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champagne_model1.jpgI designed this neckwarmer last year for my friend's birthday. Within 48 hours, I had spun and  knitted it. I could not find a decent set of buttons in my stash, so I figured out how to make a set of buttons out of Champagne cork stoppers. By the way, after a year of wear, the buttons never failed, so unless you pull on them deliberately, they're solid and there to stay. For your pleasure, here is how to do it and how it all happened.

Big chunky snowflakes were slowly falling as I was trying my hands at a new hobby : spinning. I was turning mountains of big fluffy Corriedale top into soft, chunky yarn with the humble help of a drop spindle. I was plying it using my own two hands with the Andean ply technique. It was low-tech. It was awesome.

I soon had a big ball of bulky, bumpy, slubby, thick-and-thin yarn. The natural wool color was asking for another natural companion : wood. A couple of cork stoppers turned themselves into buttons, the yarn was tamed with a simple stockinette stitch and in an evening I had a new cozy neckwarmer for my friend's birthday.

This is a great neophyte spinner project that showcases your very own bumpy handspun yarn. This neckwarmer keeps you warm while the upcycled cork buttons make both an environmental and a fashion statement. It also makes a quick and sophisticated gift : after all, you had to drink four bottles of Champagne to make it!

champagne_model5.jpgFinished measurements
Width: approx. 7.5 inches
Length: approx. 19 inches

  • 1 set(s) US #11/8mm straight needles
  • Fiber: Louet [100% corriedale wool; top]; color: natural white; 3.5 ounces.
Spin it using a drop spindle and the Andean ply technique.

Or use a commercial alternative yarn, like :
Cascade Jewel [100% Peruvian wool; 142yd/130m per 100g skein]; color: 8010; 1 skein

The idea is to have a yarn with 7 wraps/inches that knits with a gauge of 9 sts/12 rows for a 4'' square.

For making the buttons
  • 4 champagne (or sparkling wine) cork stoppers
  • 4 two-holes buttons
  • 2 two inches long safety pins
  • wire cutters
  • a sharp knife
CO 20 stitches.
Rows 1,3,5 : *K2, p2 * to the last 2 sts, k2.
Rows 2,4 : *P2, k2* to the last 2 sts, p2.
Row 6 (WS) : K3, p14, k3
Row 7 (RS) : K all sts.

Repeat rows 6 and 7 until work measures 16.5 inches. Finish on WS.

Next row (RS) : *K2, p2 * to the last 2 sts, k2.
Next row (WS): *P2, k2* to the last 2 sts, p2.
Button holes row 1: *k2, p, bo1 * 4 time,  k2
Button holes row 2 : *P2, co1, k1* 4 times, p2.
Next row : *K2, p2 * to the last 2 sts, k2.
BO all sts in pattern.

Weave in loose ends. Block to size.

To make the buttons :
Step 1 : Using a sharp knife, cut the champagne cork stoppers in order to have four 0.5 inches thick slices.

champagne_butt1.jpgStep 2 : Cut the two safety pins with the wire cutters in order to have four straight pieces of metal.
champagne_butt2.jpgStep 3 : Bend each piece in two.
champagne_butt3.jpgStep 4 : Insert a bent piece of metal into a 2-holes button.

champagne_butt4.jpgStep 5 : On the wrong side of the work, place the button. The metal should be poking out on the right side.

champagne_butt5.jpgStep 6 : Center a cork slice on the metal pokes and press firmly.  Tip : It's better if the metal pokes are not parallel. In other words, they must flare a little. That way, once it's inserted into the cork, it will not come out easily.

champagne_butt6.jpgRepeat steps 4-6 to secure the remaining buttons.

Coco scarf

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I went shopping at Chanel last week, not that I have the money to buy anything in there, but just out of curiosity. There was an elegant yet very simple pink knitted scarf that I reverse-engineered in seconds. It's a basket weave scarf with a ribbing "fringe" and neat clean double-knit edges. I was quite impressed by the edges. So simple, yet so professional-looking. I think from now-on, I will use it every time I knit raw edges. It would make a great reversible scarf for men and women alike, depending on the colorway you choose.

So here's the pattern for my friend Alisha who wants to knit one! (and I'll probably knit one too!) The pattern is intended for a solid color yarn, to show off the texture.

Pattern notes :

The 4 first and the 4 last stitches will be the edge stitches. You will always perform the "neat double-knit scarf edge" on those edge stitches. The 30 other stitches will be the center stitches that will show off the pattern.

Cast on 38 stitches.
Work 2x2 ribbing on center stitches for about 15-20 cm (or as long as you want).
Work basket weave pattern on center stitches for at least 1 meter (or as long as you want).
Work the same number of rows of 2x2 ribbing as you did at the beginning.
Cast off.

*Remember to work the "neat double-knit scarf edge" on every row on each edges of the work!!

Neat double-knit scarf edge :
On an even number of stitches (ideally 4 or 6) :
With yarn in front, slip 1 stitch.
Put yarn in back and knit one stitch.
Repeat for remaining stitches.

2x2 ribbing:
*K2, p2* until the end of the row (center stitches).

Basket weave pattern :
Row A : K6, p6, k6 p6, k6
Row B : P6, k6, p6, k6, p6
Repeat rows A and B two more times (6 rows in total).
Row C : P6, k6, p6, k6, p6
Row D : K6, p6, k6 p6, k6
Repeat rows C and D two more times (6 rows in total).
That will result in a chequered pattern with 6x6 squares of jersey alterning with 6x6 squares of reverse-jersey.

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