Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to knit a gift bow headband

I need a new Christmas accessory for all the parties and gatherings this season and I don’t know if I’m at the sparkly tree brooch age yet. I’m not sure I’m still at the bows on your head age, but I’m going to go for it. 

The inspiration: Every time I open a present with one of those sticky bows on it, I must stick it to my head or the head of someone near me. I must do it. The sad news is that they never stay on for long, so I’m going to make one that will. You could also make some to stick on presents this year. I’ll be making the band too, but you could stick one on an existing headband, or even turn it into a brooch by attaching a safety pin to the back. 

Step 1: Measure your head. 
Measure your head (or the head of the recipient) where you want the headband to go. Subtract about 2 inches from this measurement because the band will be stretchy. If you don't want to do this, you could always check the work periodically, but I like being scientific about it. 

Step 2: Knit

Knit two lengths of fabric. One for the headband and one to serve as "ribbon"

I used Red Heart Super Saver in Cherry Red for this project and circular needles in size 8. 

For the headband: 
Cast on 6 stitches (or about 1.5 inches worth), knit in garter stitch until it's the desired length (about 18 inches for me). It should look like the world's smallest scarf. Once finished, create a half twist (as inspired by this tutorial) and sew the edges together to create something of a Mobius strip. Weave the ends in and it's finished! 

For the bow
Make a length of knit fabric about 40 inches by 1 inch. I used circular needles and cast on 40 inches worth of stitches. I didn't want to turn the work as often, so I worked longways. I cast on 180 stitches and knit 5 rows in garter stitch to make it reversible and prevent rolling. Bind off. 

Step 3: Shape the bow

This is the hardest part to explain. You can't use the typical technique for making this type of bow with ribbon (lots of tutorials out there to see what I mean) because the middle would get too bulky and the loops would be inconsistent. Instead of wrapping the knitting around itself, fold the knitting to make something resembling ribbon candy. This will yield consistent loops without the bulky center. To make the loops better resemble those of a gift bow, create a half twist (like with the headband) in each loop. I skewered the twisted ribbon candy construction on a thin knitting needle to keep it in place as I worked. I was able to make 12 loops. I found that smaller loops looked better.

skewered twisted ribbon candy
I hope this makes the twists a little clearer

Once you've skewered all your loops, transfer them all to a length of yarn. I threaded yarn through a yarn needle and went through the end of each loop as I took them off the skewer. I like the skewer step because it helps make consistent loops and you can easily start again if it's not working out.

Pull the yarn tight to make the ends of each loop come together. They should start to resemble a bow now. Tie a knot in the yarn to secure. Fiddle with the loops until they have the desired shape. I found it helpful to sew a couple of stitches through the bow to secure the loops better. This is a matter of personal taste and styling. 

Now the bow is done (except for weaving in ends and such). You can secure it to the headband now, or you could put it on a present or anything you can think of. I ended up putting a safety pin through the back of the bow. It was easy enough to work through. This way I can pin it to the headband if I want or wear it as a brooch. Don't use this method if the headband will be worn by a child. If you secure it to the headband, I suggest sewing it over the seam to help cover it. If that doesn't work, then keep the seam in the back. 

I think you could do this with a crochet bow too. I would use double crochet to help keep the ribbon pliable. 

I hope this was easy to understand. If anybody's out there, I'd love to hear from you! Comment or email me. 

Happy Knitting! 

P.S. You really do need to make the bow about 40" long. I tried and failed with a band only 18 inches long (and knit in stockinette so it curled in on itself like crazy) and it didn't make anything resembling a bow.
this is an example of how not to make a bow

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