My Top 10 Gift Knitting Patterns

It may seem as if I’m rushing the season, but knitting is time-consuming and life is unpredictable, therefore, I think it’s opportune to share my favorite patterns for gifts.

Gift knitting has some very specific qualities. It should be:

  • impressive
  • relatively quick to make
  • relatively inexpensive materials cost

Now this may sound kind of grinch-like, but it is actually really wonderful to give hand-made gifts to some of those people who would otherwise get a low-price low-involvement gift. The smallest hand knit is nicer than a Starbucks gift card (IMHO).

So, here are a selection of patterns that meet the criteria I’ve laid out. I’ve also personally made them at least once and have found them to be enjoyable knits. That said, gift knitting also lends itself to improvisation and personalization — for example, dive into your stitch dictionary for patterns for a washcloth set, a cowl or a pair of wristers.

  • Cashmere Tea Cozy by Joelle Hoverson. I’ve made this twice (not in cashmere) and it really keeps the tea warm. It’s a low key, modern knit pattern that uses less than 200 yards of worsted weight yarn.
  • Fast and Fearless Fingerless Mitts. A super quick and easy knit that requires approximately 100 yards of bulky weight yarn. Pick a luxe fiber for an extra good gift.
  • Woven Cowl. Half the fun of this project is finding the right buttons, which can really add class to a simple project.
  • Just Enough Ruffles by Laura Chau.  I’ve made this scarf at least 4 times as a gift and once for myself. I absolutely love knitting this — in fact, I may need a new one this winter.
  • Cabled Cowl by Lion Brand. This is another pattern I’ve made several times. If you love doing cables, this is an absolute blast. The pattern as written is quite oversized. I’ve reduced the size considerably with no loss of warmth.
  • The Grrlfriend Market Bag.  Using approximately 300 yards of cotton yarn, this is a quick and inexpensive knit that is super useful — and could also contain a bottle of wine or other consumables.
  • Wedding Washcloths by Purl Bee. Another standby gift for me — I knit these as a “palate cleanser” project in between larger projects. Use one color or coordinating colors of a good cotton yarn for a charming gift.
  • Chevron Stripes Hand Towel by Mason Dixon Knitting. Another one of my favorites, I usually make these in cotton rather than linen, although linen would be fab. It’s harder on the hands to work with linen and more expensive, but of course, linen is very durable, just ask the mummies.
  • Evangeline fingerless gloves. Make ‘em short or long, they’re quick and easy and, with the single giant cable, quite gorgeous.
  • Skyping Beanie . A versatile beanie pattern that can be made slouchy or fitted. Use a smaller needle than you think you need — this is quite stretchy.

Pick one or more of these patterns, or find your own. But let’s get knitting. Only 164 shopping days till Christmas.

How to Care for Hand Knits - Pro-Tip Tuesday

Once you’ve finished your knit project, there are two important steps:

1. Wear it. Accept the compliments and admiration of your friends. You’re awesome.

2. Care for it. 

You know how to do step 1, let's look at step 2.


Knits do not typically need to be washed after every wear, but if you spill food or other organic material on them, wash them right away. It is particularly important to wash your wool items before storing them for the winter in order to avoid moths. Moths are attracted to the dirt on the wool item, not the item itself. So clean woolens will not typically get munched.


  1. Wash in a basin, sink or other container of tepid water filled with a small amount (teaspoon or so) of detergent. An official wool wash, such as Eucalan or Soak, is a great idea, as you do not need to rinse them, therefore avoiding excess handling.

  2. Swish the detergent around with your hand to mix thoroughly. Then place your knit in the soapy water and let it sit for 15 minutes.

  3. Rinse (if necessary). Gently lift your item and squeeze the water out. Lay the knitted item on a bath towel and roll it up. Press it to remove more water.

  4. Dry flat. I use this hanging sweater dryer with 2 layers of mesh, allowing air circulation and space to dry two items.

  5. Be patient. Some items, especially cotton, may take a long time to dry. If necessary, when your item is partially dry, lay on a blocking board or yoga mat and pin out.

Once your item is completely dry, fold it carefully and put it away. If you are storing for the winter, consider packing it in acid free paper.



Yarn Nomads Hosts "Knitted Knockers" Event July 26

Yarn Nomads has adopted “Knitted Knockers” for our charity yarn crafting initiative.

"Knitted knockers" are an alternative for breast cancer survivors who have had mastectomies or lumpectomies with radiation. Knitted knockers are a soft, comfortable, light alternative to traditional breast prosthesis. They can be worn with most regular bras and can be worn shortly after surgery. They are made by volunteers, and are adjustable for those going through reconstruction.

Yarn Nomads will be hosting events to make “knockers” the fourth Tuesday of the month (July 26), 7pm - 9 pm. Participants are asked to bring soft, non-wool sport or dk-weight yarn. Yarn Nomads will provide fiberfill and knitting help. Knitted knockers patterns may be found on Ravelry and other websites.

Knitted Knockers have been available since 2007 and are currently provided by non-profit groups around the world. They have been endorsed by breast oncologists and surgeons, as well as patient advocacy groups. For more information on Knitted Knockers, see,,

What Kind of Needles Should I Use?

Pro-Tip Tuesday


As a knitting instructor, I get this question all the time. There’s no single answer to this question, rather, it triggers a barrage of questions of my own:

 Are you a loose knitter or a tight knitter?

  • A loose knitter may be better off with bamboo or plastic – something with a bit of friction
  • A tight knitter may prefer metal, to allow his or her stitches to slide more easily

What kind of yarn are you using?

  • If you use a slippery yarn, like silk, you may be happier with a “grippy” needle.
  • If you use a grippy yarn, like wool, you may be happier with a slick needle.

What are you making?

  •  I nearly always recommend circular needles to people knitting anything wider than a scarf (or hats, socks, gloves, you get the picture).

What have you used before? Did you like them?

  • If you learned with 14” long metal needles and were comfortable with them, by all means, keep using them, unless you really want to try something else.
  •  There’s no reason for a beginner to buy needles in a range of materials, unless you really want to. It’s more important to spend your knitting money on yarn and on the correct size of needle
  • Inevitably, if you keep knitting, you’ll have all the needles. Trust me.