Friday, October 19, 2007

The best easy knitting pattern: a chunky winter scarf

The most foolproof easy knitting patterns are rectangles! That's why the infamous potholder is so popular. Other rectangles include:

  • Runners for a dresser top or side table
  • Shawls and stoles
  • Blankets
  • Baby blankets (little! easy!)
  • Covers for decorative cushions

But the all-time easy rectangle that you'll actually want to wear is, of course, the winter scarf. If you choose a nice fat yarn, even a beginner can knock this off in an evening.

You don't really need a pattern, but here's one if you're feeling insecure. This uses a yarn called Gedifra Sheela that looks amazing--nice and chunky with great colors. If you can't find Gedifra Sheela, just look for something bulky and wonderful.

If you don't go with a pattern, just cast on 50-60 stitches and keep knitting until you've got the length you want. It's always good to slip the first stitch of every row (that means you move it from the left needle to the right, without twisting it and without knitting it), that will give you a cleaner edge. Knit every row for garter stitch, which won't curl, or knit odd rows and purl even rows for stockinette, which has a nice drape but tends to curl back on itself. In a chunky yarn like this, either one will look great. (Garter stitch is a little wider for the same number of stitches.)

I don't usually recommend knitting with synthetics, but quickie projects and ultra-easy knitting patterns like this can be ok--and some of the new synthetic yarns are just too good to resist.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A super easy pashmina-style stole

The knitting craze has created a wealth of easy knitting patterns that are cute as well. One great, simple project is a pashmina-style stole.

Get 3-7 fabulous colors of yarn (all the same brand--one tasty possibility is "Felted Tweed 142" over at String of Purls). It will look best if you pick an odd number of colors, and wool or a wool blend (wool-silk, wool-mohair) are the easiest and most satisfying to knit with when you're getting started. If you're in a warm climate and want cotton, try "Summer Tweed," also at String of Purls, which comes in amazing colors.

Cast on 200 stitches or so, starting with your very favorite color. Knit for awhile until you feel like changing colors. Go ahead and change colors mid-row, but as you go forward, just stagger it a little every time you change. It will give you a more modern, stylish look. Keep knitting and keep changing colors. It looks great if you have some fatter stripes and some skinny ones, but just do what looks best to you.

(Don't know how to knit at all yet? Have no fear--download this learn-to-knit eBook for simple instructions that will get you off and running. Plus, downloadable PDF = instant gratification. No waiting for Amazon--I love that.)

Knit until you have something about the size of a pashmina--24-36" wide or so. Knit your last stripe in that same favorite color you started with. Cast off. Take a crochet hook and weave in all the ends from your color changes.

If you want to get all picky, spray your finished stole with a water bottle until it's damp and let it dry on a towel, fussing with it every couple of hours to keep it nice and square.

Pretty amazing results for such an easy knitting pattern, isn't it? And not a potholder! This is the best thing in the world to ward off over-air-conditioned freezing offices (or to warm you up on those days when the office heater just isn't cutting it). It's awesome to keep in the car, too.

If this is too simple for you and you're jonesing for more ideas, check out this Squidoo lens on hipster knitting. You probably want to get a stole or two finished before you start a knitted mohawk, though.

Stay warm and stylish. Enjoy your knitting!

Welcome to easy knitting!

Knitting can be one of the most soothing, relaxing activities you can do. It's a fabulous right-brain, rhythmic activity for when your analytical left brain is working overdrive. It's a feast for the senses--soft wool, delicious color, the click of needles.

Or it can make you so tense and hysterical you need a Xanax every time you think about starting the shoulder shaping on that cute cashmere hoodie.

Relax--there are a million wonderful resources out there that can make knitting enjoyable and relaxing, the way it's supposed to be. (Your Grandma didn't need Xanax, now did she?) You just have to take it step by step. Start with a great easy knitting pattern (and it doesn't have to be a potholder!). Spoil yourself with wonderful materials and excellent tools, not with a too-complex pattern that will just have you tearing your hair out. Before you know it, you'll be knitting Halloween costumes and tea sets and who knows what else. But start simple.

This blog is intended to help beginning knitters find fun patterns that are both simple and cool. (You'd be amazed at how fun it can be just to knit a big rectangle, if you approach it the right way.)

I wish you many hours of very happy knitting!