Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ten Hall-of-Fame Designs

These are the designs that, over the years, “everyone” had to make. Looking back at them now, I’m surprised at how well they’ve aged: except for the drop shoulders on Reykjavik, none of them would look out of place now. In fact, one of the earliest—the Fruit Cap pattern—is still a bestseller.

What do they have in common? There’s a high level of bang for your buck (that is, though they’re not all really quick, they do reward well whatever time and effort you put in). They’re also (with the possible exception of the Koigu bag and the Elaine baby jacket) designs that lend themselves to a wide variety of yarns.

How many of them have you made?

1. Button, Button

Designer: Jil Eaton. For awhile, I was baffled when we had to reorder this Minnowknits pattern: I couldn’t believe there was a knitter in Philadelphia who didn’t already own a copy.

2. Reykjavik

Designer: Susan Mills. Back in the early ‘90’s, when almost all sweaters had drop shoulders, this was the best possible combination: it had the world’s simplest pullover and cardigan, in two lengths, plus something with a cable for those who wanted to branch out.

3. Wildflower Baby Blanket

Designer: Judith Shangold. I think the record number knit by one person is seven. You could find a color combination to match every possible taste or décor (and people did); you could obsess for hours over which colors would appear next to each other in the stripe sequence (and people did); you could throw together the first seven colors you saw or the last seven colors we had in stock (and people did)—and it always looked great.

4. Block-a-Month Afghan

Designer: Anne Simpson. Perfect in so many ways: spreads the expense of making an afghan out of Manos over a year; introduces inexperienced knitters to a wide variety of stitch patterns, but in manageable bites; because each block isn’t very large, there’s no chance to get bored with a stitch, or stalled on one you don’t love.

5. Koigu Beaded Bag

Designer: Holly Webb A perfectly contained introduction to knitting with beads—no intimidating charts, no big investment in time or materials.

6. Landscape Shawl

Designer: Evelyn Clark. Looks complicated but knits almost mindlessly, once you’re in the groove. Works in yarns from gossamer-weight silk to hefty tweeds, to produce a shawl that can be dressy or everyday, large or small. Not just a great project for a first shawl to knit; a great shawl if you’re not sure you’re the kind of person who’d wear a shawl.

7. Half-Pi Shawl

Designers: Courtney A. Kelley and Grace Anna Robbins. A tutorial in shawl shaping and geometry, and a great gift, to boot.

8. Allison Scarf

Designer: Grace Anna Robbins. No measuring, no counting, and it shows off any space-dyed yarn beautifully.

9. Elaine Hooded Jacket

Designer: Schaefer Yarn Co. A baby gift that can be ready in a weekend, always looks adorable, and provides an introduction to top-down sweater construction.

10. Fruit Caps

Designer: Ann Norling. Just ridiculously cute. Has prompted some odd meditations on gender in America: why is fruit feminine, but vegetables masculine? (You can’t make a strawberry hat for a baby boy—or so I’m told—but you can make him a tomato. Huh?)

Meanwhile . . .

Congratulations to Melissa P., our first doorprize winner. Melissa has won an autographed copy of Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham. Today's doorprize will be drawn late this afternoon, and it will be a Bagsmith Project Tote, in the winner's choice of black or natural. Put your name in the vase whenever you drop in-for instance, at 11 this morning for the quick demo on Winding a Butterfly.

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