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Boldly Frivolous Knitting

Updated on October 9, 2014

Finding Knitting Style in the Funniest and Funnest Places

Patterns are starting points; knitting is not just a project with an end product, it's a challenge, a journey of adventure and discovery!

This picture says it all. Ask this Springer Spaniel if she needs a hat and scarf. Her answer: Of course not, my coat is all I need. BUT...don't I look simply elegant?!

When I say I knit, and I'm a grandma, eyes roll. People become oh so polite - "How nice!" - and quickly change the subject. What are they thinking? Are they thinking "yet another holiday sweater that doesn't fit", or, "oh how cute, booties for the grandbabies" ~yawn~ or "a tacky afghan...ugh".

It's as if getting a hand knitted gift was like getting a leaden fruit cake...

Let's bust apart the myths and some of the just downright UGHly memories of knits past and forge our way into some really fun future knits! Meanwhile, we'll respect the classics too, but you may be surprised exactly where they show back up.

I rarely follow a pattern from start to finish. Patterns give me ideas, then I tweak them and make them my own. Join me on this knitting journey. I'll only be sharing projects that I've completed myself, so there may be lapses while I knit like crazy, and I may digress into a "yarn" or two now and then just to keep you coming back for more.

Surprise Your Family with Yarn Bombing - yarn bomb a chair

Mexican bus yarn bomb
Mexican bus yarn bomb

A birthday surprise for your little girl? Or just a wacky Friday afternoon "TGIF" celebration?

Here's some ideas for how you can do it, you don't even need to knit or crochet, necessarily.

yarn bomb a chair

Yarn bombing a chair is fun, even if you don't cover the entire chair. I will yarn bomb the chair that R. sits in at the dinner table on his birthday, just to make him smile and roll his eyes. Ha! Hope he doesn't read this.

Much easier to yarn bomb a chair than the family car or a bus, no?

Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting Fun
Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting Fun

This is not your grandma's knitting book. Tracey Ullman brings her wacky humor into play. Laugh along with her mistakes and learn how to have as much fun knitting as she does, mistakes and all.

the black side
the black side | Source

What do I do with this ugly (fill in the blank)?

For me, it was a large circular piece of foam rubber...

Ok, it's a pillow, but in its naked-foamness it was so ugly all I could do was stuff it under the bed. Make it go away! It didn't fit into the Zen-ness of my new home.

Well, of course I eventually came to my senses and knit a cover for it, what else would I do? I certainly wouldn't sew something. I picked two colors that would go well with the living room decor, black and tan. I devised a design for making one side black, the other tan, and the strip that joined them a combination of both colors, to pull it all together. The two circles are knit up as the center of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Plain Shawl on page 81 of "Knitters Almanac", each 21" in diameter for my, imagine this, 21" diameter pillow. The connecting strip is one of the cleverest patterns I've ever knit, from Barbara G. Walker's "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns", the Royal Quilting pattern on page 72.

As I knit, I wondered if the ugly foam would show through. I didn't know until all the knitting was done and the pieces completely sewn together. An awful lot of work if the result was...something awful.

Needless to say, I'm quite pleased with the result. I used chunky acrylic yarn (for strength, rather than wool) and size 8 needles.

Be bold and devise a pillow cover of your own, or you can get A Treasury of Knitting Patterns off of my Powell's Bookshelf.

Flip side of my Zen pillow

Pillow Patterns with Pizazz - knitted pillow patterns from those talented Vogue people

Vogue Knitting is one of my eyes-closed go-to places for knitting inspiration - they never fail to please and delight. This book delivers classy patterns as always, whether you love lace, earthy designs, or yummy tactile yarns like chenille. I'm not one for appreciating lace, but the Navaho pillow pattern is on my to-do list, with variations of course. And pillow projects are small enough to travel with you anywhere and safe enough to try out new ideas on (your sofa will wear anything, without complaining, as will the chair in the guest bedroom.)

crazy hats
crazy hats

Attend a Ridiculous Event or create one

Sock it to me!

Back in July of 2011 there really was a Sock Summit at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR - honest! Knitters and dyers, shepherds and spinners, designers and test knitters all joined to raise more than $5,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières, collect hundreds of knitted items for charity, inspire someone to knit 171 stitches in just three minutes, spin and knit a sock while the freshly-shorn sheep stood there watching, and spontaneously flash dance.

There may never be another Sock Summit but why not create an event of your own? A Sock Hop, or a Hats Off To... event, or a Knitting Talent Show?

Fiesta tea cups compared
Fiesta tea cups compared | Source

Knitting Addict: knit with what you have...

Don't worry, I've ordered more yarn and needles

I knitted up this adorable teacup and saucer, using the yarn at hand (worsted weight) and the larger size needles. Now I need to wait for smaller needles and sport yarn to start again. But I did find out how easy these things are to knit - super easy.

The whole bit is bigger than I imagined (and the pattern described); and the dark brown looks purple in my picture.

However, while I wait for reinforcements from a yarn shop, I'm dreaming of knitting one of these even BIGGER. Big enough for a toddler or two to sit in. What fun!

Mad Tea Party, anyone?!

Watch out, granddaughters, grandma is making plans...stay tuned for the continuing story of the Fiesta Tea Set: Getting It Right!

Here's the link to the pattern for the Fiesta Tea Set

UPDATE: I've knitted up another cup and saucer with a slightly finer yarn and the smaller needles as required in the pattern, and as you can see, not much difference in the finished size. Good enough, though. I don't want to knit with size 1 needles; I suppose I could almost substitute toothpicks!

Cloche Hat
Cloche Hat | Source

Sisterhood of the Traveling Hat

stay tuned for the further adventures of this amazing hat

I needed a warm wool hat but I wanted one with style. I chose the pattern Cloche Divine by Meghan Jones at Little Nutmeg Productions.

The pattern is simply divine, so cute, classy, and comfortable all rolled into one. I chose a rather drab colored yarn to knit with, a brown with hints of green and purple, because it would go with all of my coats and jackets.

When the hat was completed, I wore it out on a date and then the next day couldn't find it anywhere. I called my date, and he searched his car and it was nowhere to be found. I had a brainstorm - maybe it had fallen out on the ground, as I remembered removing it in the car. There it was, a little damp but no worse for the adventure.

The hat was determined to get away though. The same thing happened again when I journeyed a ways with my housemate and was picked up by another friend at her son's house. I got to the friend's home, and again, no hat. It took me a while to contact my housemate, and sure enough, her son had found my hat on the ground. And then promptly lost it again...

I ended up moving, and now, at my new home, I'm still waiting to be reunited with my hat. I phoned, emailed, whined, got angry, no avail. Her son's house had eaten my hat, or so she said. Finally, the son's girlfriend was moving out and while gathering up her stuff, she found the hat. It needed a washing so she washed it.

According to my ex-housemate, the washing "changed" the hat. Ugh, it must be somewhat felted. But, she assured me, it should still fit me because it fits her.

Does this mean she is trying to keep the hat?

Waiting until I visit her (I do believe she is holding it hostage until I come visit), I'm thinking I should maybe knit myself another, which I wanted to do anyways. Unfortunately, I'll have to knit it with odds and ends of yarn because I've used up my "monthly allotment" for yarn purchases. I have to budget myself to still be able to eat, etc....

So, how would I knit this hat in, say, two colors? I think I'll attempt to knit it with the "bow" short rows in a contrasting color, just for kicks, and maybe make it look as though there's a hatband, too. So this traveling hat may be knit up in some more exciting colors sooner than I planned - yay!

UPDATE: The hat has returned. It is somewhat felted, as I feared. It's fuzzy and no longer fits me well at all. Sigh...this is a sad moment, may we have a minute of silence as we mourn the yarn, time, and energy it took to create this lovely object....

Ok. Moving on, I've already ordered more yarn. I couldn't decide on a color so I chose two. Even that was difficult. I'll put up pictures just as soon as the yarn arrives and I can knit one up. An added bonus is that the hat knits up so quickly.

Yet another UPDATE: I decided I could not wear the hat in its shrunken, felted state so I passed it on to a charity. I've received the yarn I ordered and knit up another, in almost the same color as in the photo on the designer's site. It is drying out after blocking, so I'll photograph it asap. All is well in Hatland.

Final update (until I decide I need another color!) - here is me in my new hat, a lovely bright green just in time for spring!

berry pi hat
berry pi hat | Source

Frog It!

Creating something new out of something old

The knitting term "frogging" is a reference to how a frog says "ribbit". In knitting, we occasionally have to decide to either knit on or rip it out. Voila, "rip it" - or frogging.

Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the knit hat I was gifted with, but suffice it to say the hat was an Andean style hat with earflaps, and it was knit out of some fairly coarse to the touch llama's wool. I have a fairly large head and the hat was too small. A-frogging I went, ending up with about 6 or so small balls of various colored yarns. Now what?

First I turned my balls of yarn into hanks and dampened them, leaving hanks hanging to dry on all the available doorknobs in the house. This took most of the crimp out of the once-knit and therefore kinky yarn.

I wanted a tam sort of hat with just a little slouch to it. After Googling a while, I found this Berry Pi Hat pattern.

I ordered my yarns from the darkest shade to the lightest, and cast on with the darkest. I knit a ribbing of k2p2 for about an inch, then purled one round, then k another inch of ribbing. This makes for a nice hem when the hat is completed. Then I simply knit until each color was used up, or as in the case of the second to the last color, until there was just a tiny bit of knitting left, then I finished with the almost-white color.

Pleased with the result, I now have a simple hat with just a bit of a tam look to it. I did my own variation, knitting up a hem and inserting a piece of 3/4" elastic in it, then sewing up the hem. Otherwise, the hat would be falling down to my nose every time I bent over. (I know, I know, I should stoop, not bend - but I inadvertently bend almost every time before I remember.)

Even though I'm not the cutest model around, I'll add a pic of me in the hat so you can see how a tilt to one side or the other gives the hat much more character.

By The Way: rinsing your finished coarse-yarn project in warm water with some hair conditioner in it, and not rinsing out the conditioner, leaves the garment somewhat softer. Give it a try sometime.

Bag Hat Lady - just a little bit of attitude

berry pi hat
berry pi hat | Source

Guerilla Knitting - coming to a garden near me muahaha

Needless to say, I love this idea. I've gotten started searching out knitted flowers. I'm going to surprise R. haha!

First step: "Where can I plant some wildflower seeds, dear?"

intarsia_scarf | Source

A Fiesta of a Scarf

what was I thinking?

So what, you may ask, makes a knitting project bold and frivolous? And what possesses a person to knit this sort of object? And you may even be thinking, what kind of person takes on this kind of knitting?

What possessed me to take on knitting this striped scarf/shawl? I bought enough yarn to knit a few Fiesta Tea Sets, but after the first set I decided I didn't want to knit any more. If I were to knit a set again, I'd choose different yarn - maybe chunky acrylic, for example. Something that I could knit up on bigger needles (but still smaller than normal for chunky) to make a more substantial tea set, that wouldn't be quite so floppy.

So what kind of person would knit this scarf? A frugal person. Faced with a couple of balls of yarn each of 7 different colors, I wondered what I could knit. *If I could choose all over again, I'd knit up some Log Cabin squares and make a small...something...* However, I found this scarf pattern in "The Best of Interweave Knits" and thought, oh! an intarsia adventure, I've never been on one of them before. Off I went...

Now on to the next question, what makes a knitting project bold and frivolous? Obviously, my color choices (however, I had no 'choice' since I was being frugal} are bold, if not frightening. The colors in the original pattern are much more muted. My choices are...I like to call them "Southwest U.S." colors...or maybe Mexican...but what makes this project truly frivolous is that I am not sure I can wear this scarf when it is finished. "My colors" are mostly muted earth shades, or I'll take on one bright color as an accent.

As usual, I cast on and began knitting without carefully considering if I had enough of each color to finish. Yet another reason I may not be able to wear this scarf.

In a nutshell, I am boldly going forward at a snail's pace because the constant color changes slow me down and the needles are size 2s...not knowing if I have enough yarn...and unsure if I will have any use for this even if I am able to finish it. Yet somehow I'm enjoying the process anyways - I never thought I'd enjoy intarsia work but I am, even though I will have a bazillion ends to weave in.

The Fiesta up close and personal - now you can see accurate colors

intarsia scarf closeup
intarsia scarf closeup

Another aspect of the 'bold and frivolous' nature of this scarf is that there are as many ends to be woven on the other side as on the side you see.

Photo Credit: Kathryn Beach

boldly colorful fuchsia
boldly colorful fuchsia | Source

Manic Knitting Marathon

When nothing's getting done, get manic

My unfinished projects and planned projects are backing up so it's time for a manic marathon. The rules are simple: plan as much as possible to be completed in the shortest time imaginable.

So I'm starting a personal One Week Marathon, during which time I will finish two current projects -- a baby cocoon and a knitted felted bag; I will knit a sample Fuchsia Toasty Toes Slipper (inspired by the most amazing fuchsia blossom right outside my door), knit two more slippers, and felt four slippers; and I will design and knit a scarf for myself, assuming I have the yarn for it. If I haven't pushed my limits enough, I'll knit two dish towels to match the dishcloths I've finished. Plus I'll make the patterns available online, as well as photos of everything.

Here's a picture of the fuchsia blossom, so you can see why I'm so crazy to knit these colors. I even have the pattern in my head already for the cuff that will look like those pink petals (sort of).

Update on Manic Marathon

I didn't even come close to finishing all those projects I mentioned. I'll make this continuing marathon easier to follow with a list.

  1. Knitted baby cocoon and hat - finished.
  2. Knitted and felted bag - finished
  3. Fuchsia knitted slipper - finished
  4. Christmas Stocking knitted and felted slipper - in progress
  5. Scarf for myself - in my dreams, ditto the pattern available online
  6. Four felted slippers - two done, two to go
  7. Two dishtowels plus patterns available online - to do
  8. Photos of everything - some done, ongoing as more projects are completed

So you want to be Elvis for Halloween? Knit a wig! - now we've seen it all...maybe

knitted Elvis wigs
knitted Elvis wigs

Here's a pic of the world's fastest knitter and three handsome Elvis impersonators. Follow the link to the pattern. Bet you can't knit just one.

Huge knitted bag before felting - reaching below my knees

knitted bag before felting
knitted bag before felting

A veritable picture of potential. Not only is it lumpy, lopsided and large, but I even sewed the button closure on in the wrong place. No fear, all the wrinkles will be smoothed out during the felting.

Close-up of wanky bag

bag closeup before felting
bag closeup before felting

The button is sewn on about 2 inches too far to the left, you can see it pulling a bit. Uneven edges, lumps...incredibly long and wide shoulder strap...all will become beautiful.

Baby cocoon and hat

knitted baby cocoon
knitted baby cocoon

Unblocked, with the ends still to be woven in. But completed. Use your imagination and picture a newborn curled up asleep. Adorable. The colors are lost in this photo - the lightest color is a bright yellow, and there is a thin light green stripe in there too.

Felted and unfelted knit slippers

slippers felted and unfelted
slippers felted and unfelted

These slippers are the same size, showing you how they change when felted. Small glitches such as the tiny holes where I picked up stitches for the gusset will be felted closed. The stitch definition disappears, so if you knit unevenly, the felting fixes that too.

Unfortunately, the colors are not true in this photo either - in reality the pink is more vibrant and the purple is more purple, with undercurrents of pink just like the flower.

Knot for the Faint of Heart - Share your knitting adventures or join mine!

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    • Kathryn Beach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Wallace 

      5 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      @nmichaele: I do have the pattern, that is correct, it is no longer available from Bernat. Click on my picture in my bio, which will take you to my profile page, then click on Contact and you can send me an email. I'll reply with the pattern attached as a pdf.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I knit that baby cocoon pattern for my son and loved it. i'm pregnant and i would love to knit it again for our daughter. i'm kicking myself for not downloading the pattern because it doesn't seem to be anywhere anymore. i don't suppose you would have it?

    • Kathryn Beach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Wallace 

      6 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      @scrapquilter: Thank you for your kind words, minerva. Right after I started up my blog

      again, life threw me a few curve balls. My mom passed away, my dad is

      declining as well, and my computer froze up during a Windows update. I'm

      saving my pennies for a new computer and have just begun resuming my online

      work with a vengeance after months of having to attend to other things.

      Knitting truly keeps me sane!

    • scrapquilter profile image

      Myreda Johnson 

      6 years ago from Ohio USA

      Fantastic and inspiring knitting lens. I was so happy to read that you had brought back your free pattern blog.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like knitting mini projects and now I am inspired to start being a little more creative with my mini projects. I will be posting all my knitting on my lenses :)

    • piarejuden profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow.. you knit beautifully.. I learnt to knit when I was in the 5th or 6th grade.. I never completed the class.. I switched to music! Regret that now since I saw how artistic you can get with the knitting needles ...and a whole lot of practice! :( great lens.. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love the attitude (and daring creavity) Grandma!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i like the Traveling Hat

    • Kathryn Beach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Wallace 

      7 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      @badmsm: I sit on that pillow every day. Thanks so much for the blessing!

    • Kathryn Beach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Wallace 

      7 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      @EmmaCooper LM: Frivolous indeed! After all, when was the last time you ate a knitted cupcake?! :)

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 

      7 years ago

      Lovely :) Have you seen those knitted cupcakes? Very frivolous!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens, love the Zen pillow! Liked & Blessed by a Squid Angel! :)

    • Kathryn Beach profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Wallace 

      7 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      @SusannaDuffy: Good for you! Next time, keep them closer at hand!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I want to be bold and frivolous! I'm getting my needles down from the top of the wardrobe now. Right now


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