I chose prime rib stitch (brioche stitch) because of its elasticity and thickness. Also, I love beef, and who doesn't like a juicy prime rib? I decided to knit flat rather than in the round since prime rib naturally makes a nice selvage edge for finishing and after the set up round, the same round is repeated ad nauseum (for nice mindless knitting).
I determined my gauge by knitting a swatch in pattern and measuring it in its relaxed state. I converted that to neck circumference, with the idea being that it would lie relaxed next to the neck, but be able to stretch over the chin and mouth in case of snow flurries. I cast on with a much larger needle (size 8) and bound off with a size 11 in an attempt to ensure the edges didn't hinder the stretchiness. I held two strands Touch Yarn 4 ply to increase the thickness. One could also just use an 8 ply yarn, if one were so inclined.
I can write up a pattern if anyone is interested, but prime rib stitch is fairly simple:
CO even number of stitches
1st row (set up) +K1, YO, sl1 purlwise, rep from +
2nd row (and all subsequent rows) K1, +YO, sl1 purlwise, K2tog, rep from + until last rep end on sl1 purlwise
When you K2tog, you are knitting one stitch and one diagonal loop (created from the last row’s YOs) together. The upshot--you're knitting every other stitch, while simultaneously increasing a stitch (YO) and decreasing a stitch (K2tog). This is what gives it the nice thickness that I was looking for.
As far as functionality it was deemed good--warm, quick drying, clingy, though slightly less wind-resistant than a conventional ski gaiter--that is, after the struggle of getting it over one's head. Even casting on (CO) with a needle five sizes larger than the one I used, and binding off (BO) with one eight times larger, the ends were still the limiting factors on stretchiness.
"The knitted discomfort is here, and here, Doc."
Granted, the prime rib stitch gives you a fabric similar to that knitted with a needle twice it's size (due to all the stitch slipping), but even accounting for that, the CO was two sizes larger and BO 5 sizes larger at the least. The photo doesn't quite do it justice, but the edge is pretty messy by my standards. Using a larger needle may give it more room to stretch, but it's just going to keep getting uglier and uglier. I need a stretchier method. I've never been very creative in my COs and BOs--if the pattern recommends something, I'll do it, if not, I almost always use the "knitting-on" CO, and the "basic knit" BO. This problem has inspired me to do a (psuedo)scientific experiment on the relative stretchiness/appearance of COs and BOs when done on ribbing (K1, P1 is what I'm thinking). The plan: knit 5" x 5" swatches using 'complementary' COs and BOs, with the assumption that 5" of fabric in between them ensures that one will not limit the stretchiness of the other. I'll have to consider what the actual stretchiness test will be.