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Konglelua creamsicle

One day, I walked into a yarn store, was wearing a stunning ivy green Konglelula hat. I also picked up a skein of Fierce Fibers Abyss (50% Merino, 50% Silk) thinking that the silk would give my Konglelula a bit more relaxed drape in the pleats. Since orange is my favorite color, I could not let go of this skein of creamsicle the moment I saw it.

Unfortunately, while it had perfect drape to begin with, it then continued to drape. And continued. And continued. After about 12 weeks, it was so loose that it was barely possible to wear it as a hat any more. It was getting to be more the size of a grocery bag than a hat. I know silk likes to stretch, but I had figured the 50% merino wool (a nice bouncy fiber) would keep that in check. I didn’t think to get any pictures of it in its stretched out state.

I decided I had nothing to lose, and I threw it in the laundry with my next full load of regular clothes. I figured if the wool could combat the silks’ initial growth, maybe it could correct the problem by felting back down to size. The hat definitely felted. It came off smaller than when it was first off the needles. The pleats also lost some of their definition.

I’ll tell you what though, the silk in the yarn was still radiant as ever. It was very difficult to photograph this hat because the yarn is so shiny! It just looks like a ball of light on my head. Overall, not a perfect rescue, but it went from being unwearable to recognizable-as-a-hat, so I guess that’s an improvement.

The pattern is only one of the beautiful designs by Ingvill Freland. Of course, I’m partial to hats, but she’s got sweaters, she’s got shawls, she’s got kids. I’d wager a guess that if you check out her patterns there will be something that catches your eye.

Have you ever immediately bought a pattern and yarn because of what someone in a yarn store was wearing? Tell me in the comments.

Purple Gray Rose

Hats are my favorite type of project to make. They’re quick. They’re useful. You can try new techniques. You can use bold colors. They’re just the perfect fast-satisfaction project.

I finished Thea Colman‘s lovely stranded hat Gray Rose in two days. It’s the magic of hats. The big flower petals are fun to make, there are some very long floats though. To avoid a sloppy inside and avoid snags I trapped the float every 5 stitches. I duplicate stitches the yellow centers on after I was done making the hat.

I used Bumblebirch yarn Quill DK for the two main colors. The purple is “Blackberry” and the off-white is “Fog.” I really love the depth of color that Bumblebirch achieves with her kettle dyes. All of her yarns have a nice tight twist while still being uber soft.

I use one of these pom-pom makers to make all my pom-poms. The hat decreases very quickly and I think the pom-pom brings the top together nicely. These faux fur pom-poms have been all over lately and I’ve been considering changing to one of them. What do you think?

Scrappy Baa-ble

One of the benefits of being a Compulsive End Hoarder is that sometimes (very occasionally) you have exactly what you need to make a hot new pattern from stash.

You know when you come across a pattern that you MUST drop everything and make? For me, they are usually small things; hats, mittens, etc. The heavier the yarn weight, the more likely I am to cast on, no matter what’s already on the needles. When I saw Donna Smith‘s playful sheepy hat Baa-Ble, I wanted to cast on that moment.

I don’t know what you do with your partial half-balls (or quarter-balls, or eighth-balls) when you finish a project, but I save mine. I have all kinds of rationalizations.

  • The finished item may need to be repaired at some future date, and I will have the ends on hand. Never mind that I have mountains of leftovers from projects that are long gone.
  • I tell myself I may want to make a “matching” something in the future and I will have exactly the right color.
  • I dream some other project will come along and it will only call for a small amount of yarn, and this will be exactly the right color for the job. I will be saving money in the future because I won’t need to buy new yarn. I tell myself.

The result is, we have enough yarn in the house that we should be getting a tax rebate for having Green insulation. But, in this case, the result was also that I had exactly what I needed. I was able to case on the moment I stumbled across the pattern. A sweater from 2008, slippers from 2010, and two different hats from 2010 and 2011 left behind enough yarn for me to knit one Baa-ble in 2015. It took three years to take photos–aside from a few awkward selfies that were a “placeholder” on Ravelry for far too long.

This super cute hat whipped up in no time. The sheep were so fun that I just couldn’t stop until they were done. Once I finished the sheep, I was basically at the crown, then poof, done. This was an extremely satisfying snap of a pattern. It’s drawn a fair handful of “cute hat” comments from random strangers–ok, yes, usually older women, but sometimes creepy men. Public Transportation ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. My version is quite slouchy. I guess I could’ve gone down a needle size to tighten the gauge up slightly, but it drapes nicely.

What was the last pattern you just had to cast on?

Resistance is… Essential

I was not able to attend the Woman’s March on Washington (Portland edition) because I was lending support to someone going through some family health issues. All day my facebook feed was packed with photos from friends around the country at various marches. Plus there were photos all over the news of huge crowds around the country. It was very powerful and reassuring to see so many women gather and raise their voices. And of course, as a knitter, the prominence of the Pussy Hat as a symbol for the March made my heart happy.

 

The idea of thousands of knitters clicking away counting down the days until the revolution is so very Madame Defarge, I can’t help but want to overthrow the patriarchy. I’ve had this skein of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. in my stash for about 2 years… basically since it first came out. When I placed my order, this skein of the color “Coquette” was one of the few left in stock. I never really had a plan for it, but as soon as I saw a post about the Pussy Hat, I knew I had the perfect skein.

There are a number of different patterns for Pussy Hats on Ravelry. The particular one I chose was Brooklyn Purl Alley Cat Hat by Claudette Brady. The pattern is free on Ravelry. My one slight critique is that the pattern uses “left twisted stitch” and “right twisted stitch” without explaining them. For the left twisted stitch, you just knit into the back of the second stitch on the left needle, then knit into the front of the first stitch on the left needle and take both the first and second stitches off the left needle together. The right twisted stitch is even easier. You knit into the second stitch on the left need, then into the first stitch on the left needle, then take both stitches off the left needle together.

I really like the way the twisted stitches paired with the purls were used to set off the “ears” of the hat. The super bulky yarn really lets the ears stand up a little bit too. And the coquette is the perfect shade of aggressive pink. Viva la revolución!

Tensfield

Please do not let the snow on the ground in these photos fool you. There is no snow in Portland, only cold, dreary, rain. We are just wrapping up one of the wettest Thanksgiving weekends in as long as I can remember.

Tensfield

This snow is actually from January… that’s how long it’s been since the photos were taken for the blog to the actual writing of the blog post. What is life if not a constant struggle to do better…

This is the Tensfield I knit last winter for Bob. The pattern comes paired with another version called Langfield, which is essentially the same hat but slouchy. Both patterns are by Martina Behm. I’ve knit several of her shawls patterns and this was equally well written.

Tensfield

Of course, the fact that it is a well-written pattern doesn’t mean that I didn’t manage to screw it up. At one point the instructions clearly tell you to knit “until 20 stitch before marker.” Well, I just knit 20 stitches and continued on to the next part of the pattern… which was much too soon. Once I realized my mistake (after rereading about 100x before I realized my error) it was easy enough to get back on track.

The yarn is Araucania Huasco DK. It’s super tightly spun so the yarn has a lot of “sproingy” bounce to it. It was fun to work with.

Tensfield

(I like that action shot of rummaging in the trunk.) The variegated yarn really makes it easy to see the unique construction and the different directions you work to all meet together at the crown.

I never much like to remake patterns. Too many good ones not to try something new. But since this pattern is written so that you can use any yarn and needle size that you want I could see re-doing it again in different weights to get a different effect. A super chunky one would be really cute and cozy!

Dustland for Christmas and 2014 Review

I really only knit one gift for Christmas 2014 and it wasn’t that involved at all. That’s really the case for most of my 2014 knitting. I only completed 13 projects for the year,  and 8 of those had been on the needs from 2013 or earlier. It was a slog of a year, but I managed to squeak this last project in just before the year end.

 

Dustland

 

 

 

I’d been wanting to make Stephen West’s Dustland since Book 2 originally came out. When thinking about what I could whip up for Bob for Christmas, this hat popped into my mind. Two days later, I had a hat.

 

I used Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Cypress. I made the large size, which, in hindsight is was probably overkill. It’s quite big. I used the full skein of yarn and actually ran out before the last 5 rows were finished. I had to use a little gray yarn to finish because I didn’t have any matching green. You can see the little gray patch in this photo.

 

Dustland

 

 

These a very well lit photos, but in most indoor light the hat looks almost black, so the gray is not really distinct most of the time. The changing textures make the knitting go by so fast since you don’t have time to get board with pattern before it changes to something else.

 

Dustland

 

 

And so ends 2014. I must admit, it was not the best year. Life challenges. Career challenges. Health challenges. Nothing devastating, just relentless. Setting goals and resolutions for 2015 feels like a surefire way to feeling disappointed in myself. Instead this year needs to be about focusing on the process. Anxiety has even been spilling over into my knitting when I think about all the yarn I have, all the patterns I want to make, and how slowly projects have been coming off the needles lately. I need to get back in touch with how much I love the process of knitting and love my yarn. Finishing is not my 2015 goal.

Warmish Release

It’s been a long time since I published a pattern on Ravelry. I have lots of lovely ideas, just can’t seem to find the time to work things out properly and make sure I write a good pattern. About a month ago I finally settled in and got one of my ideas down on paper. Warmish is now available for sale.


It’s a beret-shaped hat that sits loosely around the ears and a simple dimple-texture pattern. It doesn’t get that cold in Portland in the winter, so I don’t like hats that are very tight against my ears and forehead. This is fitted enough to not fall off in a gust of wind, but not snug. However, for those who do prefer a snug brim, I’ve included instructions for using a smaller needle size on the brim to give a tighter fit.
I knit my sample with one ball of Rowan Lima Colour in the creatively named colorway 711. I love the way the fiber blend (84% alpaca, 8% wool, 8% nylon) allowed for a lot of relaxation in blocking and really let the beret shape come out.
To achieve the beret shape, blocking is absolutely necessary. The circular decreases happen quickly and the finished hat will look a little “lumpy” until it is blocked. I used a 12″ dinner plate and got just the right amount of slouch. Some of my test knitters commented that the hat looked small when it came off the needles but after they blocked it, it grew to the right size.
I always love to hear feedback (and constructive criticism) about my patterns. If you happen to knit this one you can leave me a message here or on Ravelry and I’ll get back to you right away.

Bad pictures of a simple hat

Last fall, Bob asked me if I could knit a hat. I tried really hard not to get all ego-y, and I wanted to say “yes” but I may have scoffed a little and said that “hats are super easy.” I’m like that. So Bob asked for a hat “with a band that folds.”

I found some yarn in a suitable guy color (Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Graphite) and cast on for Jared Flood’s Turn a Square. Except I sort of made my own version of the pattern. I did not do the tubular cast on, because that’s a lot of work for what I feel like is a very minimal effect.  Also, I didn’t do the stripes, because Bob wanted solid. Finally, I made the ribbing longer (4 inches) so that the brim could be flipped up.I don’t have any good pictures of this hat, but I have some bad ones. Here is a picture that does not show either the hat or the color to its best advantage.


Here is another bad picture where you can barely see the hat. It does prove that the hat has been worn out in the wild.

Overall, there wasn’t a lot that went into this hat in terms of skill or complexity, but Bob seems to like it, so we’ll call it a win. Sorry for the crummy pictures.

 

Not exactly a mystery

I really love mystery knit-a-longs. For the uninitiated, a mystery knit-a-long is when a designer releases a pattern is stages (called “clues”) and you don’t get any pictures of the pattern in advance so you don’t know what it looks like until you finish knitting all the clues. Usually you know the general type of item you are making–socks, shawl, hat, etc.–but nothing more.

I totally understand how many people HATE mystery patterns. Knitting takes time. Lots and lots (and lots) of time. Why would you devote a large portion of your free crafty time making something that might be completely not to your liking. I get that. I have nothing against people who refuse to participate in mystery patterns. I love them. I think it’s because I am not necessarily after a finished item. I like to knit for the process of knitting. Getting a finished project at the end is almost like a bonus–I get the magic of knitting and happen to also end up with a hat. I don’t have a strong emotional attachment to the object when I’m done with the knitting. I’ve given lots of things away that I wanted to knit, but knew I’d never wear. When I can’t find a good home for something that I know I’m not going to wear, it goes to the Good Will. All of this is really just to say that I love mystery knits and don’t mind if when I’m done it’s not something I love.

Of course, if I do end up with something I love, all the better. The 2012 mystery hat pattern by Wolly Wormhead was amazingly fun to knit and also turned out to be a hat I love to wear.


Usually mystery patterns don’t have a name until after the full pattern is released. This pattern got the name Encircle after they mystery ended. Sadly, I didn’t knit this as a mystery. I bought the pattern, but I had just gotten my law license and was frantic with job searching, working as a contract drafter of legal documents, and had a full teaching schedule at the yarn shop I was working at. I watched the clues come and go without casting on. It was fun to watch the ladies in my knitting group progress through the mystery. I wish I had gotten the fun of wondering “what next.” So it goes.
The first clue was the brim, which is actually a tube that you knit in the round and sew together when it is long enough to go around your head. Because you knit it as a tube, when then ends of the tube are sewn together it makes a double thick layer of fabric–perfect for keeping ears extra warm. I’ve also found that I love the smoothness of the stockinette brim as opposed to a traditional ribbed brim.
The rest of the hat is a background of purls dotted with fun little cabled circles. The band fits nice and snug, but the body of the hat has a nice slouch to it. The decreases at the top happen really rapidly giving the hat the nice little puff ball look. The cables are small and I had no problem working them without a cable needle so I found that the project went very quick.
The yarn I used is Knitted Wit Sport Superwash Falkland in the colorway Bobbin’s Blue. I love how bright the color is. Perfect for the grey drizzly days we get so often during the Portland winter. It’s also nice and soft. I was worried that it might feel a bit scratchy as falkland is a longer fiber and longer fibers tend to be “itchier.” It’s not. It’s perfectly comfortable on my ears and forehead. The dyer for Knitted Wit actually lives in Portland and sells at many of the local shops. Her colors over the last two season have been amazingly rich and I would say that her color saturation rivals some of the big shots like Madelinetosh and Sweet Georgia (don’t worry, my devotion to MT is still strong as ever, but it’s nice to have options.)
I’m hoping that as we head into summer (summer is just starting here in Portland) I’ll be able to find a mystery knit-a-long or two that I can actually commit to knitting as the clues are published. Commuting for 1.75 hours each day on the train will help considerably if I can find one that doesn’t involve lots of colors or a complicated chart. Know of any that are coming up?

Urchin

The last of the projects that I finished early last year, before I even moved, was Urchin by Ysolda Teague. This is one of Ysolda’s very early patterns from the 2007 Fall Knitty. The reason I chose to make it is the unique construction. It’s knit vertically around your head and joined when you have the needed circumferences, rather than starting circularly and knitting from the brim to the top.


I HATE that the brim is folded under in all my pictures. I think it looks crazy. One of the problems with getting a non-knitter without much enthusiasm for hand-mades to take your photos… They’re more concerned with snapping the shots and getting out of the cold than with making sure you have awesome photos for Ravelry. Some people’s priorities are so out of whack.
(I also wish I had been told about that one straggly strand of hair, it would have been so easy to tuck into the hat. Sigh. First world problems.) I knit the smallest size which makes a much more beanie style hat than the beret shape that the larger sizes tend to form. All in all it took two days of knitting to make this (and I probably only spent 2-3 hours each day.) Nevermind that Ravelry says it took me a week to make. That’s just a product of the fact that last year was so bad for me knitting-wise.
I used a fun yarn by Colinette called Calligraphy. The colorway is call Gaughin.  It’s a loosely spun thick-thin yarn that’s a bulky 100% wool. It wasn’t bad to work with and the project came out nice, but I don’t feel anything more than “meh” for the yarn. Cute, serviceable, but I’m not losing my mind over it. I would use it again if I found a pattern I thought it would compliment, but I’m not going out of my way to stash it (unlike Madelinetosh which I aggressively horde incase of an unexpected sheep apocalypse.)
Honestly, I can’t tell you how this has held up over the past year because… I don’t know where it is! I know, I know. Losing hand knits sucks. All that work, the expense of the yarn, the memories of what was going on in my life as I was making it. It sucks. I’m a serial hand-knit loser though… mittens, hats, scarves, I just can’t seem to hold on to woolies. I’m going to have to either get my sh*t together and keep track of my things, or adopt a more zen mentality about losing them. Le sigh.
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