Quick Knitted Ear Warmer

I found this delicious skein of yarn in my stash the other day – a lovely chunky blend of wool, alpaca and silk – and thought it might make a nice hat.

Whilst I was thinking about what style of hat I changed my mind though.  The weather is turning colder, but when the sun is out it is still nice and warm, so I thought that maybe a headband might be a better option.  Just enough to keep your ears warm.

This is my better half and my dog on a beautiful Autumn morning recently – I was quite warm!

Then I got thinking about a style and decided on something simple. My reasoning? Well, there are lots of you out there at the moment who are very busy learning to knit and you need more simple patterns, to help you learn.   So, here it is.  A quick headband pattern.  I prefer to think of it as an ear warmer though.  It is lightly shaped and in seed stitch, so it  fits nicely around your head with only knit, purl and some basic increases and decreases.

Let’s get going shall we?

Firstly, I suggest you measure your head, or the head that you are making the headband for if it’s not your own.  The headband I am making is designed to fit a head of between 55 and 58cm.  This is measured around the head from the back, just above your hairline, over the tops of the ears and to the front, around the hairline.  Or, if you want your headband to sit differently then measure around where you want your headband to sit.  I find it is best to reduce the size by a small amount so that it fits nice and snug and doesn’t fall  down – not too tight though! Then if you need to make it bigger or smaller you can add in or take out some rows on the widest part of the headband.  I have pointed out where to do this in the pattern below.  You can work out how many rows as per the calculation in the next paragraph.

The tension I am using for this pattern is approximately 24 rows and 16 stitches per 10cm square, on 5.5mm needles.  So, if you wanted to make your headband 3cm bigger for example then here is how many extra rows you would need to do:

24 rows = 10cm   

which means that 1cm = 2.4 rows           

so, 3cm = 2.4 x 3

which gives 7.2 rows.    Let’s call it 7 rows, as you can’t really do 0.2 of a row!  So, you would need to do an extra 7 rows.

Let’s do the calculation again, just so you get it.  Say you wanted to make your headband 2.5 cm smaller.

again 1cm = 2.4 rows

so, 2.5cm = 2.4 x 2.5

which gives 6 rows.   So you would need to do 6 rows less than the amount stated in the pattern below.

Sorry if that was over explained but some people might not have had to do this before. Let’s move on shall we.


Firstly, you will need some chunky yarn and a pair of needles.  Any yarn can be used.  I used a skein of Mirasol Sulka, which is lovely and soft and warm, but you can use any chunky weight yarn you fancy. You will only need about 50g.

Just check your yarn is ok by knitting a tension square.   A tension square is a square big enough to be able to measure out 10cm x 10cm.  You will need to do it with 5.5mm needles on this occasion as they are the ones I used for the pattern.  Then once you have your square, count how many rows and how many stitches you have per 10cm.  It should come out something like the tension I mentioned above (it’s in bold type).  As long as it is somewhere close then it will be ok.  If you have too many stitches/rows then you could try again using a bigger needle size, or if you have not enough stitches/rows then try again using smaller needles.  Now you have your yarn sorted let’s look at the abbreviations.

These are the only stitches used in this pattern:

k  –  knit           p  – purl           

pfkb  – purl into the front and then knit into the back of the same stitch  (increase)

kfpf  – knit into the front and then purl into the front of the same stitch  (increase)

k2tog – knit two stitches together (decrease)

p2tog – purl two stitches together (decrease)

sts   – stitches

I will show you how to do these increases and decreases later on.


Start by casting on 11sts.

Row A – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row A, 15 more times.

Row B – k1, pfkb, *p1, k1, repeat from the * over and over until you get to the last 2sts, kfpf, k1.  (you should have 13sts now)

Let’s have a quick look at the pfkb stitch.

The simplest way to view it is that you are knitting twice into the same stitch. The stands for purl, the for knit, the for front and the for back. So, you can have different combinations of these increases. For example, kfpf (knit into the front and purl into the front), kfb (knit into the front and the back).

So, when you are ready to do the pfkb, start by purling into the front of the next stitch exactly as you would if you were doing a normal purl stitch, BUT, do not slip the stitch off the left hand needle at the end (pic 1).  Instead, take your yarn to the back of your work (pic 2), then turn your work towards you slightly so you can see the back of the stitches on the left needle. Insert your right hand needle into the back loop of the same stitch (pic 3), then knit this stitch (pic 4). Then you can slide the stitch on the left hand needle off. You have increased by one stitch, as you have made two from one (pic 5).

The kfpf is also very similar.  This time you knit into the front of the next stitch, leave it on the left hand needle, then bring your yarn to the front and then purl into the front of the same stitch. This might feel a little strange at first, but you will get used to it.

I hope that makes some sense. If you need a little more help, there is a video in the learning zone which explains how to do a kfb stitch. This is very similar, so it might help to watch this also.

Let’s continue the pattern…

Row C – k1, p1, k1, p1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row C, 2 more times.

Row D – p1, kfpf, *k1, p1, repeat from the * until you get to the last 2sts, pfkb, p1. (15sts)

Row E – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row E, 2 more times.

Row F – k1, pfkb, *p1, k1, repeat from the * until you get to the last 2sts, kfpf, k1. (17sts)

Row G – k1, p1, k1, p1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat row G, 62 more times.

This is the part of the pattern where if you want to increase or decrease the size of the headband then you can add or subtract your extra rows.  All you need to do is change the number of repeats of row G by the number of rows you need to adjust by. (Hopefully if you wanted to adjust the size then you worked this out earlier on).

Time to decrease now.

Row H – p1, k2tog, *p1, k1, repeat from * to last 3 sts, k2tog, p1.  (  15sts)

If you need help with a k2tog decrease then this is how to do it. (Otherwise, you can skip to Row I)

A k2tog stitch, (knit two tohgether), is essentially the same as knitting one stitch, but you are knitting two at the same time instead.

Start by inserting your right hand needle through the front of both of the next two stitches on your left needle, (pic 1), in exactly the same way you would if you were just about to knit a stitch.  Then wrap your yarn around your needle like a normal knit stitch, (pic 2),  draw your loop of yarn back through both of the stitches on your left hand needle, (pic 3), then you can slip them both off your left needle and you now have one stitch on your right hand needle instead of 2, (pic 4).   That is your decrease done.

There is a video in the Wool Monkey Learning Zone where you can learn how to do this is if you would like a little bit more help, or would like to watch it being done.

Let’s continue the pattern again.

Row I – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat Row I, 2 more times.

Row J – k1, p2tog, *k1, p1, repeat from the * to the last 3sts, p2tog, k1.     ( 13sts)

The p2tog stitch, (purl two together), is done in exactly the same way as a k2tog stitch, except you are purling instead of knitting.  Hopefully that should make sense to you by now. Let me know if not.

Row K – k1, p1, k1, p1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat Row K, 2 more times.

Row L – p1, k2tog, *p1, k1, repeat from * to last 3 sts, k2tog, p1.   (  11sts)

Row M – p1, k1, p1, k1, continue in this way to the end of the row.

Repeat Row M, 15 more times.

Cast off your remaining 11sts, not too tightly though!

You have nearly finished now.  All you need to do next is sew the two ends of your headband together, then sew in any remaining ends.

Hopefully it should look something like this when it is done.  Although you will probably make a better model than me.  (I really don’t like having to do my own modelling – yet another lockdown drawback!)

I hope some of you beginners (or non beginners) will enjoy having a go at this one. 

Happy Knitting !



p.s.    It turns out that this size is actually quite a bit more versatile than I thought it was going to be.  My 9 year old has decided that this ear warmer is now hers and it fits her quite well!   I suppose that means I will have to make another one…


Schlumbergera – Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus?


I have to admit that I have never really thought about Thanksgiving very much.  Being British, not American, it doesn’t really enter into my calendar of events.  I do like the idea of celebrating the harvest and the previous year’s success,  with family or friends and a slap up dinner though.  Who doesn’t like a good family dinner?  

I can almost hear you thinking, ‘What has this got to do with cacti?’.

Well, one of my cacti is flowering prolifically at the moment.

This is my Schlumbergera. 

I have had it several years now.  It started life as a single leaf which was given to me by a dear old friend many moons ago, shortly before she passed away.  It had a great start, grew a few stems, settled into life nicely, then was eaten right down to the stump one night by my daughters escaped hamster!  (Hammy – was a very cheeky but loveable hamster).

Obviously I forgave him and luckily I rescued my cactus and started it growing again.  It had a couple more years of peaceful and uneventful growing time.  Hammy passed on sadly and was replaced by Snow White, hamster number two. 

One day, just as my cactus was about to flower I made the mistake of moving it to a different windowsill.   I thought we might be able to look at it better whilst it flowered.  To my dismay and disbelief, this coincided with another round of hamster escape episodes and my cactus was decimated yet again, this time by Snow White.    I have no idea what it about these cacti that hamsters like so much, but I can only assume that they must be very tasty to them.   This is Snow White – unlike Hammy, she was a bit of a lunatic.

Anyway, several years later my cactus has finally reached a big enough size to flower.  We no longer have any hamsters and there is no risk of being munched anymore.  The strange thing is I always thought it was a Christmas Cactus.    But, it’s flowering now and unless I’ve been asleep for a month, it’s not Christmas yet.     

I did a little bit of reading last night and realised that there are actually two main types of Schlumbergera.  Christmas ones, (Schlumbergera bridgesii),  and also Thanksgiving ones, (Schlumbergera truncata).   So, I guess mine is a Thanksgiving Cactus, not a Christmas Cactus.  Well I never!

They have very subtle differences but are both beautiful.   Here is one of my others, this one is definitely a Christmas cactus (it’s not flowering yet this year). 

These cacti come in a range of reds, pinks and white and originate from the coastal mountains of Brazil. They naturally grow on shady rocks or high up in trees, hence their habit of trailing ornately over the edge of their pots.

Just to confuse things even further, don’t forget about the Easter Cactus.  The modern name for this is Hatiora gaertneri, but has also been known as the Schlumbergera  gaertneri I believe (as well as other names).   They are incredibly similar, with just subtle differences between the leaves and flowers.  This is one of mine, see if you can spot the difference!

Just in case you have had enough of reading about cacti now, how about a little bit of knitting or crochet?   I haven’t had time to create a pattern of my own for you to make your own Schlumbergera cactus, but I have had a good rummage around on the internet for you to see what was already out there.

There aren’t many!

Here is a crochet pattern from Planet June, looks good but it isn’t free I’m afraid.  (You can click on it to go the pattern page).

Here is another crochet pattern, on Crazy Patterns.net,  this one is paid too, sorry.

This one is free, but unfortunately it’s in Italian, from Dony’s Creations Blog.  I don’t speak Italian so I have no idea how to translate it but maybe you do?   

That’s all I could find.   I could find no knitting patterns at all!  There is obviously a gap in the market, so I really should get creating..

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my Schlumbergera and it inspires you to get creative.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Knitted Wolf Sweater

Wool Monkey Wolf Sweater

There is a printed pattern which has been sitting on the ‘must knit at some point’ pile on my desk for several years now.  It was given to me by one of my customers back when I had a shop.  She thought I might like it.   I do, I love it.  I’ve been waiting for a chance to knit it for quite some time.

Here it is, looking a little worse for wear as a glass of wine was knocked over onto it a few days ago, by an over-enthusiastic dog.

A couple of months ago I had to go into hospital for some day surgery and I knew that it was going to involve sitting doing nothing for many hours. The nurses had told me the week before that I was going to be last on the surgeon’s list for that day. I still had to turn up for 7am though, then sit there all day in my dressing gown,  awaiting my turn.  7 hours as it turned out.  I figured there was no point worrying about it, that I should treat it as an opportunity to use the time as best I could.  After all, no kids, no dog, nobody to talk to,  no disruptions.  I wasn’t even allowed to leave my chair other than to go to the toilet, which was only a couple of metres away and to be honest I didn’t need to go as I wasn’t allowed to drink.  Perfect opportunity to start a new project!

So, out came the pattern I had been saving for so long.  It felt like the right thing to do.  I had a good rummage in my yarn stash, got everything I needed together and then off I went for my day long wait. 

It’s surprising how much you can get done in 7 solid hours of knitting.   I got a good way up the back of the jumper! 

It normally takes me a while to knit anything for myself.  I usually have other projects to do, for other people or other purposes, which take priority over anything I knit for myself.  Plus, I don’t often knit during the day.  I only work part-time, but I have kids to look after, parents to keep an eye on, the dog to walk etc. etc.  Knitting in the daytime is usually a very guilty luxury.  What a terrible shame, (hint of sarcasm), that I wasn’t allowed to do anything much after my surgery.  I was told that I must rest and do nothing for at least a week. Then nothing strenuous for several more weeks.

No longer did I need to feel guilty for knitting in the daytime.  Sat on the sofa, under my favourite blanket with a cup of tea, the biscuit barrel, the tv remote and my knitting all within arms reach.  Ahhhhhh.   And relax…

It didn’t last long sadly.  The kids and my other half were only willing to wait on me for a brief period, so normal life quickly resumed.  I did enjoy my short-lived period of respite though. Guiltless pleasure!

I loved the design of this sweater, especially the stitch pattern.  It’s a lot easier than it looks.  It might look better with more contrasting colours than those I decided to use, but I still think it looks great. Helped I think by the fact that one of the yarns I choose was ever so slightly self-striping.

Anyway, despite having such a good start, the speed of the project gradually got slower and slower.  More or less directly and inversely proportional to the rate at which I recovered from my surgery.  So, as per usual it has taken me a couple of months to finish it. I finally got around to sewing it up a couple of nights ago.  On the sofa, with my dog helping by moulting all over it whilst I worked.  I can forgive her though, she has been my only companion most daytimes lately and is an extremely good listener, as well as a fabulous hot water bottle.

Unfortunately, there was an unexpected down side to knitting a new sweater whilst recovering from surgery.  It would seem that sitting more than normal and eating maybe one or two more biscuits than usual isn’t that good for your waistline.  The size I chose to  knit back in September is now ever so slightly too small for me.  So, I am not modelling it for you, sorry.  I think the extra few kg I have gained are going to have to go before it will fit me like it should and look good.  Oops.

Oh well, better get the running shoes out, I have no excuse anymore after all…




If you think you would like to try the pattern above, then I believe it is still available to purchase online as a download.  You can get to it using either of the links below, one for Ravelry and one for the designer’s website.

Quick growing beginner snood

Wool Monkey Quick Grow Beginner Snood

Anybody who has been knitting for a while will probably know the pleasure of a quick and simple project.  I’m talking about the type that looks big and complicated, but actually grows really quickly and is super simple to do.  The one that you can do whilst watching TV, without having to think too hard or concentrate too much.

It’s nice to do complicated stuff sometimes, but every now and again my brain needs a rest. So, this is my latest relaxing project.  Nice and quick and simple.  So much so, that I reckon it it will actually be a really good pattern for beginners.  It introduces a couple of new techniques beyond just the knit stitch, but in a very simple way.

It’s versatile too.  It can be done with more or less any chunky yarn and the size can be altered really easily if you fancy.

So, here it is, the Quick Grow Beginner Snood…


If you are interested in making it then the link below takes you to Etsy, where you can get a copy.

If you are a beginner and need help with the new stitches then everything you need to know is in the Wool Monkey Learning Zone here on the website.

Please get in touch if you get stuck, need more help, or if you would simply like to send me a picture of your finished snood.  ( I always love to see your finished projects)

Happy Knitting!!


Easy Oddball Triangle Scarf

Sometimes, in my stash of yarn I end up with lots of little balls of yarn, all leftovers from other projects.  Each one is a different colour and a different yarn and generally not much use for anything.

So, now and again I find myself trying to think of something to do with them. I can’t waste them after all.

Last month, whilst looking for something else in my stash, (this is not always easy – it often involves emptying lots of plastic boxes out of the wardrobe, as the one I am looking for is usually the one right at the bottom), I found an envelope with lots of very small yarn samples, sent to me by various different yarn supplies.  All the samples were too small to be individually useful, so I added them to the pile of leftovers I was gathering together.  

Something had to be made from all these yummy bits and bobs, so I decided upon a new, very easy, scarf pattern.  The cold weather is coming and so it seemed appropriate.

So, I started knitting. My dog, Red, helping me of course.

It turned out to be a really relaxing project.   Very easy to make and great for beginners. It is mostly just the knit stitch with a little bit of detail on the edges.  I decided not to waste any yarn at all.   So, rather than working in complete rows and potentially wasting some, I kept knitting with each ball of yarn until it was almost done and then joined to the next yarn straight away – even if it was in the middle of a row. I think it gave quite an interesting striped effect.

It’s one of those patterns where you can just keep going until you have either run out of yarn, got bored, or simply think you’ve made it big enough.  The shape is a non-symmetrical triangle, so nobody can tell you that you have made it wonky, as it’s meant to be like that!

I also found that there was an unexpected plus side to this scarf.   I was intending to keep it for myself, but then my ‘other half’ decided that he liked it too.  Quite a lot actually, which I was rather surprised about.   When he agreed to be photographed wearing it I realised that he actually looks better in it than I do!        Hmmmmm.      Now it is a ‘shared’ scarf.   

I think I’ll knit myself a sweater next – he won’t want to share that…..


If you are interested in this scarf pattern then it is currently available from Etsy:

If you would like some help with learning to knit, all the stitches in this pattern are in the Wool Monkey Learning Zone on this website…

Learn how to do a yarn over, or yarn forward increase.

This is a new Wool Monkey lesson on how to do an increase called yarn over, or yarn forward.

Yarn over is I believe the American name for this increase and yarn forward is the British name for the same thing.

This is one of the simplest increases, so it’s only a very short lesson.

We hope you enjoy the lesson and don’t forget to get in touch if you need any help.

Good luck!


Continue reading “Learn how to do a yarn over, or yarn forward increase.”

Beginner snood pattern

Beginner knitter?
This Wool Monkey pattern is an old favourite and perfect for both wet, winter weather and beginners who want to practice their skills.  It has been well loved and well used by many beginners.
The weather here is awful – which made me think of this pattern. I think I might make myself a new one!
You only need to be able to cast on, cast off and do the knit stitch. (If you need to learn these you can visit the Wool Monkey Learning Zone for help).

Learn how to do a knit 2 together decrease.

This is a very short Wool Monkey lesson on how to do a basic knit two together decrease, also known as a k2tog  in short.

This is one of the simplest decreases to learn and will help you to progress along your learning to knit journey.

We hope you enjoy the lesson and don’t forget to get in touch if you need any help.

Good luck!