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: Toe-Up Gentleman’s Socks

As Easter approaches, April seems as good a time as any to finally post the wintry Christmas gifts I gave my family this past year, right?

Back in 2010, I knit my father a pair of socks for Christmas in this beautiful green and brown variegated yarn (you can see the yarn here, but alas, I have not photographed the socks yet). He loved them, and he frequently told me how much they meant to him, but he kept them pristinely folded in his sock drawer unworn because he “didn’t want to mess them up.” I always said, “I made them for you to use,” then reminded him how much I love knitting, should they ever need replacing.

This winter, on one of those particularly bitter cold and damp days, my father was outdoors and no matter what he did, couldn’t get his feet warm. He and my brother stopped home for lunch and he looked in his sock drawer, dismayed, hoping maybe he would find another warm pair he could layer in his boots. As he tells it, his eyes went to the handknit socks and he heard my voice echoing, “I made them for you to use!” He slipped them on and said his feet were properly warm for the first time in decades. “They are absolutely the answer,” he said enthusiastically when he called me that night, “I can’t believe I waited so many years to realize it!”



Pattern: based on Gentleman’s Sock with Lozenge Pattern by Nancy Bush, published in Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns (ebook here). My project page is here.
Size: Men’s size 10 (US) approximately (made to measure)
Yarn: Regia 4-fädig Color, fingering weight, 75% wool / 25% nylon, in 535; I used every last inch of 2 skeins, 100 grams, 460 yards/ 420.6 meters, plus I tipped the ribbing with a few rounds of Knit Picks Stroll Solids, fingering weight, 75% merino / 25% nylon in Fawn.
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs (Susan Bates Silvalume)
Modifications: Converted to toe-up with a short-row heel, changed the ribbing to simple 1×1 rib.

Started: January 1, 2017
Finished: February 13, 2017



A few days later, after wearing his handknit socks outside every day with delight, my father called to ask how he should wash them, and I talked him through it. He said now that they were his new “secret weapon” in keeping his feet warm, he didn’t want to risk running them through the wash. “The only downside,” he said cheerfully, “is that I have no idea what I’ll wear while they dry.” I immediately ducked into my stash and pulled out this great dark green Regia superwash, wrapped it, and presented it to him on Christmas as A Second Pair of Socks, Some Assembly Required.



I wanted to knit his second pair in a slightly finer gauge, now that I was sure of the measurements and that he’d actually wear them, but I hadn’t brought needles or the pattern with me. I had a pair of socks that I’d been keeping at my parents’ house for months as my “away” project, and as I finished them next to the Christmas tree, I realized I could cast on for my father’s second pair right then. I figured I would get the toe started and consult the pattern when I got home, but I came down with the first of several terrible colds I’ve had this year (with bonus bronchitis!) and while I malingered at my parents’ house, decided to improvise the pattern by looking at photos of finished socks on Ravelry.



By the time I got home, I’d knit through the heel and worked out how to keep the pattern continuous around the ankle, so I decided (with apologies to the genius Nancy Bush) that I’d just wing it, and my socks would be knit in my “house style,” which I know fits incredibly comfortably. I knit the leg of the sock as long as I could before I started running low on yarn, then started the ribbing. I was dismayed to run out of yarn sooner than I expected, so I tipped the ribbing in a bit of light brown Merino superwash from my stash. My father likes that detail as a design choice and noticed that the Merino is slightly softer than the Regia wool, so it’s extra cushy where it touches his shin.



My father loves these socks and has raved about how they are even warmer than the first pair I knit him. Beyond the tighter gauge, he also noted that the diamond pattern traps little pockets of air around his feet inside his boots, so they are both breathable and extra warm. He likes the color and style so much that he said he’d wear them with work or dress shoes the next time it gets super cold in the winter.

I’m so happy he loves his socks so much – he was telling everyone at our St. Patrick’s Day party how great they were. I’m also delighted he has discovered the joys of custom-sized handknit socks, as I have quite a few more colors of yarn with his name on them. He also promises we’ll take some modeled shots soon.

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.

FO: Foxtrot Featherweight Cardigan

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, from Knitbot. My project page is here.
Size: 38.75″-ish
Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow Lace 2-ply laceweight, 100% Merino wool, in Foxtrot Heather, 24511; I used almost exactly 2 skeins, approximately 100 grams, 880 yards/ 804.7 meters.
Needles: Size 6 (4.00 mm)
Modifications: Used kf&b increases, worked 1×1 ribbing on the collar.

Started: July 31, 2015
Finished: September 16, 2015

I love the first Featherweight Cardigan that I made so much I knew I wanted another. I believed that by knitting a slightly smaller size, at a more open gauge, I would get basically the right size, but use only 2 skeins of laceweight yarn. I was flying blind and gambling on the yardage, but I’m delighted to find that I was right, and I’m quite pleased with how this one came out.

This type of sweater is exactly the reason I wanted to learn to knit in the first place. I am always looking for lightweight garments that can be worn over printed sundresses (my closet overflows with these) to cover my arms in the spring and summer. It is a combination of modesty and practicality: when I attend the opera, ballet, symphony, etc., the air conditioning inside is typically frigid, but it’s usually too warm outside to be comfortable in a jacket. I find that store-bought cover-ups or cropped cardigans tend to have critical flaws, such as too heavy a yarn, too busy a pattern, too frumpy a style, or sleeves that are really only a conceptual suggestion and don’t properly work the way I’d like as sleeves. I’m often left mystified about what to wear to complement all these pretty, colorful dresses that isn’t just another plain white or black cotton cardigan.

The open, fluttery gauge of this sweater kept the Merino yarn from being too warm even outdoors in the sunshine, but it was warm enough that I didn’t feel chilled indoors. I will admit that because the temperature on the day I took these photos was closer to 50° than 75° and it was unpredictably windy, I did bring a jacket and scarf, but I didn’t feel the need to wear either until the sun had set and I was walking home at night. A little cardigan that can comfortably span 20-30° or more is a real winner in my book.

I modified the pattern slightly by changing the collar and front to 1×1 ribbing, which I also did on my last Featherweight. Once I was happy with the length and the sleeves were complete, I basically knit for as much yarn as I had, and the length I ended at is spot-on. It is just long enough to cover the back of my neck if I am chilled, but because it is so lightweight, I found I could neatly fold it over like a shawl collar in the back as well. I had a much easier time picking up stitches for the neckline and managing the construction in general on this one, and I’m thrilled it looks tidy and clean overall.

I was so enthused upon the completion of this project last fall that I actually immediately cast on another, in pink, which I set aside once I got busy with an exciting new employment adventure (if you’re interested, you can read more about that here), and of course, winter knitting.

I really do need to get better about photographing my finished projects. I have a list of more than 30 things I’ve completed, and in some cases have been wearing for literally years, but it’s rare that I can get someone willing to take a photo. And it’s rarer still that what they take actually shows the knitting well or is flattering enough that I’d like to share it in public. So I’m going to play around with a tripod and a timer or a remote shutter release, to see if I can be a little more timely if I photograph finished projects on my own.

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.