A mile-long scarf?
December 29, 2009 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Easy knitting or crochet project using 8 skeins of cotton 8 yarn?

I just re-learned basic knitting and crocheting last week. Yay!

With a couple of days off coming up, I'd like to do something the materials on hand ... bought years ago, with little idea of what I wanted to do.

I have:

* an H-8 (5 mm) crochet hook
* a 24" circular pair of knitting needles, size 1
* a 24" circular pair of knitting needles, size 8

* nearly 8 skeins of Mayflower "Cotton 8" yarn, ca. 170m / 50 g
* 1 skein of variegated green Red Heart Classic worsted weight 4 ply acrylic yarn (85 g)
(I'm actually looking for a use for the 8 skeins of red - I don't want to combine the two, but if there's nothing good I can do with the cotton, I'd be happy to get a backup suggestion of something I can make with 1 skein of acrylic.)

I vastly prefer useful things (scarves, hats) over decorative things (stuffed toys, doilies). I don't know any babies, so no baby or kidwear, please. I think I would prefer a knitting project over crochet, but I'm open to either.

I'm pretty happy with the practice squares I made last week - lots of half-double crochet, and lots of plain knitting and purling combos (so, stockinette, ribbed, checkerboard, but no increasing or decreasing or cable). All the knitting was done with a different skein of Red Heart worsted weight on the #8 circular needles, just using them as if they were two regular needles.

Should I make a big red scarf with this? Would it feel weird (being cotton)? Will either the #1 or #8 pair of knitting needles work okay with the thin-seeming cotton yarn? Is there something cooler I could make?

Bonus points for links to patterns or project instructions.

posted by kristi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you a member of Ravelry? If not, you may have to wait for an invitation. But their search engine is exactly what you're looking for. You can put in all that information (yarn, needle, pattern guidelines) and they'll give you a list of patterns, many of which are free. Good luck!
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 1:25 PM on December 29, 2009

Socks are good to make with cotton yarn. Here's one of my favorite patterns (sorry, $$).
posted by Melismata at 1:34 PM on December 29, 2009

The most useful thing you can make now is a swatch. It will give you information you need in selecting a pattern.

Use your size one needles, cast on 30 stitches. Knit 5 rows, then
Row 1: knit 5 stitches, purl 25, knit 5.
Row 2: knit all stitches

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for 30 rows.

20 divided by The width of the stockinette portion will give you the number of stitches per inch.

If you don't like the feel of the fabric you get with the size one needles, I would suggest going up to a size 2 or 3. (knitpicks.com sells needles that won't break the bank.)

For practical advice, cotton scarves are pretty, but not warm.
posted by bilabial at 1:37 PM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

It looks like you don't need to wait for a Ravelry invite anymore - so go sign up!
posted by Lucinda at 1:39 PM on December 29, 2009

Would you like to make a top-down sweater? Depending on your size, you might have just about enough to make one, and your 24" circs would do the trick. I'd have to play around with the swatch, but it might be kind of cool to knit a loose sweater with the fingering weight Mayflower on the size 8s...hmmm. Are you afraid of yarn overs at all? Lacy could be really good. Feel free to MeMail me...I teach and write about knitting professionally, so would be happy to brainstorm with you.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:43 PM on December 29, 2009

I'm a member of Ravelry, so I looked up what other people have made with that yarn. There were a lot of dish cloths and a lot of baby sweaters, plus a few other things. Here are links to the patterns available outside of Ravelry.

This is a cute shoulder bag (PDF link).
Pincushion (in Danish, but apparently translatable with Google).
Flowers That Won't Wilt
Something like this Market Bag would be nice too.
posted by apricot at 1:45 PM on December 29, 2009

Going off bitter-girl's suggestion, this February Lady Sweater would probably work really well in cotton. It's super easy and would be a great first project.
posted by apricot at 1:48 PM on December 29, 2009

Ravelry will have exactly what you're looking for - you can search for yarns and see pattern suggestions. Most people on Ravelry are using Mayflower Cotton 8 for baby clothes (sorry) and dishcloths.

I'm personally a huge fan of dishcloths for cotton yarn - they get used, they're quick to make, you don't need to match gauge, and you can either go with one of the zillion free patterns online (Googling "free dishcloth pattern" brings up lots of knit and crochet patterns) or just make a square with whatever stitch pattern you like. Cotton is also good for mesh shopping bags, which may look a little daunting but aren't hard if you're familiar with basic crochet stitches.

I'd recommend a needle size between US 2 and 4 or hook size C through E - between 2.75 and 3.5 mm. Most yarns have a suggested needle/hook size on the label. Size 1s could work, or they could be an uncomfortably tight knit, depending on how you knit (people knit/crochet at different tensions). 8s will almost certainly result in a drapey, open fabric, which may or may not be something you want.

Generally I recommend against making scarves if you are a beginning knitter/crocheter, because they take a really long time and can be incredibly tedious.

If you are interested in learning increases and decreases, you'll find a lot more things you can do - hats, sweaters, lace stitches that look complicated but aren't. This dishcloth pattern, for instance, requires you to know how to yarn over and knit 2 together, but is incredibly easy and more polished-looking than a plain knit square.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:10 PM on December 29, 2009

Cotton yarn makes some of the best washcloths you'll ever have. If you're a beginner I would stay away from large, ambitious projects with cotton yarn. Since it doesn't stretch it can be a real strain on the hands. I only use it for small things, like washcloths or amigurumi.

(I know you wanted to stay away from toys, but crocheting amigurumi is so freaking addictive you might change your mind.)
posted by geekchic at 2:14 PM on December 29, 2009

Exactly, apricot -- that would look really sweet in cotton. Although I doubt she'll be knitting for 7+ hrs at a time like me, so the hand-aches might not be a problem...

I definitely agree with Metroid Baby re: avoiding scarves, they are really super-tedious when you're just getting started.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:19 PM on December 29, 2009

For an airy, open effect, you might have enough yardage for a cotton sweater. With the size 8 needle, Follow the same gauge instructions that I gave for the size one needles. With that information, bitter-girl.com will be better able to help you pick patterns. (I teach knitting professionally, but I don't write about knitting, so for over the interwebs help, I'd bet she's more qualified. Feel free to me-mail me for advice if you want though.)

The yarn calls for a size US 2.5 needle aka 3mm, so your size one needles might get you a tight stiff fabric.
posted by bilabial at 2:29 PM on December 29, 2009

I would use the advanced pattern search on Ravelry now that sign-up is open. It's perfect for these situations (which I find myself in a lot).
posted by ishotjr at 10:09 PM on December 29, 2009

I also suggest washing and drying your swatch to see what the yarn does. You only need to wash the cotton, the acrylic won't really do anything different.

Once you have your gauge for the yarn and needles you want to use, you can pretty much design your own scarf or shawl, the amount of stitches per inch will tell you how big it will turn out. You can even pick a pretty pattern from a stitch dictionary and knit that. Just make sure you have a border that lays flat if the pattern doesn't. The pattern will affect the gauge - lace is wider, and cables are tighter.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:17 AM on December 30, 2009

Oh, and I should also remind you if you join Ravelry to also join the Mefi "MetaStitchers" group, too! :)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2009

WOW. AskMeFi just blows me away.

I would never have thought that I could make a sweater with just my beginner skills, but bitter-girl's suggestion got me looking at sweater patterns -

And I had always thought Ravelry was for hard-core knitters, so I would never have thought to go check it out without the suggestions here. I am stunned and amazed at the wide range of patterns there and the insanely cool search engine. Thank you SO much for suggesting that!

After a few hours poking around Ravelry, I added a bunch of promising sweaters and hats to my brand-new queue, then I stopped by the library to look at sweater patterns I had skipped over before. I found one that looks promising - simple, mostly stockinette with some easy ribbing at the bottom - and I'm about 8 rows in so far. The cotton was irritating (tight and unstretchy, after my previous practice with worsted weight acrylic) for the first row, but now it's feeling fine, and even if it turns out to be awful when it's finished, I'm having huge fun with the idea that I can make a sweater!

All your answers were immensely helpful. (I also picked up a book of sock patterns - thanks, Melismata! And geekchick, the amigurami you linked to is ridiculously cute ... I'm terrified to imagine my overstuffed apartment filling up with mountains of adorable little bunnies. Yikes!) Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Happy New Year!
posted by kristi at 1:19 PM on January 1, 2010

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