Knitting for Relaxation

This is the "Slinky Ribs" sweater from Wendy Bernard's book, "Custom Knits."  The long-sleeved version is pictured on page 81.  I knitted this sweater from Wool Ease yarn by Lion Brand Yarns.
 
When times are difficult, there is more reason to knit than ever.  Whether in the waiting room at the hospital or at home after a hard day at work, the person who knits has something relaxing on which to focus, even if only for a few minutes. 

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When One Just Isn't Enough

Sometimes, knitting a sweater once is just not enough. The sweater pattern shown below is one of the simplest top-down raglan sweater patterns I have ever knitted. The pattern is my version of "Pink," a sweater on page 22 of Wendy Bernard's book, Custom Knits.

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The brown and white sweater shows the beginning stages of the same pattern, in a different color.  I love 3/4 length sleeves, but the sweater could also have short or long sleeves, depending on one's preference.

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Both sweaters were knitted (or are being knit) in Lion Brands Recycled Cotton Yarn on size US 8 needles.The pink sweater turned out to fit me perfectly, and because it was knitted in cotton yarn, it is very comfortable. It only took 5 balls of yarn to knit the sweater, which makes this a very affordable sweater, as well. 

Living in the Northern California climate means that I can wear this sweater all year round, which is a good thing, because when the yarn recently went on sale, I purchased enough in yellow, blue, and green to make three more sweaters!

I Love Stripes -- Or, How I Test Knitting Patterns

I love stripes, and I am not afraid to wear them -- even horizontal ones.  It's a good thing that I like stripes, because I hate wasting yarn.  As a result, I frequently test new knitting patterns by knitting them in stripes with scraps of yarn.  Yes, other color patterns would work, too, but here I am going for speed because I want to move on to the "real" yarn and the "real" project.

Why test a pattern at all?  After all, the people who write these patterns are hardly beginners, and  presumably, their patterns have already been tested extensively by expert knitters.  However, I do not consider myself an expert knitter, and I do not always have access to the same wonderful tools or the same glorious yarns as experts do.  Moreover, the size that the designer considers "small" might not be the same "small" that I have in mind.  Furthermore, my knitting gauge might be one stitch or one half a row off of the norm.  Therefore, I always test a pattern before I get really serious about it.

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The photo above is my test of the "Jewel" shell pattern from Custom Knits (by Wendy Bernard, 2008).  The finished measurements for the shell for the three smallest sizes were given as 30.5, 34.5 and 38.5 inches, respectively.  Well, I figured that the 34.5 inch size was a little small and the 38.5 inch size was a little big.  To be on the safe side, I opted for the 38.5 inch size.  Part of the way through the test, though, I discovered that the shell was going to be much too wide for me.  I had already completed the yoke and I liked it, so I skipped some of the armhole increases, which made the shell more my size.  Now I know that when I try it again "for real," I should make the small size.

The next photo shows my version of a striped skirt I saw in Kaffe Fasset's book, Glorious Knits (1985, pp. 15-16).  His version is knitted from the bottom up, which means that I would have to make it a certain length.  I wanted to decide on the length later, so I worked mine from the top down.  Also, if I used the recommended size of needles, I thought it might turn out too airy (or require lining).  I used smaller needles and a different yarn and calculated the number of stitches and increases by knitting a swatch and applying some algebra.  Then I added in a little texture toward the bottom and a frilly hem.

Testing patterns is a great way to make sure that the final product will be one that I enjoy wearing -- that it will fit well and that the yarn will be appropriate for that particular garment.  It also provides me with some fun and interesting clothes to wear!

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Frilly Spiral Scarf Pattern (Free Pattern)

Here is another small project  that is easy to take along with you.

I saw a photograph of a model wearing a curly spiral scarf, and I wanted to make one for my friend for her birthday.  I'm sure that there are a lot of patterns for this kind of scarf, but I didn't have one in any of my books, so I made up my own.

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Frilly Spiral Scarf

Materials:
Size 10 circular knitting needle, 36 inches or longer

I used the following, but you can substitute another fluffy yarn:
Laines Du Nord "Papavero" yarn, made in Italy.  Three 50 gram (76 yard) balls.  This yarn is 46% wool, 44% polyamid and 10% cupro.  It is black with white accents and has gold and silver "tinsel" like threads running through it.

Cast on 115 stitches.
Knit the first row.
Increase in the next row as follows: K1 and then draw the yarn over the needle to increase a stitch.  Do this across the row until the last stitch.  Knit the last stitch and turn. (about 229 stitches)

Knit next two rows.

Work the increase row again.  You should have approximately 457 stitches on the needle.

Knit the next two rows.

Work the increase row again.  You should have approximately 913 stitches on the needle, which is a lot of stitches to manage!

Knit one or two more rows, depending on how wide you want the scarf to be.
Cast off the stitches.  Weave in the ends of the yarn.

Notes: I first tried to knit this scarf in a cotton yarn, and it had no character.  It came out about one and a half inches wide.  I unraveled it and found a fluffier yarn.  I switched to larger needles and I added an extra row between increase rows.

This is a very forgiving project, so it isn't important to be perfect.  I say this because it is frustrating to try to unravel stitches when there are hundreds of them on the needles and the yarn is so fluffy.

The nature of the pattern is that the scarf will twist around the needles, so the stitches become very compacted by the end of the project.  Therefore, work loosely!

It might be fun to add beads to this project.  String the beads onto the yarn first and then slide them up the yarn and add them at random. 

Basic Knitted Stocking Hat (Free Pattern)

In the hot summer months, I tend to knit smaller projects.  Here is a free pattern that I designed for a basic knitted stocking hat.

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Supplies:

Size 8 circular knitting needle, 16" in length.
4 ply knitting yarn (Use wool, acrylic or blend.  Cotton does not work well for this hat because it needs to be stretchy.)
A yarn needle for finishing.

Note: this hat is worked from the bottom edge up to the top.

Cast on 88 stitches loosely.
Being careful not to twist the stitches, join into a circle for working in the round.

Work in k2, p2 ribbing for approximately 60 rows.

Decrease pattern:

(k2 together, p2 together) across row.
k2 together across next row.

Finishing:

Thread the sewing needle with yarn and  put it through the remaining stitches at least two times.  Tie off on the inside of the hat.  Fold up the bottom edge of the hat about 1 1/4 inches.