Mad Hatter

The Sunflower Tam was knit in a day, then spent another two blocking and drying:

It’s turned out the right size, but slouchy. Probably due to using a yarn thinner than the specified one. I’m finding I like the slouchiness.

In fact, I’m now thinking maybe I’ll try out Le Slouch by Wendy of Knit and Tonic.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo of the hats blocking:

The Koolhaas hasn’t grown in size after blocking, it just turns out The Head is smaller than my head. In fact, Koolhaas now fits perfectly.

But I may be over the accessory obsession (accession? obsessory?). I’ve settled on a Knitting Nature pattern to knit for Knit From Your Books. I’m going to knit the Swirled Pentagon Pullover. My stash spreadsheet came in handy for this. I just went down the total grams column, noted the batches of yarn large enough to make a full garment, then cut back the selection to ones around the right weight, and settled on some white Naturally Sensation. Which happens to be an angora/wool mix, just like the specified yarn.

I tell you what, though. It sheds like crazy.

I also did some sock knitting. Shock! Horror! Aside from about 15 rows of ribbing, I haven’t knit a sock since November last year. That’s nearly five months. Only trouble is, the pattern isn’t coming out right. It’s was a Magknits pattern – Rainbow Socks. (Edited to add: you can now find the pattern here.) I’m going to google around for errata, and check Ravelry. But I understand the gist of the pattern, so if I can’t find any explanation I reckon I could probably fudge a solution.

Speedy Red Koolhass

After taking a week to crochet the Stone Path Hat, this one seemed to go really fast.

Pattern: Koolhaas, Interweave Holiday 2007
Yarn: Bendigo Classic 8ply in ‘poppy’
Notes: No changes to the pattern, but I used a 8ply rather than 10ply yarn and it worked fine. Found the pattern very easy and intuitive, but it’s not one for a beginning knitter I suspect. It’s a touch too long from the crown to the brim, so it sits a bit above my crown, so I may flip up the brim.
Summing up: I love it! And it’s RED.

Of course, I had to cast on the next accessory straight away:

The Sunflower Tam, in the leftover Cleckheaton Country Silk 8ply. Since I got away with using this yarn as a 10ply in the Ribbed Wrap Jacket, I’m betting it’ll work on this, too. I was intrigued to see how many people on Ravelry knit it and complained that it either came out too big or too small. It also seemed to fit and sit differently on different people. Sometimes it turned out almost like a fez, with straight sides. Other times it was slouchy.

The other conclusion I made from comparing other people’s version was that tams look great on people with nicely shaped eyebrows, or a fringe. I really must get around to having my hair cut…

The Stone Path Hat

… is done:

Yarn: Wendy Dennis polwarth 4ply (I think)
Pattern: Stone Path Hat from Interweave Crochet Winter 2007
Notes: The pattern says it uses 100 grams of the specified yarn for my head size, but the hat only weighs 57 grams. I suspect this is because the yarn I used, though the right weight, is rather thin for a 4ply. It’s also 100% wool, wheras the specified yarn is 49% acrylic, which might make a difference in actual weight.
Changes: After three repeats I decided to change to fake ribbing. First I repeated row 1 to cross the cables. Then I converted the cables to a 2×2 cable and stitch pattern. Then I crocheted 9 rounds of ‘rib’, turned the hat around and did a row of dc (US sc) and then a round of 2×2 tr and dc (dc and sc) matching up the ‘rib’ with the right side of the hat. This formed a natural fold line – completely unintentional but a bonus – so the final 9 rounds of rib sit neatly against the body of the hat.

Conclusion: I love it!

There’s enough yarn left over to make matching gloves. I’ve also decided to knit the Sunflower Tam from Knitting Nature out of the Country Silk I used for the Ribbed Wrap Jacket… and maybe some gloves, too. Seems every time I finish an accessory, another two end up on my list. I hope this accessory drive I seem to be on isn’t getting out of hand!

(Haha! ‘Out of hand’. I honestly didn’t see that one until I previewed this post.)

Taking a Shortcut

For four days all I needed to do, workwise, was read. Read, read, read… and take notes. So in the evenings I had mental energy left for wending down the complicated curves of the Stone Path Hat. It was a lot of fun and I’d like to do more crochet cabling again. I love doing cables in knitting, and I think I’m going to love it in crochet too.

I didn’t always manage to stick to the path, however. There are come crooked bits in there, but since it took me a couple of hours to do one repeat, and you can’t just drop stitches to fix errors in crochet, there was no way I was going to frog back a couple of hours work for a few misaligned stitches.

Yesterday it was back to the mentally challenging part of my work. Most of the mistakes happened in the repeat I did last night, so I stopped to try it on and consider how I’d proceed from here. I was about one repeat from a good hat length. The pattern has two options: leave the brim off or crochet one separately and stitch it on. I want a brim, but doing two more repeats – one to get to the brim and one for the brim – was going to take me another four or so hours and I could already see doing a repeat when mentally drained was a bad idea.

Looking at the pattern photo, I couldn’t help thinking it was a lot of work for a section of the hat where you don’t see the pattern because it’s covered by the brim. And the brim… the pattern isn’t as distinct there and really, brims can be rib, right?

So I decided to switch to a fake rib pattern of 2×2 straight cables and stitches for the rest of the hat, which I’m sure I can manage while mentally worn out. I had enough mental energy left to get the existing cables to either end neatly or form the new rib ridges. Tonight I should be able to crochet away in whatever mental daze I end up in.

Neon Hat

Quick and easy…

As I knit this I was beginning to wonder if this yarn was more interesting and attractive in the ball than knit up. It has three plys, two grey and one that graduates through blues and purples. A rather blokey colourway, actually. The yarn was a touch harsher than I’d expected, and a bit thin.

But then I washed it and the yarn bloomed nicely, becoming softer and plumper. In daylight the colours show up better, though they’re still subtle. I like it. It’s not whacky and attention-seeking, but not plain and boring either. I reckon it’ll get a lot of wear.

A few notes on the yarn:
It’s called Neon, and I purchased it from Bendigo Woollen Mills. It’s still on their pricelist and website. The hat took just over a ball, so I have almost two whole balls left. I noticed that the second ball had less of the lighter blues and purples in it, so you’d have to watch for that. As I said above, the yarn was a bit thin and harsh to knit, but bloomed and softened a little when washed.

I’m not sure what I’ll make from the leftovers. I could make matching gloves. It would make a good blokey hat. And I think it would make a lovely vest.

At the moment my work had shifted into a less mentally demanding (though more time-consuming) stage for a few days, so I started the Stone Path hat.

Crochet cables are curious and intriguing things. I’m really enjoying the challenge of learning something new. And crocheting in such thin yarn certainly makes for slow progress. The circle above took about three hours, though there was plenty of frogging involved.

I’m now reviewing which Knitting Nature pattern I’ll do instead of the Snapping Turtle Skirt. I’ve always love the Hex Coat, Swirled Pentagon Pullover, Cabled Spiral Pullover, Phyllo Yoked Pullover, Roundabout Leaf Tank, and Sunflower Tam. I’ve seen some of these pullovers knit minus collars. And I want to see if anyone has successfully added waist shaping, so I can see some Ravelry searches in my near future.

New Projects, Abandoned Projects

Having finished or put aside all but one wip, I had to start another last night.

In preparation for my big accessory knit-up, some days ago I’d thrown together some patterns and yarn, put them in a big bag and plonked it next to the couch. Rifling through, I decided on the simplest project, since I wasn’t in the mood for anything challenging.

I settled on the Bendy Neon Hat. This was to be a plainish hat, I’d decided. But what sort of plainish hat? In my mind I saw a hat with a folded-up ribbed brim then stocking stitch up to the crown. Like the Hello Possum Hat I’d made for my New Zealand friend. Mmm. Mistake rib. That would make it a bit more interesting. And having just knit an enire jacket in rib, more interesting is a good thing.

So I cast on 100 stitches and started knitting. (I’ve found that if I’m using 8ply/dk yarn for a hat, 100 stitches is usually about right. Gotta love a nice round number. The only time this didn’t work was when I knit a highly cabled hat, which turned out too small, which made complete sense after I’d knit it.)

The 100 stitches rule is why I’ve matched up some Bendigo Classic 8ply/dk with the Koolhaas pattern, even through the pattern seems to specify 10ply/aran. The pattern is about 100 stitches around. I figure if it doesn’t work, I’ll add or subtract a pattern repeat.

The other yarn to pattern match I’ve made was one of those nice little serendipitous moments. For my white hat I want to crochet the Stone Path Hat pattern. It specifies fingering weight yarn, but I had no white sock yarn. Because I don’t often knit with thin yarn, I automatically think fingering = sock yarn.

Then I remembered that skein of white yarn from my Old Yarn post. I’d had it slated for a lace scarf, which I may never get around to because I don’t like knitting lace. But I’d originally bought it to knit socks out of, before I realised there was no point me making socks out of anything non-machine washable.

It’s perfect. And while I seem to have enough based on the weight, there’s the extra reassurance of the hat being knit from the crown downward, so if I run out I simply leave off or knit a smaller brim.

Not all my pattern to yarn matching has been successful lately. I’ve given up on the idea of knitting the Snapping Turtle Skirt from Shadow Tweed. I suspect the ST isn’t robust enough for a skirt. In fact, I’m very close to abandoning this pattern altogether. Between the difficulties in finding an appropriate yarn and a suspicion that something that bulky is only going to enhance a pear-shaped figure, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. There are lots of other patterns in the Knitting Nature book that I love, too. And now that I’ve knit Shadow Tweed, I can see this yarn’s true calling is to become a big, snuggly jumper.

Other abandoned projects? Well, I decided to donate the brown beanie to the op shop rather than reuse the yarn to knit mitts. With winter coming, I’m sure someone else needs the beanie more than I need yet another pair of mitts.

I also abandoned the droplet scarf, after I realised I didn’t like the way the colours changed in the yarn I was using. I might try this again sometime, with a different yarn, if I can face that much i-cord.

Lately I’ve also had some exciting ideas for dyeing yarn, and quirky ways to use up my small stash of fibre. But they’ll probably have to wait until post-deadline time.

Shadow Tweed Snake Scarf

Last night it was all about finishing. I finished the snake scarf:

I love it. I just adore this pattern and I’m so glad I knit it again in a nicer yarn. Though I always loved the look and colours of the NSG Snake Scarf, I just didn’t like the feel of the yarn. What can I say? It has mohair in it.

But the Shadow Tweed is luxuriously soft. Which is why I didn’t reduce the number of stitches even though I was using a thicker yarn. I wanted it wide and long and snuggly.

(I did find a knot and bad colour change in the first ball, but the second was okay and while I only used a third of the third it doesn’t appear to have any knots either.)

I highly recommend this pattern: Kureopatora’s Snake Scarf. It’s one of those that looks complex but once you have the shaping row memorised it just flows off the needles. I did make two adjustments – the same as last time. I skipped the first and last part, which give the scarf ‘square’ ends, because I like the curl of the segments. Instead I cast on 30 stitches and just started the middle bit, and when I finished the last segment I just cast off.

I’ll wash and block the scarf next. Unfortunately it was very obvious to me while having this photo taken that it’s still not cold enough to wear such a warm scarf. Hurry up winter!

The second bit of finishing last night was the knitting of the Ribbed Wrap Jacket. Not the sewing, however.

Even though the only seam I have to tackle is the collar, I doubt I’ll get to it for a few weeks. Sewing always sets off my back/neck problem and I don’t need any more back pain during this mad deadline-chasing time.


Work, and an annoying virus that has infected my right inner ear so my balance is all out and I’m constantly dizzy and a bit nauseus, has dominated life lately. To keep my hands and neck from seizing up from all the typing and such, I’ve cut back on my internet and knitting time. I do an hour a night on each of my two main wips:

I’ve reached the point with the Ribbed Wrap Jacket where I want to knuckle down and finish it. Just a few more hour’s knitting and the second sleeve will be done.

The collar has only another 10cm or so left to knit. I managed the previous 10cm in the doctor’s waiting room, hoping in vain he’d give me some antibiotics to deal with the ear infection. He resisted, even though I pointed out I had three months work to do in the next three weeks. (Or rather, 18 days.)

The Shadow Tweed Snake Scarf is so much fun to knit. I love this pattern. It takes about an hour to do one segment, all the while watching it grow and the colours slowly shift. Last night I thought I might be finished, as the colourways had ended at a good place, but I decided it wasn’t long enough. I’ll knit three more segments.

There has also been yarn aquisition. I dropped into Kmart because I’d read on Ravelry that there were pattern books going cheap. Turned out they were books I already had, but the yarn was 25% off, so I stocked up ready for my next baby blanket:

Don’t worry, it’s not a Collingwood footy blanket. And there will be more colour. The black and white are for the base; I’ll be adding colourful embellishments later.

Old Yarn

After listening to Stash and Burn last week I found myself thinking about ‘old yarn’. How old was the yarn in my stash? Should I adopt a principle of getting rid of anything that’s been there for, say, a year? Or two? I decided to open my stash spreadsheet and add a ‘date aquired’ column, going through my blog to work out which month of which year each yarn had entered the stash.

I figured anything I got before the blog started was ‘old yarn’. That meant it had remained in my stash for over two years. Leftovers didn’t count, though. This is what qualified:

Not much, really. Two lots of laceweight (don’t like knitting lace, but the single skein is too beautiful to get rid of), one skein of ‘weavers ends’ bought in the UK (never did work out what to make out of it), some Regia sock yarn from back when self-striping yarns first appeared (but I still mean to knit it), some Cleckheaton Country 12ply in brown probably from the 70s (vintage yarn!) and three balls of Corriedale Clip (intended to felt but changed my mind because it’s too nice).

It turned out that one of my wips is also using up ‘old yarn’ – I’m using another ball of Regia, bought at the same time as the one above, for the Tilty Socks.

So am I going to set myself a Using Up Old Yarn challenge?

Naaaah. Turns out there’s not a lot of ‘old yarn’ in my stash, and what I’ve got I’m happy to leave until the right project comes along for it. But looking at my stash in this way reassured me that I’m either getting around to knitting most of the yarn I buy within two or so years of buying it, or else I’m giving away what I don’t want. When I remember that the reason I embraced Knit From Your Stash was to make room to liven up the stash with fresh, exciting new yarn, I reckon I’ve done well!

Two FOs and a WOW

Here he is:

The Evil Builder Voodooo Doll. No pins yet. I’m planning on fixing him to my pinboard with the first one, then adding one for each malicious, dishonest, money-grubbing, stupid thing he does to us.

I was surprised at how therapeudic it was knitting him. Every time I found my thoughts heading into nasty builder territory, I just knitted a little bit more on the doll for a bit. The silliness of it cheered me up, and I’d go back to what I was doing.

After he was done, I finished the Blue Jean Baby Blanket. Which made me realise how much I normally think happy and loving thoughts as I knit something for a recipient. This came together very quickly. Not having so many ends to sew in helped a LOT.

The main colour is denim cotton. I crocheted the middle in zigzags, picking up stitches down the sides of each finished square, with the intention of sewing them together in blanket stitch with the colourful cotton. But the blanket stitch stretched too much, so I wound up sewing the pieces together with the denim yarn and top stitching instead. Then I added rounds of alternating colour and denim until I ran out of yarn. A cycle in the washing machine and a tumble in the dryer, and it’s come up lovely and soft.

Lastly, I started the snake scarf last night and every stitch was a delight. Why didn’t I knit with this Shadow Tweed earlier? It’s so soft! And not just in contrast to the denim cotton. Even the Country Silk I’m using for the Ribbed Wrap Jacket isn’t as luxurious as this.

The graduating colours are gorgeous and suit this scarf so well. I keep switching between wanting to finish so I can wear it, and not wanting to finish because it’s so lovely to knit.