Thursday, December 19, 2013

Presenting the 30 Minute Crochet Cowl (for those who need some last minute Christmas gifts)

Christmas is only 6 days away but I still have a few things I need for gifts. Last week, thinking about this need, I set out to design a chunky cowl that could be made in an hour. When I finished the cowl, I check the clock and it had only taken me 1/2 hour! Amazing! Here's the story of how to do this. It's so easy even a beginner could make this in 30 minutes. An experienced crocheter will find, after the first cowl, that they'll be making these much faster.

In addition to speed, this cowl only takes 1 100 gram skein of bulky yarn, so you can indulge in some of the wildly gorgeous yarns available without spending too much. The other thing you'll need is a Jumbo Size S (19mm) crochet hook. This is a really big hook that measures 2 1/2 inches in diameter on the handle. This picture shows the hook with a penny next to it so that you can get an idea of just how big it is:
Generally speaking, using these gigantic hooks and knitting needles results in rather stiffly thick accessories and garments and I definitely wanted a soft cowl that draped well and was comfortable to wear. To accomplish that, I used a very simple, but open crochet stitch. Incredibly, the stitch only uses chain stitches and single crochets. It's the way they're arranged with spaces between them that makes the beautiful texture and drape of the cowl. 

For the first cowl I used a beautiful blue, 100% Merino, bulky yarn by Tahki called Baby. I chose the blue because I wanted to make a unisex cowl. Here's how it came out:

I always knit or crochet my patterns at least one more time to check for accuracy and, in this case, to make sure the cowl really only took 1/2 hour. For the second cowl I chose a lovely grayish mauve wool yarn from Rowan called Big Wool Fusion. While still in the bulky class of yarn, it actually had a few more yards to the 100 gram ball than the Tahki yarn - 87 yards as opposed to only 60 yards for the Tahki. This meant that when I crocheted the same length as the first cowl, I really could have gone on to make it longer so that it would be an Infinity Scarf. The stitch definition was quite lovely with this smooth yarn. I did check my work time and it was less than 1/2 hour! Here's the mauve scarf:

Since these two came out so well, and since they took so little time, I found myself a bit addicted to this design so I tried it with two other yarns. The third cowl I made with Rowan's 100% Wool Chunky Tweed. You can tell from the name that this was a chunky rather than a bulky yarn. Moreover, when I tried using just one strand, the thick and thin nature of this yarn left large open spaces that were not appealing. Because of this I used a double strand of the Chunky Tweed to make the third scarf. The texture is really wonderful I think.

Since I was on a roll here, and since it is about to be Christmas, I couldn't resist making a fourth cowl using my old workhorse yarn - Paton's Merino Wool Classic - in red. I crocheted this cowl with three strands of yarn held together as one. This worked out very well and gave the cowl a different texture because of the three distinct strands used to form each stitch. 

So there you have it! 4 cowls made in just 2 hours with a giant hook and bulky weight yarn. The pattern can be found in my Craftsy shop and my Etsy shop. If you make this cowl, please send me pictures. I'd love to post a gallery of them here and feature your work!

 Happy Holidays to All!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Cozy Knits for Christmas

Christmas will be here soon and if you're like me, you're knitting and crocheting lots of gifts. It's always good to find some quick knits at this time of year, so I did want to let you know about a book I came across recently called Cozy Knits edited by Tanis Gray. 

 This book includes 50 projects to knit divided among 5 Chapters:
Heartfelt Hats
Warm & Wonderful Mittens
Cuddly Cowls & Scarves
Snuggly Sweaters, Shawls & Shrugs
Quick & Clever Gifts

There are excellent illustrations and clear directions. All the stitches used are charted, so if you like working from charts you'll be happy with this. While there are some larger projects for sweaters, shawls and blankets, there are enough quick projects to make this a good book to use for holiday gifts. You can find the book here from Interweave/F+W Media.

I hope you find some nice things to make! I'll be posting some other patterns soon for very quick knits and crocheted projects that you might want to give for Christmas.