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Last week, I had to prepare and send a swap package to a buddy in one of my Ravelry groups. One of the requirements was that there be some sort of ornament included with the other goodies. I knit Christmas lights when I participated in this swap a couple of years ago and was… less than satisfied. They turned out like little jalapeño peppers. Cute, but not what I was going for.

I’m currently on a colorwork kick, so while perusing my library, I took a long, loving look at one of my newer books – Alice Starmore’s Charts for Color Knitting in its new, expanded edition. And that’s when it hit me. I could get a little fix of colorwork  AND fulfill my ornament requirement in the same dose. (I’ll review the book later on this week. It’s fantastic.)Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of my first ornament. It had a few blocking issues and finished drying/blocking just in time to stuff it carefully in the box to go to (destination redacted). I knit another one, and while the results aren’t quite what I was hoping for, it’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about. So here’s the recipe. Take your favorite stranded colorwork motif chart and plug it in to make a quick little two-sided ornament – you’re knitting a tube that has one motif on each side, or a colorwork band that runs all the way around, or even just a stitch pattern knit in the round.  The sample shown below is a one-motif-on-each-side ornament. My husband, after much consideration, calls this motif “The Bacon Reindeer.”

239 by ArbreDeJosue
239, a photo by ArbreDeJosue on Flickr.

Materials: I probably used 20 grams of worsted weight yarn (sample shown in Cascade 220 – a bright red and a natural) – 14-15g of red as the MC and 5-6 g of the natural as the CC. I knit the original and sample on US7/4.5mm DPNs, though with my gauge using Cascade 220, I can do these on 9″ circulars from here on out. (Your mileage may vary, and you can use whatever weight of yarn you’d like with the size of DPNs or circulars that you’d normally use to do stranded colorwork in that weight of yarn.)

CO twice the number of sts in your chart + 8. (This will provide you with a 2-stitch border on both sides of the chart on both sides of the ornament; if you’re going to knit a continuous band/border motif, just cast on the number of sts that you need since no border sts to separate motifs are necessary.) Use a fairly elastic cast-on method, or CO with needles that are a size or two larger than what you’ll use for the main body of the ornament, since stranded colorwork is less elastic than plain stockinette.

Using MC, knit 2 rows in St st.

Work your chart, but if you’re working a single motif on each side and not a continuous band, DON’T FORGET to knit the 2 border sts at the beginning and end of each chart repeats. I think I tinked three or four rows because I started right in on my chart on this sample. D’oh.

Once the motif’s done, using MC again, knit 2 rows in St st.

Bind off, again using a stretchy bind-off method or larger needles. Wet block to size desired. Be patient and let the thing dry. Needle-tweak any troublesome spots in your colorwork.

Using CC, whipstitch both edges closed.

Knit i-cord that measures (the length of your ornament + 1″ / 4cm), leaving a 6″ tail on both ends. The tails will be used to secure this i-cord hanger to your ornament.

Use the tails to sew each end of the i-cord to the top corners of the ornament; if your ornament is much larger than about 4″/18 cm square, however, you may want to attach the i-cord hanger an inch or so in from the corners. The sample ornament was somewhat heavier than anticipated and bows in the middle. Boo.

Voila-with-an-accent-grave. You have an ornament! It would work equally well with the more solid stitch patterns from Barbara Walker’s treasuries or another stitch dictionary – just leave out the border stitches and work continuously in the round. (You could use lacier patterns but would probably need to attach a contrasting lining.)