I'm not done with the bulky knit love yet. Not even close.
Portillo Cowl from Drop Dead Easy Knits. Of all the patterns in the book, this one is the drop dead easiest. It is also my lone design contribution. Given the talents of my two co-authors,
Big squishy yarn + warm snuggliness + contrast yarns that are fun to knit = excellent gift knitting.
That's my formula.
The sample for the book is made with two skein of Malabrigo Rasta. I kept it graphic and crisp with two mostly solids but you can go WILD, check out their color card. This is a pattern to use handpainted yarn, and variegated yarns. The stitch pattern breaks it up.
Personally, I wear it doubled over, like this.
About choosing the yarn: one of the things we did with Drop Dead Easy Knits is keep it yarn shop friendly--meaning, that you can pretty easily find the yarn we used, in your local yarn shop. Since every shop can't stock every yarn, we also added a page in the back where we list substitution yarns-- all also easy to find in yarn shops. And, we want to offer economic alternatives.
What's that you say? Yup, we kept thinking about your knitting budget. My Portillo costs about $44.in beautiful hand dyed yarn, and its worth it--but not always in the yarn budget. Or maybe, like me, it's in the budget for a special treat, but it's a stretch to spend that for multiple friend gift knitting.
Substitutes*! Any nice super bulky with 90 yards/skein or more will be equally fab. Or possibly even fabbier. Here's Rowan Brushed Fleece,** which has a bit more yardage , two balls will total about $27. US. It's also amazingly cloud like and delicious to knit.
Or the higher contrast red and grey. Love.
Kirsten grabbed these four balls of ValleyYarns SuperWash Super Bulky . You only need two for a Portillo Cowl but we loved these colors together- so you could mix and match. And guess what? $ 9.49 /skein, which means your project clocks in at just under $20. Winner-winner chicken dinner. Also, check at the link, a lot of color options.
A real life Portillo Cowl testimonial: I was visiting my BFFL Arline on a Friday a couple of weeks ago. She hauled out these two balls of yarn in her favorite colors, purchased long ago for some unrequited project. (They are a discontinued Tahki Yarn, but that company has other excellent super bulky options). Arline rarely knits. I had to refresh her cast-on skills. Above is what her Portillo looked like by Friday evening.
Monday morning! (photo courtesy of the knitter ) And I know she didn't just stay home and knit all weekend. I rest my case.
As for me, I came home with some of that Rowan Brushed Fleece *** in the pinkest of fluffy fuschia hues. It is going to be an Azel Pullover for Zoe, it qualifies as both a bulky and super fast knit= good gift knitting. I'm trying to keep it a secret and surprise her for Hanukah. Shhhh, ok?
PS are you following the MasonDixon Knitting GiftAlong on their Lounge site?
* You might notice from this link to the Rowan page that suggested needle size is US 10 but this pattern is knit on US 15. This is why the word suggested is so important. For the Portillo Cowl you want a nice drapey gauge and let it fluff up. Fear not and go with the larger needles (and of course, the smart money is on doing a quick gauge swatch).
** Many thanks to Kirsten Kapur and Beverly Army Williams for the yarn choosing and hand modeling The three of us were in Webs, where the options are mind-boggling. I don't know how they put up with shopping with me when there are so many oooh look squirrel choices but I love them both for it.
***this last link is to the discontinued Rowan Brushed Fleece colors at Webs. You can knit a super duper economical Portillo Cowl. Just sayin'.