Hitchhiker shawl by Martina Behm
The first project I wanted to share is a paid-for pattern by Martina Behm. It is a really simple shawl project using any 4 ply yarn. The project is knit flat using simple increases and decreases and squishy garter stitch creating a really effective and wearable shawl. It is a great project to practice basic stitches and following a pattern. One of the great things about this pattern is that you can choose yarn according to your budget and know that the pattern will still work; beginners could use any ball of 4ply sock yarn for instance and more experienced knitters might want to knit up a treasured skein of hand-dyed yarn.
Simple yet effective cowl by Tin Can Knits
Having mastered knitting flat, increases and, decreases, this next pattern, which is available as a free download from Tin Can Knits introduces knitting in the round on circular needles. This project requires knit and purl stitches but no increases and decreases, making it a great first project for knitting in the round. In contrast to the previous project, this make also gives the opportunity to practice casting on a good number of stitches to start the project. Gauge or tension is important in this project in order to create a comfortable fitting cowl so a quick swatch will be needed to help determine needle size and number of stitches you need to cast on. The beauty of this pattern is that you can cast on as many stitches as you need to make the size cowl you want and also substitute the yarn for any DK yarn of your choosing.
I used Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK and cast on 120 stitches. In a slight modification to the pattern, I cast my stitches on to straight needles and then knit the first row on to my circular needles, placed a marker and then joined together to make a continuous circle - I found this meant that I didn't get my stitches twisted when joining together.
My work really benefited from a quick wash and block. I have just ordered some yarn to make another cowl, this time with some self-striping yarn.
Bank Head hat by Susie Gourley
My final project is another free pattern - a hat using a worsted or aran-weight yarn. I have chosen to share the Bank Head hat because it builds on the skills needed for the previous project - this make calls for knitting in the round, knit and purl stitches plus, knitting up a chunky rib section and working decreases in the round.
This hat is a really lovely project to work. I have the made the project twice, once following the pattern exactly and then again without the purl bumps in the body of the hat. For this second hat, shown above, I used West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefacts Leicester Aran Prints. My little boy loves his hat - and I had enough yarn left-over to crochet him up some matching mittens.
I hope these projects can help sign-post beginner knitters to some good projects to practice their skills. All of the patterns that I've introduced are clearly written and accessible to beginners too. For more experienced knitters I can recommend all of these projects as good makes for holidays and relaxing knitting. Do let me know if you try any of the patterns, I would love to see and hear how you get on! x