Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick Knits and Gift Ideas!

Cowls are not a new fashion accessory of course; they have been around since the middle ages. But this year they are back in a big way and they are hot hot HOT! Even the Wall Street Journal has taken notice, opining Can the Snood Save Christmas? Snood, cowl, or infinity scarf, it's all basically a circular scarf worn about the neck and head.

They are a quick knit, but I haven't knit a cowl for years. I think it goes back to that first experience I had knitting a cowl. Imagine sprinkling itch powder all over a scarf and then wrapping it around your neck several times. The instant I put it on I knew I had a problem. Funny, though, because the yarn didn't feel itchy or scratchy while I was knitting with it. I totally understand now why someone with a martyr complex is said to wear a hair shirt.

But I'm no martyr and I wore that cowl for all of a New York minute. I had knit it in pure alpaca which is waaaay to itchy for a garment worn about the neck. Take it from me, and I'm pretty tolerant to yarn itch factor.

But cowls are once again seen everywhere. Why shouldn't I knit one too? It's quick and not a difficult knit. And yet. Any knit can have it's complications.....

My second cowl also went down in flames. I wouldn't say the yarn was too itchy. It was more that the yarn was too stiff. But enough already, for this third and final cowl I did my homework. I went into a LYS and looked at the cowls in the shop. Those LYS owners know what they are doing! This cowl is designed by Cardigans Knit Shop and is a designer knockoff knit in a soft, stretchy, non-itchy yarn that comes in great colors. Finally a cowl to love!

Particulars: Infinity scarf/cowl named for its construction. It's knit end to end and joined by grafting the live stitches together so there is no beginning or end to the knitting; hence its name infinity scarf. For my provisional cast-on I used Judy Becker's Magic Cast on demonstrated here I then threaded a piece of yarn through the live stitches until needed. It's a free pattern (I'm in the process of writing it up); 2 skeins Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK; US 10 needles.

There are some beautiful and free on-line cowl patterns. Just be sure to chose your yarn with care! Two of my favorites are the Cable Cowl by Pickles and the Winding River Cowl by Interweave Knits (Winter 2009) [ravelry link].

Gift Ideas for Knitters:

Before I sign off, I've come across some fun gifts ideas that I want to pass along:

Signature Scarf kit:

My friend Murielle of Murielle Knitwear is finally selling kits of her very popular Signature Scarf. She is also making her Signature Scarf pattern available for free on her website Murielle knitwear/free patterns link. All of her kits are one of a kind, but will look generally like the scarfs shown below. These kits are quick to knit, fun to wear, and would make a great gift!

Magic Yarn Ball

I'm participating in a magic yarn ball swap hosted by Theresa of TDoesWool. The idea is simple. Knitters know what other knitters like in a way unfathomable to muggles/non-knitters. I think that's one reason swaps on-line between knitters are so popular. The basic idea of a magic yarn ball is to buy a nice ball of yarn and then roll it up including small items that will be revealed as the yarn is knit. Theresa has given some ideas for items to include on her Yarn Ball blog. This swap is not due until January 31, 2010 so hurry over and you still might have time to join! For pictures of yarn balls and inspiration visit the Flickr Magic Yarn Ball Group. Even if you are not participating in a swap, this would make a fun gift!

Tapestry Needle Case

A tapestry needle case is the epitome of a great gift, i.e. something you wouldn't think of buying for yourself, but are delighted to receive. Knitters use large tapestry needles for finishing work and I have several of these needles that used to rattle about in my craft box, pricking my fingertips as I poked about looking for things. Now they are attractively and safely ensconced in a beautiful needle case and I couldn't be more thrilled. This gift came from Chan of ChanKnits; she has some wonderful vendor friends who donate lovely gifts that she happily passes along on her blog! This needle case is handcrafted using the beautiful and exotic Padauk Wood by ROM Woodworking. If you are on a budget, Clover sells a similar Chibi needle case which comes with a selection of tapestry needles. This is a great stocking stuffer item!

Until next time, be well, love well, bundle up and stay safe as we are all out on the roads more over the holiday season!


Bridget said...

Claudia, that is a beautiful cowl! I even like the shade of pink (I'm picky about pinks).

Your gift ideas are good ones. That is an especially pretty needle case. One of my LYS has very nice project bags that are inexpensive (about 7 bucks) that I bought for a swap gift. It's great that there are so many little things, isn't it?

Have a cozy weekend. Hi to Steve and Mr P!

t does wool said...

it would be a fabulous gift Claudia...
and thanks for the clicks ;)
hope your weekend is great.
I did get the tree decorated{wink}

t does wool said...

silly me...I forgot to say I the cowl!
pink is your color!
{talking on the phone and blogging do not mix}

Monika said...

That's a lovely cowl, color and all. I've been meaning of knitting one for myself, since I use my neck warmers more than any scarf I've knit. You are so right about alpaca. I can't stand it near my skin, except on my feet. You found a lovely choice of gift ideas, very nice.
It's finally freaking cold up here. It's no fun outside, without the full gear, even though the sun is luring me outside, the cold bites!

jillian said...

It's gorgeous! That shade of pink is beautiful on you.

Kate (KnitsInClass) said...

Beautiful cowl! The cashmerino is sooo nice to snuggle with.

Thanks for sharing the great gift ideas -

SissySees said...

I'm very fond of Cashmerino... and that cowl is lovely. I knew you'd love and use that needle case! Happy Hanukkah!

kim said...

Okay, you are SO not making this easy! I was going to put a needle case in your yarn ball! ;)

Love, love, love the cowl. Such a great knit. It's finally really chilly here. Have a great weekend.

Renee said...

Your cowl is gorgeous, loving the pink colour. I'm on the bandwagon for cowl knitting and the yarn ball at Theresa's. :)
Have a great weekend!!

subliminalrabbit said...

awesome cowl! and that tapestry needle case? beautiful. so much nicer than my chibi!

larissa said...

I'm glad your stuck with it - this cowl is absolutely gorgeous on you! LOVE how chunky and substantial it is. Have a great weekend!

raining sheep said...

I loved this cowl when you had it up on flickr. It looks like it has the right kind of soft. And, oh my, I love that second scarf kit.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Beautiful cowl!! Love the gift ideas as well. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

Lisa said...

I think I'm going to beg my friend Bridget to make me one of these some day. And I love the pink! (You must know how lovely it looks on you.) :)

Remy sends his love to Mr. Puffy.

Anita said...

I love the cowl, gorgeous!

And what a pretty needle case. :)

amanda said...

Your cowl is beautiful. Every year I think of making one but never do. This should be the year!!!

Tracy said...

Hi, Claudia! You know how much I love cowls! ;o) This pink one of yours is GORGEOUS! The color is luscious and the cable in the pattern is lovely. This looks really comfortable, practical and pretty. Yarn softness and cozy-factor is essential for cowls, I think. Your friend M's scarf design is splendid--I really love that! And your needle case is so elegant... what a lovely, lovely gift. :o) It's snowing here... I could use a cowl to keep warm--even indoors--LOL! Happy week, my friend ((HUGS))

Hilary said...

I LOVE your cowl/snood - the color is so pretty and the subtle cables are so lovely. Thanks also for the link to the WSJ article - so interesting! I'm kind of in love with the giant Banana Republic one down towards the bottom.

betty said...

Lovely cowl! I don't wear cowls or scarves because I find them to be just too warm. However, I'm knitting a snood for The Other Half. I thought snoods were only for women until I saw some unisex fleece ones sold at a dept. store.