FO: Neckwarmer for Knit Aid

It’s funny how the universe puts things in your path right when you are looking for them. I’m not sure what prompted me to search for a knitting group on the day I did, but it happened I found a wonderful one that was just about to have its first meetup. The Knit Collective is a new New York-based group that partners with established non-profits to donated hand-knitted items to those in need.



Pattern: based on Knit Aid’s Snood. My project page is here.
Size: A tube approximately 9 inches high and 23 inches in circumference
Yarn: Classic Elite Alaska (discontinued) super bulky weight, 50% wool / 50% alpaca, in 1581 Tree Grove; I used every bit of 2 skeins, approximately 100 grams, 50 yards/ 46 meters
Needles: Size 17 (12.75mm) straights
Modifications: Worked with a provisional cast-on and grafted the finished seam, slipped edge stitches, reduced width (discussed below)

Started: April 23, 2017
Finished: April 24, 2017

The first project is working with Knit Aid, an organization based out of the UK that is bringing hand-knit hats, gloves, neckwarmers, blankets, hot water bottle covers, and other warming items to refugees in camps. When I read about the conditions in these camps and imagine people in already tenuous and frightening situations shivering through the night in below-freezing temperatures, my heart can’t take it anymore.

A hand-knit item is a small gesture, but an important thing. Taking the bitter edge off the cold so a person can sleep is huge for anyone, but I hope it gives extra comfort to those most in need to know other people in the world care about them and are trying to make their lives a little better.



I had some squishy wool and alpaca super bulky yarn in my stash that I bought years ago to make a boyfriend a hat. I was delighted it fit the criteria for fiber content and was suitably dark and gender-neutral to comply with Knit Aid’s requests.

Though I based my neckwarmer, which for some reason they call a “snood,” on their pattern, I decided to use a provisional cast-on to eliminate a bulky seam at the back of the neck. Working with size 17 needles, I joked, was like knitting prop comedy, and I was amazed at how quickly it took off.



So quickly, in fact, that I had zero qualms about frogging the whole thing and starting over when my first version was too tall (chin to chest) and too tight, due to having slightly thicker yarn than the pattern called for and a bit less of it than would have been ideal.



As lovely as Classic Elite Alaska is, I am mystified about why it was put up in measly 25 yard skeins. Most of the hats I saw (only after buying 2 skeins per color) used at least 3. I reduced the amount of stitches and ended up with a neckwarmer that is still snug, but can comfortably slide over my gigantic head. I expect it will be huge on a normal-sized woman or child.



I slipped the edge stitches to give a braided look that should be soft where it touches the skin. I grafted the last row to the cast-on edge to make a fairly seamless tube, which will be comfortable if worn lying down.



I was initially concerned that the snugness looked like a Victorian collar (also, please forgive the frowny and poorly-lit modeled shots – I was running late and rushing). Not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s not as unisex as I’d envisioned.



When tucked into my hoodie, though, it just became a super warm base layer that could be pulled up to cover the lower face or over most of the head and neck if needed.



Knit Aid encourages you to write a message on their cards to include with your items, to communicate good wishes and let refugees know that people all over the world are thinking about them, praying for them, and putting their hands and hearts into this little gesture. (Of course, it is also important to contact your representatives and work at these issues on all fronts). As I knit, I thought about the person who would receive this neckwarmer, and I hoped with all my heart it would give comfort, warmth, and love to someone who needs it.

I am so happy to have found a group of like-minded, truly lovely knitters in the city, and I’m excited about upcoming plans for fundraisers and more knitting meetups.

FO: Pink Cat Protest Hats

I realize I am terribly remiss in the usual year-end blog housekeeping, like posting the Christmas gifts I knit for my family this year, a summary of the projects I knit in 2016, or even taking pictures of the things I knit and have been wearing for months now.

2017 Knitting Resolution: get back on track with photographing my projects.

I did have occasion to photograph a very special project, the pair of pink hats I knit for the Women’s March on NYC, a sister protest of the Women’s March on Washington that the NYC Mayor’s office estimated at 400,000 strong.



Pattern: Official Kittyville Hat by Kitty Schmidt, published in Stitch n’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook and archived online. My project page is here.
Size: Hat size, for larger adult heads
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Solids, Aran weight, 100% acrylic, in Rubine Red; I used less than 1 skein for both hats, approximately 144 grams, 267.8 yards/ 244.8 meters.
Needles: Size 7 (4.50 mm) 16-inch circular and DPNs
Modifications: Omitted ear flaps, ties, and pom-poms; increased stitch count overall (see notes below).

Started: January 16, 2017
Finished: January 18, 2017


Still / again fighting for what's right #WomensMarchNYC #WhyIMarch @nycwomensmarch

When discussing our plans to march, my mother and I were each initially hesitant to wear pink cat-eared hats because we worried they could be infantilizing or too cutesy for such serious issues. The more I read about the Pussyhat Project, the better I understood the real power of the hats as a unifying symbol. This article discusses it from an interesting perspective. I was particular drawn to the idea that these hats were nearly all hand-made, individualized, creative expressions of solidarity, an important antidote to red hats mass-produced in China. I loved the idea of knitters and crocheters making practical hats donated for other marchers, and I wish I’d made time to knit more than the two hats I did.



I have knit this pattern before when making a Hello Kitty hat, so I knew it made a comfortable, cute hat. I also knew that if we wanted to, we could unravel the ears and have a “normal” hot pink beanie to wear or donate to charity after the march. Although in truth, we’re both so fond of our hats I don’t see us parting with them anytime soon.



We both have fairly gigantic heads. I joke that it’s an Irish thing, but it’s also possible we have quite average-sized heads and are abnormally sensitive about the way hats fit around our ears. Either way, I wanted a slightly looser-fitting hat, so I cast on 100 stitches and knit a little longer than the pattern calls for before beginning the crown decreases. It resulted in a slightly slouchy fit, which made them very comfortable, and I just placed the ears at the bottom of the decreases so they’d sit nicely on the top of the head.




My sign, quoting Hillary Clinton: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

In addition to our hats, we had a little pizza and painting party at my apartment the night before to make our signs. This too was an equally cathartic and therapeutic focusing of our energy into good intents and wishes for the future that we could carry out into the world. A surprising amount of people commented on how much they liked our hats and signs and asked to take photos, so I was pleased that we’d put the effort into making them as engaging and attractive as possible.




My mother’s sign: Complacent Is Complicit / Strong Women Stand Together

I was reminded yet again of why I knit, as an extension of why I am an artist. Making things with your hands gives you the chance to make something so unique it is the only one of its kind in the world. The vast diversity of pink protest hats that I saw echoed the individuality and particular expressions of all the knitters and crocheters who put their hearts and souls into them, each choosing a slightly different yarn, gauge, or style that reflected their personalities.



Just as each stitch is essential for creating a knit fabric, so too is each individual’s experiences and contributions essential to the fabric of society and democracy. Looking at the seas of pink hats like ours in march photos from around the world, I felt more connected with humanity than I ever have before, just by doing something small with my two hands. I am so grateful I could be a part of that.

Some newer cast-ons

I have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s start with three new cast-ons from the end of the summer / early fall.



The first is a lacy cotton-modal blend cardigan, which I am trying to work completely seamlessly using this lovely Knit Picks Shine in Crocus, a fuchsia color that still reminds me a bit of phenolphthalein. This yarn had been committed to a classic Erika Knight Deep V-neck sweater for oh, nine years (have I really been knitting so long??) but I ultimately decided I just didn’t want to deal with the seaming. I also felt like the fabric of the sweater was too drapey and would make for a clingier fit than I wanted for a long sleeve pullover.



I’m delighted with the lace pattern and fabric being created, and I think it uses the airiness and drape of the yarn better for something I can wear over dresses and blouses in the spring, fall, and cooler days of summer.

Recently Interweave ran a great sale in their online shop, and I scooped up several digital editions of Knitscene that I’d been meaning to get for $3 each. I immediately cast on for the Byzantium Stole in a beautiful tan wool-silk blend that I can already see myself wearing with a green motorcycle jacket that I don’t wear often enough.



I love the clever geometry of this pattern and how it’s coming together in this yarn already.


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As I was knitting, admiring the Art Deco sort of pattern that was emerging, I kept thinking about this metallic silvery yarn that I had tried to turn into a shrug (with pretty disappointing results). What if I worked this scarf (let’s be real) on larger needles to make a bigger, wrap-like stole?



Of course as soon as I found the right sized needle, I cast on for that too, and I’m happy with the way it’s coming together. I don’t usually work the same pattern in two yarns / gauges at the same time, but they have such different feels that I think they will result in two unique pieces. Plus I enjoy the clever pattern so much I look forward to knitting it twice.



This yarn is still having some issues, which unfortunately seem to be part of how it’s made (I’ll discuss this more soon). It also keeps snagging on the join of the circular needle I’m using, which is maddening, but I guess it will save me the anxiety of when it inevitably catches on my earrings, zippers, or whatever other things always seem to reach out to grab my scarves while I’m wearing the finished stole.

So, much more soon! Maybe I’ll even photograph some of the sweaters I’ve finished lately.

A Yarn Story

Way back in undergrad I decided I wanted to learn to knit. I made the decision fairly spontaneously in the middle of a craft store while I was buying painting supplies, tossing a skein of variegated worsted weight acrylic yarn into my basket. It was Red Heart’s Super Saver economy line, and its color is called Painted Desert. It evoked so many tranquil, outdoorsy thoughts in its mix of jewel tones with a warm tan and sienna color that I just had to learn how to knit it.

My mother lent me a pair of her needles and taught me how to cast on and make a knit stitch (I’m sure this is why I knit English – my mother is left-handed). I didn’t learn to purl, so the first thing I ever knit, over the course of several years in college, was a massively wide garter-stitch scarf-wrap type thing that I wore outside of the house exactly once.

It was a disaster of dropped and accidentally added stitches, wonky irregular gauge, and basically all the classics of a new knitter’s mistakes. In 2006 I decided to learn to knit again, branching out beyond garter stitch rectangles, and it stuck. I found a sweater pattern that I thought would show off the little bursts of color in this yarn, and I bought quite a few more skeins. I knit up the back in what became a somewhat Ravelry-famous example of spectacularly dizzying, ugly pooling.

Not surprisingly, I frogged it, and the yarn hung out for years. It actually looks pretty nice in a ball, so I was willing to relegate it to a random decorative accent on my bookshelf, but it bothered me.

I kept thinking there was a secret to this yarn that I hadn’t cracked. I didn’t like the way it looked in garter stitch, nor in stockinette. Because I have such a large quantity of it, I was considering working it into an openwork afghan. I don’t know what made me think of it again, but I browsed through all the projects using this yarn on Ravelry, and I saw a beautiful seed stitch scarf. I fell in love with the fabric and immediately cast on.

It is so pleasant to watch the colors shift and combine in seed stitch. Each color tends to stretch about 3-4 stitches, and although it has pooled a touch in some places, I like it overall. I’m so pleased to have found a way to make this yarn do what I knew it could.

I have a whole slew of projects planned with this yarn in seed stitch, starting with a moebius scarf, then matching hat and gloves. I also want to make a set of cushion covers for my couch and maybe some slippers or house socks. I expect pretty soon I’ll be surrounded in Painted Desert yarn.

FO: Montana Neckwarmer

Pattern: Montana Scarf by Craig Rosenfeld, free pattern from Loop Knits. My project page is here on Ravelry.
Size: converted to a buttoned neckwarmer (I need to measure)
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky 12-ply bulky, 80% acrylic / 20% wool, in color 127 Walnut; I used about 1.5 skeins, approximately 210 grams, which was 229.5 yards/ 210 meters
Needles: Size 10.5 (6.5 mm)
Buttons: 6 La Mode style 2906 3/4″ (19mm) brown, washable and dry cleanable
Modifications: Shortened to a cross-over neckwarmer with buttons

Started: October 7, 2015
Finished: November 3, 2015

I made this neckwarmer for my nice brother as one of his birthday gifts this year. To say he spends a lot of time outdoors would be a gigantic understatement. Between working on a charter boat and hunting, he is basically always outside, even when the temperatures are below freezing and he is getting covered in snow. I discovered this pattern last year and made a buttoned neckwarmer in green for my father last Christmas (which no, I still haven’t photographed yet, oops). My brother coveted it and asked if I’d make him a brown one for the start of duck season this year, and fortunately enough time passed that he forgot he’d requested it, so it was actually a surprise by his birthday.

I love this pattern, as it is simple and fun, producing an attractive reversible rib that lays nicely flat despite being worked in a bulky yarn. I went with an acrylic-wool blend so it would be machine washable and soft against the skin because even though my brother is an outdoorsy tough guy, I still want knit things to be squishy and pleasant to wear. I made simple yarn-over buttonholes, which I reinforced with a single ply of the yarn using what I now know is called a buttonhole stitch.

Because my birthday is November 1 and my brother’s is November 3, we always celebrate together with our family. This year I made us a German sweet chocolate cake from scratch and immodestly declared myself Star Baker, as it is probably the loveliest thing I’ve ever baked.

I’ll try to get photos of my brother wearing his neckwarmer (and my father’s, while I’m at it) the next time I see them.