view basket

Currently browsing: Layers

Bun & Bow: A Knitted Hairstyle

  • 2640 Loading
  • 5
  • »

sock bun with bow

In case I’m not the very last person to fall for the careless convenience of sock buns, here is a cute project you can knit up this evening while watching a film. And if you watch something good, please leave me a recommendation in the comments! :)


The tutorials I’ve seen online all recommend cutting off the toe of a sock (hence the name) and rolling it up. I didn’t happen to have an odd sock in the right colour, but I did have some Sirdar Snuggly DK in an almost-edible chocolate brown which has been in my stash for nearly 10 years. So, since toe-less socks are armwarmers by another name, I knit a pair. They have ribbing at one end and eyelets at the other, so they can be worn either way up, and you can thread ribbon through the yarn-overs too. The bows are held on with safety pins and can be positioned anywhere you like.

bow armwarmers

If you put your hair up in a sock bun when it’s wet and sleep in it (not at all uncomfortable, since it’s nice and squishy), you’ll wake up to large, soft curls the next morning. Conversely, it’s also a great solution for bad hair days. I’m going to keep my pair rolled up in my handbag from now on, in case of cold, a wardrobe emergency (requiring safety pins), or an impromptu sleepover. ;)

bow armwarmers

What You Need

Approx. 100m of DK-weight yarn
Small amount of light fingering-weight yarn
3mm DPNs
2mm straight needles
Tapestry needle
2 safety pins
Bobby pins / hairpins

bow & pins

Armwarmer Instructions

With DK-weight yarn and 3mm DPNs, CO 36 sts and join to work in the round.
Work 1×1 rib for 2cm.
Work st st for 12cm.
Next round: (Yo, k2tog) around.
Work st st for 6 rounds.
Bind off. Weave in ends.

Make two.

Bow Instructions

With light fingering-weight yarn & 2mm needles, CO 4 sts.
Knit 30 rows in garter st.
Bind off tightly, cut yarn leaving a tail 15cm long.
Using either cast-on or bind-off tail, sew cast-on edge to bind-off edge. Tie a knot to secure.
Wind yarn tightly around the piece, covering the central seam evenly and hiding the loose end. When the centre looks neat, thread end through tapestry needle, sew the yarn under the centre, secure with a knot if necessary and snip off any excess.

Make two. Attach the bows to the armwarmers with safety pins, or to your bun by sliding them onto bobby pins.

sock bun

How to Make a Sock Bun

There are numerous videos on Youtube on how to achieve a sock bun, but here’s a quick explanation:

  • Roll up your armwarmers into a donut shape. I used both armwarmers, but you may just need one, depending on how long and thick your hair is.
  • Brush your hair neatly into a ponytail, whereever you would like your bun to be, and secure with an elastic. You may want to spray some water or hairspray to smooth your hair, especially if you have layers.
  • Wrap the end of your ponytail around the rolled-up armwarmers, and begin rolling it in on itself. Your hair should get caught up in the “donut”.
  • Keep rolling, spreading your hair evenly around the rolled-up armwarmers, keeping the ponytail as taut as possible until you reach your scalp.
  • Secure the bun with a bobby pin or hairpin.
  • Slide a bow onto a bobby pin and poke it into the base of your bun.
  • Ta-da!

sock bun with bow

A Few Recommendations

  • Use a yarn colour that blends in with your hair colour.
  • Knit to a tighter gauge than your yarn requires.
  • If you’re planning on making a sock bun with damp hair, you may be better off using plant or synthetic fibres, that way your handwarmers won’t felt with use, and you won’t smell “sheepy”.
  • Make lots of itty bitty bows in different colours to coordinate with different outfits.
  • Attach your bows to all kinds of things using pins, string or clips.


15th January, 2013  // Arms & Legs, Layers, Style // tags: , , , .

Coze: Easy Knit Vest Pattern

Favourite & Queue on Ravelry

This is one of those patterns I had to write because I only have two hands, and 24 hours in a day, and I simply can’t do it all by myself. Knit all the amazing variations, I mean. That’s where you come in, dear knitter. Together, we can do this!

A Comfortable Coze

I’m terrible at coming up with names for patterns. I don’t know, maybe I have too many criteria (multiple connotations, a nice ring, appropriateness, etc.), but at any rate, I’ve been reading a lot of Georgette Heyer recently and I love the phrase “a comfortable coze”, meaning a tête-à-tête, so I finally alighted on ‘Coze’ as a name for this vest. The OED informs me that the word was probably derived from French ‘causer‘ (to chat), and cites a quotation which uses it as a verb: ‘cozing’. Just like a good book, I think of these knitting patterns as our way of having a comfortable coze, and a cosy one, at that.

The vest is amazingly simple. It’s made up of 2 garter stitch rectangles – nothing but the knit stitch, over and over. This means that even a beginner can knit it, and even a beginner could figure out how to substitute a stitch pattern for garter stitch. For example, any of the patterns from The Little eBook of Knitting Stitches would look lovely.


If you’re sensible & orderly & don’t like ripping out knitting…

  1. Knit a gauge swatch at least 15cm2 and measure the number of rows & sts per 10cm/4in. (Perform each measurement 3 times and calculate the average).
  2. Measure the distance between your shoulders or measure the back of your favourite top.
  3. Calculate the number of sts you need to cast on to get the back of the vest the right size.
  4. Measure the height you want your vest to be and calculate the number of rows you need to work, based on your gauge.
  5. Cast on the right number of sts for the back, knit for the right number of rows.
  6. (yawn)
  7. Measure across your side and halfway across your front (around your widest part). Calculate how many sts you need to cast on to achieve this width. Cast on this many sts, and knit until your second piece is the same length as the total of the sides and top of your back piece. You’ll probably want to count rows and match them up.
  8. Cast off your second piece and sew it onto the back piece (see schematic). If you’ve knit your sections in garter st, mattress stitch from the outside along both sides, leaving a gap large enough for your arms at the top (try the vest on before you cut the excess yarn or weave in ends). Then backstitch across the top from the inside of the vest, making sure the outside looks neat.
  9. Try it on, if it looks good, weave in your ends, making sure they’re not visible when the shawl collar is folded over.
  10. C’est tout!

If you’re like me & just can’t be bothered…

  1. Guesstimate and cast on a bunch of sts and knit a few rows.
  2. Measure against the back piece of your favourite cardigan. If you haven’t guessed right, see how many sts more/less you need, rip out and start again with the right number of sts.
  3. Knit until the piece is long enough, or until you think you’ll run out of yarn if you knit any more. Don’t cast off, in case you need to adjust the size. Slide all the sts off the needle, because you need the needle to knit the next piece, and put the back gingerly to one side.
  4. The piece that makes up the front needs to be at least half the width of the back piece. You’ll want to add a bit more width, assuming you’re not 2-dimensional, and if you have boobage, you’ll probably need even more. I wouldn’t know. So cast on half the number of sts as you did for the back plus a bit more.
  5. Knit until this piece is the length of the sides and top of your back piece added together. If you have some yarn left over, you can add extra rows to each piece (remembering that for each row you add to the back, you’ll need to add 2 rows to the “front” piece).
  6. Once you’ve used up all your yarn and your vest is long enough, cast off both pieces and sew them together as described in step 8-10 above.

The specs for my vest are as follows:
The first piece is 38cm/15in wide and 34cm/13in tall.
The second piece is 25cm/10in wide and 110cm/43in long.
My gauge is 14sts x 25 rows in 10cm/4in.
I used up all of 200gr of heavy DK-weight wool (approx. 400m/437yds) with 5mm/US 8 needles.

Variations I’d love to see you make

  1. lace (all-over or just on the edge)
  2. stripes
  3. fair isle
  4. moss stitch (preferably English moss-stitch, but I’m not too picky).
  5. cabled edge
  6. long
  7. baby-sizes (how quick would this be?!)
  8. with a counterpane square for the back
  9. with the long piece picked up & knit lengthwise
  10. pockets!
  11. buttons (double-breasted?)
  12. a fringe

I do hope you’ll join me in cozing. Just ‘cos. :)

30th October, 2012  // Layers, Tops // tags: , , , .

Beeton Shawl – a chilling tale (part 2)

  • 3329 Loading
  • 7
  • »



(The story begins in Part 1)

They had pancakes for breakfast, and were soon out of the house to fulfil the day’s itinerary. She would rather have rested at home, and she thought the feeling was probably mutual, but she knew that her friend was trying to be a good host, and take her to see all the sights, so she pretended to be excited. She was quite interested in the sights, too, but circling in the back of her mind was the strange incident of the missing pattern, the appearance of the antimacassar, and the trail of wool, which had vanished so quickly and silently.
Over lunch, she decided to give vent to her curiosity.
“Who was Elsie Witherell?” she asked offhandedly.
“Oh, just my grandma,” replied her friend, and added warily, “why do you ask?”
“Her name was in a book in my room.”
“Oh… right.”
She couldn’t think what else to ask, and then it began to rain, and they had to grab their pasties and run indoors, so the subject was forgotten.

That night was the last of her stay in the country, so she wanted to make an effort not to retire to bed early, even though all the unaccustomed outdoor activity had made her very tired. When they returned to the house she went up to her bedroom to change. The weather had been so foul that she’d had to borrow a jacket – her own wasn’t really fit for tramping across windswept fields. Nevertheless, all her clothes were soggy, especially her trousers. She left everything in a heap on the floor, towelled her drooping hair, and dressed in the only dry, unmuddy piece of clothing she had left: a floral dress she had brought in case she needed something a little less casual. Unfortunately, she hadn’t counted on the house being so cold. She was used to blazing central heating in her little city flat, and this house was distinctly draughty. Standing by the armchair, she could feel a chilling current entering the room through the gaps around the sash window. The cardigan she had worn in the morning was clammy with damp and cold, but she considered wearing it anyway, since the dress was too thin. Then, just as the night before, she suddenly became aware of what was draped across the back of the armchair. She gasped. It was the shawl she had seen on Ravelry the night before! A hundred ridiculous thoughts materialised in her mind: she was being watched, she had a stalker on Ravelry, her friend had secretly knit her a shawl or had someone knit a shawl for her, or, most ridiculous of all, she had knit a shawl in her sleep. True, she had been a somnambulist, but since she quit her old job she hadn’t been so stressed, and she was sure she hadn’t sleepwalked in years.

Dispelling these unwelcome thoughts, she pulled the shawl tightly around her, lifting her shoulders and snuggling. It was soft and thick, like a blanket, and it went beautifully with her dress. Animated by the thought of feeling warm for the first time since she’d arrived, she stepped downstairs to help her friend prepare tea.


They had a beautiful evening, one she wouldn’t soon forget. Midway through their meal the electricity went out, and her friend had to search the house in darkness for a candle. They amused themselves by making up endings to the film they’d been watching. She’d been trying to act brave, but she was hopeless with horror films, and had silently thanked providence when it flicked off. Her friend had been quite put out, but it had worked out alright in the end.

Back in her room, she sat for a while, idly twirling the fringe of the mystery shawl around her fingers. Her friend had made no remark, or shown any sign of recognition on seeing the shawl, even when she’d prompted.
“The house is quite chilly, isn’t it? I suppose you’re used to it, but I’m glad I found this shawl in my bedroom,”
“Yes, it isn’t very well insulated. Here, come and warm your hands,” he said, flipping open a hot plate on top of the aga.


She smiled, thinking about the evening. She longed to check Ravelry for the shawl pattern once again, to see if by some strange chance someone had added her shawl as a project, but without electricity the wi-fi was down. Reluctantly she got up, picked up her washbag and went out into the hall. She flicked the light switch, once again forgetting that the power was still out. Then the strangest thing happened. The wallpaper wavered in the warm orange glow of a candle. She looked down the hall and saw a slight figure, dressed in white robes, holding an old-fashioned candlestick. She couldn’t see the figure’s face behind the brightness of the flame, but it lifted one finger to where its lips must be and in the softest tones breathed, “shh, you haven’t seen me.” Then the figure and the light vanished in the stairwell. She let out a strangled cry, for which she was later quite embarrassed, and rushed into her friend’s room without even knocking. He was standing in the middle of the bedroom with only his boxers on, a toothbrush in one hand and a paperback novel in the other.

“Hullo,” he said, a frothy grin spreading across his face when he saw her.
“I… I just…” she stammered, flushing and gesturing incoherently.
“Something the matter?”
“I just… I… I thought I saw someone.”
The grin disappeared, and a look of worry replaced it. He strode to the sink and spat, “oh you did, did you?”
“Yes. And yesterday there was this trail of yarn in my room, and then I found this shawl,” She was still wearing the shawl wrapped around her neck.
He sighed, “I’m sorry, I probably should have told you. I just thought it might be… awkward. It was my grandmother you saw, up to her midnight tricks again.”
Her eyes widened.
“Come on, you’d better meet her.”
He took her by the hand and led her upstairs to the attic. “Grandma,” he called at the door.
“Come in,” whispered a little voice.
They walked inside. The attic, which was directly above her own room, was the cosiest nook that she had ever seen in her life. It was far warmer than the rest of the house – probably because the ceiling was so low – and every inch was covered in soft draperies. A thick pile carpet lined the floor, two armchairs piled with cushions and throws were arranged either side of a little woodburner on which a hot water bottle lay warming in its knitted cover. And the bed was decked in an amazing quilt – made up of innumerable tiny puffy hexagons.
Her friend’s Grandmother was dressed in a white dressing gown, and was chewing on something crunchy.
“Oh, hello dear,” she said when she saw her, then turning to her Grandson, “I am sorry. I’m such a goose. I thought everyone was in bed and I could just sneak down for a few hobnobs. I gave the game away, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did rather, Grandma,”
She looked guilty. “Care for a hobnob?”


“Really, don’t worry about it,” she assured him for the hundredth time, “I loved her, she was the sweetest Grandmother ever. And I can’t tell you how much I adore this shawl.” she stroked the shawl around her neck. They were standing in the small railway station, huddled close to keep warm. Elsie had confessed to having knit the shawl for her, and when she asked why she had chosen this pattern, she explained: “Well, first I saw the pages of the needlework book on the bed and I really fancied trying that counterpane pattern. I’m sure I once made a blanket like that, but goodness knows where it went. Anyway, I knit the square and put it on the armchair, but I really wasn’t sure it looked right. And then I saw the sketch of that shawl you’d made on the pad on the bedside table, you know, with the square in the middle and the three triangles around it. I’m sorry, you must think me awful for popping in and out of your room all the time, but you see while it was empty I was using that room as a sewing and knitting room, and I didn’t have space up here for all my bits and bobs, so I put them all in the wardrobe – you’re welcome to anything in there, by the way -”
“Ah, so that’s how that trail of yarn came to be there!”
“Oh dear, did you see that too. You must have thought this a very strange house,” Elsie had chuckled. “The end of a ball must have got snagged on something and I walked all the way up before I noticed I was trailing yarn all over the house. Luckily it came loose when I gave it a good tug, but I was winding it up for quite a while! Well, anyway, when I saw your sketch I saw what a nice idea it would be to turn that antimacassar into a shawl, so I did a quick search on Ravelry -”
“You’re on Ravelry!” she interrupted.
“Well yes, of course, my dear. Everyone’s on Ravelry now,” replied Elsie matter-of-factly, “anyway, I did a search on Ravelry and up popped the pattern! It was so quick to knit, I thought I’d finish it off so you could wear it – I know that room gets so draughty, that’s why I moved up here – and you wouldn’t need to know how it had got there and my dear Grandson wouldn’t have to confess to living with his old, silly, knitting Grandmother.”
So there was the mystery, all unravelled.
“You know, I think he rather fancies you,” she added with a cheeky wink, and nibbled at a hobnob.


He did rather fancy her. “Promise me you’ll come back again. Soon,” he begged.
“Of course,” she assured him, and they rubbed their cold noses together in an Eskimo kiss.
On the train journey home, she thought pleasantly of him, and his Grandmother, and as the beautiful countryside flew by, she cast on 8 stitches and began knitting around.


Thank you for reading this unexpectedly long tale. I hope it did a little more than amuse. You may blame NaNoWriMo for filling my head with stories. If only I could count this towards my 50,000! The sullen, ghostly photos are not my usual style, I know, but the weather demanded them. Enjoy knitting the shawl and feel free to critique my writing in the comments below. ;)


Small & Large

‣ Approx. 600m / 656yds [800m / 875yds] of aran- weight (worsted) yarn held double (including yarn needed for fringe).
‣ or approx. 350m / 383yds [465m / 509yds] of super bulky yarn. (Remember that if you use super bulky yarn, your fringe will also be chunkier).

‣ 12mm (US 17) 80cm / 32in long circular needles.

‣ 6 sts / 7 rows over lace stitch (used in wings).
‣ Gauge isn’t critical, but it will affect the final size and yardage of the shawl.
‣ Make sure the lace looks open and clear.

‣ Central square will be approx. 44 [58]cm / 17 [23] in wide.
‣ Finished wingspan (discluding fringe) will be approx. 170 [220]cm / 67 [87]in, and height, 66 [85] cm / 26 [33]in.

‣ Stitch marker,
‣ Crochet hook,
‣ Tapestry needle for weaving in ends.

Thank you (once again) to my marvelous test-knitters: Abby, Anni, Chooi Wah, Heather, Julianne, and Mary. And of course my lovely eagle-eyed tech editor Akshata Dhareshwar!

Suggested accompaniment to your knitting

The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton is a period film about the life of Isabella Beeton, starring Anna Madeley and J.J. Feild. If you know as little about her life as I did, I think you’ll enjoy this film, although it doesn’t make the most cheerful viewing.
Also, this Guardian Books podcast briefly discusses Mrs. Beeton – I hardly ever cook or bake these days, but it might interest any foodie knitters out there.

9th November, 2011  // Layers, Writing // tags: , , , , , .
1 2

Your Favourites ❤

  • Your favorites will be here.