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All That Yarn - Simple Patterns to Make Up Fast

Updated on July 26, 2017

Quick Gift

Quick Knit Mitts - a gift to make in an afternoon.
Quick Knit Mitts - a gift to make in an afternoon.

Quick Knit Mitts

I have put the pattern for the easy knit fingerless mitts in my other blog, but here it is again (so you don’t have to search for it). They work up quickly and I have made them with different yarns besides the Twinkle over the years. I made my own pair from regular worsted weight (“I Love This Yarn” from Hobby Lobby) using size 8 knitting needles, and recently made a couple of pairs for Christmas gifts using Red Heart Curly Q yarn (discontinued) and size 9 knitting needles. Curly Q has elastic in it so it is curly and stretches out. Somewhat difficult to work with when you have to be careful not to pull every stitch tight as you go along. But it is soft and it stretches to fit nicely over the hand.

I tend to knit (and crochet) a bit loose on most projects so your needle size might be different than mine. These are just suggested sizes. Try making one, and before you bind off check to see if it fits your hand. If it is too big, then you may need smaller needles. Too small, and you might be making it for a child (but who knows if they would wear it). Anyway, better to not finish it off before you see if it fits. Since I don’t have a gauge for the pattern, it is measured in inches instead of rows. This allows the knitter to use a variety of yarns with the same pattern.

There was also a pattern I tried that came out a little longer and had all knit-2, purl-2 ribbing up to the bind off 2 stitches for the thumb hole and cast on 2 stitches over the hole on the return row. I was not too happy with a tiny thumb hole, but the recipient was pleased with her gift as it fit her slender hands just fine.

The Fingerless Mitts pattern is as follows:

  • Size 8 knitting needles (straight or circular, your choice)
  • Yarn Needle (to sew the seams together and hide in the loose ends)
  • 2-3 ounces of yarn, either Sport or Worsted Weight will work.
  • Cast on 32 stitches. Leave a 6 to 8 inch tail for sewing later.
  • Knit in a knit-2/purl-2 ribbing stitch for two inches (2”).
  • Switch to Stockinette Stitch (knit one row, then purl one row, and repeat) for two inches (2”).
  • Then back to Ribbing (knit-2/purl-2 across the row) for two inches (2”).
  • You should end up with a total of six inches (6”) from cast on to bind off row.
  • Bind off in ribbing stitch. Leave a 5-7” tail for sewing.
  • Now, using the tail from the cast on, sew from the cast on edge for two and a half inches (2.5” or 2 1/2”).
  • Skip the middle part for the thumb hole. (you can sew more than 2.5” and make the hole smaller, if you wish)
  • Sew from the bind off edge (down toward the thumb hole) for one and a half inches (1.5” or 1 1/2“).

Hide your yarn ends. Wear and keep your hands warmer while you write or use the computer.

That’s all it takes. Make two if you want one for each hand and to go a little faster, use separate ends of the yarn like the outside end and the center piece to do both mitts at one time. This will keep both mitts with the same tension or gauge. You can also use two different colors and have a mix-and-match pair of mitts.

Quick Pumpkin or Snowman

The following pattern makes up quickly if you are looking to make some party favors or decorations. It is a simple circle pattern with felt pieces glued on for the faces.

It is another pattern that I used to hand out in my community college classes.

Pumpkin or Snowman Pattern

The top half is the pumpkin, the bottom half the snowman. I drew the illustrations at the bottom of the page.
The top half is the pumpkin, the bottom half the snowman. I drew the illustrations at the bottom of the page.

Bright & Lofty yarn for throws

WIthout enough of each color, I made stripes.
WIthout enough of each color, I made stripes.

Quick Patterns for Throws/Afghans

I make a lot of afghans every year. This year (2014) I donated 38 afghans in November. I use a quick and easy pattern adapted from a Red Heart Light & Lofty afghan pattern. (LW1600) Their pattern called for extra yarn to weave up through the loops formed with single crochet, chain one, single crochet (repeat). Also, there was a border pattern around the whole thing. I opted to use just the base pattern, no border edging, no weaving yarn, and to cut it down from 91 chains to 71 chains. I use about seven skeins per afghan/throw that way, and they work up in about a couple of days or less than a week just doing it in the evenings in front of the TV.

I also have found a pattern from Lion Brand Yarn using their Tweed Stripes yarn to make squares. The similar-to-a-granny square (Pattern No. L0228B) calls for three different colors (3 balls each) to make 12 squares. I crochet loose enough with the K size crochet hook the pattern calls for that I can make just 9 squares and be done. This takes me 9 balls of the Tweed Stripes, but instead of mixing colors by round, I use one entire skein to make one whole square. AND then I add a 9th round using the same instructions as for Round 8, to make a slightly bigger square. I crochet the squares together (sewing is so not easy and yarn length to sew is hard to guess) using single crochet in a 3x3 pattern. It goes pretty fast that way.

I sometimes sit and crochet on one while I wait for the computer to load a page on the internet. I have finished a square in less than 4 hours working on it off and on, and I have the pattern memorized (at least my modified version). I even wrote a comment on the pattern’s review page outlining my modification of adding another round and just using the one skein per square instead of changing colors.

Before I started using this pattern I read reviews and many said that it came out too big, the crocheter ran out of yarn and had to go buy more, etc. So that’s when I decided I could modify it and I wanted to use the one skein per square as all the yarn I had were skeins of the same color. When I got to the end of the 8th round, I thought I might have just enough yarn to do one more round…and I did so I added the 9th round. Out of all the ones I’ve tried, I can get 9 rounds except with the Limeade color. Why it is less yardage per ball, I don’t know as usually darker colors have less yardage by weight than light ones.

I used the Wildfire (a rust/brown mix) color that I got in a Mystery Box sale on the Lion Brand website, and I had enough yarn to do two afghans with it. I then found the Athena (a purple hues) color on a good sale, and made one with 9 balls of that color. I use the few yards of leftovers from the squares to do the crocheting together part. Sometimes there is even enough yardage leftover from the 9 squares to do two rounds of single crochet around the entire edge of the afghan/throw before I’m done.

Do it Your Own Way

If you want to try to modify a pattern with squares, here’s what I would suggest to do first. Finish a couple of squares (like 6” or larger) and lay them out to see how much space they will take across or up and down the length of the throw/afghan you plan to make. Crocheting them together will either add a fraction of an inch (the stretch of the single crochet between the squares’ edges) or keep it close to the same size. If it is a little small, make a border around it with either an extra round of single crochet or double crochet, and that can add some width and/or length.

If you are making it square instead of rectangular, that will also determine how many squares you might need to make. I find that making bigger squares makes the project go a little faster when putting it together. You have less squares to put together and that speeds things up some.

I have come across patterns that use a variety of sizes of squares to make the throw/afghan. This could be difficult to make bigger since the smaller squares depend on fitting between or combining together to match the bigger squares in order to fit together like a complicated puzzle.

Since I do donate so many afghans every year, I have to work with a simple pattern or a faster method to get them done. I like working with squares in the summer or when I need something portable to take with me to small spaces like a chair at the doctor’s office. I save the larger one piece throws for working on in front of the TV. The winter is a good time to have something to cover you up as you work and keep you warm.

Leftover strips of squares...into this.

Someone else's leftover squares can become a creative project for you.
Someone else's leftover squares can become a creative project for you.

Don't put it away and forget it.

Don’t make the mistake of doing a bunch of squares and then putting them away for “later” as your tension or gauge may change over time. Or you might forget how you were making them, especially if you were making up your own pattern at the time. And yarns change over time with some being discontinued or the structure changes.

I have yarn that once came in 7-ounce skeins and now only comes in 3.5-ounce skeins. That means I have to adjust my quantity to fit the same pattern. Also, I have made afghans/throws with Red Heart’s Bright & Lofty yarns which were discontinued when I first discovered them, so they were not available to replenish my stash when I used them up. I only started using Light & Lofty when I could not find the Bright & Lofty ones, and the colors also get discontinued so that I have to make stripes instead of solids based on what I have on hand.

The bigger the yarn, the faster the throw works up.

I like the chunky yarns for working up faster than worsted weight yarns. I have not tried to make anything with sport weight or baby yarn, unless it is a baby afghan, since the smaller the yarn the longer it takes to get a project done.

I also do some with two strands of worsted weight yarn, but that increases the weight of the throw/afghan to the point it feels very heavy and might be undesirable to the recipient. I figure what I like for a weight might be the preference of most people.

Bigger yarns = #6 on Yarn sizes

Close up of Bright & Lofty yarn.
Close up of Bright & Lofty yarn.

A good afghan/throw has just enough to keep a person warm but not enough to make them uncomfortably hot after a few minutes.

My mother didn’t like the patterns with “lots of holes” in them, or lacy ones, as she felt that would not keep someone warm enough. I tend to agree. They are nice to look at but do let the drafts through. I try to let there be some spaces, but the fuzzy yarns help cover the gaps to hold in the warmth.

Do it with love.

In conclusion, what you do with what you know (knit or crochet) determines how simple or complex a pattern you can do in the time that you have to make something.

A simple pattern can be as appreciated as a complex one. The giver gives from their heart, their time, and their expertise (great or small) and the recipient is the one who benefits from this labor of love.

Give what you can of your time and talents. Keep people warm in the cold weather. Your simple pattern becomes a thoughtful gift.

Yarn Weights

Yarn Weight & Category Names:
Super Fine
Super Bulky
Symbol or Number on Label (Size):
Type of Yarns in Category:
Fingering, 10-count crochet thread
Sock, Fingering, Baby
Sport, Baby
DK, Light Worsted
Worsted, Afghan, Aran
Chunky, Craft, Rug
Bulky, Roving
Recommended Knitting Needle US Size (range):
000 to 1
1 to 3
3 to 5
5 to 7
7 to 9
9 to 11
11 and larger
Knit Gauge in Stockinette Stitch (to 4"):
33-40 Sts
27-32 sts
23-26 sts
21-24 sts
16-20 sts
12-15 sts
6-11 sts
Recommended Crochet Hook US Size (range):
Steel 6, 7, 8 regular to B-1
B-1 to E-4
E-4 to 7
7 to I-9
I-9 to K-10.5
K-10.5 to M-13
M-13 and larger
Crochet Gauge in Single Crochet (to 4"):
32 - 42 double crochet
21-32 single crochet
16-20 single crochet
12-17 single crochet
11-14 single crochet
8-11 single crochet
5-9 single crochet


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