Posted in Projectile

Many Hats

The knitting guild I belong to has a service project making hats for preschoolers in the tri-county early childhood programs. Our annual goal is 600 hats. That’s a lot of hats, even for a guild with 53 members! I’m doing my best to knit 12 a year, or 1 each month. Hats are a fun way to try out new techniques. They’re also a good way to use up the acrylic yarn that appears out of nowhere around these parts.

The most recent hat is also my first attempt at brioche knitting. Brioche isn’t really hard, but I am also saying that from the vantage point of never having done two colors brioche, or shaping, or pretty much any advanced technique beyond brk1 and brp1.

I chose Purl Soho’s “Fluffy Brioche Hat”  over 88 sts for my novice brioche project. Their patterns are always very well-written, whether you’re a newbie or an expert, and this is no exception. To use up bits of yarn, I used one color for the cuff and crown and a variegated color for the body of the hat. It was a fantastic game of yarn chicken that left me with less than a gram of the solid blue, and none of the variegated when all was said and done. Yes!

fluffy brioche hat The only thing I don’t care for on this hat is how the crown comes out like a square. If I do it again (and I probably will), I’ll probably add one or more decrease columns to the four called for in the pattern, to give it a “rounder” shape. These were done on size 7 needles for the cuff and size 5 needles for the body and crown (I think the pattern calls for 4s, but I didn’t have 4s in 16″ circs).

Other charitable hats of note are the Sunset Hat, which is a cool but easy colorwork pattern that gradually changes from one color to another. You can use a lot of different combinations of colors for effect. I like using black with a vibrant contrasting color: 20170315_004306

But I also liked how these pastels look:
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That particular hat used a mercerized cotton yarn, which has really crummy stitch definition. Not well-suited for colorwork, either. But it’s very soft, which is important in kids’ hats. Anyway, here is the Sunset hat in another color scheme:

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I really like these gradual color changes as an alternative to stripes.

Other favorite charity hat projects are Kitimat, which is similar to the Sunset hat but only uses two colors. I did mine in black and ivory. This picture is before blocking, which is why some of the “V”s are wonky.
Kitimat I also made the Strib Hat, over 80 sts, almost exactly as written. That’s another well-written pattern, simple but elegant. I used TECHknitter’s 3-in-1 join on cast-on edge, and back-join technique for jogless stripes.

Streb hatLast but not least, Declan’s hat is a cable-y beanie that works up quickly but looks deceptively complicated. I enjoyed this one a lot. It’s done on size 6 needles over 96 stitches (cables “suck in” your fabric, so they usually take more yarn).

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Other patterns I’ve enjoyed for this ongoing project are:

Classic Cuffed Hat by Purl Soho
The Able Cable Hat
Slip Stitch Stash Hat
Creepers All Around

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Posted in Projectile

53 Christmas Balls*

*left to go

L, M & I took a class at our LYS (gosh, it’s so strange to write that… after all this time, we finally do have a LYS!) in December, a sort of knit-along to the Arne & Carlos book 55 Christmas Balls To Knit.  For me, the class was more of an accountability feature.  Without it, I would have bought the book, stashed it on a shelf, and never made a single ball.  Having a scheduled time (and paying money to go) made certain I finished at least one.  As it was, I ended up making two.

The ornaments are fairly simple, consisting of four identical “panels” repeated over each of your four DPNs.  They are knitted in the round, stuffed, then sewn shut- and then decorated if you are so inclined.

My first project was Ornament #31, which had a four-hearts-in-a-diamond motif on each panel.  We were given Ella Rae Classic yarn to work with, which is a worsted weight wool.  The book calls for a fingering weight wool.  I do intend to knit one (some?) with fingering weight to see how they look with a finer yarn.  The Ella Rae was adequate for a little project like this.

julekuler no. 31

I shoved as much Polyfill into this sucker as I thought it could take, sewed it up with a darning needle, then made a bastardized I-cord with two strands each of the red & white. I sewed that onto the bound-off edge/hole and made a hanging loop. It’s cute but too thick with the worsted yarn. If I get ambitious I’ll try it with fingering weight, but a single strand of worsted yarn was a nice enough hanger without too much trouble..

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With the second ball, I decided I ought to start from the beginning of the book (instead of the dead middle, where I normally begin things). So Ornament #1 is actually my second project.

This time I shoved twice as much Polyfill in and boy, did it make a difference. My second ornament is huge compared to the first, and also much stouter. It feels like a ball instead of a knitted floppy roundish thing. There’s such a difference I may unwork the first one a bit and get some more filling into it.

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I also did a little duplicate stitching over the edges of the snowflake motif on ball #1 to give it a glinty look. Next time I will probably do snowflakes in a more appropriate color, rather than yellow. Hey, I was just using up some yarn left over from the Harry Potter scarf.

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I recently met someone who had knitted a couple dozen of these. She knitted them flat on two needles, then seamed each one up the back. I didn’t care for the look- I think the DPNs make a huge difference. The seaming could have been better but, even if it was flawless, it still would have left a funny ridge. Plus, who wants to seam? However, the one advantage to the flat technique is that she could use a styrofoam craft ball for the “filling”. I suppose you could knit in the round on DPNs over one but it would probably be pretty tricky.

Posted in Projectile

Hats.

I’ve never been much of a hat maker (or even much of a hat wearer, for that matter).  It seems like most people get into knitting-in-the-round by doing a hat.  Not me.  I went straight to socks.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like hats, though.  Hats are fine, and I’ve made a few.  The first one I ever knitted was a plain old ribbed stocking hat for my husband.  Then I made a cool colorwork hat for my brother and another one, in a colorwork class last year, that went to my daughter.

This year I made two chemo hats.  The first was for my mom’s best friend, Mary.  Mary lives in a cold part of the country and I thought she could really use something warm and cheerful to keep both her head and her spirits warm.  Coincidentally, L turned me on to some new yarns by Quince & Co, so we decided to make hats for Mary with their bulky weight Puffin.  Great yarn.  The colors are very muted, and as such I didn’t really care for the color of the pink I ordered.  But the yarn is lovely and soft and well-crafted and in every other way delicious and wonderful.

With one skein of Puffin I made an adult-sized Yarrow.  This was a super-quick knit in bulky yarn on size 10 needles.

Yarrow

Yarrow

The other hat was Vivonne Bay, another free Ravelry pattern. I made this for friend T’s MIL. The yarn is Red Heart’s Eco-Ways Bamboo Wool and it’s done on size 5s (3.75mm).

Vivonne bay hat

For some reason I could not wrap my brain around this pattern.  I think it’s because, five rows through the pattern repeat, you slide the stitch marker one st to the right, and then back again two rows later.  In any case, it took me three attempts to get through the first repeat.  After that, I finished the hat in about a day.  If I were to do this pattern over again, though, I would add another pattern repeat.  It fit fine circumference-wise, but seemed kind of short.

Posted in Projectile

They Be Mine

I finally finished the Be Mine socks. It only took a year, but they are done. Done! And comfortable! And I’ve worn them twice already! Best of all, they make people at the kids’ ballet school jealous. Can’t ask for more than that out of a pair of socks.

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Now, these aren’t the best pair of socks I’ve knitted.  There are a few gaping holes on the legs where I obviously had not quite mastered the concept of knitting two socks on one circular needle.  I am very disappointed with myself for not noticing that until I had taken them off the circular and on to DPNs for the heels (because, by that point, I was really done with fussing about on one circular- we all have our comfort zones and I was way out of mine).  Oh well.  They aren’t unraveling or anything.

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I followed the pattern’s instructions and knit these on one 2.75mm (US 2) circular needle. I also used the recommended 40″ circular cable. But honestly, I think that is just too short for two socks. If I did socks again on one circular, I’d use a longer cable.

After turning the heels, I switched to a size 2.25mm (US1) set of DPNs. My foot is very narrow and socks never quite seem to fit right. (Conversely, my legs are fat, so you can see where I would have some trouble with fit.) This was a great idea. I now have snug feet and comfortable legs. Win.

This pattern comes from 2-At-A-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. And while I may sound kind of down on the whole one-circular-needle method, I have to say a few things about this book. 1: I didn’t knit my socks all the way on one circular, which is kind of like changing a recipe and then giving the original recipe a bad review. 2. The patterns are GREAT. There are some gorgeous ones in this book. I am about to cast on another, in fact (on DPNs). 3. It’s a well written book and, if you are just learning to knit socks and aren’t already steeped in the DPN tradition, you may very well find the singular circular needle much less intimidating than juggling 10 pointy ends.

Posted in Projectile

A bunch of FOs

I’ve been bad about blogging my FOs (and WIPs, and new projects, and pretty much everything). It seemed like a good idea to tie things off and weave in ends, so to speak.

First of all, I finished Gail, in time to wear it to both a funeral and the wedding for which it was intended. It was very bittersweet that my cousin, D, who passed away after battling cancer for years, requested everyone wear purple to her funeral. So while I am not overly pleased that I did run out of yarn and ended up using some solid purple for the border, it was nice to have a handmade thing to wear on that day in her memory. I also ended up entering it in the county fair, and won a second place ribbon (as did friend L, who entered a lace baby hat). Our first reaction was, “yay! we got ribbons!”, quickly followed by, “we didn’t get BLUE ribbons ! Must try again next year!!” I want a blue ribbon, dammit.

I have also managed to finish a few small things, like a frog bath puppet (pictures are somewhere) and a set of crocheted shamrocks for a friend’s Race For The Cure event.

Posted in Projectile

Circular Place Mats

I made these cotton place mats as a Christmas gift for my mom. She lives in Florida now, and done in a bright yellow yarn, they remind me of the Sunshine State.

Table Setting

The pattern comes from “Traditional Victorian Whitework To Knit & Crochet for the Home” and is simply called Circular Place Mats. It is surprisingly easy, worked over no more than 25 stitches at a time.   Short rows and yarn overs make the spiral pattern.  I knitted these with Sugar’n Cream cotton in yellow.

Place mat in use

The pattern picture shows a closed center hole, but when I tried doing that it looked very sloppy. So I just left the small hole in the center. It looks better that way.

Finished Placemats

Mom has a hexagonal table, so I made her a set of six placemats.

Mom's set

As soon as she got back to Florida after the holidays, she sent me a photo of her new placemats on their table.

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A few days later, she said they had visitors for dinner and one of their friends asked where she had bought them.

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I am pretty sure that’s supposed to be a compliment.  🙂

Posted in Projectile

Cabled Afghan

I finished my sister’s afghan late last year, practically a year behind schedule.  It seemed more important to take my time and do a good job than to rush through just to meet an arbitrary deadline.  But after a year and some months, it was really a relief to have it done.  This project wasn’t difficult, but it was ambitious, especially for a scatterbrained/ attention-deficit-suffering knitter such as myself.  Truth be told, it languished for weeks at a time, sometimes even longer.  Once I got two or three pattern repeats on the needles (a repeat was 50 rows!) it got too big to take anywhere.  I finally had to go out of town for a weekend with some knitting friends to get it finished.  But it’s done, and the recipient is very pleased.  Sorry, sis- I didn’t mean for your wedding gift to be an anniversary present, but I do hope you like it.

Taa Daa!

I used KnitPick’s Wool of the Andes Worsted in “Mink Heather” for this project.

Content: 100% Peruvian Highland Wool
Weight: Worsted Weight
Gauge: 4.5 – 5 sts = 1″ on #6 – 9 needles (4.0mm-5.5mm)
Amount: 110 yards/50 gram ball
Care: Hand Wash/Dry Flat

WotA is incredibly reasonably priced (1.99 a ball x 20 skeins is a bargain) but I have to say that you get what you pay for.  My initial feeling was that this very good yarn for the money, but as the afghan grew and took on weight, it wasn’t as great as I first thought.  The knitted fabric felt thin for worsted, even though I got gauge on size 9s.  The finished afghan seemed almost see-through, blocked slightly stretched per the pattern instructions.

Detail

Blocked, slightly stretched (per pattern)

But while the yarn is on the thin side, it is of excellent quality.  I worked 19 and one half skeins and encountered exactly one knot.   So while I am not really disappointed in the yarn, I don’t think I would use it again for an afghan, unless held double.  It would probaby be good for clothing since it does have a nice drape and good stitch definition.

Full View

As for the pattern, I don’t have a single bad thing to say, other than it’s written kind of awkwardly.  I was lucky enough to find someone on Ravelry who had made an Excel spreadsheet of the pattern, which was incredibly useful.

Happy wedding, sis!