Jun 18, 2010

Top Ten Minimalist Knitting Patterns

Part of minimalist knitting for me is finding patterns that fit under the “minimalist” umbrella. Whether they have only a few rows to remember, need only one set of needles to complete, or are able to be made using a variety of yarns and in a variety of sizes, the patterns I head back to repeatedly seem to fall under a minimalist theme.

While there is something to be said for knitting a pattern that teaches you new techniques, forces you to pay attention to every stitch, and provides at the end a gorgeous piece of artwork, I find more satisfaction in the “everyday” patterns. The pieces you will gladly wear or give to a friend or family member, the patterns that work wonderfully for donation – these are the patterns that make my knitting needles sing.

With the thousands of patterns available on the internet, in knitting books, and in magazines, it can be hard to weed through them to find the patterns that work up beautifully every time, and lend themselves to my minimalist tendencies. Over the years I’ve grown to love a few for their timelessness and ease of knitting – my top ten minimalist knitting patterns.  

1. Striped Hat {from Holiday Knits: 25 Great Gifts from Stockings to Sweaters} – The first time I worked up this hat I wondered at its simplicity. Thanks to ribbing from top to bottom this hat will fit just about anyone, and the color detail at the brim means you can personalize this hat for anyone. I’ve taken to making it without the folded brim, and have it on my permanent list of go-to presents for every man in my life!  

2. Kanoko Pants – As any knitter knows, just when you think you know no one else who will be having a baby, a new crop of friends, family members and co-workers appears who are pregnant. I’ve taken to knitting up pairs of these pants in a variety of sizes and holding onto them – you never know when someone is going to announce they’re about to add a little girl or boy to their family! I’ve made these in wool, bamboo, and acrylic now. And with a pattern that sizes from newborn to almost toddler, you can be sure to make a pair that any mom will love putting their child in.  

3. Project Linus Security blanket {from Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time} – perfect for large and small kids, three rows to remember!  

4. Cabled baby hats – I love the idea of sending a baby home in something handmade. Harder to do for summer babies, I still love gifting every mom-to-be with a tiny hat for their new little babe. The cabled baby hat pattern is perfect for any knitter: perfect for learning cables, these whip up in a night or two, and the pattern is easy to remember. I make these by the dozen in the fall and winter – they’re perfect for donating to your local hospital if you don’t know anyone about to give birth!  

5. Walk in The Park Hat – easy pattern to remember, perfect for any style  

6. Cigar mitts – Every man needs a good pair of gloves, and most refuse to own them. And because knitting hat after hat for the men in your life can get old, having a great fingerless mittens pattern around that’s suitable to the men-folk is a treasure to be sure. The Cigar Mitts pattern has become just that for me. My husband wants one in every color – he already has two pair – and every time he wears them every man around him begs for a pair for their hands as well. I’m convinced no man could resist a pair of these well constructed and quick to knit mitts.   

7. Pasha – I’m sort of cheating on this one, because when I say Pasha what I mean to say is anything and everything by Jane Richmond. Pasha is just the latest in my Jane-related pattern obsession. And the obsession is minimalist-based. Every Jane Richmond pattern I’ve used is easy to grasp, full of tons of pattern repeats, and can be worked up using a wide variety of yarns and needles.

8. Circular shrug – {Ravelry download only} Simple to knit, genius construction, this is a shrug I love so much I've given away every single one I've ended up making! I don't even have one for myself, because once someone sees it on me, they want it!  

9. Cobblestone sweater – Top-down sweater construction, perfect for any style guy, and the Ravelry knitters have already added tons of notes for shaping it to a gal’s body as well!  

10. Garter Yoke Cardigan - every knitter knows someone who has knit this sweater. With simple construction, the most brain-needing moments come when short rows are added {or generally not in my case!} to give the sweater a bit of shape. The beauty of this pattern comes in yarn choice for me – it has been made in work-horse wools like Patons and Cascade 220, but can also be found knit in acrylics, cottons, and even fancier bamboos. I’d love to own this sweater in a variety of colors so I would have one to wear with everything!

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