Friday, November 8, 2013

Top 5: Knitted Projects from The Purl Bee

Catherine's seed and moss stitch cowls. 

Truly, Catherine is the knitting-est of the sisters. I mean, Monika and I are adept knitters, but Catherine is the one who puts in the most time and has the greatest ambitions. She's made actual clothes! Like if the apocalypse came tomorrow and the internet disappeared, she would still know how to make socks and sweaters. Inconceivable! So, even though I realize her knowledge is far greater than mine (a fact made quite clear to me through Catherine's eye-rolls every time I admit to forgetting how to SSK), once autumn arrives all bets are off. I'm overtaken by the feeling that I should have a knitting project in my lap every time I sit down, and I start hunting around for yarn and potential knitted projects...

While I'm part of the Ravelry community--a tiny, insignificant part--I almost always turn to The Purl Bee for project ideas. We've mentioned The Purl Bee several times over the past few years, and there's certainly a reason for that; they're smart, thoughtful knitters (Laura and Whitney are two of my faves) who offer a wide-range of projects, tutorials, and advice, as well as a beautiful (but insanely pricey!) selection of yarn, fabric, tools, and gifts at their store Purl Soho. With the thought of possible holiday gifts in mind, here are my top five favorite knitted projects from The PB.

1. For your home
It might be difficult to believe that this gorgeous blanket would be a relatively simple project, but you only need to master two foundation stitches, the knit and the purl, to complete this project. Add a luxuriant chunky yarn and a set of size 36 needles and you're all set. Plus, there's a bonus to knitting a blanket: it warms you up while you work!

2. For your ladies
My hands are always cold, so fingerless mitts are a favorite of mine, and these beauts win be being lightweight and delicate without sacrificing coziness. I made a pair for Mom a couple Christmases back in a color scheme that I now have some doubts about. The yarn I used for Mom's pair was a bit heavier weight than Whitney suggested--DK compared to single-ply fingering (I don't know what that means exactly, but Catherine does), but the hand warmers still came out soft and lovely.

3. For your gents
Even though I don't know currently know any men who would wear a knitted necktie, I think these are the bee's knees. If you're a beginner, the ties might be slightly intimidating--you work in the round with double pointed needles. No need to fret! Laura provides clear instructions and plenty of how-to pictures. Once you get going, you'll find that knitting in the round isn't so bad at all.

4. For your wee ones
The PB has lots of ideas for children's projects, from clothes to toys, but I think this striped snake is probably the coolest. It'll also help you to nail down your I-cord and stitch increasing techniques. (Even though I can't quite remember how to work the I-cord at this exact instant, I remember really whizzing along after I watched a tutorial.) The one thing I will say about the finishing of this snake is that the head reminds me of a cobra's hood, and I keep thinking the button eye placement is wonky. But then, I watched a lot of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi as a kid, and I know all about cobra eyes from Nag and Nagaina.

5. For yourself:
I mean, you deserve something after all the knitting you've done for others, right? And it's just another combo of knits and purls. Now, I don't want to make it sound too easy--the size of this wrap will require a decent time commitment--but you'll be a seed stitch wizard by the time you're finished! And, of course, you'll have a beautiful handmade garment. (For yourself, I hope!)

P.S. The Purl Bee has recently added video tutorials to their oeuvre...even one dedicated to SSK! Maybe I'll finally carve out a brain corner for this technique. 

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