I'm inevitably prone to catching the knitting fever this time of year. It's the crisp temperatures and the adding of layers... what would winter be without wool? We have wool long-johns, wool sweaters, double-layer wool mittens, and the usual plethora of wool socks, hats and scarves.
But never are these wool garments tested more than when winter biking. The wool long-johns have proved their worth in stitches, wool sweaters always form one of the 3-4 layers in our full winter biking garb, and nothing could be more important than a pair of wool socks (or two) for fast-pedaling feet. But there have been gaps in our woolen armor. Even the double-thick wool mittens only make it to about 0-5 C; stationary hands get quite nippy, wind chill is always a factor on a bicycle, and the cold finds it's way through the stitches. Ski gloves work best for winter biking.
The other cold spot is the face and neck area. I have usually tried to cover all the bases with a hat that covers most of the ear, a face scarf that covers ear lobes, face and chin, and a scarf wrapped copiously around the neck. But there's always a little gap that forms between the hat and the face scarf, exposing tender ears. Our goal in winter biking is to comfortably transport ourselves, not lose various extremities to frost bite.
Hence the latest woolen duo: hood and face scarf. The hood fits neatly under a helmet, and generously covers all those little gaps left by too much mis-matched head garb. The face scarf provides a double covering for the ears and neck, with a single breathable layer over the mouth and nose. A heavy scarf can sometimes prevent easy breathing, and once you are moving along on a bike, the face is warmed by a cloud of warm breath. In the event that the face becomes too hot, the face scarf can be slid down to the chin, and easily moved back into place upon cooling off.
We are now looking forward to comfortable journeys on our two wheeled steeds this winter, covered in wool from head to toe.
For the hood, work in the round for 4 inches, in 1x1 ribbing. BO one inch at the beginning of the next row, then work back and forth in stockinette (or find a more decorative stitch such as cabling, herringbone, etc) for 11 to 12 inches. Now pick up stitches along the side edge, including half of the bound off stitches in the chin. Work one side, then the other, in 1x1 ribbing for 1 1/2 inches, BO in pattern. Sew the seams, beginning with the top of the hood, then the seams on the edging.
Work the face scarf in the same 1x1 ribbing, but add one more inch of stitches per row than the neck of the hood. Work in the round for 6 or 7 inches.