Keeping Warm with (less than) One Skein

I love warm weather, and can’t wait for spring to arrive! But if it’s going to be cold, snowy, and icy, I’d at least like to cash in on some of winter’s beauty…instead, this was about the extent of D.C.’s ice-covered, sparkling wonderland:(My focus is a bit off, but you get the idea…)

We also got 4 inches of snow/sleet/slush in the District (now frozen into a solid, dirty sheet of ice). And it’s been SO cold this week! Looking on the bright side, though, it’s great weather for making and wearing our woolies. I have a few FOs to show off…I’ll start with the most recent:

Last weekend, with a friend’s birthday just days away, I decided to use up a skein of the wonderful alpaca yarn I bought at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last year (Alpaca Fun Fiber Works, Web site unavailable). I’d already decided upon the rib and cable neckwarmer from Leigh Radford’s One Skein.I’ve already made two of the two-cable scarves: one for my husband, and one for my stepfather. These patterns are well thought out, fun to knit, and quick to finish.

A couple of days later (after working on various projects in my typical fickle fashion), I finished. I thought it looked gorgeous. The alpaca yarn (from Bailey, one of the cuties at Alpaca Fun Farms) is a rich, glossy chocolate brown, soft as butter.
I didn’t use cable needles…they’re slow, and get on my nerves. So the first couple of 3/3 cable rounds, in slick alpaca on Addi Turbo needles, was a real adventure! But once I got into the swing of things–thanks to Grumperina’s tutorial, which I discovered a year ago–the needle-free cabling was no problem at all.

When my friend opened the package (wrapped in the comics section from last week’s paper…why do I never have wrapping paper on hand when I need it??) he seemed to genuinely appreciate it. I just love knitting gifts for friends and family, letting them know how much I love them by investing time, thought, and creativity in their presents instead of money.
(The FO, next to one of my mother’s early sculptures, titled “Grandmother Sleeping.”)

My only complaint about the pattern is that the finished neckwarmer stretched significantly within a couple of days. I offered to thread some elastic through it, but Thom said he liked the drape and was wearing it “cravat style.” If I make another, I will definitely go down another needle size (I already went down from US#6 to US#5), and will probably cast on fewer stitches, as well.

Still, it’s lovely (thanks to Bailey!) and soft, warm and handmade with love. And in the end, isn’t that the real gift?

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