My latest project was inspired by an incredible yarn, Fine Merino Superwash from Hand Painted Knitting Yarns - HPKY. From the moment I touched this gorgeous, 100% merino yarn, I was enamored. Incredibly soft and squishy, I tried to decide what would be an easy, but awesome, project for this lovely yarn. Two hanks were included in HPKY's Fan Shawl kit, but with a clear vinyl bag between our customers and the yarn's fabulous hand, it was often overlooked. As soon as I put aside the packaging and set out the hanks in a basket, even the knitters who usually shy away from small gauge yarns were admiring and buying this exquisitely soft yarn, in so many glorious colorways. As some customers were not sure what to knit with these fine gauge hanks, I wrote an easy pattern for it.
HPKY Fine Merino Superwash hanks
Whenever I am developing a pattern for a particular yarn, I keep my students in mind. Many are novices and are more comfortable with easy projects. Even my more advanced knitters enjoy the occasional mindless design for their multi task knitting, such as at social knitting groups (like our Stitch Night), in front of the TV, or in my friend Donna's case, at the movie theater while watching a flick. I knew I wanted to make an infinity scarf, the most popular accessory this spring, and to make it an one skein project, easy with the generous 350 yard hanks. I chose HPKY's Indomeneo opera colorway, a bright, happy combination of oranges and red, with dollops of yellow and purple, knowing how stunning it would look paired with a classic white shirt, a staple for any wardrobe.
When I began knitting up swatches, on day two I found that I liked the look of the hand painted yarn held double, as the marling of the strands blended the colorway beautifully. Of all the stitch pattern swatches, the one in seed stitch on size 13 needles was my pick. Held double, the two lively, superwash strands did not cling to each other, pleasantly knitting up into large, happy stitches and filling the loose gauge, knit fabric with color.
Close up of seed stitch
This long infinity scarf is a quick knit, thanks to the large needles and gauge. I used my fauxbius twist technique when joining the cast on stitches, to add interest and structure. When an infinity scarf is worn long without a fauxbius twist, the center front hangs into a flat section, which to me looks untidy.
Scarf without fauxbius detail
Adding the single twist to the cast on stitches gives an interesting detail to the design. The extra knit fabric in the twist plus gravity keep the scarf hanging front and center, so there is no need to fiddle with the accessory, to keep it looking great during your busy day.
Scarf with fauxbius detail
For those cooler days when added warmth is desired, you can wear the Ewesful Scarf doubled over around your neck. Doesn't it look fabulous that way?
Ewesful Scarf worn doubled around neck
Yes, the knitting is super simple! Seed stitch is such an easy stitch pattern to knit, especially when worked in the round. All you have to remember is (knit 1, purl 1), repeat. As long as you are knitting the purls and purling the knits, the resulting fabric will be a completely reversible, eye catching pattern, that will not curl on any edge. Mindless knitting magic!
The pattern for my Ewesful Infinity Scarf can be found with our other free Rare Purls Original patterns, at www.rarepurls.net/Patterns.html. Just click on the option for free patterns on the home page and scroll down to Ewesful Infinity Scarf. Click on the title and you will be able to view the pattern and print it out.
Copyright April 2014
Years ago, I hand knit a fashionable scarf for my sister, Cathy, and as it turned out so darling, I knit another one just like it for myself. I dubbed them our Sister Scarves, with the idea that like us, they were made from the same nurture and nature, the same design and materials. When I gave it to Cathy, I suggested that whenever one of us wore our scarf, that we let it serve as a reminder of the special bond we share as sisters. To this day, they have served that purpose very well.
My friend Lupa modeling the original Sister Scarf
The original two Sister Scarves were a simple design, knit completely in garter stitch pattern with only about 14 stitches. They were knit with two lovely specialty yarns held together - a shimmery, narrow ribbon and a complemetary novelty yarn, rendering a blend of both color and texture that was most appealing. For a more tailored look, rather than fringe, I placed a simple half hitch knot " tying right over left " near each end for a simple ornament.
Close up of the first Sister Scarf
Recently, my sister commented that of all the scarves I have made for her, that simple Sister Scarf is her favorite and she asked for another one, this time in red. I had a hank of Alp Exquisite by Feza Yarns in shades of red that seemed perfect for the project. If you are not familiar with Feza's Alp line, the hanks are composed of a selection of yarns that are hand knotted in sequence, to add variety to projects. In my second Sister Scarf, rather than hold two smaller gauge yarns together, I alternated rows of two different yarns, for a four row pattern repeat. At first, I allowed the hank to make the choice of yarns for me, alternating between a strand from the inside, then the outside of the machine wound ball. This only worked well for about half the scarf and I then began to skip some sections of yarn to use one that offered more contrast to the other yarn in the repeat.
Feza Alp Exquisite - wound in a ball, the many different yarns are unseen
As Sissie and I both get so many compliments when we wear this simple to knit accessory, I just have to share the pattern with my readers. Whether knit in a pair to honor a special bond with a sister or a friend or made solo to accessorize your favorite jacket, the Sister Scarf is a lovely, quick to knit project. You can use any combination of two or more yarns to complete the project, but please, use the good stuff! The mingling of more than one yarn is symbolic in this design, so why not use a special yarn to commemorate a special person?
The true beauty of this scarf is that it serves as a reminder of the bond between two people, so be sure to let the recipient know the meaning behind the hand knit. A simple tag letting her know it is a Sister Scarf, with an explanation of the sentiment, will surely tug some heartstrings. On a practical note, it is a good idea to write the washing instructions on the back of the tag, such as "hand wash with the same love with which this was knit." Here is my simple pattern, so you can knit your own tribute to a special gal in your life.
Sister Scarf Recipe
A scarf or two to celebrate a special bond. Knit with love!
Materials - approximately 180 - 200 yards total of DK or worsted weight yarns for one scarf, 360 - 400 yards total for two scarves. Use 2 or more different yarns in complementary colors and textures.
Needle - US 9
Gauge is not critical and will vary depending on weight of yarns used.
Cast on 15 stitches.
Row 1 and all subsequent rows - knit every stitch every row
Alternate yarns every 2 rows, carrying up the yarn not in use along the side. Do not carry a yarn for more than 2 rows. When introducing a new yarn, bring new strand under previous yarn for a neater edge.
Your scarf should be knit to 60" in length.
Finishing - Weave in all yarn ends, as invisibly as possible. At each end, fashion the knit fabric into a half knot, also known as a half hitch (this is the first step when tying a shoe lace), leaving 1 ½ inches of knit fabric below each knot. Arrange the fabric so it flares out and is pleasing to the eye, both above and below the knot.
Copyright, February 2014
Cherokee Wedding Shawl
Last summer, my artsy, interior designer friend Stephanie married Eric, her college sweetheart. Steph put her personal stamp on every facet of the event! For her wedding dress, she crocheted lace doilies together, adding in some designs of her own, as an over dress to a blue sheath stitched by her mother. Stephanie even grew many of the flowers for her wedding in her mom's backyard. They were married on the mountain property that the couple purchased in Dahlonega, the site of the home they will build some day. No wedding planner for this bride; she was hands on from the get go!
Stephanie's wedding dress in progress
When Stephanie came to Rare Purls to buy yarn for her wedding shawl, I knew she would want something special. As she knits, crochets, and hand spins, she has an appreciation of luxury fibers, such as merino, alpaca, and fine mohair. When she saw the 6 Yarn Ribbon Shawl Kit from HPKY (Hand Painted Knitting Yarns) it was love at first sight! The yarns were a combination of specialty fibers in ivory and cream, with a twinkling of glitz and yards of silk ribbon. She did not want to knit the garter stole design featured in the kit and asked me to design a wedding shawl for her big day.
HPKY 6Yarn Ribbon Shawl kit
We spent some time talking about possible shapes and constructions. She loved the crescent shaping of Citron by Hilary Smith Callis, but wanted more lace incorporated in the shawl. She had knit several of my Cherokee Princess Scarves and wanted to use the same combination of stitch patterns in her shawl. To do this in a top down construction would rely on a series of increases across many of the rows, in the 18 row pattern repeat. That would be a lot of counting of both rows and stitches, not something I wanted to lay on Stephanie, with so much still to do before her wedding. What she loved about my infinity scarf patterns were that they were knitted without too much fuss or concentration. I had to come up with a way to fulfill Stephanie's dream for her wedding shawl design, with a very easy, do-able pattern, even for a busy bride-to-be.
Stitch patterns from Cherokee Sister Infinity Scarf
After 4 days of sketching and swatching, I came up with the solution. I turned the knitting on its side and worked the pattern from right to left, beginning with but three stitches and increasing to the center, one stitch every other row, easy peasy! The vertical striping of the stitch patterns would be flattering and the shaping could all be accomplished along the lower edge. I sent her a photo of my idea in a large swatch and she loved it!
In my final design, the shawl increased from 1 to 26 inches wide along one side, maintained that width across the generous back section, then decreased back down to 3 stitches. The gentle slope of the shaping was very feminine and so easy to knit. The kit came with 6 yarns and I cycled through them, changing the yarn whenever I changed the stitch pattern from stockinette, to reverse stockinette, to the lace section that was accomplished with a series of yarn over, knit 2 together. I changed out the yarns along the curved edge, securing them with a simple knot and left each loose end 5 inches long, forming fringe across the bottom edge. I then cut the gorgeous ivory silk ribbon into sections and tied them between the yarn fringes, for the perfect finishing touch!
Cherokee Wedding Shawl
As Steph was still busy working on her dress, I began working on the wedding shawl, telling her she could take over once her dress was done. When I realized how close she was cutting it in finishing her dress on time, I forged ahead with her shawl, completing it just days before her big day. The shawl became a wedding gift for a very happy bride!
The happy bride and groom
Copyright January 2014
Currently, the most popular, hand knit accessory is the infinity scarf. Whether wide, chunky, and worn close around the neck or long, lean, and swinging south of the waist, these fashionable scarves are seen on women of all ages, in most every walk of life. Even the guys are joining the ranks of savvy fashionistas and donning these easy to sport accessories. Of course, there are loads of patterns available for infinity scarves at every skill level - the variations seem endless!
Of course, infinity scarves are not new, though the moniker is definitely 21st century. When I was a youngster, they were called smoke rings, cowls, or wimples and were made deep enough that they could be pulled up to cover the head. Though some of today's cowls can still be worn in this manner, most are primarily neck ware, thus the name infinity scarf.
When making your infinity scarf, you have two basic options - knitting a long strip and seaming the short ends together or knitting it in the round. For the first, you may choose any scarf pattern, though preferably one that does not have distinct right and wrong sides, knit it to 24" - 72", then seam. 24" - 36" scarves will hang at necklace length, where longer versions can be either worn long or doubled over the head, for a cozy, chunkier look. You may choose to include a half twist before seaming, to form a moebius shape, an interesting twist in these scarves.
By far, my favorite technique for infinity scarf projects is to knit them in the round, especially using self striping yarns. Long color repeats result in rings of each color, truly a great look! People love the look of a twist in their infinity scarves, like when they wear them doubled over, but knitting a true moebius in the round requires a moebius cast on, a technique that takes a bit of practice to master. This inspired me back in 2011 to look for an easier way to add interest to these oblong scarves, what I call a "fauxbius twist." Rather than having my novice knitters learn a tricky new cast on, I include one twist in my cast on stitches before joining and voila! - an easy technique that adds terrific style, interest, and stability to your infinity scarf. Since debuting my Cherokee Princess Scarf with the "fauxbius" twist, I have been delighted that so many knitters have enjoyed this simple technique to add a fashionable twist to their scarves.
For best results when knitting infinity scarves in the round, I use a backwards loop cast on, as it includes positive ease, when worked correctly. Your goal is to have no pulling nor puckers along the cast on edge. Often when utilizing a backwards loop cast on, newbie knitters do not work the extra ease into the cast on stitches and end up with any ever lengthening strand of yarn between the cast on stitches and the stitches worked for the first round. If you can tell yourself to "keep moving" to the next stitch, rather than tightening/admiring each stitch along the way, you will avoid the long strand between your needles and have lovely ease along the cast on edge.
When using the backwards loop cast on for any scarf knit in the round, whether adding a fauxbius twist or not, you may find it easier to work the first row flat, then join the stitches to work in the round. This is an old trick used for keeping unwanted twists out of cast on edges, but it is equally helpful for purposely adding a twist. At finishing, the tail from your cast on can be used to close the small divot in the first row. A loose bind off, matching the ease of the cast on and body of the scarf, is equally important. If your bind offs tend to be tight, go up as many needle sizes as it takes to achieve the same ease as the backwards loop cast on.
With a loose cast on and bind off, fill the center of your infinity scarf with interest. You may choose a simple stitch pattern in a glorious colorway or lacy stitches in a solid or kettle dyed yarn. Ravelry.com is full of beautiful designs for infinity scarves, including my Cherokee Sister Scarf. But be warned, once they see yours, friends and family will be begging you to make one for them, as well! And why not? These quick, easy projects are great gifts and the holidays are just around the corner.
Copyright Nov. 2013
Infinity scarves are currently the most popular accessory project at Rare Purls and I can certainly see why. They are easy to wear, requiring no fuss, clever ties or wrapping for them to look great. Simply pop one over your head and you are out the door in fashion! This updated version of the traditional cowl comes in all sizes, from long and skinny to wide and dramatic, with stitch patterns ranging from simple garter to lacy scallops. Whether knit in the round or knit flat and seamed, infinity scarves are a marvelous project for knitters of every skill level.
My last infinity scarf pattern, Cherokee Princess Scarf, was designed for a specific novelty yarn, Feza's Alp Natural. So many knitters enjoyed this project, I modified the pattern so that it could be used with a wide variety of light worsted to bulky weight yarns, including smooth, novelty, solid colors, and hand paints. The Cherokee Sister Infinity Scarf works up especially attractive in self striping yarns with long repeats, such as Plymouth Kudo and Gina, Cascade Souk, Rowan Colourscape Chunky, and the many, marvelous Noro yarns.
Cherokee Sister is an infinity scarf with a twist - literally! I have always liked the look of moebius cowls, but novice knitters can be intimidated by the moebius cast on. In this pattern, I built in an easy to knit "fauxbius" twist. Where a true moebius shape includes a half twist along a circular plane, requiring a moebius cast on for a no seam project, this design has a full twist along the length of the oblong scarf, adding interest and structure. This detail is accomplished by adding one twist to the cast on stitches, before joining them to knit in the round, easy peasy! When knitting this pattern, be sure to closely follow the instructions for cast on and bind off. The backwards loop cast on and extra loose bind off bring lots of ease to the party. The edges should be as open and relaxed as the body of the scarf.
Although I love the look of this scarf, what I like best about this pattern is its versatility! Even though I recommend self striping yarns, this design also looks fabulous in a solid color. The pattern is a great way to use up stash yarns, needing less than 100 grams of yarn. If you have a couple of coordinating, 50 gram orphan balls, simply alternate them where the stitch pattern changes.
The pattern for Cherokee Sister Infinity Scarf is also available in the free pattern section of the Rare Purls website at www.rarepurls.net
Copyright October 2013