Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. She is a regular contributor to the Notebook.
You’re in an airplane before takeoff; the flight attendant is saying that in the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling, and those traveling with children should don theirs before assisting others. Maybe that seems counter-intuitive, because generally we’re trained to help children before adults … but on second thought, you understand that you have to take care of yourself in order to effectively care for others.
Needlecraft, too, is often like that. Right now many of us are racing to make gifts for the holidays, and we’ve put our personal projects on hold. I’ve come to believe, though, that this operating procedure is counter-intuitive—maybe even backwards.
One recent morning the temperature fell into the twenties, and getting ready to walk my dog, I yearned for a new winter hat. I already have several hats, though they’ve seen better times, so I didn’t technically need a new one. I thought of all the gift projects lined up—a baby sweater, cowls for friends, a scarf for my sister—and I couldn’t see how to pause that procession. Feelings of mild frustration ensued. Why hadn’t I been realistic about what I could accomplish before the year’s end?
Then I recalled the Parable of the Oxygen Masks. Maybe I really should take time for myself before attending to others. That seemed potentially beneficial to all, and likely I’d return to my gift projects in a great mood. A hat would work up quickly, without causing much delay. I went to Lion Brand’s Pattern Finder database and looked for inspiration.
The Seed Banded Slouch Hat offered everything — clear instructions, clever construction, a stylish yet classic look. Best, the yarn required was that Queen of Fibers, LB Collection® Cashmere. To me, cashmere equals bliss. Its texture and gentle warmth are unparalleled. I ordered supplies and began as soon as they arrived.
Knitting this pattern was almost as wonderful as wearing the finished hat. It took only a weekend to complete. Every time I worked a few rows, I’d eagerly check the emerging fabric. Supremely soft, and in a twilight shade called Pewter, it would become a hat I’d love for years. When my sister saw the final result—and tried it on—she asked me to substitute a Seed Banded Slouch Hat for the earlier-promised scarf. This time, the cashmere was a rich shade of terracotta, and since I already knew the pattern, the knitting went even more smoothly.
A great pattern like this slouch hat is always interesting to knit, and trying a new color the second time around sustains the novelty. Similarly, the Loop Scarf, entirely in garter stitch, cleverly mixes different yarns — LB Collection® Silk Mohair and LB Collection® Superwash Merino — for a lively, graphic look. It’s a good pick-up-and-go project, with stunning textures and color changes. After finishing my sister’s hat, I started working on the Loop Scarf as a kind of side interest, but its design was so compelling I once again put aside my main projects so I could see, quickly, its finished beauty. As with the Seed Banded Slouch Hat, the Loop Scarf garnered its share of admirers among my friends.
Looks like I’ll be making two more Loop Scarves in the very near future! I’ll use different colorways for two different friends, the pattern will become even more familiar, and as each project progresses I’ll enjoy watching how the colors uniquely interact. That’s one of the best things about knitting: you never really make the same thing twice, so it’s always wonderfully compelling.
The LB Collection® is 20% off until Monday, November 30th, 2015.