Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beginner Knitting: A Simple, Fast Holiday Gift

If you are a knitter, even if you are a rank beginner, you can create a lovely, handmade gift. In just an hour or two, you can create something almost everyone can use:

Hand-knit wash cloths.

Hand-knit, cotton wash cloths are soft enough to use on baby skin or on anyone's face. They are washable, dryable, and one size fits all. They cost very little to make, and they knit up nice and fast.

You like? Okay, here's how you do them:

Begin with one 3-ounce skein of 100% cotton yarn, in a color you think your recipient will like. (When in doubt, choose a medium shade of blue. Blue is the number-one most popular color in America.)

Using a pair of knitting needles U.S.A. size 9 or close to it, cast on enough stitches to make a cloth 6 inches wide. With the yarn I used, that was 22 stitches.

Hint: If you're a super-beginner knitter, ask somebody else to cast on for you, and then you can take it from there!

Knit every row, nothing but knit stitches. Knit until you have a square--or just until you have a size you like. I stopped when my piece was 6 inches wide, 5 inches long.

Cast off or, if you are are a super-beginner, nicely ask somebody to cast off for you.

If you want, you can leave a little "tail" of yarn at the end of the cast-off row and, with a crochet hook, create a little loop so the cloths can be hung on a hook. I made these three cloths, with loops, in about an hour and a half:

Tie them up with a pretty piece of ribbon and, for extra bonus points, include a bar of lovely, scented soap. Pop cloths and soap in a gift bag or--better yet--use a brown-paper grocery bag, ink side turned in, to make an Earth-friendly package.

(Optional: Hum "Brown paper packages tied up with strings" from "The Sound of Music" while you're wrapping your gift.)

And there you have it: A perfect, low-cost, made-with-love holiday gift! One 3-ounce skein has enough yarn to make three cloths and have some left over:
Tomorrow I'll show you another terrific gift idea that uses up all these leftover bits of yarn.

But now if you'll excuse me, I need to go speak very sharply to my puppy.

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