Archives for the month of: October, 2012

Fashion sketch of the twisted collar pieceSomething caught my eye on Pinterest last week…a beautiful chunky knit collar-skirt by Masnada. It has two wide ribbed strips that are twisted and attached to a collar (or waist band, if you were to wear it as a skirt). How striking! After obsessing about this piece for a few days and sketching it out, I decided I had to try to make it.

First, I needed some bulky yarn. Just like a seamstress uses inexpensive muslin fabric to create prototype designs, I wanted to use a cost-effective bulky yarn to initially design this piece. I headed to my local discount craft store and found Debbie Norville Serenity Chunky on sale for less than $3 per skein of 109 yards. Perfect!

Next, I started knitting the strips. Using US size 11 needles, I cast on 15 stitches and worked in 1×1 ribbing for 44″. After knitting a second strip to match, I laid the two strips on the floor to arrange the twists, pinned the twists together, joined the twisted piece into a circle, and used a three needle bind-off to join the edges together.

Knitted strips twisted around each other

The challenging part was to figure out the design of the collar. Should I make it as a separate piece and sew the twisted strips to it? Or, could I pick up the edges of the twisted strips and knit up from there? Because I strive to minimize sewing in my patterns, I decided to try to pick up the stitches.

My first attempt, however, was a disaster. I picked up some stitches along the “hills” of the twists, and cast on some over the “valleys”. After knitting for a couple of inches, I tried it on. It was awful; the cast on edges curled and looked sloppy. It was so bad I didn’t even take a photo.

I quickly ripped out those inches and started again, this time picking up stitches along both the hills and valleys. Much better! Here’s a photo showing my “take 2” after I had knitted the collar for a few inches:

Collar being knit

Last night, I finished knitting it, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Finished Wrap

I’m thinking about turning my notes into a pattern. Would you be interested?



Update, Nov 12 2012: After publishing this post, I released a pattern for this wrap. You can find it here.

Photo of bamboo needles, plastic tapestry needle, and yarn cutterBecause I knit to raise money for charitable causes, I bring my knitting with me pretty much everywhere, including on airplanes. In the US, the TSA says, “Knitting needles are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage.” (Read more on their site.) The rules in other countries do vary, so it’s always best to check before you fly.

In the last few years, I’ve travelled from the US to India, Italy, and Germany, and I brought my knitting with me each time. To minimize the chance that my knitting might arouse suspicions in the security line, I follow these best practices:

  • I choose a project that uses bamboo DPNs. Some of my favorites are Fetching fingerless gloves and the Swirl Shawl. Socks, of course, would be another great project.
  • I bring a plastic tapestry needle, not a metal one.
  • I bring a Clover Yarn Cutter Pendant instead of scissors. (I’ve also tried to use a dental floss container to cut my yarn, but that didn’t work so well.)

For more information about knitting regulations by airport security around the world, see this great post on the Knitty Blog.

Sit back and enjoy the flight, with your knitting!


Twists of Ribbon NecklaceAfter seeing some beautiful knitted cord necklaces on Pinterest, I decided to try my hand at designing one. Just such a necklace would be perfect for a silent auction.

Instead of a traditional wool yarn, I chose a ribbon yarn. I felt the ribbon would create a more elegant finished product than wool, plus it would feel silkier on the neck. I also purchased some large charms that I could slip onto the cords to dress up the necklace.

Next, I dove in and started making cords, which are super easy to knit. I made some thin cords and some wider ones, and I played around with braiding and twisting them. After some experimentation, I felt I had a great necklace. Well, almost. There was still work to be done on the closure, which I wanted to look professional. I visited a few bead shops and craft stores before finding the perfect findings: metallic cones to hide the knots that held the cords together, fold-over cord ends to crimp the ribbon ends and keep them from fraying, and a magnetic clasp.

Findings used for the necklace closure

Once I was satisfied with the finishing of the necklace, I wrote the instructions into a pattern.

I also made this second necklace to test the pattern:

A second necklace, made from gold ribbon

Now I have two to donate to an upcoming silent auction. I wonder how much they will raise?

If you make one of these necklaces, please let me know. I’d love to see photos!


Photo of boot toppersThank goodness for girl friends. A few weekends ago, I got together with some friends from college, all of whom are so supportive of KnitOutsideTheBox. They asked me what I was making for this year’s holiday fundraising. As I told them about the cabled wraps and headbands, one of my friends asked if I had considered knitting boot toppers. What a brilliant suggestion! I’m always looking for accessories that are trendy and that won’t take too long to knit. Boot toppers fit the bill perfectly.

As I started looking for patterns on Ravelry and Pinterest, I asked my teenage daughter for her input. Would she wear boot toppers? (Answer: “Yes!”) Would she prefer ones that would fold over the top of a boot or that would be layered over her boots and skinny jeans? (Answer: “Layered.”) Given she has a thing for owls, I asked if she would wear a pair with an owl motif? (Answer: “That would be so cool.”) Armed with this feedback, I decided to design a pattern for layered, owl boot toppers.

For my design, I decided to use Cascade Eco +, an affordable, 100% wool bulky yarn that works up quickly. While this first pair will be for my daughter, I may decide to make more for my fundraising, and I want to be able to knit them as fast as I can.

Next, I researched how to make an owl. When I was visiting my mom this summer, she was knitting an owl pattern for an infant-sized cardigan, so I knew that I needed a certain pattern of cable stitches and embroidered knots for eyes. Here’s the general idea:

Photo showing how to knit an owl from cable stitches

With this basic owl pattern, I knit a sample gauge swatch of the owl and some 2×2 ribbing. I wanted the boot topper to fit snugly around my daughter’s calf without being too tight, and the ribbing would provide the needed elasticity. Based on this gauge swatch, I then calculated how many stitches to cast on and started knitting!

Fast forward to the end…the owl boot toppers are done and the pattern is published. I think they are adorable (if I do say so myself), and most importantly, my daughter likes them!

Photo of finished boot toppers

I’m not sure how many I will be able to make for this year’s fundraising, but I will definitely be making them for next year. What colors would you like to see?