Head

Iced Hat

I couldn’t quite muster the oomph to blog yesterday. I was doing too much actual knitting. I have four sweaters at various stages in progress right now and I’m trying to bust out the bulky one. It grew by 5 inches yesterday.  Bulky yarn is my friend.

But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. Five inches of stockinette is not that interesting. Cables are interesting and boy do I have some cables for you.

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That, my friends, is Iced Hat by Irina Dmitrieva. I bought her whole Cabled Hats 3 collection the minute I saw it. They are all lovely cable-y  masterpieces. So many cables, some rounds have as many as 36 cables per round.
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I’m teaching a whole series of classes at For Yarn’s Sake about hats that feature different techniques. This was the project for Hats: Cables. There will also be Hats: Color, Hats: Short Rows, and Hats: Lace. (Can you tell I like hats?)
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I made mine out of Rowan Felted Tweed in the color “150”. Felted Tweed is 50% merino, 25% alpaca, and 25% vsicose. It’s a little crunchy when you’re knitting with it, but it softens up SO much when you wash it. It also weighs next to nothing. Each 50g ball has 198 yards! I got the whole hat out of one ball.  It’s light and airy to wear but still nice and warm because of the merino and alpaca.
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I blocked mine around an 11″ dinner plate to get a nice beret shape. Looking at the projects on Ravelry, it looks like quite a few people have left it in more of a beanie shape. It looks cute both ways. I’ve had it done for about 3 weeks and I’ve worn it about 15 times.
I am still dutifully reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell but I’ve thrown in an audiobook of Black Sun Rising by C. S. Friedman to give myself something a little more exciting. It’s the perfect sort of blend between Science Fiction and Fantasy, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Scared?

Every year I try to knit something ridiculous for my brother. There has been the enigmatic Jayne Cobb Hat, the bearded hat with interchangeable moustaches, a demon balaclava, a cthulu balaclava, an Elmer Fudd style deerstalker, and good old Zoidberg.

Thankfully, Ravelry keeps me supplied with endless inspiration for weird stuff to knit. This year, when I saw the SkullKerchief pattern by Knitty or Nice, I knew it had to be for Adam.

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I do harbor a slight fear that he will one day take all these masks and pull some sort of super heist and I’ll be taken down as his accomplice because no one will believe that you would knit these just for fun…
The knitting on this only took the better part of one day. It’s a 40 row chart and you are decreasing to make the kerchief shape as you go, so it’s VERY fast. I do remember finding a few typos in the pattern, but can’t remember what they were. (The result of waiting to bolg… sorry!) I do know that the context around them made it really easy to see that there was a typo and the “solution” was obvious. It’s hard to hold it against a pattern that is free.
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The yarn is Patons Classic Wool Merino in Black and Aran. I do not splurge on nice wool for Adam since the chance of him taking good care of this are about 0 to 0.001.  Usually he doesn’t even get wool, it’s acrylic all the way, but I had this in my stash already with no designated project so that is what he got.
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I apologize for the picture quality. In Portland this time of year there’s really no such thing as “natural light.” Expect the photo quality around here to remain low until… oh I’d say April.

Lucy

Were you bitten by the Lucy bug? When the Winter 2012 issue of Knitscene magazine came out this year everyone I know went absolutely gaga over the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer. We had people calling the shop for months to order the two colors of Madelinetosh Vintage that the hat is pictured in. I succumbed and knit one straight away.

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Pretty darn cute eh? A few notes about the pattern. I knit the small size and it fits the circumference of my 21″ head perfectly. However, for the small size the pattern says to knit until it is 5″ deep. I found this to be too shallow. I think 5.5″ is much better since I like hats that cover my ears, not brush the top of them.
Also, the directions for the short rows are written confusingly. The patterns says “Knit to two stitches past the last wrapped stitch, wrap the next stitch.” The designer has since made it clear that when she says “Knit to two stitches past” she doesn’t intend you to knit the second stitch, you are just knitting up to it. This means you are wrapping the second stitch after your last wrapped stitch. Many people misunderstood and wrapped the third stitch. (The designer’s clarification on this point was really snarky. It totally had the tone of “If you were stupid enough to misunderstand, I’ll spell it out for you.” That pretty much ensures I’ll never pay for one of her individually downloadable patterns.)
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I knit this one out of the new and absolutely luscious Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted. It’s 75% merino, 15% silk, and 10% cashmere. Because of the silk and cashmere it takes the dye a bit more muted than their pure merino lines. I used the colorway Hickory for the body of the hat and Betty Drapper’s Blues for the band.
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This one was knit up as a sample for For Yarn’s Sake to show off the pattern and the new yarn line. At least once a day someone takes it off the shelf and asks about the pattern or the yarn. Can you blame them? A hat this cute is pretty eye-catching.
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Molly

Hello all. Are you just now coming out of your turkey-induced food haze? I ate so much on Thanksgiving (at about 4:00) that I wasn’t even hungry until about 2:00 the next day. Delicious.

My dad came up from southern Oregon and he, my brother, and I went to the house of some family friends. There were 28 people and a 30 pound turkey.

I also got almost all of my gift shopping taken care of. Dad and I went the day BEFORE Thanksgiving and the mall was deserted. Perfect. I don’t care if I overpaid. There were no lines, no crazy people, no disgruntled employees. Perfect.

In knitting news, I still have a lot to show you to catch up. At the beginning of the month I taught a class called “It’s Hot!: Hats.” Our store does a whole “It’s Hot” series where we base classes around patterns that are “Hot right now” on Ravelry (it’s one of the search filters, check it out.) The hat I chose for the class was Molly by Erin Ruth. Here’s my sample:

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Just the right amount of simple but textural with a fun drape. My class focused on how to read a pattern where there is more than one thing going on at once. In this pattern the cable repeats every 8 rows, and the background texture repeats every 3 rows. It also was a nice refresher on cables since most of my students had done them in the past, but not recently.
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I knit my sample from a hearty wool yarn from Knitted Wit. The yarn line is called Cypress Hollow, it’s 100% Rambouillet wool and all of the colors are named for the characters from the Cypress Hollow novels by Rachel Herron. The color I used was called Cade. (I have never read her novels, but I have read her book of short stories and they were cute and entertaining.)
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This one was made as a store sample so it lives at the shop now. I get many requests to model it so that customers can evaluate the amount of drape. Some people are very picky about wanting a hat that is “drape-y but not too drape-y.”

Once I pull myself out from under the holiday knitting avalanche, I think I will make one for myself.

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Machine

You guys, I have been a knitting machine lately. I have been finishing things left and right. I have so many things backlogged to show you I could post for the next weeks straight. The trick? Accessories. Granted, some accessories (socks, lace shawls, etc.) take a good long while to finish too, but I’ve been busting out the quick kind of accessories like my needles are on fire.

Case in point: the Tala Hat by Martin Storey from Easy Winter Knits.

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That, my friends, is a seriously bulky hat. It’s knit from Rowan’s new yarn called Tumble which is a super bulky super fuzzy 90% alpaca 10% cotton blend. 77 yards to 100 grams. This hat took about a skein and a half.
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Ignore my Margaret Hamilton nose
 
I knit this as a sample for For Yarn’s Sake so that people could see how the yarn knits up. The pictures above show the pattern as intended. I did modify the patter to be knit in the round though. Rowan writes EVERYTHING to be knit flat. I don’t mind knitting flat and seaming if there is a reason to do so, but there is no possible reason why this hat should be knit flat. None. I subtracted two stitches and altered the wrong-side row instructions to reflect that I was knitting circularly.
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As written, there is no pompom, but the hat was sticking up a bit stiffly giving a serious conehead-type look. I added the pompom to put some weight on the top of the hat and pull it down for more of a slouchy look.
I think this is definitely the type of style that only a certain sub-set of the population can pull off, but I love it. If I were still in Wisconsin I would not think twice about making a hat like this for myself. For the Portland winter, it might be a bit overkill.

It’s so fluffy!

First, if you haven’t seen Despicable Me do so now. I’ll wait. Your appreciation for fluffy things will be increased 10 fold.

Yesterday at the shop, the owner remarked that we could really use a sample for the store knit in a new Rowan yarn called Tumble. I jumped at the chance because I have been wanting to try this yarn since it arrived at the shop. It’s 90% alpaca, 10% cotton, and 100% FLUFFY.

Sadly, all I have right now is a crappy late-night iPad photo since my camera seems to be playing a one-sided game of hide and seek.

I’m knitting this on size 15 needles. They feel like giant sticks and I can only knit on it for about 45 minutes before my wrist starts to hurt because of the giant gauge.

It’s so soft and going very quick. I may have a hat to show you on Friday. All camera-finding vibes are much appreciated.

Knit-a-long

May marks the beginning of the second year of the monthly knit-a-longs at my LYS For Yarn’s Sake.  Each month the shop picks a project and hosts some time once a week to work on it, get help, trade advice and modifications–it’s lovely.  I haven’t participated in all of them but have done quite a few.

Last May it was Jared Flood’s Rock Island.  It’s extremely intricate double-sided lace.  I got about 12 repeats into the border–you need 71… I’m planning to go back to it now that school is over and I can focus on things like double sided lace.  Here’s what I have:

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Pathetic, I know.

June was not a month I participated.  The project was the Radian Yoke sweater by Wendy Barnard.  I love this cute summer tee and plan to make it eventually, I just didn’t have the time or (if you can believe it) the right yarn.
July and August were devoted to the same project.  The Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.   I’m still actively working on these.  Actually, “actively” might be a bit strong.  “Reluctantly” is more accurate.  Now that the knit-a-long is well over I’ve only been working on them for an hour a week at sock hour at the yarn shop.  I have one complete and I’m almost through the big chart for the second one.
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Turns out, slow and steady does NOT win the race.
 

September was also a month I participated.  And also a project I have yet to finish.  I’m also still working on my Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti.  This one is so close to being done I can taste it.  All I have left is the left front of the cardigan.  I don’t have a photo since finishing the right front, but I did snap one after I had finished the back and sleeves.  Hopefully I will be showing this off as an FO soon.
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October was another intense lace project–the True Love Stole by Wendy Johnson.  This was a project that a lot of the knitters had a hard time getting into (the chart is a 45-row repeat!) and I doubt I’ll ever really sit down to make this one.  I do think it’s lovely though–just too fiddly for me currently.  Maybe someday I’ll want something really fiddly and I’ll come back to this one.
November and December were devoted to the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I didn’t get in on this project either because finals were just heating up for fall term and I didn’t have the time.
January was scheduled as a “catch-up” month and I spent some extra quality time with Dahlia–after you finish the lace back it’s a never ending sea of stockinette.
February was the first project that I actually finished (don’t judge!) and only because it was a hat.  The Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos was a nice quick knit and allowed me to use up some silk-alpaca handspun I was itching to find a project for.
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Yeah for small victories!
 

March and April was another two-month project with a twist.  We got to choose to either make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan or the Wildflower Cardigan both also by Alana Dakos.  Some crazy women decided to knit both since we had two months.  In two months I didn’t even manage to finish the back piece of the Wildflower.  I don’t have a picture of my progress yet since right now it’s just a big slab of stockinette.  All of the fun is on the front of this one.  When I get something more interesting than a rectangle of stockinette I’ll show it off.
Now, year two is kicking off with a beautiful little shawlette from Ysolda Teague–the Pear Drop.  Do you think I will be able to finish within the month?

Rustling Leaves

This project has been done for a while.  I just, sort of, forgot that it was blocking on the table and left it there for two weeks neglected to show you.  It’s Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos from the book Coastal Knits.  There are some seriously beautiful patterns in this book.  Peter, lucky dude that he is actually did some of the test knitting so he got an early sneak peak.  This cute little beret was the February knit-a-long at my LYS.

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This is the hat pre-blocking when it had more of a beanie shape.
I used some yarn that I had spun from an Abstract Fiber roving.  The fiber was an alpaca/silk blend that spun very smoothly.  The colorway is called Mt. Hood Rose.  It really wanted to be a fingering weight yarn even though my original spinning plan was for it to be sport.  All for the good since this pattern calls for fingering.
I made one tiny modification to the pattern based on the project notes of other people on Ravelry.  Many had complained that the brim of the hat was loose.  Since alpaca is known for stretching out, I really wanted to combat the possibility of a too-loose brim.  I used a smaller needle than called for for the brim ribbing a US 1 instead of a 2 and did a 1×1 twisted ribbing rather than a standard ribbing since twisting stitches tightens them up.
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I was stretching when my brother snapped this picture, it’s not very flattering for me, but it shows the hat nicely.  Notice the beret-y shape now that it’s been blocked.
 
As soon as I finished knitting I snapped a few quick pre-blocking photos then gave it a quick soak and stretched it around a dinner plate to block it into proper beret shape.  I set it out of the way where the cats wouldn’t bother it then forgot about it became very busy.  When I rediscovered it a few weeks later  it was like getting a new hat for free.  I was happy.
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So happy I put it on and took pictures right away, not even caring that it clearly did not match my shirt at all.

 

Wanderer Cap

This week I knit a hat in 2 days.  Really, I could have easily done it in one day but I didn’t have my dpns on hand the first day to finish the crown.  I love instant gratification projects.

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I love the book Weekend Hats that was released in the fall.  It’s got some amazing hats in it, and this one is no exception.  This is Wanderer Cap by Jared Flood.  It’s pretty simple.  Mostly garter stitch with 6 slip stitch cables that twist around the crown in a spiral.  The pattern is only charted, not written.  I found that after a few rounds I could “see” where the pattern was going and didn’t have to refer to it every row.
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The yarn I used was amazing.  It was Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama, 100% llama, colorway dark brown.  (Sometimes I like it when colors have obvious names rather than fanciful ones.)  It’s amazingly soft.  Ryan loves Alpaca and this has the same silky smooth texture.
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Since I know that other camelid fibers like alpaca can lose shape I knit this hat entirely on size 6 needles rather than the 7s and 8s called for.  It looked very small coming off the needles, but after washing and blocking over a balloon it ended up the perfect size.
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Man do I love that smile!
 
Ryan says it is the best beanie I have made for him yet.  This sounds like a challenge.

Picky Hat

My latest design is available on Ravelry now!  I’ve been meaning to get this hat design down on paper for a long time.  I decided to hustle and get it out to test knitters before school started at the end of August.  I’ve gotten some great feedback and I’m finally confident enough that the errors have all been caught to release the pattern.

Ryan is picky about what knits he will wear.  He has very strict ideas about what is manly.  I’ve combed the ravelry database of men’s patterns over and over having him reject 95% of the hats I propose.  Finally I decided to get as much info from him about what he wanted and come up with something on my own.  This is the end result:

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This is not Ryan modeling, this is my brother Adam.  He’s 6’10”, that’s why the photo is taken looking up at him, I can’t get far enough away from him to get a picture that looks like it’s taken straight-on and still shows off the hat. 

I call the pattern Picky because it was designed because of Ryan’s rejection of most other patterns.  It’s knit on size 6 needles using worsted weight yarn.  When knit to gauge, the fabric produced is nice and dense without being stiff, perfect for a winter hat.

The yarn I used for this hat is Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere–72% merino, 15% nylon, 13% cashmere.  It’s very very soft and I have absolutely no complaints about the yarn itself.  (It looks like it might pill under abrasive use, but hats aren’t usually treated that roughly and I hate it when people use merino yarn then complain when it pills… that’s like cooking with real butter then complaining that your food is fattening… um duh, take the good with the bad.)  My only complaint is the put up of the yarn.  There are only 87 yards per ball.  At $8/ball it makes for a pretty expensive project, even for smaller items.  It also means weaving in more ends than usual which annoys me greatly.

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My brother deserves some major props for modeling in these pictures.  It’s about 90 degrees outside in those photos and I had him modeling this and the Habitat I finished during the same “photo shoot.”  He was a pretty good sport about it.  I told him to pose as manly as possible, this is what he came up with:

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I wouldn’t want to mess with that.