I learned to knit about five years ago. I’m still a very basic knitter: nothing fancy like entrelac or Fair Isle is happening here. Since life has been chaotic and unusual the past month or two, I need the retreat of knitting. I can sit down for a few moments here and there, pick up my needles, and suspend my thoughts for a while.

I feel more like a person and less like an unhealthy chore chart when I’m making a bit of time for a project. Knitting is tactile and it forces me to be present there in the moment. It’s humble, repetitive, challenging and, most of all, meditative. It’s been the easiest way I’ve found so far to be fully present. If your mind wanders, you snarl it all up. I find that I walk this line when I knit – the line between striving and resting. My mind isn’t too full but neither is it empty.

It’s simply quiet and fully present.

(Also: it gives me something to do while I watch Anne & Gilbert, or Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy, or Anna & Bates, or the Doctor.)

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite patterns. I’m a bit predictable, I’m afraid. Much as I order the same thing in a restaurant every single time, I tend to find a couple of patterns that I love and just make them over and over again. I have learned over the years that I like simple patterns that can be constructed in one piece (none of this “sewing together” stuff, thank you very much).

For babies, I’ve truly adored the Plain Vest by Anne & Heidi Pickles. I have probably made more than a dozen of them by now. (Look at little baby Evleynn sporting hers a couple of years ago! *sob*) It’s warm, stretchy, perfect for cool days. It also fits through a lot of ages and stages if you give it an extra inch or so at the bottom.

evelynnvest

Also for babies: I’ve also had a lot of success with the 5-Hour Baby Sweater by Courtney Filner and the Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down.

For little girls, our favourite sweater, hand’s down, for is Melissa LeBarre’s Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan. It’s simple to knit but absolutely gorgeous with such feminine detail. Every two years, I just knit the next size up for Anne.

anniesweater4

For little boys, my go-to pattern is this Wonder Years cardigan. There are sizes for toddlers and children. For Joseph, I have often picked out the colours of his favourite hockey team or football team to make it extra special (one year when he was little, it was white and green for the Saskatchewan Roughriders).

joesweater

I have loved this Super Bulky Cowl by Kelly Hechinger (particularly when I splurge for Malabrigo’s Rasta yarn. SO YUMMY) as well as the The French press cozy, the Slouch Hat, and Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts. For nights when I want to knit and watch a real movie (as in, one that actually requires occasionally looking at the screen instead of reciting the dialogue), I resort to plain old cotton dishcloths.

I haven’t had much success in knitting projects for myself or Brian. The sweaters just never seem to fit right – and that’s a lot of stockinette stitch for not a lot of success, so I don’t attempt them any longer. Smaller projects with higher success ratio, can I get a witness.

If you’re also a knitter, I’d love to read in the comments about your favourite make-it-over-and-over-again patterns, so please share the links! I’m particularly interested in finding a couple of good patterns to make a nice warm winter toque for the tinies.

 

See also: In which I share my vast and vital knowledge of knitting

 

 

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  • lizzybef

    I love knitting too! I’m a big sock knitter and I love Basic Ribbed Socks, Vanilla Latte Socks and Hermione’s Everyday Socks. For hats I like Nasaia, Rikke, and Habitat. I also really love Multnomah, the Drop Stitch Cowl, and Celtic Cable Scarf for stuff to keep your neck warm. All of those can be found on ravelry. There is little I love better than watching British TV, knitting and drinking tea. ahhhhhh….

  • Amy
  • Elizabeth

    Little Pip’s Acorn Cap is a great knitting pattern for a child’s winter cap. It knits up stretchy and snug and looks great. I think I’ve knit at least 12 or so of them. For older kids, I just add some stitches at the beginning. Highly recommended!

  • Liz

    I’m fairly new to knitting, so I’ve stuck to mostly scarves and cowls. My favorite pattern ever is the Drop Stitch Cowl ( http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/drop-stitch-cowl-3 ) – its super easy and I love the fit of it. I’ve made several for gifts and have several myself. I’m also a huge fan of the beautiful Rasta yarn by Malibrigo and made a few cowl’s in it as gifts last year!

  • Robyn

    I love the “wurm” hat. I’ve made a few including one for my son. The double band around the bottom does a really nice job keeping the cold Canadian wind out of our ears and it’s nice and stretchy. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wurm

  • Sarah Hurliman

    Is the super bulky cowl super easy? I’ve been knitting for, oh, 8 years now, but I’m still way more basic than your skills. I’ve started a bulky cowl which doesn’t seem to be going great…so I may tear it out and try this one instead. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Jessica

    I love Jane Richmond’s Autumn hat and her Marian cowl, so quick, cute, and easy for fast gifts. I also love the Endless Braid headband – I used scraps but it’s one of my favorite knits. I finally made a sweater for myself that I actually wear – Aidez. For babies, I love In Threes and also Baby Sophisticate. I think I’m on a hat fix right now – instant satisfaction. Love knitting. I feel creative and get to create something that is meaningful, even though I’m typically following directions.

  • Sara

    I’ve done up at least three Aviatrix hats. (on Ravelry) Once i got the hang of short rows it was just enough challenge to keep me interested, but not so hard that I couldn’t be interrupted while working.

  • Amy M.

    Yay for knitting! I love it so much, although lately I have been neglecting it in favor of learning to play guitar 🙂 My go-to site for knitting patterns is The Purl Bee. Hats, blankets, mittens, they are all there. I dare you to browse the archives and not fall in love with at least half a dozen patterns. Feel free to check out my Knitting board on Pinterest for more ideas. Happy knitting! http://www.purlbee.com/

  • Margaret B

    My daughter shared the link to your blog via Facebook. I’ve been knitting for over 50 years; she wrote on my Timeline: ” I know you are far more advanced in your knitting skills, but nevertheless, thought you’d like the reflection, and new knitting ‘candy’ to look at :)” And she’s right. (grin) I too love that essential dishcloth pattern — and I have a “Plain Vanilla Socks” pattern I carry around in my head that’s my go-to pattern for socks. Those baby/kids’ sweater patterns you shared are great! If you like to reflect on/with your knitting, or have a laugh or two, check out the books by the Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl McPhee), and the compilations edited by Lela Nargi…among other books. Enjoy!

  • DrGailBones

    I have been making afghans for every bride I know while enjoying Foyle’s War. It has been splendid.

  • You and Ashleigh make me want to start. My best friend’s mom taught us when we were in 3rd grade but I no longer remember how.

  • Ooo, I’m going to have to check out the Wonder Years cardigan. I have an embarrassing amount of cascade 220 upstairs.
    I’m loving the dropped stitch cowl right now- http://spiderwomanknits.typepad.com/swk/2012/01/free-pattern-.html quick and super easy.

    And thanks, btw, for your blog and book and generally warm spirit. So glad to have found your blog home!

  • bellsknits

    Sarah check out the In Threes sleeveless cardigan. Top down. Worsted weight. I’ve made several. It’s a winner. Great layering piece.

    • bellsknits

      It’s on Ravelry, I should have added. And I know you are too so you’ll find it there. Free, too I think.

  • michelle

    When I saw you posted a knitting post I’ll admit I got way too excited.

    I’ve only been knitting for 3 years so your post full of pattern ideas was greatly appreciated. I love the Baby Sophisticate pattern. My other go to for a super fast and mindless gift project is the Bulky Cowl: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/one-night-one-skein-seed-stitch-cowlhttp://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/one-night-one-skein-seed-stitch-cowl It’s a free pattern and my teenage daughter and her friends all LOVE this cowl. I always grab a skein and my big needles and knit one of these up while flying somewhere. It’s a great fast project.

    • Michelle

      That link isn’t working. the pattern can be found at knitandbake.com
      It’s her Seed Stitch Cowl.

  • Trisha
  • Can’t get over those enormous blue eyes of Evelynn’s, every time I see them. I mean seriously. How do you say no to those?!

  • Joanne

    I’m madly in love with knitting. My Oma taught me when I was in elementary school. I quit knitting until my early 20s, when I used to make summer cotton sweaters for myself. Then when I had kids I had no time for it until my daughter begged me to make her some mitts. I’ve been knitting ever since. It’s addicting, it’s calming, it’s a quiet retreat. Mostly I make toques (google that!) and mitts and socks. I too like the Vanilla Latte Socks. When I’m not knitting for my kids and their friends, I make slippers for charity. I’m now 55 and I don’t care if people think knitting is something for old ladies – if I’m going to watch TV, there will be knitting involved.

  • Deanna Martin

    I’m a knitter as well. My husband’s grandmother taught me. I’m with you on small projects = higher success. I’ve never been able to wear a sweater I’ve tried. My go to for babies is the umbilical cord hat from ‘Stitch & Bitch’ (the 1st one). I make it up in KnitPicks Shine yarn. I also just finished a gorgeous Gatsby Clotch hat in Gloss, pattern & yarn also from KnitPicks. My next big project is a TARDIS blanket – a pattern I received from a friend. Now to convince my husband to paint a room in the beautiful TARDIS blue…

  • I will always be grateful for the Plain Vest that you mailed to me shortly before Audrey was born. She wore it out and about as a baby – and we always received compliments!

    Your kindness is not unnoticed or unforgotten.

    Hugs from Arizona!