflecting on what I've learned and whatnot. Last time I checked the calendar it was almost Thanksgiving. I can't believe I'm spending valuable knitting/unpacking time reflecting! I always get sucked in by the memes.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

out with the old

It is amazing how many things we have.

After the boxes and the furniture and everything had been packed and taken away in the big truck, there were just a few things left. Small things, we thought. No sweat.

As it turns out, there was an entire weekend's worth of little things to do to get all the remnants of us out of the old house.

But as of this afternoon, there is nothing from us left behind, except hopefully some good vibes and probably some little genetic scraps here and there.

Thank god/dess for my mom and sister, who turned up early Saturday morning with cleaning supplies (mom) and coffee & pastries (sis) and spent hours helping us clean out the attic (just a few zillion little things up there) and take carloads to the thrift shop and the recycling center.

Thank another kind of god/dess for Tana & John, who came in the afternoon with their two little daughters for comic relief and to force us to rest and have fun for a few hours. We ate subs and then played a Wheel of Fortune board game, which I used to think was extremely lame but for some reason was hilarious when played with a four year-old. John graciously helped HWWLLB unload the big, heavy little things from Red Betty into the garage.

Every time I move, I make this resolution that I'm not going to let little things pile up anymore. That I won't ever again stick something in a corner, intending to deal with it another time, and then just stop seeing it there as the intent to deal with it quickly evaporates. Also, that I will do things like empty the fridge and scrub it down once in a while. Because I really can't believe I was eating food that came out of that thing - ick!

But this anti-thing resolution is probably going to last about as long as my "stop using plastic" New Year's resolution from last year. Luckily, we are planning to never move again.

Friday, December 08, 2006

many works in progress

Thanks to all of you for your sweet and supportive comments about the becoming-a-homeowner post. I apologize for not responding to you with an email, because I really do appreciate your kind words & thoughts. This is a week of many works in progress, so I hope you will excuse me for my inattentiveness.

The main work is moving. So... many... boxes. There are boxes everywhere, and yet so much still needing to be packed. I keep bumping into them and tripping over them; they are multiplying like big cardboard bunnies.

I am also cramming the final unit of my biostatistics class and trying to get the final exam finished which happens to be due... Monday morning. Did I mention that was moving day? tee-hee. Oh look, another gray hair!

But there are nicer works in progress, too.

I have finally got some buttons for the mossy jacket, which will go to its intended recipient on Saturday. It has been sitting around finished-but-buttonless for weeks. Here is just a peek - I am hoping to post the pattern for a Free Pattern Friday before December is out.

peek at mossy

Thanks to a two-day meeting I just got out of, I am about 3/4 through a pair of socks for HWWLLB's dad for Xmas.

Socks in progress

On this final one, please brace yourself for the killer cuteness. I have another colleague with a new baby, so I made some booties with the leftovers from the Wildflower socks:

killer cuteness

Oh, did I mention that another close friend is about to give birth? Righto... so the requisite Blue Skies Organic Cotton just arrived in the mail from Kpixie... I have a great little pullover forming in my mind that I can't wait to get started on... just as soon as we're out of the old house and into the new one. Christmas break can't come soon enough.

This will be my final post until after we're done with moving and the exam is turned in. Til then!

Monday, December 04, 2006

bliss... now with monthly payments!

Today we took two
giant steps deeper into the
world of grownup-hood.

It involved a lawyer,
a banker,
a few salespeople,
a big promise to pay
and a lot of ink.

It has also involved a lot of support
over the last few weeks
from our families and our friends
who held our hands while we held our breaths
and took this big step into...


...home ownership.

This is the cute little house that we will be calling home very soon.


...and this is the amazing backyard that will soon be our garden.

Despite the gray skies when I took these photos yesterday, the day today is very bright and clear. Tonight we'll take the sustainably-grown Christmas wreath we just got from Student Action with Farmworkers and hang it on the front porch - a little flag to stake our claim.


Friday, December 01, 2006

holiday feelings

It's finally December! I am so ready for the holidays to be here.

We are going to be moving in the middle of December (more on that later), so I am really struggling with the holiday craft plans. On the one hand, I am yearning to spend cozy evenings with the hot glue gun, beeswax, yarn and bamboo needles, glitter, vintage fabrics, anything crafty. I have a million little piles of supplies and a million ideas that probably won't get put to use because there simply won't be the workspace or the unpacked boxes to let me do it. *sigh*

On the other hand, coming up with projects that I can do despite the move has been kind of fun, too. So far I have some good ones in mind, but I can't tell them because you never know who might be reading...

One thing I am not going to do is buy stuff. Well, okay, I have one or two purchases to make, but Christmas-time is too busy with events (and everyone I know too overloaded with stuff already) for me to spend valuable crafting time shopping. This is really not meant to diss those of you who will be doing your Christmas shopping at the Gap, because I know that your giftee is going to appreciate your generosity and use whatever lovingly-chosen item you get them. It is the thought that counts, whether you make your effort fighting crowds at the mall and selecting the perfect item (for which you deserve a medal) or fighting those long strings that come off the hot glue gun. This is more of a personal thing with me - I have a pathological aversion to buying things (some people call it being "cheap," and I don't think I can argue with that).

So to veer back from that tangent... I am really excited about the holidays. I am dying to bake and craft, and fantasizing about making fun advent calendars like this one (is having kids required? Maybe someone would lend me one). I also want to make ornaments for the tree, decorate cookies, sew Christmas stockings for our mantel, and do it all while sipping mulled cider with HWWLLB and listening to John Coltrane (Christmas music is one part of the holidays that I don't get excited about).

So what kinds of craft projects are you all making this year? I want to know about your good ideas (and maybe steal them).