Monday, November 29, 2010

Pattern roundup: quick gifts part two – manly knits

Welcome to the Knitfinder quick gifts pattern roundup, 2010 edition (you’ll find the 2009 lists here). This series is for people who love to give handknits, but aren’t organized enough to get them done early. You know who you are. It isn’t too late to knit a little something for a dear friend or relation or two.

There are only two rules: under 300 yards of yarn (or up to twice that for stranded colorwork, because after all you’re only knitting half the yardage); and available instantly online so you can cast on immediately. The yardage limit means a project can’t take too long, and increases the odds of your finding appropriate yarn in your stash. Some patterns are free; others cost a few dollars.

Today, a baker’s dozen of knits for men. Patterns conservative enough for guys, but interesting enough to make the knitting pleasurable.

For the head

  • A Weekend in the Country by Mimi Hill – I love the tweedy rustic look of this stranded colorwork hat. The accent color vertical stripes are worked with separate lengths of yarn. 220-275 yards worsted weight.
  • Flintshire – bold yet intricate cable patterning, 180 yards Aran weight yarn. From prolific designer Ashley Knowlton.
  • Den Arend hat by Mary Joy Gumayagay. Knitted from the crown down in stockinette stitch with an interesting curvy cable panel and a garter-stitch brim. This hat looks like it belongs on the slopes at Gstaad. 145-150 yards DK weight yarn.
  • Clara Parkes’ Hill Country Hat from The Knitter’s Book of Wool. This one is also knit from the crown down, in a knit-purl texture pattern with ribbed brim. Uses just 120 yards of chunky-weight yarn (free pattern).

For the neck

  • Burberrish Cowl (free) by Marion Crick. Knitted flat so the cables run around the neck, ends joined with a three-needle bindoff – easily made narrower or wider. 240-280 yards Aran weight yarn.
  • Purl Ridge Scarf from Westknits (free). Really a cowl knitted in the round in stockinette with purl ridges and garter-stitch edges – perfect for showing off a multicolored yarn. 56” circumference is long enough to wrap twice around the neck. 300 yards worsted weight.
  • Thermis  – shown on a woman, but this fairly close-fitting neckwarmer would be great for men too. Waffly texture stitch with ribbed edges; worked in the round to the halfway point, then flat with a two-button opening. 210 yards worsted weight.
  • This Way Up (free) is a 60” scarf with textured chevron stripes. 250 yards of bulky-weight yarn, or work it in DK weight doubled.

For the hands

  • Douglas Mittensstylized fir trees in stranded colorwork. 250 yards worsted weight yarn. The optional laceweight alpaca lining will take you over the 300-yard mark, but it sure would make these cozy.
  • Ringwood Gloves by Rebecca Blair from the current issue of Knitty (free). Textured broken-rib stitch for the hands, seed-stitch buttoned cuffs. Check the Ravelry page for comments – these apparently are very stretchy and a smaller size than you think may be big enough. 225-300 yards worsted weight yarn.
  • Night River Mittens by Ashley Knowlton combine simple cables with stranded colorwork. 218 – just over 300 yards Aran weight (written for Lite Lopi).
  • Cruiser Mittens by Cailyn Meyer (free). Simple bold chevron cables, ribbed cuff. 130-170 yards worsted weight (three sizes).
Check my September fingerless-glove pattern roundup for more ideas – they’re another great possibility.

For the feet

Socks for men are pretty much out for procrastinating knitters – 300 yards isn’t enough. But these Aran bed socks would come in under 300, even sized up for big feet. How about a 50/50 wool/alpaca yarn? Perfect for curling up on the couch. Pattern calls for 220 yards worsted-weight yarn for women’s large; or could be knitted in Aran weight at slightly larger gauge to increase the circumference a bit for a man’s feet.

The series – quick gifts 2010
1. Pretty knits
Come back over the coming week for a couple more lists featuring youthful, simple, and useful patterns plus a few surprises.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pattern roundup: quick gifts part one – pretty knits

Welcome to the Knitfinder quick gifts pattern roundup, 2010 edition (you’ll find the 2009 lists here). This series is for people who love to give handknits, but aren’t organized enough to get them done early. You know who you are. It isn’t too late to knit a little something for a dear friend or relation or two.

We begin with pretty things – perfect for your mother, sister, girlfriend, daughter or granddaughter, or favorite niece. Plenty of lace here. Tune in over the next week for a couple more installments, with ideas for men and home, hip and retro designs, and some other surprises.

The rules
There are only two rules: under 300 yards of yarn (or up to twice that for stranded colorwork, because after all you’re only knitting half the yardage); and available instantly online so you can cast on immediately. The yardage limit means a project can’t take too long, and increases the odds of your finding appropriate yarn in your stash. Some patterns are free; others cost a few dollars.

[Note: you won’t find fingerless gloves in these lists. They’re perfect for quick knitting, but I just did a fingerless-glove pattern roundup in September – click here to browse the lists.]

Pretty knits – for the hands
  • Sweet Robin Wrist-ees from Tiny Owl knits. A bit fiddly, but oh so adorable – intarsia colorwork bird and nest adorn simple stockinette wristwarmers in Shetland jumperweight yarn.
  • Anna’s Mittens from SpillyJane. Worsted-weight yarn, delicate knit-purl and twisted-stitch texture patterning, plus a simple floral colorwork band around the cuff. 260 yards.
  • Pitsilised gloves Free pattern from Monica Kullerand. Estonian lace-patterned back and cuff, stockinette palm and fingers. Three sizes; 275-300 yards baby/light fingering weight (heavy laceweight would work well too).
  • Sundagsvotter or Sunday mittens. Traditional Norwegian dress-up mittens with lacy back – textured feather and fan lace plus a central cable. Stockinette palm; free pattern. 50-60 grams light fingering- fingering weight.

For the neck and shoulders
  • Nancy Marchant’s Leafy Lacey Brioche Keyhole Scarf. Lacy two-color brioche stitch in tone-on-tone alpaca laceweight (Ravelry pattern page lists the wrong yarn). Uses 20g or less of each color. Also lovely in laceweight mohair.
  • Miriam Felton’s Windward Cowl may be knit in any yarn weight; 180-280 yards required for the DK version. Intricate lacy twisted-stitch texture patterning.
  • Wavy Feathers Wimple (free) features an undulating lace pattern. 220 yards fingering weight.
  • Sarah Punderson’s Sea Lace necklace was on my list last year too – but it’s here again because I’ve knit one since then. 20-30 yards of silk/stainless steel or wool/stainless steel yarn, a few beads, and a couple of hours’ knitting time equal a spectacular result. Here’s my version:

    Instead of knitting the pattern long enough to go all the way around the neck, I did just a 6” length, and attached it to a tarnished-silver chain. The recipient sent me a thank-you note saying it was one of the best presents she’d ever been given.  A free matching earring pattern was published in Knitty.

    Shawls under 300 yards? Yes indeed - and small shawls not only warm the shoulders, they make great scarves, worn scrunched around the neck.
  • Snowberry Brambles Capelet by Tori Gurbisz. Young women would love this, I think – a panel of lace with garter-stitch edging and collar. Tucks in the collar shape it to fit the shoulders; buttons at the neck. 300 yards of chunky or bulky yarn is enough for a 21” cross-shoulder measurement.
  • Tiziana Sammuri’s Fiore di Mare Shawlette features a beautiful Herbert Niebling floral lace pattern. Interesting, unusual construction; written for laceweight or fingering weight in three different sizes. 275 yards of light fingering weight is enough for the smallest size.
  • Rose Beck’s Flourish is a top-down triangular shawl in worsted-weight yarn. Heavier yarn and a geometric lace pattern give a bold effect. Written for 3 sizes; 210 yards for the smallest, 320 for the medium.
  • The garter-stitch Victorian Shoulderette by Sivia Harding is a miniature Faroese-shaped shawl with a pretty lace band and wavy edging. 250 yards of fingering weight.

For the head

  • Michele Wang’s intricate Cables & Lace Beret uses 300 yards of sport or fingering-weight yarn (written for The Fibre Company’s Road to China Light).
  • Dyah Dyanita’s tams feature stranded colorwork patterning inspired by Indonesian batik textiles; this one, the Tumpal beret, is free. Fingering gauge, about 200 yards of each color.
  • Molly from Alana Dakos is a softly-gathered stockinette beret with swirling crown decreases and a delicate lace brim. Five sizes for babies to adults; 145-245 yards fingering-weight yarn.
  • And if your recipient likes her hats close-fitting, Laura Todd’s Lana Seda hat might fill the bill – lacy mesh with a leaf lace panel and garter-stitch brim. Under 150 yards of DK weight yarn (written for Malabrigo Silky Merino).

And finally – for the feet

  • Leaf Lace Toe-Up Socks (free pattern) – 200 yards sport weight. These would make great bed socks – how about carrying a strand of mohair with a strand of laceweight yarn?
  • OK, Stephanie van der Linden’s Florenz anklets might take a hair over 300 yards total. Knitted top down, with pretty slip-stitch colorwork and a short-row heel. Free.
Come back later this week for more installments – with suggestions for men, young folks, home, and more.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knitted text: why & how, plus inspiration

Knitted text can be beautiful as well as meaningful, as you’ll see if you explore Susette Newberry’s knitted abecedarium on Flickr. Don’t miss her blog, Knitting Letters: A to Z, a wonderful compendium of knitting tradition and history with a typographic twist. Here’s her Turkish “T”:


We ordinary knitters might like to use much smaller letters than this one to knit a loved one’s name or a secret message into a Christmas stocking or the hem of a sweater.  Or, how about knitting a favorite quote into a mitten or sock? If you’re like me, the difficulty of charting a phrase, much less a poem, means not even trying.

I’ve recently come across two great resources for charting letters for knitted colorwork. First of all, there’s Chemknits’ assembly of alphabet charts. This post lists links to more than 40 charted alphabets – lots of different letter styles and sizes, plus Hebrew and Greek letters.

WinRKA is a simple freeware application that will chart a name, word, phrase, or a whole message or poem for you. You specify your own stitch and row gauges, how many blank lines you want between lines of text, how many blank stitches between letters, and so on – then type in your message, and voilà –WinRKA generates a printable chart for you. No font choices; letters are sans serif capitals – but you can choose font width. You can specify centered, right- or left-justified, or fully justified text, and numerals and basic punctuation marks and symbols are available as well (period, comma, question mark, quotes, etc.). For Windows only (95, 98, ME, 2000, XP); no Mac version. Download WinRKA here.

Patterns and projects for textual inspiration

Lynny’s Dale sweater, knitted for her firefighter son, has the message “from heaven to the gates of hell and back to heaven again,” plus his name and the date, inside the hem.

Susette Newberry’s P Chullo hat pattern is a free Ravelry download, designed for her P is for Peru abecedarium post. The pattern has a full alphabet chart so you can knit your own message into the hat, as Susette did, plus a second chart for triangular initials for the earflaps:


You’ll find several glove, mitten and sock patterns on Ravelry that feature knitted-in poems or other quotations:


Left: Nanette Blanchard’s Bewitching Gloves, with the witches’ chorus from Shakespeare’s MacBeth on the gauntlet. Center: The Poetry Mittens were designed to accompany a Piecework article on the 18th- and 19th-century tradition of poetry on mittens; the poem goes

"When snow swirls
We begin to dream
Of dancing firelight
And hasten gaily home
Clapping hands
And words to
Warm them. "

On the right, the Pearls of Wisdom socks appeared in Socks, Socks, Socks from XRX Books (1998). They feature the last few lines of Pablo Neruda’s poem, “Ode to My Socks” in the original Spanish (English translation by Robert Bly; or listen to Neruda read the poem). The pattern is not available online, but the book can often be found in libraries, or you could reverse-engineer them.

Two wintry patterns:


On the I Heard the Bells mittens: the first stanza of Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells,” familiar as a carol. Christmas stockings often have names or messages knitted into them – above, the Peace stocking. Patterns usually include alphabet charts so you can choose your message or name.

Perhaps you’ve got a political opinion to express, as all three of these free patterns do:


With a creative combination of stranded knitting and intarsia, Laura Chamberlain’s Inspiration scarf reproduces this quote from an 2008 Obama campaign speech:

“When we’ve faced down impossible odds: Been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people… YES WE CAN!!”

The short version - Jaala Spiro’s Yes We Can Hat. And at right, Lisa Anne Auerbach’s Body Count Mittens are designed to memorialize war casualties – the dates and numbers will vary, depending on when you knit them. See more of Auerbach’s work here.

Of course, you needn’t knit in English or another Western language. The sock patterns below both feature the Arabic word for “blessing”:


Miriam Felton’s Blessing socksBaraka/Blessing socks from Dar Anahita. This would be a nice sentiment for a baby hat or sweater, too. Find charts for Arabic letters, inscriptions and Quran verses at Islamic and Arabic Cross-stitch and Islamic Cross Stitch Patterns.

I haven’t been able to find good sources for charted Chinese or Japanese Kanji characters. Here are just a few charts I came across – let me know if you find anything else:

Patterns featuring kanji on Ravelry
Kanji charts for Chinese birth years (from Knitty tabi sock pattern)
Patterns featuring Chinese characters on Ravelry

Writing in lace

Finally, if lace is your preferred medium, Bridget Rorem’s Lace Alphabets Scarf Sampler (available from Schoolhouse Press) has two alphabets you can use to knit messages into any lace project.

Rorem’s Near Solstice Shawl, for instance, has an original haiku knitted along the top edge (unfortunately I can’t find a better photo).

Have you knitted a message or statement into a project? If you have a good photo, please comment and give us a link!