Pat, how I loved that last post. I remember when you started that Barn Raising project. It has been a while! And I have to get one of those twig balls. I have been entertaining myself by hanging bits of yarn on the Rose of Sharon tree in my front garden, just by the porch. I hang up 15 or 20 strands, then sit back and watch the birds (sparrows, mostly, but I still hope for something more exotic) snap them up. At least one has learned to grab three pieces at once -- watching her (him? I make the sexist assumption that this very competent bird is a she) fold them up tightly so that no edges are flapping reminds me of someone who is truly adept at eating spaghetti.
Here is what I have been doing lately. I have 3 or 4 balls of Noro Silk Garden Sock. This pattern is perfect. You knit it flat, as a scarf, and then sew together to make a cowl. It takes just one ball. I read through the notes on Ravelry before I started, and someone suggested starting with the first complete triangle, not the half-triangle that squares off the end of the scarf. So when you end, you seam the triangles together and if you do it right there's no sign of beginning or end. This one is done now (in the Christmas present box!) and I've started another. This time I used a provisional cast-on and will graft beginning and end together to make it even less visible where the ends are joined. Perfect mindless knitting in yarn that makes you look smart!