Last December, before my brother deployed to Afghanistan, we spent some time together as a family.
One night while we were together, I brought up the delicate subject of knitting for the military to my brother.
Me: So, I heard a story on NPR that soldiers are in need of socks. Can I make some socks to send to you?
My brother: Simultaneously rolls eyes and groans.
For the record, this is my brother’s response to me on most subjects. But, since he made such a stink about knitted socks, it was clear that I would need to be creative with whatever I decided to make for him while he was away. Here is what I did with one skein of espresso (302) Baby Alpaca Grande (Plymouth Yarn).
When his team arrived in Afghanistan, some of them started growing beards (just for fun). My brother started sending monthly photos of his beard growth status. Let’s just say the picture he sent on the first month made me worry that he might be getting beat up by his other team members. So, I started casting on stitches and I came up with the following beard pattern:
CO 2 st
Working in seed stitch, Increase one stitch at the beginning and end of each row for a couple inches or desired length.
Insert the mouth by BO 8 center stitches (or as wide as you want the mouth to be), knit seed st to end.
Next row: Knit seed st to BO stitches and cast on 8 st, knit seed st to end.
Knit a few more rows in seed st to cover the lip area and BO.
Once it was finished I picked up 3 st on the vertical end, close to the top of the beard, and made an i-cord ~10 inches long. Repeat on opposite side. The beard can then be tied easily on the back of the head and fits well over the ears.
Do you think he’ll wear his beard? Hah, do you think this will prevent his team from beating him up? Unfortunately I hadn’t sent his package out by the next beard update which revealed a full grown beard. Another month passed and he had so much hair he decided to shave. Now, his care package is still sitting in our entrance. (Beard included.)
There was just one more thing to add–fingerless mitts. Melanie Falick has a nice fingerless glove pattern in her book Weekend Knitting. Instead of working in the round, these gloves are knitted sideways. S and I have both knit a few pairs for ourselves. We love ours and they are a very quick knit.
Do you think he will wear his mitts? It gets cold at night and in the mountains. Let’s hope they come in handy.
Most of my brother’s package contains items with peanut butter. I can’t speak for all of the troops but I do know that while my brother is deployed he craves peanut butter. If you’re wondering what to send your loved ones who are deployed…try peanut butter. My brother is also a voracious reader so I included two Agatha Christie Poirot mysteries (keeping with the quirky facial hair theme). First stop tomorrow morning–post office.