last-minute gift knitting

I know you know this, but we have less than a week until Christmas. I feel like I’m never prepared, but it comes the same time every year, ready or not! Here are some quick knit gift ideas whether you have 6 days or a few hours! I have knit all these patterns and highly recommend them for last-minute gifts!

6 days ’til Christmas
Yesterday marked one week ‘til Christmas Day, so you officially have less than a week to go! But if you can knit an hour or two a day, you could crank out virtually any hat or cowl! If you want to give the gift of luxury, knit up a skein of cashmere into the Crystal Sky Cowl by Sarah Sundermeyer. It is a charted pattern with cables, so expect it to take a little time, but the small size could easily be knit before Santa makes his entrance!

crystal

5 shopping days left
I knit the Grace Infinity Scarf by Ashley McKeever 3 times last holiday season! It’s a little tedious so it may take a few days, but the result is a fabulously squishy brioche infinity scarf that you can wear long or wrap double. This gift was very well received last year and I even kept one of them for myself! It’s also budget-friendly if knit up in the recommended Caron Cakes, which is surprisingly nice for an acrylic blend.

grace

4 days and reality is setting in
Quill by Andrea Mowry is one of my favorite hats to date and it goes pretty quickly in worsted weight yarn! Charted patterns always tend to take a little longer (for me anyway), so give yourself a few days to work this one up!

quill 3
Duotone Cowl by Orange Flower Yarn is an ideal choice if you love stockinette in the round (yay for no purling)! A couple skeins of complimentary DK yarn + a few days = a cozy, doubled cowl that anyone would love!

duotone

3 more days… too late to order online
Maybe you’ve forgotten to get a gift for your fur kids… or am I the only one that give my dogs Christmas gifts? If you’re down for that, cast on Cold Snap Collar by Plucky Knitter Designs. I’ve knit 3 of these and they’re great stashbusters that will keep your best friend warm (and make them look super cute)! The smallest size (pictured) took me just a few hours, but if you have a mastiff, you might want to allow yourself a few days 😉

jb2_medium2

Christmas Eve Eve
We’re getting down to the wire. But don’t panic! I’m here to help. Take Flight mitts by Andrea Mowry have an interesting construction and were a breeze to knit! You can never go wrong with fingerless mitts and with these, you don’t even have to fiddle with a thumb gusset. Grab a fun skein of DK and in just a couple of days, you’ll have a cute, warm gift!

take

Less than 24 hours until Santa arrives…
When it comes to crunch time, stick with something basic and bulky… super bulky is even better! You know when you’re on your way to grandma’s house on Christmas Eve and your mom calls to say your long-lost cousin will be there with gifts for everyone? This is when you’ll be glad you stuck a skein of Rasta in your project bag. A huge bonus for me is that this hat doesn’t even need to be blocked! I knit Nour by Alexandra Alfonso in under an hour, so you may be able to crank one out by the time you get to grandma’s… your cousin will never know!

nour

Happy gift knitting & Merry Christmas!

WIPs & FOs | a reality check

I keep promising myself I’ll be more consistent with blogging and before I know it 2 months have flown by without a post in sight. I may not be blogging a lot, but the knitting has not slowed down! First, the FOs!

In September, I hosted a casual knit-a-long on Instagram and was very pleased with the participation! It was an “Any Hat KAL” during which participants could knit any hat at all of their choosing & be eligible to win prizes! I had so much fun I think I’ll do it again next year. The goal was to have a hat ready to go when cold weather rolls around. Well, it took about a month for that to happen around here, but it’s finally cooling off and fall is in full force!

I was able to finish three hats during the KAL, though I barely eked out the last two in the final day of the knit-a-long!

The first one I knit was Mira by Amy Christoffers, a beautiful free pattern.

mira

This, as are most colorwork hats, is a great stashbuster! I used up scraps of Plucky Scholar, Traveler Aran, and Trusty, as well as some Mirasol Miski I’ve had forever. I worked it up in just 2 days and topped it with a Bernat faux fur pom pom, the perfect finishing touch. Knitting this was a true joy and I could probably knit at least 5 more with my worsted weight scraps. I won’t… but I could 😉

Next I started the Wayah pattern by Christina Danaee, but ran out of yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in Klimt) during the decreases. I knew there was some more of this yarn somewhere… but since we’d recently moved, I had no idea where. I had all but given up when I happen to come across it on the last day of the KAL! It must’ve been kismet, because I had the exact amount needed to finish the decreases and make a medium pom pom for the top!

 wayah

I really enjoyed knitting this cable and eyelet pattern. Arbor has awesome stitch definition, but not a lot of drape. I would recommend knitting this hat with a more drapey yarn (drapier? Is that a word?) because it’s intended to have some slouch.

The final hat I completed is Schwimmen by Shannon Cook. Does Shannon ever do wrong with her patterns? I don’t think so! This one is my favorite of the three, I have to admit. I’ve had this skein of Plucky Primo Worsted in Peep Toes for over a year, waiting for the right pattern. This is it, you guys. This is the right pattern for this gorgeous skein! It’s listed as worsted, but knits up more like DK, making it perfect for Schwimmen.

 schwimmen

I know, you probably didn’t even notice the hat because of my adorable niece Jellybean! I couldn’t resist getting a few (or a hundred) photos with her. But the hat. It’s perfection. The fit, slouch, pattern, length… absolutely everything about it. I ended up giving this one to my sister (still kinda regretting it) because she graciously, and patiently, takes so many of my FO photos for me. But I have some madelinetosh Tosh DK in stash that I’m saving for a second Schwimmen for myself. I’ve knit a few hats and this is for sure in the top 5 for me. So good!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any other super recent FOs (except for one I can’t share … yet 😉 But the WIPs… Oh, the WIPs….

They’re out of control! According to Ravelry, I have nine (is that embarrassing?) but I have a few more I haven’t even logged in Rav… even more embarrassing. And All I want to do is cast on! But it all came to a head this past weekend when I was looking for a certain size needle and there were only 3 sizes out of 10 in my case. Which means 7 of them were tied up. And that’s just one set… yeah. So I’m fairly committed to finishing up some WIPs, especially as the season of gift knitting approaches.

One such WIP is the All About That Brioche shawl by Lisa Hannes. I’m using a fun skein of madelinetosh Twist Light in Beach Bonfire and Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk in Real Black. Since this photo, I’ve actually finished the first brioche section and am onto the second. Note to self: you may want to go down a needle size when switching from garter/stockinette to brioche. It’s a little looser than I’d like, but I didn’t have the heart, uh… or time, to rip back. I’m super excited to finish this one and hope to add tassels!

 wip

My West End Cardigan has, unfortunately, taken a backseat.

west end 2

I don’t know what it is with this one. Miles of moss stitch doesn’t bother me. Grey is my favorite color. The yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) is nice to knit with. And yet, it languishes. So, I’m not sure when I’ll pick it up again, but it might be after Christmas. Maybe a new year’s resolution? We’ll see. But for now, I have at least 8 others to keep me busy!

Those aren’t all of my WIPs, but the two biggest that seem to be looming. Others are tucked away in a closet or stored in bins right now. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

I’m kind of (kind of, maybe) promising myself no more cast ons until I finish a couple of these. Let’s hope I can stick to that better than my “no more yarn” resolution! 😉

hat patterns for beginners | #anyhatkal

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my favorite hats. Since then, I’ve received several questions from beginner knitters (or knitters who have never knit a hat) about what pattern I would recommend for a very first hat! Of course, I dug around on Ravelry and found some excellent ideas that I’m happy to share here!

Back in 2009, I was in college and rediscovering my love of knitting. (I guess a full-time job and full class load weren’t enough? I needed a hobby!) I can’t remember exactly why, but I decided I needed to knit a hat. I must’ve gone to Michael’s to find some acrylic yarn and a book (at the time, I had no idea YouTube videos about knitting were even a thing). I purchased this book, which taught me how to join in the round, change to DPN’s, decrease, and cinch up the top of the hat. Although the patterns in it are pretty outdated and I don’t really recommend it (i.e. I think you’re better off with the patterns below and YouTube), it did teach me all the basics of hat knitting! And, obviously, I fell in love. I’ll take knitting in the round and no bind off over a huge stockinette shawl any day! I could wax poetic about my hat-knitting love forever, but instead I will tell a quick story and then share those patterns!

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my favorite hats

favorite hats

Yay! I’m so excited for today’s post! I want to share with you my favorite hats. Hats are, hands down, my favorite thing to knit. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, this shouldn’t surprise you! They’re quick and fun to knit, and the result is a highly wearable finished object. That makes for what I consider to be a “high-yield” knit: grab a skein off the shelf, cast on, and in a couple of hours you have an attractive and cozy accessory. What’s not to love?! (For comparison, I consider socks to be a low-yield knit… I hate knitting them, I hate wearing them, and nobody sees them!)

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clarke

Clarke by Jane Richmond is a simple, stripey pullover that I’ve been eyeing for quite a while. When I saw CotLin on sale, I decided it was finally time to add Clarke to my wardrobe and I purchased 7 balls of Sagebrush and 3 of Swan. I was hoping the cotton-linen blend would provide a lightweight, versatile piece, suitable for wearing in virtually all seasons! Braving the 90 degree heat, I layered it here with a chambray button-up and I really enjoy the look!

clarke13

First off, the yarn was actually pretty enjoyable to knit with. I was a bit concerned because I’ve had trouble with both cotton and linen being hard on the hands, but CotLin was surprisingly soft and easy to work with. Stripes seem to make garments go more quickly, and this sweater worked up in less than a month (while I knitted on… several… other things)! When all was said and done, I used only 6 balls of Sagebrush and 2 of Swan. In hindsight, I wish I had gone up a size (no, I didn’t swatch – please don’t judge me) for more ease. I may be able to get a little more length out of it, but I have already hand-washed and machine-dried it. Yes, CotLin is machine washable and dryable! However, I think drying it caused it to shrink some, which is a huge bummer. It’s still wearable, but I’m hoping it will fit even better when I’m a bit smaller. I recommend the yarn overall, but consider that if you don’t want to machine-dry it, it will take a long time to dry on its own (it was still very damp 24 hours later, which is why I threw it in the dryer. The spin cycle on the washing machine may cut that down some). I love the idea of being able to wash my handknits with my other clothes, but I’m not so sure that I’ll be throwing this in with everything else. I should also note that the Sagebrush color bled quite a bit, but I don’t think it affected the white stripes.

clarke11

Now for the pattern! This is the first Jane Richmond pattern I’ve knit and it is awesome! I usually go through the pattern and highlight the numbers that correspond to my size, but Jane makes it infinitely easier with a fill-in-the-blank style! With the pattern being so easy to follow, this sweater was a very easy and meditative knit. I’ve learned that going up a needle size while binding off makes for a stretchy edge, so I bound off the bottom hem, sleeves, and neckline in pattern with a size 6 needle. I would definitely recommend this method if you, like me, have been unhappy with the tightness of edges in the past. Other than that, I used the recommended needle sizes. There isn’t much more to say about this pattern. Unless you just hate stockinette, I think you’ll love it! It’s such a simple design, but its well-written pattern and easy style make it a great staple for any wardrobe! I’m already dreaming of one in wool for winter!

clarke7

Check out more photos on my Ravelry page. I can’t wait to cast on my next sweater for Shannon Cook’s Summer Sweater KAL (lots of chat going on here)!

xoxo

Andrea