New Favorites: Simple scarves

New Favorites: Simple scarf patterns

You all know I like things pretty spare and simple — aesthetically, at least — but I think that’s especially true of scarves. Whenever I’m admiring beautiful, intricate scarf patterns, I’m always thinking, “but how does that go with my/your coat?” Or hat. Or outfit. Or whatever. Plus there’s so much pleasure in a knitting project that is just tricky enough to not be boring or plain, but still simple and repetitive enough to work as mindless knitting at the end of a long day. These two scarves fall squarely into that category, while also being super wardrobe-friendly, especially if knitted in a nice neutral. Bonus: suitable for any age or gender!

TOP: M.1 by Shellie Anderson (free with purchase at participating yarn stores)

BOTTOM: No-Purl Ribbed Scarf from the Purl Bee (free pattern)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Slouchless beanies

 

New Favorites: Summertastic wash cloths

New Favorites: Summertastic wash cloths

Do you know I have never knitted a wash cloth? It’s such a classic thing to knit by the dozens — and such a common starter project — but I don’t really use wash cloths, so it’s never really interested me. But suddenly it’s on my mind. In part because of this great new Purl Bee pattern, Washcloths and scrubbing mitt, and in part because I’m having a “coming full circle” moment over here. Bob and I are currently staying with our dear friends in Nashville, the dynamic brother-sister duo of Meg and DG. Meg (of KnitKnotes fame*) is the one who taught me to knit when we were visiting them in 2011. When I went to see her at Haus of Yarn before flying home, I bought a booklet of wash cloth patterns, thinking that would be a good learning tool, but then there was that whole wash cloth disinterest thing, so I never did it. Now here we are again and Meg just recently taught DG to knit. And what is he knitting in front of me each night? Not just wash cloths, no. He started out knitting these 50 states wash cloths (he’s cuckoo for map stuff) and promptly decided to knit them into a blanket. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s watching my friend Leigh knit so many Grandmother’s Favorites over the last couple of years; maybe it’s the inherent logic of knitting small, quick, cotton things in the summer heat. Whatever the reason, wash cloths (and their upsized friends, the dish towels) are feeling super appealing to me right now, so I consulted my favorite patterns and it turns out they’re all from my friends over at the Purl Bee — i.e., all of them free:

TOP LEFT: Soft Cotton Knit Dishtowels — mmmm, garter stripes

TOP RIGHT: Washcloths and Scrubbing Mitt — fantastic use of that crazy Habu yarn

BOTTOM LEFT: Slip Stitch Dishtowels — you know I’m intrigued by that slip-stitch colorwork action (see also)

BOTTOM RIGHT: New Log Cabin Washcloths — I’ve also never knitted a mitered square (quelle horreur!)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Martin Storey’s mega cables

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*DG did the design work on the KnitKnotes, by the way. Told you they’re a dynamic duo.

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

Before I had any idea who she was, it was an encounter with Joelle Hoverson’s book More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts that led (within hours) to my learning to knit. You probably already know she’s the co-owner of Purl Soho, that lovely NY store (and webshop) that also supplies us greedy makers with the amazing resource known as The Purl Bee. Having gotten to know Joelle a little bit through Instagram and Pinterest, I asked if she’d be willing to answer my Our Tools, Ourselves questions, and it turned out the whole wildly talented Purl Bee crew wanted to weigh in. So here’s a collective glimpse into the crafting lives of Joelle and Page along with Whitney, Laura, Molly and Corinne, whose names you’re sure to recognize from their copious Purl Bee patterns. Thanks for playing along, ladies!

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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew…?

In our private lives, everyone who works on the Purl Bee does a lot of some things and a little of everything else, but publicly, Joelle knits, crochets and sews; Page sews; Whitney knits and crochets; Laura knits and needlepoints; Molly sews and embroiders (and makes friendship bracelets!); and Corinne sews and embroiders … Unless Molly’s crocheting and Laura’s sewing!

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

One thing you’re sure to see at a Purl Bee meeting is a table littered with Purl Soho Zip Bags from Baggu. We all store our projects in them because the zippered opening keeps everything safely inside, no matter how carelessly we treat the bag. And we love the colors!

Another popular tool around here is Sajou’s incredibly beautiful scissors. Half of us vote for the Ciseaux Lievre and half of us are Ciseaux Tour Eiffel fans, but bunnies or monuments, both pairs of scissors are very sharp, very precise and very lovely!

The knitters all agree on a few indispensable tools: Skacel’s new Addi Rocket circular needles have nice, pointy tips and super fast shafts. The combo makes a world of difference when you’re working with lace weight yarns or knitting up fancy stitch patterns. We’re all also newly in love with Fringe Supply’s Brass Stitch Markers, a small detail that adds so much pleasure to knitting!

The sewists on the Bee have some favorites too: We love Merchant & Mills classic tailoring tools: their Pin Magnet, Bodkins and whole collection of straight pins. And we all use Purl Soho’s Hand Sewing Needles which come in a sweet wooden case and are as easy as pie to thread.

And we can’t not mention a few other favorites: the Addi Turbo Needle Gauge (very handy), Clover’s Bias Tape Makers (a must-have), and Ka’s Aluminum Stitch Holders (can’t beat the colors!).

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

We all seem to “organize” our vast collections of supplies in a vast collection of containers! From vintage enamel pots to candy tins and from plastic bins to woven baskets, we all agree that the chaos is only tenuously under control.

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

The entire Purl Bee team agrees on this one: Baggu Zipper Pouches! Joelle, as a rule, keeps her most current project in the Purl Soho version, which we all think is a pretty smart idea.

Are there any particular prized possessions amongst your tools?

Laura still hangs onto the crochet hook her mother gave her when she learned how to pick up dropped stitches. It’s banged up and battered at this point, but definitely treasured. And we all consider our Sajou scissors pretty special. Since we use them to snip final threads and tails, they’re the tool that comes in to finish the job with style!

Do you lend your tools?

We’d be pretty pathetic craft emissaries if we hoarded all of our tools for ourselves! We all tend to “lend” our tools with no expectation of getting them back. “Just keep it!”

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

What is your favorite place to knit/crochet/whatever?

The sewists on our team use their kitchen tables, and since they’re all moms, late nights are their witching hours. The knitters and crocheters are, of course, more mobile: airplanes, couches, floors, subways, parks and movie theaters are some of their favorite spots for sneaking in a few rows.

What effect do the seasons have on you?

We craft year-round, but we definitely use seasonal materials: cotton, bamboo and linen in the summer and cashmere, alpaca and wool in the winter. And in preparation for the winter holidays, we always design a few extra-special things!

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

We all have an embarrassingly large amount of fabric and yarn stashed in the closets, drawers and dark corners of our homes. And like all crafters, we have piles of unfinished projects, dating back to the last century!

What are you working on right now?

Since everything we work on ends up on the Purl Bee, you’re about to find out!

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Naturally, all of the team’s favorite tools are available at Purl Soho. And I’m thrilled to announce that now includes the full line of Fringe Supply Co. original goods!

Our Tools, Ourselves: the Purl Bee crew

PREVIOUSLY in Our Tools, Ourselves: Anna Maltz

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Pretty spring scarves: Or, what to knit for Mother’s Day

Pretty spring scarves: Or, what to knit for Mother's Day

Whether you’re barely beginning to thaw out or already thinking about concerts in the park on a cool summer night, a lighter, leaner scarf might be just the thing to keep your knitting needles (and crochet hooks!) happy and your neck cozy in the weeks to come. Or your mother’s, for that matter — Mother’s Day is right around the bend:

 1. Kozue by Kirsten Johnstone, lace for minimalists

2. Spring Lace Infinity Scarf by Linda Thach, lovely mix of textures, knitted in linen (free pattern)

3. Trellis Scarf from the Purl Bee, nice transitional piece (free pattern)

4. Celes scarf by Jared Flood, full-on lace I could imagine wearing myself

5. Striped Cotton Cowl from the Purl Bee, how to make a cotton cowl fantastic (free pattern)

6. Claudia Scarf by Rebecca Jackson, an elegant slip of crochet (free pattern)

7. Spring Tuck by Rose Anne, love that strip of lace in the gossamer stockinette

8. Kelly’s Frothy Crocheted Scarf by Kelly Jahraus, super-simple single crochet on a big ol’ hook

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New Favorites: Colorwork without the work

New Favorites: Uncommon colorwork

There’s a way to do colorwork that doesn’t involve stranded knitting (i.e., alternating between different yarns within the same row/round) or intarsia (changing colors mid row and then changing back again later). It’s basically just stripes — anyone can knit stripes, right? — except you jumble them up by knitting into the row below here and there instead of knitting straight across. So it’s colorwork without the work! I’ve long been intrigued by it but have never done it, and in the past couple of weeks, two tempting patterns have hit the airwaves.

The one above is the Midwinter scarf by Wendy Baker and Belinda Boaden of True Brit Knits (for the Quince and Co. Scarves 2014 collection) and looks almost like crochet! It’s a stitch pattern that is apparently called English Rose Tweed, which I only know because it’s also one of three stitch patterns artfully combined in The Purl Bee’s Stitch Block Cowl (free pattern). Worked at a slightly smaller gauge than Midwinter, it looks a little more like weaving. Even more so for the Checked Rose Fabric stitch pattern it’s paired with. (My favorite might be the one-color part of the Purl Bee pattern, the Rambler stitch.) But it’s fun to see what a difference the change of scale makes, and makes me want to play with this stitch pattern at an even wider range of gauges.

New Favorites: Uncommon colorwork

IMPORTANT SHOP NOTE: I’m in a van today on the way to Seattle for this weekend’s Vogue Knitting Live event, and will be gone through next Monday. (Don’t worry, I have blog posts lined up!) But the very capable Anie is here to take care of your orders*, and I’ll still be checking email as much as possible while at the show. I have several things with me that are new, and I’m excited to announce them after I’m back! Meanwhile, there are a few more Bento Bags on the webshop shelves (more, including more XL’s, coming soon — I promise) AND there’s a new size of the beloved Doane Utility Notebooks. It’s 5×7 and feels so right and great in the hand, I’m completely in love with it. Check it out!

*With the exception of international orders — those will ship next week when I’m back.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Rosa Pomar’s blanket hat

Best new hat patterns

Best new hat patterns

There have been so many outstanding hat patterns published in the last few months, I thought it was time to highlight my favorites. I’m crazy about all of these:

1. Fractals Hat by Olga Buraya-Kefelian — striking geometry and a great crown

2. Hickory Cap by Veronik Avery — great pillbox shape, clever construction

3. Boyfriend Hat from the Purl Bee — a total classic (free pattern)

4. Magnolia beanie by Maria Socha — simple lace-stitch chart, fantastic crown (free pattern)

5. Wissahickon beanie by Meghan Kelly — top-down and all about the crown

6. Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Bee — sized for the whole family (free pattern)

7. Walsh head scarf by Julie Hoover — I want it as is and also at kerchief or shawl size

8. Lara’s Hat by Susan Ashcroft — previously mentioned, now available (free pattern)

9. Muckle Toque by Mary Jane Mucklestone — the hat version of her great Muckle Mitts

10. Quadrifurcus beanie by Rililie — great woven texture and shaped back/ribbing

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SHOP NOTE: So pleased to report that the sold-out buttons have been restocked!

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MORE GREAT HATS: A hat for every head / Beautifully textured hats / All star crowns

New Favorites: Ebony and ivory

New Favorites: Ebony and ivory knitting patterns

There have been two new knitting pattern photos this week that have made my eyes widen and my mouth fall open. Both happen to be near-black and off-white, which is a combo I find irresistible. And in both cases, used to exquisite effect. First came Joelle’s Diagonal Pinstripe Scarf, a simple garter-stitch scarf (free pattern at the Purl Bee) knit on the diagonal with randomly placed single-row stripes, which creates a sort of ticking effect due to the garter stitch. Or as she says, “in Heirloom White with fine lines of Dark Loam, the effect is like a graphite drawing on cotton rag paper, loose and mysterious.” Then came Michele Wang’s Alloy, part of the latest Brooklyn Tweed collection, BT Winter 14. It’s classic Michele — an impeccable set-in-sleeve pullover with contrasting textures — but in this case she’s added color-blocked panels in the sleeves and sides. Had it been knitted in anything other than Fossil and Cast Iron, it wouldn’t have been the same. As is? Want.

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By the way, I know there are several of you who’ve been studying my Pullovers for First-Timers post, trying to decide what you want your first sweater to be. If you’re leaning toward a drop-sleeve pattern (i.e, no sleeve-cap or armscye shaping) there are two great options in that new BT collection: Abbott by Michele Wang and Benton by Julie Hoover. Both manage the proportions well.