We’re now in the run-up to the holiday gift-giving season. New folk reading here may not realize that in addition to stitching I also knit. And I have dabbled in knitwear design in addition to embroidery design. I didn’t pursue knit design intensely because selling patterns to publications and yarn houses requires adherence to deadline, production of the photographic model, working up a wide range of sizes, and use of yarns/colors I did not always favor. But I have released some patterns over the years that make excellent, quickly made gifts. Many of those are here on String-or-Nothing, and are free downloads. Here’s a round-up of them.
Chanterelle is a scarf requiring just one skein of variegated or self-striping fingering weight or sock yarn (aka 4-ply). For me it’s like potato chips, hard to make just one because every ball produces a different and unexpected result.
The flag scarf was especially surprising. That one was from a stash-aged ball of Schoeller and Stahl’s Fortisimma Socka Color, #1776. I gave it to a friend who wore it to cheer on her kid in an international sports competition. By contrast the glowing purples creams and blues next to it was worked up from a single ball of Schoppel Zauberball Crazy Colors.
Other notes on knitting this one up include that it uses US #5s, making it less dense than the same yarn knit into socks, and that blocking is NOT recommended. You want to preserve those gentle curves.
You can download the pattern PDF directly here, and also find it under the Knitting Patterns tab, at the top of every page here on String. It also has a Ravelry page so you can see what others have done with the thing.
Not everyone loves working with fine yarns. Here’s an alternative.
This was the original expression of the idea I adapted into Chanterelle. It’s exactly the same pattern, but designed for a heavier yarn. Noro Kureopatora was a DK, and one of the first wildly variegated yarns I ran into and this one evolved from idle play with some leftovers from another project. This pattern works well for DK, Worsted, and Aran weight (native label gauges of 22 to 18 stitches over 4 inches or 10 cm). At DK gauge on a US #6 one scarf needs about 250 yards of yarn. A bit more for the heavier gauges or for a wider scarf.
Kombu, named after the Japanese name for Kelp, also features gentle undulations, but it’s a lace patterned piece that starts with a small bit of edging. The main body is picked up from the edging and knit up from there. The same edging is used left and right – worked simultaneously with the scarf body. When the desired length is achieved, the same edging is worked across the live stitches of the top. I’ve done it several times in DK, sport, and worsted weight. It’s dreamy in luxury fibers, and just as nice in inexpensive yarns and even cotton. Pick something that’s not too fuzzy for this one though, the drama is best seen in a yarn that shows crisp stitch definition.
The blue one is in Marks and Kattens Indigo Jeansgarn, a guaranteed to shrink and mellow DK weight 100% cotton. The grey is in a cashmere blend. The red is a stash-aged nubbly worsted weight cotton/wool blend – possibly a mill end from Classic Elite circa 1997. It even looks good in a variegated, although truthfully I prefer the solids for this one.
Spring Lightning Lacy Scarf
This one is a bit more of an involved knit that the ones above. It’s more open, worked in lace weight yarn and like all lace requires savage blocking. I’ve done it in white and black. I don’t recommend the black sequin bearing mohair, but the white alpaca/wool blend from a small farm boutique producer was a delight to knit.
For this one the center panel was completed first, and then the edging was knit along the ends and sides after the center was complete.
Back when the Resident Male was running every day he asked for a scarf that wouldn’t flop around. I took a really soft alpaca wool blend, a worsted weight, and using a simple Shaker rib, knit him a deeply corrugated tube to wear as a gaiter or cowl-style scarf. He named it because in black the ribbing pulled up over the nose and mouth looked vaguely Vader-like. This one is a very quick knit and uses about 300g of yarn.
Sadly, I really don’t have a good photo of it. Think of a deep, thick turtleneck, divorced from the rest of the sweater.
Knot A Hat Earwarmer Band
This one is still a favorite of mine. It’s my go-to for heavy outdoor labor in the winter, being warm enough on the ears, but not a sweat-inducing box for one’s head. It has however inspired quite a bit of creativity, with folk adapting it to be a dome-shaped hat or cornered toque by continuing to work a solid color crown after completing the stranded colorwork section. My own is double sided, but not double knit. After I finished the knotwork pattern, I did a couple of turning rows in purl, then did the same width in simple stripes of the two colors. When I was finished I turned the striped section inside and seamed it to the cast-on row.
The knotwork design isn’t Celtic – it’s adapted from “Opera Noua composta per dominco da Sera detto il Francoisino,” by Matteo Pagan and Guliemo da Fontaneto, a modelbook published as a resource for embroiderers, printed in Venice in 1546. The same design appears in several other similar works from that general timeframe (pattern sharing and pattern piracy are not new phenomena).
Knot a Hat is written for a 4-ply yarn. Something a bit loftier than standard hard-spun classic sock yarn would work best. It would be an excellent vehicle to show off the gorgeous hand-dyed fingering weight yarns produced by smaller, independent dyers.
Download Knot a Hat here. Or grab it from the Patterns tab, above. The range of adaptations into a true hat are on the Ravelry page. To see them go to the sidebar “About This Pattern” box, and click on the line “19 Projects in 110 queues”.
Socks, I got. Lots of socks. In everything from light fingering (3-ply) through Aran weight (12 ply). I even have a sock lapel pin knit from reinforcement thread. But I do specialize. My socks are all done the same way though – toe up with a figure-8 toe, a plain foot, and a short rowed heel. Then Something Happens for the ankle part (lace, ribbing, textured stitches, stripes, stranding, whatever tickles my fancy), and ended off with simple ribbing at the top. I usually try to use K2P2 ribbing for the cuff, but I enjoy trying to mate it organically with the texture pattern below, so it’s occasionally eccentric, with bits of K1P1 in there.
I know folk are hesitant about the figure-8 toe, but I don’t find it a burden. Use any toe you prefer. Also note that while I write for DPNs, it’s easy to do all of these patterns on two circular needles, or using the Magic Loop method. And since the heel is totally symmetrical, you COULD start and knit cuff down, and end with a traditional toe. In any case, these patterns are VERY easy to modify and adapt to use your choice of ankle treatment.
These are all representative of my production, and not all of them are drafted out in specific. They all follow the logic of the posted patterns, though. Firefighters Socks are done in heavy worsted/Aran weight yarn. Simple Toe Up Socks are in DK/light worsted. Jelly Bean, See Saw, and Pine Tree are in standard sock yarn. Impossible Socks are also in standard sock yarn in spite of the very fine gauge. And the Teeny Red Sox Sock is in reinforcement yarn. Instead of posting direct links to each of these sock patterns, I will just send you to the Sock section of the Pattern page. There are also several eyelet or texture patterns in the last section of that page that I’ve used on those socks. Most of the sock patterns also have Ravelry pages, but listing them all would also be confusing.
There are lots more things to play with on the knitting patterns tab. If you are a quicker knitter and looking for a larger gift, there’s a kid’s poncho, a child-size faux chain mail outfit, several blankets – some knit in motifs and seamed together, others knit in one piece, several hats including one for Revolutionary War era re-enactors, and a backwards-engineered Bolivian Ch’ullu, a lace blouse and a knit jacket, plus mittens, wrist warmers, and texture/lace stitches. And my full Ravelry Designer Page is here.
So happy Holiday Gift Knitting! May neither time nor yarn run out before your chosen day of gift giving.
UPDATE: THE DOWNLOADABLE PDF PATTERN FOR CHANTERELLE HAS BEEN ADDED TO MY KNITTING PATTERNS PAGE, AT THE TAB ABOVE.
A bit more mindless knitting this week past. I have two balls of Zauberball Crazy, a wildly variegated (and expensive) fingering weight yarn. Both balls had minor damages to them, and I wanted to work them up quickly. But I didn’t want to make socks. This stuff’s colors are so over the top that I wanted to make something that would be seen. Scarves are ideal. I’ve done several before using Wingspan and its variants, or other designs calculated to display the gradients to their best effect. But I wanted to do something different. I cast on for a couple of designs I found on Ravelry, but wasn’t particularly pleased.
What to do….
Ah. Thinking back, my most popular pattern of all time is Kureopatora’s Snake. That was written for a DK weight variegated, and was the result of happy experiment. It’s basically Entrelac, but slimmed down to just the two edge triangles, and worked over a large number of stitches. The result is a graceful interlock of trumpet shapes, with the trumpet’s spread accentuated by working a purl into (not just slipping) the K2tog join stitch at the end of each partial row before the turn.
Why not make that one up in fingering weight, and publish the pattern adaptations that make it work?
So I present the first of the two test pieces. I’ll be starting the second tonight:
First off, I’ve renamed the thing. Now that it’s independent of the original yarn, I re-dub this one “Chanterelle.” Yes, there are ends (the initial cast-on, bind off, plus a couple of damages). A personal quirk – I don’t darn in the ends until I am ready to give my knit gift to the recipient. This will sit un-darned until then.
I will be writing up the full design again under the new name, but for now, start with the Kureopatora’s Snake pattern, available for free at the Knitting Patterns tab at the top of this page.
A FINGERING-WEIGHT VARIATION OF KUREOPATORA’S SNAKE
Grab your ball of fingering weight variegated yarn. ONE ball of Zauberball Crazy made this scarf, with only about 3 yards of yarn left over. It’s about 5 inches wide (a bit under 8 cm), and 66 inches long (a bit under 168 cm). Gauge is pretty much unimportant. I recommend a MUCH looser gauge than one would use for socks. I used a US #5 needle (3.5mm) for this project.
Follow the Kureopatora pattern as written for the initial section, but instead of stopping when you have 30 stitches on the needle, keep going until you have 46.
Work the entire scarf as-written, until you have completed ten full trumpet sections (not counting the partial trumpet done to initiate the project).
Follow the directions for the final finishing section, EXCEPT that instead of working the final section as normal until there are 15 stitches on each needle, keep going until you have 23 stitches on each needle. Then on every row that begins on the edge of the scarf after that, work a SSK instead of the increase you have been doing throughout the prior sections.
DO NOT STRETCH-BLOCK this piece. If you feel it’s lumpy, moisten it and pat it flat, but do not use wires or pins to stretch it out. You want to preserve those graceful curves.
As happens to so many, my gymnast niece Veronica had a disagreement with gravity, momentum, torque, and a body part; and has landed in cast. She’s on the mend, but disappointed to miss out on the remaining Spring competitions, and (living in Buffalo) regrets her now chilly, exposed toes.
Knitting to the rescue!
To cheer her up and warm those toes, I whipped up a quick set of tie-on toe socks. I used worsted weight washable acrylic or superwash wool blends, all leftovers from prior projects, and US #5 needles, playing with simple stranding, eyelet patterns, or no design at all, as whimsy manifested. I think that the pale blue is in fact left over from a Fishy Hat I knit for Veronica years ago…
The toe is my standard Figure-8 no-sew toe cast-on, but rendered wide enough to go over the end of the cast. After that I worked about three inches of foot, and ended with 20 rows of ribbing. I made crocheted strings to tie the things on. Apparently I didn’t make them long enough (being several hundred miles from the recipient), and they are not quite adequate to tie behind the heel. The directions below are modified to add the extra, needed tie-string length.
BASIC TIE-ON TOE SOCKIES FOR THE CAST-BOUND
Washable worsted weight yarn with native gauge of 5 stitches = 1 inch. I recommend an acrylic or a washable wool.
Set of five US #5 double pointed needles (can also be done Magic Loop or two-circ style)
US size G crochet hook for ties (ties can also be done using I-cord, braiding, or any other method you desire)
Tapestry needle for ending off ends.
Roughly 5.25 stitches = 1 inch. You want these socks knit tightly for warmth and durability.
No-Sew Toe Cast-On
Take two of the needles and wrap the yarn around them, figure-eight style. The yarn should loop around the bottom needle and cross to the opposite side of the top needle. Loop over it and then return between the two. The result should look something like this:
Continue wrapping the yarn this way until you have 12 loops on each needle. Let the end dangle free with no knots or other securings – you’ll need to work looseness in the first row out towards the end later. Knots will interfere with this in-flight adjustment. Take a third dpn and knit across the top needle. Take the fourth dpn and knit across the bottom needle. Be careful not to twist stitches – one needle’s loops will be “backward” with the leading edge of the loop on the rear side of the needle. Make sure you knit into the rear side of these “backward” loops. You now have a very narrow and slightly awkward strip of knitting suspended between two needles. There should be 12 stitches on each needle. Don’t worry if the stitches running down the center are loose, in a couple of rows you can tighten them up by carefully working the excess down towards the dangling tail end.
Row 1: k1, M1, k5. Using another dpn, k5, M1, k1. Using a third dpn, k1, M1, K5. Using the fourth dpn – K5, M1, K1. You should now have 4 live needles in your work, each with 7 stitches on it.
Row 2: Knit all stitches
Row 3: *k1, M1, k6 [Note – this is the end of first needle, remainder on second needle] K6, M1, K1* repeat
Row 4: Knit all stitches
Row 5 and subsequent odd rows: Continue adding one stitch after the first stitch of the first and third needles, and one stitch just before the last stitch of the second and fourth needles.
Row 6 and subsequent even rows: Knit. When you have 14 stitches on each needle (56 stitches total) the toe is done.
The foot is just a cylinder worked on all 56 stitches, for about 3 inches after completion of the toe. You can work this in plain stockinette, or go wild here, working simple stranding or eyelet lace patterning. Repeats of 4, 7, 8, 14 or 28 stitches are all possible. For example, my wide eyelet ladder is
Row 1: *K2tog YO2, SSK*
Row 2: *K1, K1P1 into double YO, K1*
When the foot part is complete, it’s time for 20 rows of ribbing. I tend to use K2, P2 ribbing because it pulls in more than K1P1 ribbing, but feel free to use anything that’s comfortable for you. Bind off and darn in all ends.
I crocheted my tie strings for speed. I located the “side welts” – the stitch column that corresponded to the beginning of needle #1 and the end of needle #4, and the stitch column that corresponded to the end of needle #2 and the beginning of needle #3. It will be very visible on the side of your toe. I walked those points up to the ribbing for my designated side attachment points – one on each side of the sockie.
Using the crochet hook and my yarn, I worked a two-stitch column of single crochet.
Row 1: Single crochet 2, chain 1 (this is the turning chain)
Row 2 and subsequent rows: Skip turning chain, single crochet 2.
I made my strings about a foot long, but I strongly suggest making yours about 18 inches long. Darn in ends, and you are finished.
I report that the sockies work, mostly (they need longer ties), and the recipient is warmer and happier. Heal quick, Veronica! We all want to see you dancing (and tumbling) real soon.