Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Super Bulky Dropped Stitch Cowl

So, I made a giant cowl. I apparently missed out on the magic scarf knitting trend. The scarf is made by knitting a short length, then intentionally dropping stitches when binding off. I've been loving chunky knit cowls lately and decided to see if this technique would translate. Spoiler alert: it totally does! And the pattern is embarrassingly simple--the only real trick is binding off.

Super Bulky Dropped Stitch Cowl:
About 200 yards of super bulky yarn (I used about 2.5 skeins of Lion Brand Hometown USA in Dallas Gray)
Size 15 needles (I knit this flat, then stitched the ends together)

Gauge: The gauge isn't so important for this project. I eyeballed it

CO 59 stitches using long tail cast on.
Knit 14"-16" in garter stitch.

Binding off:
It's important to bind off very loosely to maintain the width while accounting for the dropped stitches.
K2. Pass first knit stitch over the second.
Drop the third stitch.
K1. Pass the first stitch on the needle over the second.
Drop the next stitch.
K1. Pass stitch over.
Drop the next stitch.
Repeat this pattern until only 1 stitch remains. (the row should end with dropped stitch, knit, knit)
Break yarn and pull tail through last stitch.
Weave in ends.

Gripping the bound-off edge tightly, stretch the piece to rip the dropped stitches all the way to cast-on edge. This takes a fair bit of work. The finished rectangle will be significantly longer than your original knit piece (mine was about double). Using leftover yarn, I stitched the cast-on and bound-off edges. I folded the resulting tube over three times. This gives it the super chunk! If you wanted a little less bulk, you could cast on fewer stitches. Just make sure you use: a number divisible by 3 + 2 more stitches.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Crafts of Kindness 2: Chemo Caps

Escargot pattern and photo by Veronica Parsons

The subzero temperatures that have plagued my beloved home-state for the past month have everyone thinking about one thing: keeping warm. Two of my aunts have gone through treatment for cancer, and both had trouble battling the feeling of cold. They were also incredibly thankful for the hats they received while they went through chemotherapy.

This week, I'd like to talk about some guidelines for donated hats, and highlight a few organizations that collect and distribute chemo caps.

A few things to consider when making caps:
Yarn: your fiber should be as soft as possible. Keep in mind that some yarns, especially wool, can irritate already-sensitive skin.
Pattern: avoid especially lacy patterns with large holes. The idea is to maximize warmth and comfort while staying fashionable.
Allergies/Sensitivities: because chemotherapy patients are already susceptible to illness, avoid anything that might exacerbate existing allergies or sensitivities (smoke, pet hair, etc.)

Where to donate:
Local Hospitals: I love the idea of keeping my charitable crafting projects within my community. I plan to donate my hats to the Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute in Flint, Michigan. Check with local hospitals, cancer support groups, or outreach organizations to find places to donate your work locally.

Crochet for Cancer: According to the organization's website, Crochet for Cancer, Inc. is a Christian volunteer based non-profit that donates handmade chemo caps to cancer centers for patients coping with hair loss due to chemotherapy. You can contact a local chapter of Crochet for Cancer to donate your caps--they will distribute them. Crochet for Cancer, Inc's website is also a great resource for knit and crochet cap patterns and crocheting tutorials.

Knots of Love: This organization provides hand-knit and crochet caps for cancer patients and others facing life-threatening illnesses. Their donation guidelines are a bit more rigid than Crochet for Cancer. They provide a list of accepted yarns and ask that caps be crafted from one of these options. For more information about their donation guidelines, please see their website here.

Hats are great stash-busting, instant gratification projects. Please consider donating one to someone in need. Be creative and enjoy!