The Uncommon Knitter: Holiday Knitting Guide

For many of us, holiday knitting has two stages. There’s the leisurely stage—the ten months of the year when we fondle yarn in shops or in our stash and daydream about the project possibilities. The cashmere that could be a cowl for your mother. The Koigu that could be fingerless gloves for a friend. The alpaca that could be a beanie for your son.

The second stage is the present moment — when you look at the calendar after Thanksgiving and realize you are going to be knitting on a deadline. The first thing to do is breathe. And the second is to remember that knitting is a pleasure. If you are working with yarn and needles that you like, you are far more likely to finish your project in time to slip it under the Christmas tree.

One of the first things I tell beginners when I teach is that big yarn and big needles equals a quickly completed project. We have some beautiful super bulky yarns in variegated colors that make distinctive gifts. One or two skeins of Malabrigo Rasta, Madelinetosh A.S.A.P., Rowan Big Wool or Spincycle Knit Fast, Die Young and a pair of US 17 needles and you’re on your way! We have a shop sample Quick Slip Cowl (below left) knit up in the Spincycle yarn that even the slowest knitter can complete in a weekend! The Little Imp Hat is also on display at the shop, knitted up with one skein of self-striping Freia Super Bulky (below right.) It would also be adorable in the solid tones of Big Wool.

QuickslipcowlSS_lg   little_imp_lg

Because there still are a few weeks before Christmas Eve, you could produce a beautiful shawl or infinity cowl out of a worsted weight or bulky yarn. I’ve knit a number of Jeni Chase’s Infinitude Scarf (below left), using three balls of Rowan Lima yarn. The baby alpaca is a pleasure to knit with and wear, and the heathery colors are irresistible. We have a shop sample of this in Niagara, an aptly named shade of blue. With three balls of Bergere de France Duvetine, you can create a seed-stitch GAP-tastic Cowl like the black and gray version we have at the shop (below center.) And, one of the easiest and most beautiful cowls I’ve seen is the Across the Heath Cowl, using one or two skeins of Misti Alpaca Hand Painted Chunky yarn (below right.) This is another fluffy, baby alpaca yarn in harmonious, variegated hues. (photo) To show off the design of textured stitches, you could select a solid color in Cascade 128 or Classic Elite Chateau.

infinitudeSS_lg   gaptasticSS_lgAcrossTheHeathCowl2_lg

Laura Chau’s Simple Yet Effective Bulky Shawl (below left) can be knit up in a week, using 350-500 yards of bulky yarn knit worked on a US 11 (8mm) needle. For a rustic look, I’d select a few balls of Rowan’s Cocoon or a variegated yarn like Tahki Mesa. For an airier look, I’d use Shibui’s Maai on a smaller sized needle. If you’re a Stephen West fan, his Colonnade Shawl (below right) would be great in any of these yarns!

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For sheer luxuriousness, you can’t beat the new String cashmere blend yarns we started carrying this fall. They come in classic neutral colors and marls that suit both men and women. I’m drawn to the texture of Oslo for a cowl, and can picture a beautifully cabled scarf out of Dolcetto.

Oslo Beauty 1 Dolcetto Beauty 4 (2)

Are you inspired? Depending on how quickly you knit, you could have a holiday gift finished by the end of the week! All of the patterns are available on, and you’ll also find inspiration browsing through the Churchmouse binder in the shop.