(Right – a holiday gift knitted with strips of fabric)
There is just something special about handmade presents. Every year around this time, I’m inspired to knit scarves for holiday gifts. And every year, I barely have enough time to knit one scarf, let alone several…but this year I’ve discovered a simple, fun, and fast technique: knitting with strips of fabric instead of yarn. I “discovered” this technique on Thanksgiving when I was at my parents’ house without yarn or needles. I was yearning to knit. The urge was so strong that I sent my brother-in-law to Walmart for knitting needles (“the largest you can find” – he brought back size 17, about 1/2-inch in diameter). Mom provided some cotton blend fabric, and my 6-year-old nephew helped tear it into 3/4-inch strips. I tied each strip together at the ends and rolled it into a ball. After a couple false starts, I found that a simple rib stitch worked best for the material. In about 3 hours (maybe less because of snack breaks), I knitted a surprisingly soft, lofty, and warm scarf. Mom sent me home with more fabric and a request for a knitted vest.
One note about this technique: it takes a lot of fabric! Two yards roughly completes a 4-foot square area. It’s a great way to use up fabric that’s gathering dust, plus create treasured gifts…in time for the holidays.
If you love handmade gifts, you might like these unique natural fiber creations from Peruvian Connection:
Did you know that the characters of Rob and Laura Petrie (as portrayed by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore) on the classic TV series "The Dick Van Dyke Show" were modeled after President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie? The Laura Petrie character in particular wore Jackie-style clothing and hairdo! There’s no doubt that Jacqueline Kennedy influenced her times and the iconic look of the early 60’s still finds a following today.
Mimicked on runways to bridge-line retail markets, the mod cropped jacket has charmed a new generation this year. The alluring style is usually tailored from thick textured fabric with wide 3/4 sleeves, big buttons and feminine silhouette…nearly identical to the originals. The 3/4-sleeve length may cause concern in regards to it’s pracicality during winter months. However, the solution always presents itself in the form of dramatic long gloves, then and now.
Capture the spirit of Jacqueline Kennedy (or Laura Petrie) with these iconic styles:
About two years ago the classic women’s trench coat was resurrected and design houses began offering it in shorter lengths and in a rainbow of colors and fabrics. When I saw Sienna Miller’s coat (above) it reminded me that the charm of a shorter, dress-length coat is that it instantly becomes less of a piece of outerwear, that covers your trendy style beneath, and more of the style statement itself! When you wear a fabulous coat that drapes like a dress you are lent immediate versatility. You can wear them with skinny jeans and boots for the casual city-look as Sienna has, or wear it WITH a dress or AS a dress with tights and your favorite heels. Either look is flattering and certainly timeless.
My favorite dress-coat, similar to the stylish outerwear option that Sienna is wearing, is our Gathered Back Coat. It shares the same spirit in the back with gathers that fall from the waist while maintaining a flattering narrow silhouette in the front. It’s everything I want for this season: The perfect blend of quality fabric and tailoring with the refined style of a 7th Avenue dress-coat. I feel prettier already!
Biddy Hurlbut, Annie’s mother, was not only the co-founder and owner of Peruvian Connection but also the very heart and soul. We sadly lost her this year and while we miss our beloved Biddy we are comforted by the heart-felt condolences, fond memories and shared emotions expressed to us from friends and customers.
This thread is for her.
(Right – My first scarf!)
If you are like me, after browsing through the beautiful array of art-knits offered at Peruvian Connection, you may become inspired to make something for yourself. I have some hard learned "purls" of wisdom for the new knitter:
Beginner Knitting Tip #1: Make a scarf. A scarf is a practical first choice because one size fits all and it becomes useful in a short amount of time. It’s a low-risk way to hone basic stitches and experiment with new ones as you develop your skill. I recommend a skinny scarf in a stockinnette stitch.
Beginner Knitting Tip #2: Knit something for yourself first. It’s inspiring to wear your own handiwork. Once you’re hooked, you’ll produce more than enough scarves (or hats, or socks) for your friends and relatives.
Beginner Knitting Tip #3: Choose yarn you love. You’ll be looking at it for a long time. Buying cheap yarn to "practice" with is fine but choose spectacular yarn for your project and you will stay motivated and actually wear what you make.
Beginner Knitting Tip #4: Heed this cautionary tale. A friend asked a yarn store clerk to help her pick out the perfect yarn for her first scarf project. When she got to the register with two lovely skeins, her bill was over $70! She was too embarrassed to tell the enthusiastic clerk she no longer wanted it.