Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Red Scarf Project and a Free Scarf Pattern

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I can't remember now how I stumbled upon it, but it's been on my mind ever since. The Red Scarf Project run by the Orphan Foundation of America accepts donations of red scarves from September 1 until December 15, then hand them out to orphans who have graduated from the foster care system and are now attending college. They send out care packages to these students for Valentine's Day, thus the request for red (fire engine, burgundy, or variegated yarns including red, etc.) scarves. They also send them out randomly, so scarves should be unisex. There are some other considerations, so if you decide to donate, please go to the site and read carefully.

For some reason, this particular charity tugs at my heartstrings. I remember my first semesters away from home and how being able to make that connection back home sometimes saved my sanity. Imagine being away from "home" for the first time and having no one to call when you're convinced a professor hates you, when you swear that your dorm-mate staying up partying until 5am nightly will be your undoing, or when you first find out you've made the dean's list. *sniffle*

So I set out to find the perfect unisex reversible pattern...and an inexpensive, soft, washable yarn...'cause we all know college students probably aren't going to handwash...heck, they don't have time!

Then the solution sat right next to me at knit night a few weeks ago. One of my friends was making a scarf using the hurdle stitch. The texture was interesting, the pattern super simple, was completely reversible, and was definitely unisex.

So here is my red scarf:

Hurdle Stitch Scarf

Yarn: I Love This Yarn-Sportweight from Hobby Lobby in Red, or any DK or sportweight yarn; 2 skeins or around 460 yards.
Needles: US 7

Cast on 34 (or any even number of stitches for desired width)

Rows 1-2: Knit.
Rows 3-4: (K1, P1), repeat across.
Repeat rows 1 - 4 to desired length.

Bind off. Tuck in ends.

That's it. Super easy. The perfect project to take with you for knit night since you only barely have to pay attention. A tip? I used a detachable stitch marker to mark the right side of the scarf when starting row 1. This ended up on the right every other row, so I knew when to switch from knitting to k1, p1 ribbing.

I plan to make several of these scarves this year. I'll do black, gray, brown, blue, and olive for friends and family....and will finish up this one for the Red Scarf Project. I hope you'll keep them in mind too...either this year or next.

Happy knitting!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's your favorite gift-giving pattern?

In the spirit of my last post regarding gift-giving yarn choices, let's talk about patterns for a moment.

Some people on our lists will occasionally get really complex time-consuming projects off our needles or hooks. But, for the most part, the idea knit gift will be something fairly quick to knit. Probably taking a maximum of 400 or 500 yards of yarn and a couple weeks or less of our time. After all, many of us have long lists of gift recipients.

Do you have a favorite go-to pattern? Have you been eyeing  pattern that you want to try? I'm looking for specific patterns (with links, if possible...Ravelry project links work) to review.

Designers: here's your chance to plug your most giftable pattern! :)

I'll choose 10-20 to highlight in a future post. I won't be knitting them all, mind you, but I will add many to my queue!

Yarn Choices for Gifts

With Christmas rapidly approaching, I, like so many other knitters and crocheters, am faced with a dilemma. What yarn is best to use for creating gifts for non-knitters?

The criteria seems simple enough.

1. First and foremost, it must be machine washable. Unless I know the recipient well enough to know they don't mind extra laundry chores, like hand washing, I always use machine washable fibers.

2. Let's be also has to be economical. Especially at this time of year, there's always a strain on the budget. I think that's true for most of us.

3. It has to be gorgeous, soft, and just plain yummy. We aim to impress, right? Gorgeous is subjective, but while trying to be economical, I also don't want my item to fall flat. I want my recipient to feel pampered. Or at the very least, not turned off to the idea of hand knit gifts.

So what yarns do you use for knitting gifts? Acrylics? Cottons? Superwash wool? Blends?

What are some specific yarns you like?

I'll get the ball rolling with one I've recently found: Patons Lace. (Ravelry link here) It's 80% acrylic, 10% wool, and 10% mohair. It's really more of a fingering weight with a mohair halo, so a little goes a long way. It comes in a few really nice colorways. I'm using "sachet." And it looks much richer than it is. At $6 or less for 398 yards, it's easily affordable. The high acrylic content also makes it easy to care for. Perfect for the top secret gift I can't share quite yet. ;)

So what do you like to use? Do you have the same criteria in your gift yarns?