Cable Cast Ons and Live Stitches, Oh, my!
I get the Knitty.com newsletter and fell in love with the Fetching wrist warmers that was in a recent issue. Since I usually set aside September, October and November (okay, and December) as my Christmas knitting marathon, I usually spend the summers trying out patterns that might make good gifts for that broad base of friends, teachers, editors, agents, assistants, aunties and all the others who I like to give a small, handmade holiday "thank you" to. I've done hats, (one year knitting close to 40 hats in three months) purses, socks, and this year, I'm thinking gloves and wrist warmers. So when I saw the Knitty pattern, I decided to give it a test run.
A test run is essential--because if you are going to commit to a pattern, you better be darn sure it is going to be something you want to knit several times, and is fast and easy, and the yarn easy to work with. Last years' Lion Brand Cozy Slipper Socks are a perfect example of a great project that provides a quick gift and is fun to make.
But the Knitty pattern had two things that sort of stopped me in my tracks: A cable cast on, and "live stitches" for the thumb hole. Huh? Never one to shy away from learning new knitty skills, I printed out the cast on instructions I found on Knitty and off I went on vacation.
Okay, note to self: check what comes out of the printer before leaving on vacation to make sure you have ALL the instructions. Which I didn't. Thankfully, Seaside, Oregon has a wonderful yarn shop, where I went and peeked into my favorite knitting reference book, The Knitter's companion. Fortified with the knowledge, and two skeins of Debbie Bliss that I purchased there, I tried a cable cast on. Three attempts later, I got it, which I say proudly, because doesn't it always feel good to teach yourself (albeit with some printed help) a new skill? And I like it as a cast on, so it is definitely one I want to keep in knitting repretoire.
But those live stitches still stared me in the face. First you have to knit in waste yarn. Which I did. And then once you get the entire thing done, you pick out the waste yarn, leaving live stitches.
That's the nerve wracking part. Live stitches--just waiting to unravel. But carefully, I put them on needles and knit the thumb holes. Four more rounds and the wrist warmer was finished
Verdict: Great quick project that is easy and fun to do. Just enough skill work (cables and ribbing) to make it interesting, but not so hard that anyone couldn't do it. Here's my caveat though: The pattern says it can be done with one skein of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Well, yes. But to finish the first pair, I had to short the last thumb two rounds, and was using a piece I'd cut from a leftover scrap of tail to finish it. So make sure you keep your tails VERY short, and don't knit any extra rounds.
So has anyone else started their holiday knitting and what are your favorite quick and easy patterns for great gifts?