Christmas Balls – A Brilliant Blocking Idea

Free Christmas Knitting Patterns

My FREE Christmas Ball knitting patterns, all right here, on the Two Strands Blog.

I’m so lucky – I have the coolest, most talented customers!  Here’s a nifty blocking idea that one of my brilliant customers shared recently on Ravelry:

block your free christmas balls with balloons

She’s been using my free Christmas Balls patterns. Before she stuffs and closes up the top of one, she runs scrap yarn through the live stitches (if you’re doing the “Magic Loop” technique with a long enough circular needle, you can probably skip that step): then, she inserts a balloon into the opening, blows it up, ties it off, washes the ball, lets it dry, removes the balloon (*pop*), stuffs the ball and finishes off the top.

Here’s her photo of her nice and even balls drying happily:

Copyright Marji 2014

Copyright Marji 2014   Here’s her project on Ravelry!

Thanks, Marji, for that neat idea!


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Dale Garn Book 306 – Easy, Modern Sweaters for Adults

Dale’s new Book 306 is here.  It offers twenty designs for fashionable sweaters for adults – mostly ladies, but there are a few handsome choices for men, too.  The vast majority of Book 306 patterns are suitable for beginner to intermediate knitters.

It’s interesting to see how many very stylish garments can result when simple designs with clean lines are paired with great yarns for just the right drape. Thoughtful little finishing touches elevate “simple” to “simply elegant”.  Two examples:

ladies' cardigan from book 306

Draped cardigan design #30614 from Dale Garn Book 306

Perhaps the simplest sweater style ever designed – a rectangle with two strategically-placed slits for armholes, plus two tubes for sleeves; stockinette stitch throughout.  Stylish as could be, but it couldn’t be easier!  The yarn choice makes all the difference here – you’ll want to use Dale Garn’s lovely “Erle”, a kid mohair / silk / wool blend, to get that oh-so-soft drape.  Sizes XS (S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL) call for 3 (4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6) balls of diaphanous Erle.

beginner knitting pattern for a coat

Faux persian lamb coat, design #30605 from Dale Garn Book 306

A few little touches add up to an important difference: a bit of shoulder and neckline shaping, some simple I-cord button loops, plus wrist warmers attached at the end – nothing difficult at all.  Overall, I’d say it’s about as easy peasy as any stylish coat knitting could ever be.  And if pink isn’t the mainstay of your wardrobe, like me, you might prefer one of the several other shades of Monjita:

Dale Garn Monjita Yarn available at

Monjita yarn, a blend of alpaca, wool and nylon, looks like persian lamb, when knit.

A highly textured yarn like Monjita can be especially friendly to novice knitters – the occasional unevenness in a novice knitter’s stitches goes unnoticed amid the random curls and swirls of Monjita.

They had a brilliant idea, pairing the faux wrist warmer cuffs knit in smooth Cotinga (or Freestyle) with the Monjita coat.  When you use the smooth yarn for seaming the textured Monjita, you get a much flatter, even result than you’d ever get from sewing with the lovable-but-loopy Monjita.  So, be sure to select colors across the two yarn types that provide a good match!  (Or call or write, if you’re unsure.) Sizes XS (S, M, L, XL) call for 8 (9, 9, 10) balls of Monjita, plus one matching ball of either Cotinga or Freestyle.

Click the link, below, to see preview photos of all of the designs from Dale Garn’s Book 306:


Click here to see more of the Dale Garn books available through

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Retro Book 289

Dale Garn’s new Retro Book 289 (English language edition) is now available on

I’ve always loved their original “Retro” book, #207, which they came out with a few years ago.  So, I was delighted to see that they’ve come up with a new collection of reworked Norwegian classics in modern silhouettes.  The first Retro Book, #207, had designs for both adults and kids; the new Retro Book #289 focuses only on adult sweaters.  (There’s a separate Kids’ Retro book, which I’ll post about shortly.) Within the new Retro book, they offer several types of updated Norwegian sweaters:

Of course, they offer the full-blown traditional Norwegian knitting experience with steeked, dropped shoulders:


Steeked, dropped shoulders in traditional Norwegian-style pullovers. Men’s pullover knit in worsted weight Freestyle or Cotinga; women’s pullover knit in fingering weight Daletta.

And, for that nearly-no-finishing experience, they have included several raglan and round yoke styles:

Retro Book 289 from Dale Garn Norwegian knitting

Raglans and Round Yoked sweaters for ladies and men from Dale Garn Retro Book 289.  Ladies’ pullover knit in fingering weight Daletta; Men’s pullover knit in sport weight Heilo or Falk.

Some styles offer instructions for either cardigans or pullovers:

Norwegian knitting from Dale Book 289

from Dale Garn Retro Book 289, both knit in Dale Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn

Click here to see all of the preview photos from Retro Book 289 PDF.

Click here to order the new your hard copy, English edition of  Retro Book 289.

Click here to check out the original Retro Book, #207. (Also an English translation.)

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Christmas Book NR 305

Dale Garn’s new Christmas knitting (“Julestrikk”) Book #305 is up now on  (We have the English-language edition.)

christmas knitting book

Dale Garn Christmas Book NR 305, “Julestrikk”

You could keep yourself busy knitting from this book all year long!

Naturally, you’ll find the requisite ornaments and tree skirts:

Christmas ornaments and tree skirt from Dale Garn Book 305

Ornaments and tree skirt from Christmas Book 305

But they’ve added plenty of projects for the rest of your home, too.

Delightful touches for your cozy hearth…

elves and trees to knit

Elves knit in either Heilo or Falk, trees knit in Hegre.

…festive fun for your table settings…

christmas table decorations

…special toys for good girls and boys…

elf dolls knit with Dale yarn

Felted Mother Elf and Father Elf, knit in Hegre wool yarn

… and, best of all, quite the assortment of holiday finery for the dear knitter in the house:

holiday top

Knit in sparkling Gullfasan

ladies' vneck sweater knitting pattern

A simply elegant v-neck, knit in soft, cozy Erle and trimmed in sparkling Gullfasan

Click this link to see the preview PDF, which shows you photos for all of the designs in Christmas Book 305: Christmas Book 305 photos

Visit my online yarn shop to order Book 305.

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On Flat Charts for Round Shapes

Two Strands Christmas Ball Free PatternIt’s gratifying to see so many knitters stopping by to check out my patterns. Many of you are new to charted knitting and, as you’ve gotten your feet wet with some of my Christmas Ball patterns, a few of you have posed essentially the same question that a knitter just asked me this afternoon:

I found your Two Strands Christmas Ball on line and loved it! So, I printed out the pattern with the intention of making it.  At this point, I came to a screeching halt! I have never, in all my years (30+) of knitting etc, knitted from a chart.  I am confused by the first row, the chart shows 1 stitch, then white space, then 2 stitches. Are there any knitted stitches in the white space?  Any insight you could give me would certainly be appreciated.  Look forward to hearing from you soon.😃

So, here’s my reply:

Have you ever seen this type of map of the world?
If you were to cut it out and bring the edges together, you’d come up with something approximating a sphere, whereas if you cut out this rectangular map, below, and brought the edges together, you’d only get a cylinder:


The first map, above, is sort of like my Two Strands Christmas Ball knitting chart.

free pattern for a christmas ornament

Two Strands Christmas Ball FREE knitting pattern

If you cut out my knitting chart (well, four attached repeats of my knitting chart) and put them together, like the map at the top…

Two Strands Christmas Ball Free Pattern

they’d form something close to a sphere. Just as with that first map, the white space in the background is meaningless – it’s not part of the map at all, it’s just the background of the flattened sphere. Same thing with my chart.

So, to knit from my chart, as the pattern indicates, you start by casting on 3 chart stitches x 4 repeats = 12 stitches total. Stitches #1, 2 & 3 look like they’re far apart on the chart, but they’re right next to each other on your needles (just as parts of Antarctica look as though they’re thousands of miles apart, but we know that they’re really contiguous.) As you follow the pattern and make the increases in the lower half, where indicated (and, in the upper half, the decreases, where indicated) you’ll see the sphere taking shape and your stitches will remain right next to each other throughout, bottom to top (or South Pole to …North Pole. Ho! Ho! Ho!)

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Free Charts, Free Knitting Patterns, Knitting, Mary Ann's Designs, Norwegian Knitting, Technique | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sparkling Scrunchie, a free crochet pattern

Another early Christmas present for you – the “Sparkling Scrunchie”:

Free crochet pattern for a holiday hair tie

Sparkling Scrunchie, a free crochet pattern.

It’s made from Dale Garn’s lovely Gullfasan metallic yarn.

free pattern ingredients

I used Gullfasan in light silver #4911 for the scrunchie at the top of the page and I used dark silver #9861 for this one.

Hopefully, the Sparkling Scrunchie will solve some of those last-minute stocking stuffer quandaries.  Have fun!

Click this link to download your own, personal-use copy of the FREE crochet pattern for my Sparkling Scrunchie

Click this link if you need to buy some sparkling Gullfasan yarn.

Click this link to see more of my designs.

"Oooooh, niiiiiiice!"

“Oooooh, niiiiiiice!”

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Dale Garn Book 294 – Kids

Dale Garn Book 294, with knitting patterns for children’s wear in sizes 2 to 12 years, is now up on the Dale Book page.

Knitting patterns for children from Dale Garn Book 294

Dale Garn Book 294
Kids sizes 2 – 12 years.

I’m happy to report that Book 294 has quite a few designs for us stranded knitting enthusiasts.  A couple favorites:

Design #29401, knit in 5 shades of sport weight Dale Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn at 25 stitches over 4″ / 10cm:

Dale Book 294 Norwegian / Fair Isle cardigan knitting pattern for kids 2 to 12

Norwegian / Fair Isle cardigan knitting pattern for sizes 2 to 12 years old.

Design #29407, knit in 5 shades of either Cotinga merino / alpaca blend, or Freestyle superwash wool – both worsted weight yarns –  at 18 stitches over 4″ / 10cm:

Norwegian cardis for kids from Dale Book 294

Dale design #29407

And there are plenty more to see, including stripes, cables, textures and basic solids. Click this link to see a PDF showing full-size photos of ALL of the designs within this book:  Book294photos

Happy knitting!

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