Monday, December 17, 2007

Tiara Scarf (free pattern)

When we were seven years old, my friends and I spent countless hours playing “Princesses.” We’d spend most of the time describing to each other the details of our gossamer dresses and dainty slippers.

This scarf’s tiers and ruffles remind me of those days, and of the costume tiaras we would wear like the Crown Jewels, feeling regal as…well, princesses.

Click here for a PDF version of the pattern


PS. As always, please let me know if you have a problem with the pattern--I promise I'll get on it ASAP!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday Reflections... (Or: "This Cold Weather is Makin' Me Crazy!")

My sister, Sarah, and nephew, Ethan, rushing up to greet me when I arrived for a visit last August

One of my favorite things to do is to sit and knit while I listen to other people talking, to the TV or a DVD, to podcasts on my iPod, or simply to the sounds of nature/traffic/music/my humming refrigerator. Somehow, I listen better when I knit. I'm more focused, and I tend to experience what I'm hearing more deeply and remember it longer.

I think this thought came to mind today when I thought about the upcoming holidays and time spent with family. I can imagine people gathered in their homes, wonderful cooking scenting the air, kids creating the kind of chaos only kids can create. And with those thoughts, my hands instinctively long for something wooly to work on. A soft sock, a cozy scarf, a warm hat--something easy and not too distracting. That way I could knit AND be part of the conversation.

Sarah and my brother-in-law, Todd

This year, Chris and I will be spending Christmas on our own, as we often do. Usually we head out to a nice restaurant for dinner on Christmas Eve, but this year we're getting ready for our January 6th move (to a cottage outside the city). Which means we'll need to cobble together a less expensive, at-home celebration. No problem there...we both like to eat, and we're both decent cooks. Cornish pasties, anyone?

Our holiday time together is often similar to other days---when Chris can turn off his phone and settle in for a well-deserved rest; when we can stay up late and watch Doctor Who reruns on PBS; when I can relax and knit with Maggie on my lap. It's peaceful and cozy time, and we look forward to it eagerly.

The "Holiday Season" also marks my favorite day of the year: Winter Solstice. As someone who detests the darkening days of autumn and yearns for year-round warm weather and long, sunny days, the shortest day of the year is a time for:
A) Relief that the darkest days are behind us; and
B) Joy in knowing that springtime is coming once again.

Sarah and Todd's tranquil pond (view from her patio)

You may think this makes no sense coming from someone who continuously knits warm snugglies...And perhaps you're right. But no one ever told me I had to make sense (thank goodness!). So I continue to delight in the beauty I find in this time of year, and to enjoy the variety of ways we find to mark this most introspective time of year.

Stay warm, drive safely on those icy roads, and, as always, happy knitting!

PS. Have you ever seen anything more lovely than Sock Pixie's new Raspberry Cheesecake colorway? I could just EAT it!!!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweet Pea Pod Cozy (free pattern)

Remember me?
I'm the iPod Cozy, whose pattern Hannah promised you!

Many knitters tell me they design projects as they knit, but don't keep notes while they do it. So it's a pain for them to write up their patterns once the projects are done.

I honestly can't claim that excuse.

You see, I'm one of the obsessive-compulsive types who actually keeps great notes WHILE I'm knitting. But, for some reason, that doesn't seem to make it easier to type them up, test them, fine tune the details, etc.

However, a few people have asked for this design, so I decided to get off my duff and actually give it to you as I promised all those months ago. How many months? Check out the'll see how gorgeous the weather was. Yep. I designed this pattern last spring!

So, here you go. A little taste of spring, just for you, in the midst of a damp, chilly winter. I hope you enjoy it.


Yarn: I used Manos del Uruguay (in Mulberry, I think), but any other heavy worsted-weight yarn will do. Use 100 percent wool for easy fulling ("felting" is what one does to unspun fibers; either way, the end result is the same: dense, strong fabric). And remember, plant and man-made fibers will not felt. You will also need some DK-weight cotton yarn for the flower. I used Jeager Aqua Cotton (discontinued).

Needles: Sets of DPNs in US#10 and US#6, and a size G crochet hook.

Gauge: 14 sts x 24 rows = 4" in stockinette (approximate...if you're a little off you can adjust for that during the felting process)

Size: 8" x 3.5" before felting. Approx. 2.75" x 5.25" after felting. Final size can be customized when felting. See notes on size in body of pattern.

Cast on 30 stitches and divide among DPNs. Join for working in the round.

Knit every round until piece measures 8 inches from CO edge. Do not remove from needles.

CAREFULLY turn piece inside out (put the stitches on waste yarn if you find doing this on the needles to be too difficult), and work a 3-needle bind off. Turn right-side out again.

I-cord closure:

Using two US#6 DPNs, cast on 3 stitches.

Row 1: Knit across. Do not turn the work.

Row 2: Slide the three stitches to the other end of the needle and knit across. You will be using the yarn attached to the stitch farthest from the point of the left-hand needle to knit the stitch closest to the point. Tug on the working yarn at the end of the row to draw stitches together.

Continue working Row 2, tugging on working yarn to close the "tube" of the I-cord, until the cord measures about 12 inches.

NOTE: Obviously you can attach the I-cord to the cozy as you're knitting it. Just CO six extra stitches and leave them unworked on a scrap of yarn. Once you've finished binding off, you can come back, work the i-cord on three stitches, and graft the other end of the cord to the remaining three unworked stitches. To be honest, though, this may be more trouble than it's worth...I wrote this pattern with absolute beginners in mind, but I understand the desire to make things all of a piece. I may do just that next time I make one. So, decide what works best for you and do what makes you a happy knitter :-)


NOTE: You will need rubber dish-washing gloves to protect your hands from the hot water.

Fill a large mixing bowl with iced water. Turn your hot water tap to the hottest setting. If you prefer, you can fill a second bowl with the hot water. Or you can just use the water coming from the tap, which is what I did.

Wet the case with hot water and apply a little dish-washing liquid. Using your (glove-protected!) hands, rub, knead, scrub, and generally apply as much friction as you can to the piece. Periodically, dunk it in the iced water, as radical temperature changes help speed the felting process. Continue working the piece, alternating hot and cold water, until the case is the size you want it to be.

NOTE: It's great to leave some room at the top of the cozy so you can stuff your ear buds and cord inside!

Now, do the same thing for the i-cord. Hot, cold, hot, cold, roll between palms, rub it, knead it. Really work it. When it's about 8 inches long, you can stop.

Shape the case and i-cord, working out any crinkled spots and kneading out any uneven areas, and set out to dry away from direct sunlight. You can stuff a paper towel in the case to help it dry faster.

Crocheted Flower Closure:

Ch 5, slip stitch to first chain to form a ring. Change color, if desired.
Ch 3, DC 3 in first SC in ring. * Ch 3, DC three in next SC. Repeat from * 4 times.
Ch 3, DC twice in same ring as first Ch3 of this round. You should now have 5 "petals."
Cut and knot. Weave in ends.
Using a third color (if desired), thread a tapestry needle and create an X in the middle of the flower. Pull the two ends of this yarn to the back of the flower, and use them to attach it to the iPod cozy.

NOTE: You could also use a cute button for the flower's center, and attach it to the cozy by sewing through the button's holes.


Fold I-cord in half; using both strands, tie a half-hitch knot about 1.5 - 2 inches from ends, thus forming the loop that will hook over the flower closure.

With strong thread (I used the clear thread you can buy at sewing stores) or matching embroidery floss, sew the I-cord closure to the inside of the cozy's back, positioning the knot so that it appears exactly on top of the opening edge.

Insert your Pod, stuff in your ear buds and cord, hook the loop over the flower, and you're ready to go!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or if there's an error in the pattern. Especially as I'm not much of a crocheter! If there's a problem, I'll address it for you ASAP.

Oh, just one more thing:
Since I'm not the world's greatest crocheter, I'm aware of the fact that my crochet instructions might leave something to be desired. If you wish, then, you might check here or here for crocheted flower inspiration OR here for knitted flower inspiration.