Tag Archives: hat

A small thing

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I was going to write about my Fidra hat last weekend, but in the face of so many fantastic pussy hats, it felt weird to write about anything else. And, honestly, I was so busy trying to keep it together in the face of such beautiful, strong, thoughtful protests that I didn’t have time for much else.

Then, I thought I’d write about it this weekend, but after the unconscionable travel ban Trump instituted it felt insignificant. In the face of all the news we’ve seen in the last week, thinking a new hat is consequential is pretty laughable. But.

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This week I have spent more time wishing for the blogs I follow to post content than any week I can remember. I am desperate for inconsequential content — something small to make me feel like there are still good things happening, little blips that remind me that beautiful things are still being made and put out into the world with love. Protests do that for me, but so too do the smaller things like a post about new socks, or a finished sweater, or just a #makenine collage that represents a hopeful vision for the future.

In the last couple of years, there have been a few discussions about the slow but steady drop off in blogging. Instagram is often cited as the reason (it’s so much easier to just post a picture with a long caption), but I wonder if part of it was just that we didn’t need them so much. When the news is good (or, at least, better), we don’t need the same kind of distraction as we do when times are bad or hard. It’s okay to furious and upset about what’s happening in the world and be proud of the new thing you made. We need to take care of ourselves even as we take care of others.

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Pattern: Fidra, by Gudrun Johnston • Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts PureWash Chunk in Meadow.

Last night, I emailed my MP* to call on him to demand action from Canada to help immigrants and refugees affected by Trump’s travel ban. Today, I’m going to tell you about my hat!

I kind of missed the chunky yarn craze that started last winter (maybe earlier), but when these skeins caught my eye during Tanis’s annual Boxing Day sale. I don’t usually go in for impulse purchases (anymore. ahem.) but I can never resist the TFA sale, so I scooped up two skeins of their new PureWash Chunky in Meadow (not a regular colourway, I’m sorry to say) to knit Fidra.

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I have come around to hat wearing in the last couple of years and while I agree that I might not need more than one, it is fun to have choices in the morning! Plus, Fidra is an irresistibly quick knit — I whipped this up in an afternoon and then made that enormous pompom the next morning, just in time to combine this photoshoot with the one for my Halligarth shawl (another Gudrun Johnston pattern). I have worn this hat pretty much every day since then and I remain completely delighted by it.

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The colour is exactly what I need at this time of year, and goes perfectly with both my bright red peacoat and my dark green parka. I even had enough yarn leftover to knit a quick little pair of mitts (I bought two skeins, so didn’t have to hold back when I made the pompom, but if you wanted to get this out of one skein of PureWash Chunky, you definitely could). This is pretty much my ideal Boxing Day yarn purchase: Fantastic colour, immediate execution of a plan, no leftovers. It was also the perfect palate cleanser between Halligarth (which took forever) and my next longterm commitment, Oda, which I am dutifully working away on now.

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I love no-leftovers knitting. The mitts are a modified version of Camp-Out Fingerless Mitts (based on my previous pair).

As the Yarn Harlot often says, knitting is a reminder that actions can lead to results. Sometimes the results are quick and satisfying, other times they take concentrated work over a long period of time, but there are results nonetheless. The work matters. I’m going to email my Prime Minister today, and after that I’m going to pick up my needles and knit.

*To find out who your MP is and/or to get their contact info, you can search by postal code here. If you want to get in touch but aren’t sure what to say or what concrete action to suggest, my friend Ned recommends focusing on the Safe Third Country agreement. If you live in a Conservative riding, please also consider voicing concerns about the xenophobic and racist rhetoric coming out of Kellie Leitch’s campaign. Most Conservatives aren’t bigots, and the party needs to be reminded of that — loudly.

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The dalas of my dreams

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I first started scheming about set of accessories featuring dala horses nearly five months ago, right as I was on the cusp of my holiday knitting. It took me a while, but that set is now finished, and it turned out better than I could have imagined.

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Let’s tackle the hat first. This is Karusellen by Erica Knits, from the recent Autumn issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. I wanted a deeper folding brim, so I subbed in the one from Skiff, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the Platonic ideal of a fold-up brim. I took basically no notes about my mods, apparently, but I think I cast on 120 stitches and then followed the instructions for Skiff with one further modification: After I was about an inch into the brim, I realized that my chosen yarn* was, to put it mildly, rather sheepy. That’s pretty perfect for a pattern from Pom Pom’s “wool issue,” but not the most comfortable next-to-skin yarn. So, after the turning row (makes sense in the Skiff pattern), I switched and knit the next 2.75 inches with some leftover Shelter in Snowbound. It’s pretty invisible when I’m wearing the hat, but much more comfortable against my forehead.

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Aside from the brim, I knit this exactly as written and it was a total pleasure. It’s alway fun to watch charts appear in your knitting, and though I did have to tink back a few times when I wasn’t quite paying attention, it was quite straightforward. I made the larger size, for a bit of slouch (and to accommodate all my hair) and I’m very pleased with the size and the big pompom. I can’t remember ever having a pompom hat before (maybe when I was a kid?) but I’m quite taken with this one and think there are probably more in my future.

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Now, the mittens. The pattern is really just a few notes and a chart that you work right-to-left for one mitten and then left-to-right for the other. It’s quite barebones, but if you’ve ever knit stranded mittens before it’s quite easy to follow along.

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I did (of course) make a few modifications. I added length to the heel of the hand (before starting the thumb increases) and then added a few more rows at the top of the thumb gusset, before placing those stitches onto waste yarn. Then, I recharted the top of the hand to add extra length. I added length to the thumb as well, and changed the chart for the inside of the thumb — rather than adding words, I just continued the palm charts up the thumb. I also changed the cuff — just straight 2×2 ribbing, knit in a contrast since the grey came from my stash and I didn’t want to risk running out (turns out I would have been fine, but best to be sure).

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As an overall set, I think they work very well. They all match, but do so without being matchy, if you know what I mean. The dala charts themselves are exactly the same, just knit at very different gauges, which was a nice coincidence, and meant that by the time I’d knit all the horses on the hat I was pretty much a pro when it came time to knit the mittens! They’re quite cozy, and though I know they’ll fuzz up quite a lot (Fresco does that — it looks a little messy, but it does make for very warm mitts), I don’t mind so much. They’re nice and crisp right now, and I’m enjoying them very much.

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*A note about my yarn choice. This yarn is from a sheep farm and dyer local to my parents in Nova Scotia. If I am remembering all of this correctly (dam my scanty notes!), the yarn was milled at the MacAusland Woollen Mills in Prince Edward Island. They sell yarn wholesale, but farmers can also send in their own wool to be milled. All the wool gets milled together, and the farmer receives the same weight back as they sent in, though all the fleeces are mixed. The neutral is an undyed grey/brown and the gold/brown is hand-dyed, both are a wool-mohair blend.

I’m working on it

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And by “it,” I mean both my selection of winter accessories (which is very thin) and this hat, which is Karusellen by Erica Knits, from the fall issue of PomPom Quarterly (I just renewed by subscription, actually — I can’t believe it’s already been a year!).

Anyway, about this hat. I opted for a deeper doubled brim, because it is friggin’ cold here (currently -14C, feels like -23C, which converts to about 7F and -9F) and I wanted a hat I could pull right down to my eyebrows when necessary. I’m knitting this is quite a sheepy, farmy, rustic yarn, which I got a couple of years ago. It’s from a farm called Lamb’s Run, near where I grew up, and the gold/brown was dyed the woman who lives there. It’s a wool/mohair blend, though I couldn’t tell you the proportions, and I suspect (hope) it will soften up with a wash. Either way, it will be very warm, and since I managed to knit the heads on these dala horses last night and start the decreases, I think I will be wearing it very soon!

I wrote ages ago about my plan for a Dala set, so once this is off the needles, these are going on. And not a moment too soon, since my mittens are just about to wear through again (I’ve already patched them once…)

Return of the Moose (and the Brig!)

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I totally made it. Three days before Christmas these puppies were off the needles, blocked, and had their ends woven in, and I’m still not sure how I managed to make up that much time — call it a cliché, but this felt like a (secular) Christmas miracle.

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Because it’s basically impossible to secretly knit for the person you live with, and doubly so when you need them to try things on, L knew these were coming. I actually ended up giving them to him early since he hasn’t been able to wear the old ones and thus has had no gloves. They fit perfectly (like they were made for him!) and thanks to the denser yarn (Quince & Co. Chickadee), should be warmer than the last pair.

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I made a few other changes this time around, the biggest one being completely re-creating the chart in Illustrator. The chart in the book is impossibly small and has no numbers for either rows or columns, making it easy to lose your place. Additionally, the chart for the moose pattern on the back of the hand has enormously long floats. There wasn’t really any way around it for the actual moose (I didn’t want to make it speckled, though that does seem to be the consensus in other designs), but for the area around the moose, long floats seemed unnecessary. I charted in some little specks (a friend called them snowflakes, which is a nice interpretation), which definitely gives these gloves a different look than the other ones, but luckily it’s one that L likes.

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They go quite nicely with his Christmas hat too, which is a happy coincidence. He knew about the hat too, but I made him wait for it since he has others. This is a second attempt at Brig, and despite knitting it to almost exactly the same specifications as the previous one, it’s much smaller. L tried it on before I wove in the ends and said he liked it as it was (I offered to rip out the decreases and knit it long enough to have a fold-over brim), so I left it. It’s nice and tight around his ears, and the yarn (Swan’s Island Organic Washable DK) is lovely and soft, with really good recovery.

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I think it’s very fair to say that L is happy with his new hat and gloves. We took these pictures on Christmas day and it was definitely his most enthusiastic posing yet! (This is doubly amazing because I just realized that both of these are second-timers for him. He just likes what he likes I guess.)

Details
Pattern: The Moose at Sundown by Annemor Sundbo
Yarn: Quince & Co. Chickadee in Winesap and Slate
Needles: 2.75mm, 3mm, 3.25mm
Notes: My main changes were to the chart — adding extra specks to keep the floats from being too long (you can see the insides here) and adding extra length to the hand, which I did last time as well. I also when up a needle size for the fingers. One other thing I did when I recharted these was to make it so the beginning of the round was in the same place for both gloves. As it’s written in the book, for the left glove you knit the palm and then then back of the hand, and for the right hand you knit the back of the hand and then the palm. It’s not a huge deal, but I did notice that the tension of my floats were different on the two different gloves, and I wondered if that was why, so this time I knit both of these with the palm first. I’d say it resulted in much better tension, especially at the edges. Anyway, these are ravelled here. (And the hat is here.)

Sneaky Norby

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Other than a couple of mild days, this winter is shaping up to be a cold one. November was cold and windy, and it became clear pretty quickly that this was not a year to go hatless. I have a lot of hats, but I really don’t like any of them (I have never been a hat person), so right in the middle of a frenzy of holiday knitting I took a minute to knit one for myself (that it took another three weeks to get photos is a whole other story).

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I decided to knit Norby, which I bought the pattern for ages ago. It’s written for fingering weight yarn, but it was cold, so I decided to use DK for a little extra warmth. Despite having many excellent options in my stash, I figured that since I was breaking my holiday knitting rules* anyway, I might as well splurge. This is Shalimar Breathless DK, a merino, cashmere, silk blend, and it is deliciously soft and snuggly.

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To make the pattern work for the heavier yarn, I cast on fewer stitches and worked one fewer repeat of the chart. The whole thing was a breeze to knit, and the tassels (which I wasn’t sure about at first) are the perfect finishing touch!

This is by far the most successful hat I’ve ever knit for myself. I’m not sure this will be warm enough if the weather gets as cold as last year, but for now, Norby is perfect.

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Details
Pattern: Norby by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Shalimar Breathless DK in Scarab
Needles: 4.5mm
Notes: Followed the pattern exactly as written, but used a different stitch count. Ravelled here.

*As a general rule, once October rolls around, I focus on my holiday knitting until it’s finished. It’s the only way I know to get it all done without scrabbling around alone on Christmas Eve. So far, despite Norby sneaking in there, I’m still on track to finish with a healthy buffer.

There’s something in the air

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I’m not sure why, but even though neither L or I experience back-to-school anymore, this time of year is always hectic and disorganized, with a what feels like 80 things happening all in different places, all crammed into the same small window of time. I think we’re at the edge of it now, but wow.

Anyway, thank goodness for knitting, you know? It’s hardly a new observation to say that it really is soothing, but I definitely notice it most when my knitting feels like a calm little retreat. Of course, with so much on the go I didn’t feel like I’d been making much progress on anything, but then I pulled out my WIPs and things are looking okay.

Here’s what has been keeping me calm over the last two weeks.

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Stasis, of course. I’m just about to start the body decreases, which means I’m about six inches from joining the arms and then working the yoke. I have this crazy plan that this weekend I can sew myself a skirt (this one) and knit this up to the armscye. We shall see.

betula2After barely touching my Betula socks since we got back from California, I picked them up two weekends ago. They’re great travel knitting (as I said before) and were perfect for the long drives and train rides that characterized our last two weekends. I can only assume my ambitious plans from this weekend are due to my lack of at-home downtime this summer. (I don’t know about your summer weekends, but mine tend to book up pretty quickly. This will be my first weekend in ages that I get to spend at home with only my own whims to direct it. I can’t wait.) 

Anyway. Betula remains totally enchanting. I’m half-way through the gusset decreases on the second sock, so once I get a chance to pick them back up they’ll fly right off the needles I’m sure. (I have another trip in a couple of weeks — details to come, but it’s fun — so if they aren’t done before that, they’ll for sure be finished after it).

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Surprise! I cast on this hat a few weeks ago because every year I decide I’ll start my holiday knitting in the summer and every year I don’t (and then every holiday season I chastise myself for it). I could see that cycle was happening again this year, so I wound up the two skeins of Swans Island DK I picked up in Nova Scotia in the spring and cast on for L’s annual hat. This is Brig again, but I knit the smallest size this time, on a smaller needle, and the fit is perfect (he just tried it on so I’d know whether I needed to re-knit it, but it’s going to be tucked away now). The smaller needle meant my row gauge was tighter, so despite only starting the decreases 1/4 inch earlier, the overall hat is about 2.5 inches shorter, which means no fold-up brim. I offered to rip back the top and knit it longer, but L says he likes it as is, so I’m leaving it (perhaps there’s a third iteration of this pattern in my future?)

So there you have it. I’m slowly getting my routine back, and with that will come more regular posts (and, hopefully, more regular finished things to post about!) 

 

To the Brig

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Every year for the last three years winters, I have knit L a hat. (I can’t say years, since I missed 2013 entirely, but oh well.) I still haven’t gotten it quite right, but there’s nothing like a challenge to keep you on the case.

It comes so close to matching the scarf I knit him! Maybe a Brig scarf is in order some day?

It comes so close to matching the scarf I knit him! Maybe a Brig scarf is in order some day?

This year, for his birthday (which was yesterday!) I knit him Brig by Veronik Avery, which was part of Brooklyn Tweed’s BT Men collection. I even used Shelter, which I picked up when I was in New York in October. I know that some people find Shelter a little scratchy, but I love it. It offers a rustic look but is, in my opinion anyway, very soft and pleasant to wear, especially after blocking.

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For some reason, I thought it would knit up tightly (my Scrollwork came out a bit small, you may recall) so while I didn’t go up my usual needle size, it didn’t even occur to me to go down a needle size. But, the thing about Shelter is that it’s loosely spun. This makes it airy and light and warm, but it also makes it a bit fragile, so where I might usually pull on the yarn to keep it tight, with Shelter I didn’t. The result is a hat that fits, but maybe not with the amount of negative ease you might want in a hat.

L doesn't usually go for the slouchy look, but I have to say, I am a fan, especially for the days when he's working at the computer and wants to keep the hair out of his eyes.

L doesn’t usually go for the slouchy look, but I have to say, I am a fan, especially for the days when he’s working at the computer and wants to keep the hair out of his eyes.

Long story short, I will probably knit this again. L really likes the classic watch-cap-ness of the design and the colour, and since he’s wearing it today, I know this version will get worn and loved. It won’t be the toasty hat, cold day go-to that I wanted it to be though, so maybe this will be the year of two hats! We shall see.

Details
Pattern: Brig (hat) by Veronik Avery
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Artifact
Needles: 4.5mm
Details: I knit the hat until it measured 8.25 inches from the cast on. Then I started the decreases, doing the first section all at once (rather than every other row) because I was worried it was getting too long. I knit the rest of the crown as written. Ravelled here.

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