Recently in For the neck Category


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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.

Skinny sari scarf

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A couple of weeks ago, I knitted nearly a whole scarf at a conference. It's a new bad habit of mine. Eh.

It's a long and skinny scarf made with my new sari yarn. Since I made my necklace, I couldn't wait to try something else with it. I came across the sari knit-along and it seemed to be a nice pattern for that kind of yarn. With such an unequal and fussy yarn, forget about stitch definition. Garter stitch and elongated stitch is the way to go!

sari_scarf.jpgAfter a bit of experimentation with different needle sizes and different number of stitches, I came up with this pattern for a long skinny scarf that uses only one skein of sari yarn :

Using 8 mm needles, CO 6 sts.

Row 1-3 : knit
Row 4 : knit elongated stitches by inserting the right needle in the stitch on the left needle as if to knit, wrapping the yarn 4 times around the right needle and pulling it through the stitch. A good video of how to do this can be found here.

Repeat these 4 rows until you nearly run out of yarn. Stop at row 3 and bind off. You should have enough yarn left to wrap around the palm of your hand about 20 times. Use this leftover yarn to make a fringe.

Pierrot's Scarf

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I live in Montreal where winter can be very rude at times (like -30C in January). On one of those freezing evening, I was waiting for the bus with my friend Pierrot who didn't have a scarf nor a hat! Silly guy. I decided to knit him one for his birthday.

But knitting for a guy is a bit delicate. I wanted to do something manly but not boring to knit or to look at. Also, I was quite annoyed that most of the patterns I came across were not reversible. Dammit, it's a scarf! It will show on both sides! Also,I don't like it when it rolls, like with stockinette stitch. But what would happen if I alternate stripes of right and wrong sides? Hmmm...

p_scarf1.jpgI really like the result. The scarf is reversible, doesn't roll and the texture changes emphasizing the stripes keeps it interesting. It is simple to make too. I chose acrylic yarn because it is reasonably warm and people often don't tolerate to have scratchy wool on their neck, not to say I cannot afford to make it out of cashmere. Therefore, I usually make my scarfs out of acrylic yarn or a blend of acrylic and wool.

p_scarf2.jpgTo make Pierrot's scarf, you need 100g of yarn of each of colors A and B and a pair of 5 mm straight needles. Needless to say, gauge isn't important as long as it is quite constant throughout the project. (I once made a scarf that was significantly wider at one end. Oups.)

With  A, CO 40 sts.
Rows 1-6 : knit
Rows 7-16 : With B, knit on even row and purl on odd rows.
Rows 17-26 : With A, purl on even rows and knit on odd rows.
Repeat rows 7-26 to form stripes of alternating colors and texture until you nearly run out of yarn. After your last stripe, knit 6 rows with the contrasting color. BO and weave in ends.

Weaving all the little ends of yarn on a stripey scarf can be a bit painful, so be smarter than me and weave them in as you knit. Or crochet a border and hide them in.

Feather and fan shawl

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My sister in law got married this summer, and I bought a new dress for this special occasion. It was a beautiful sleeveless blue and green silk dress with subtle Chinese embroideries. Of course, I needed an equally beautiful shawl to cover my shoulders. It was the perfect excuse to splurge on luxury yarn.

I spent at least one hour at Mouliné to decide which yarn would be the perfect one for this project. Finally, I elected Louisa Harding's Impression (84% nylon, 16% mohair, color #04) because it perfectly matches the green details of my dress. Plus, I thought the shimmering bright-colored nylon paired well with the hazy neutral-colored mohair. And it was so soft. In short, it was irresistible.

I wanted a lacy shawl, but with an easy pattern I could remember and knit everywhere on the go. There were two months left before the wedding and in the meanwhile I was going to Scotland, so I knew I would have lots of time to knit in airports, trains and buses. To stay in the ambiance of Scotland, I chose a beautiful traditional pattern from the Shetlands : Feather and Fan.

feather_and_fan1.jpgHere are the instruction for feather and fan stitch pattern:

For a multiple of 12 stitches (My shawl has a pattern of  36 sts):
Row 1 : Knit
Row 2 : Purl
Row 3 : * (k2tog) 3 times, (k1 and YO) 6 times, (k2tog) 3 times*. Repeat between ** to the end of the row.
Row 4 : Knit
Repeat these 4 rows until you have reached the desired length of the shawl.

I added a 3-stitches garter stitch border on each side to keep the edges neat. This pattern doesn't tend to roll too much because it is well balanced, e.g. there are a similar number of knit and purl stitches on each side of the work.

feather_and_fan2.jpgAs you can see, row 1 and 2 make a stockinette pattern (which is on the "right" side). Row 3 is the lace row where all the magic occurs. Row 4 is quite interesting because it is knit on the "wrong" side, which makes a purl row on the "right" side. This makes a contrasting texture that emphasize the waves in the pattern and balance the fabric (keeps it from rolling). Isn't it wonderful?

I have good memories of knitting this shawl while drinking cider and listening to music in my small room in London. Nostalgia...

Stash enhancement : sari yarn

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I skipped a week of blogging because I was away for a conference, but now I am back with this gorgeous new acquisition :

sari_yarn.jpgIt is a colorful yarn made of recycled saris. I just love it. I found it at the Cultural Survival Fair in Cambridge (Mass, USA) Saturday and spent a lot of time browsing through their stash, examining every skein to appreciate its own colorway and texture. I finally chose four of them and wondered since what could I do with it.

Just to have a feel of it, I decided to make a very small and quick project. I didn't find any satisfying patterns on the net for sari yarn, so I improvised this necklace :

sari_necklace1.jpg I like how it turned out, and I had a compliment on it today, so I guess that it could be of interest for those who would like to pimp their look with an original necklace or make a last minute gift using that sari yarn hibernating in their stash! It is an easy crochet project that goes like this :

Row 1 : Using sari yarn and a 4 mm crochet hook (or other size you have on hand), chain (ch) enough to go around your neck, leaving a tail of about 10 cm.
Row 2 : Single crochet (sc) all the way. Ch 1 and turn
Row 3 : Ch 5 and sc in the 3rd stitch from the beginning of the row. Continue to * ch 5, skip 2 stitches, sc * to form a loopy pattern. At the end of this row, form a loop (by chaining 4 or 5 and sc in the same stitch) that will be the necklace closure. Cut yarn.
Row 4 : Make an additional four loops (centered) by sc in a loop, * ch 8, sc in the next loop * 4 times. Cut Yarn.
Row 5 : Make the last center loop by sc in a loop, ch 10, sc in the next loop. Cut yarn.
Finishing : Attach a wooden bead (with a circumference matching the closure loop you made) to the 10 cm tail you left at the beginning of the work. Weave in ends. Block (wet it with water, lay it flat on a towel, give it it's final form and let it dry overnight).

sari_necklace2.jpgWhen I first wear it, it felt scratchy on my skin, but an hour of so later, it was soft. I hesitate to commit myself to a time-consuming large piece of garment that may end up to be scratchy, so if you have any idea of what to do with this unusual and luxurious yarn, please tell me!

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