Merry belated Christmas! I know Christmas was a few months ago, but it’s never too early to start planning your homemade gifts for next year, right? Handmade gifts take time, but luckily this knitted ornament is a quick and beautiful seasonal gift. It is also highly customizable, making it easy to personalize one gift for a variety of recipients.
Ornament Pattern Source & Review
I found this pattern in More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson (link here). This is the second of two books that Joelle has written (with Anna Williams) on knitting. Her first, simply titled Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, is also excellent and is worth checking out (link here). These books are broken down into gift ideas based on the amount of time each one will take to complete (the shorter projects take under two hours, and the longer ones take over eight hours). The ornament featured here is listed in the “less-than-2-hour-gifts” section. Of course, how long it takes you to complete will vary based on your skill-level and attention span. But what you need to know is that making these ornaments is a relatively quick process.
The pattern is easy to follow and requires very little yarn—another great option for clearing through your scraps. The ornament will come out to about 3” in diameter if you use a worsted weight yarn. But you can use any weight yarn, as long as your main color and accent color yarns are the same weight. I love the idea of a miniature or an oversized ornament. If you make one, send me a picture!
The 3D ornament is created in two halves, starting from the equator. You start knitting from the middle by casting on (58 stitches) and decreasing row by row to the south pole (cinch together 12 stitches). At this point, half of the ornament is complete. Then you go back to the middle and pick up 58 stitches and repeat the same steps to reach the north pole. Before cinching the ornament closed, stuff it with poly-fill. After it’s closed up, create the hanger and you are done—well, almost.
If you want to customize your ornament, you can use the duplicate stitch to add a pattern or design. I copied two ideas from the book and came up with two ideas of my own. You can see from the pictures that there is a lot of room for creativity. Symbols, shapes, letters or geometric designs all have a place here. Color can add even more excitement. I recommend doing a little bit of planning and having a lot of fun with it. The ‘B’ monogram ornament was for my parents, the Brennan’s. I personalized the ‘Y’ ornament for my brother-in-law, an ardent college sports fan (you can only give a guy so many football t-shirts!).
The ornament is created entirely in knit stitch with some decreases mixed in. You will need to know how to pick up stitches (links below). This pattern requires the use of double-pointed needles (DPN’s), since the ornament has such a small circumference and is worked in the round. Using DPN’s the first few times is intimidating. Having four sticks with eight pointy ends to manage is a handful. But if you are getting bored with making flat scarves and blankets, I’m am certain that this is something you can figure out. Below are some links if you are figuring out how to tackle DPN’s for the first time. Mastering DPN’s opens up a new world of knitting possibilities—you will love the freedom. You’ll also need to know how to do a duplicate stitch (surprisingly fun and easy to learn) and, if you make the same modification I did, how to make an i-cord.
- Cast-on (CO): this one or this one
- Knit (K): English or Continental
- Decrease (k2tog): video here
- Pick up stitches: video here
- Duplicate stitch (for embellishment and weaving in ends): Great picture tutorial here or video here
- I-cord: Picture tutorial here and video tutorial here
- Working with DPN’s: Pictures here or video here
The only change I made to this pattern was to the hanger. Instead of crocheting a loop, I opted to create a loop with an i-cord (cast on 3 stitches). I-cords are super cool looking and really fun to make. I preferred using the i-cord over a crochet chain because it creates a stronger looking hanger and it doesn’t require as much equipment. Instead of hunting down the appropriately sized crochet hook, I opted to use the DPN that was already in my hand. To create an i-cord loop:
- Leave a really really long tail when you fasten off the second end of your ornament.
- CO on three stitches (be sure to cast them on very close to the ornament)
- Knit a 4.5” long i-cord
- Bind off
- Stitch the loose end of the i-cord right next to the base of the i-cord. Wrap yarn around both cords tightly a handful of times and weave in your end to secure.
Notes and Tips
When you pick up stitches to start the second half of your ornament, do so loosely—looser than you think you should. If you do it too tightly, then when you stuff it, you will find that your ornament has a strange waistline. If your picked up stitches are a little snug, you can minimize the waist cinching by making sure you don’t over-stuff it. A little care in stuffing can make a huge difference!
Finally, a message about crafting books. You don’t have to buy them all. I borrowed the book with the ornament pattern in it from the library. I discovered a treasure trove of crafting books at our library by accident one day. My daughter and I had wandered away from the board books and into the stacks where a modern knitting book caught my eye. Until that moment I had never thought about the library as a resource for crafting. Now, I search my library’s online catalog whenever I see a craft book or magazine referenced online. Sometimes my library has a copy, but other times I use interlibrary loan (ILL).
If you don’t know about ILL, it’s an incredible service that allows you to borrow books from libraries outside of your local library system. You can search for books in library catalogs throughout the world and have them shipped and loaned to you through your local library. Ask your librarian if you have access to ILL. It’s worth it. My recommendation: before buying any new crafting books or magazines, see if your library has it first. If not, try ILL. Then you can take the book for a test drive and see if it’s worth adding to your permanent collection.
Share your pictures with me @octavesofcolor on Instagram or post on the Octaves of Color Facebook page. I especially want to see if you made a miniature or giant version!