Tag Archives: hat

A hat too late


This weekend, it was spring. I don’t know if it’s going to stick around (being from Nova Scotia, I’m programed to expect a big storm in March), but for now, it feels great. I spent a good chunk of Saturday just walking around the city and enjoying being perfectly dressed for the first time in months. It was gorgeous.

Finished just in time to not need it! This is how people who don't wear hats plan hat knitting I guess.

Finished just in time to not need it! This is how people who don’t wear hats plan hat knitting I guess.

It stands to reason, then, that I would finish my winter hat just a week before this warm weather rolled into town. I haven’t blogged about the hat because, even though a month passed between when I cast on and when I cast off, I really never felt like I was knitting it. I am not, generally speaking, a hat person. I am that idiot on a cold day who’s turtled deep into a scarf and bareheaded. I don’t know why, but hats never occur to me. This was a cold winter, though, and when February rolled around and it became clear it wasn’t going to warm up, I decided to cast on. (I do, I should say, have a hat, a nice hat even, but I’ve never knit one for myself and I decided it was time.)

I guess there was too much halo for the cables. I still think this yarn will make a toasty hat.

I guess there was too much halo for the cables. I still think this yarn will make a toasty hat.

I chose Scrollwork, by Irina Dmitrieva (from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 4) and, very responsibly, paired it with some stash yarn. I got to the first bit of cabling and realized I’d made a bad choice. The yarn I was working with (this yarn, a wool/alpaca blend that would have made for a soft and lovely hat) was just not going to show off those cables to their advantage. And after the work I was about to put in, that would suck. So, I ripped back and started over with some of the Shelter I bought in New York.

Let me preface this by saying I didn’t swatch. This may be the first hat I’ve knit for myself, but it isn’t the first hat I’ve ever knit, and I know that 112 stitches on a 4.5mm needle will fit my head just fine. So I cast on and went with it. This is a demanding hat. The cables twist and turn and don’t think about trying to watch anything while knitting them because, well, you’ll be hitting pause a lot. I loved the knitting. For the few hours at a time that I spent with the hat, I enjoyed every stitch (well, almost every stitch – I also worry my post-cable purls are too loose) and there’s nothing like working complex cables to make you feel smart.

Right around here I started to wonder if maybe it wasn't looking a little short.

Right around here I started to wonder if maybe it wasn’t looking a little short.

What will quickly make you feel less smart, however, is after finishing your fancy hat and realizing it’s small. In the photos, there is quite a generous slouch, which is partly why I wasn’t worried about fit. I ought to have been. I don’t know if my hat just didn’t grow as much, or if my cables were tighter or what, but not only does my hat not have that slouch, but it is almost too small. I can wear it, but it doesn’t quite cover my earlobes, and a cold day, that’s dumb.


This is a very good representation of the colour. Photo taken before it was spring.

On the upside, I enjoyed knitting it so much I might just knit another one! I am also probably going to have a go at the cowl too, since that would both be fun and give me a winter set. But maybe next year, since it’s spring now.

Pattern: Scrollwork, by Irina Dmitrieva
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume
Needles: 3.75mm for the ribbing, 4.5mm for the rest
Modifications: I knit this exactly as written, except I switched to the larger needle in my last row of ribbing, which made the increase row a little easier to work. Also, of course, I started twice.

Lots of snow means lots of knitting


I grew up in rural Nova Scotia, which meant that every winter we’d get close to a dozen snow days (one year, we had so many school was almost extended into the summer to make up for it). Snow days were, of course, the best, and usually an excuse to sleep late and be lazy all day (except when we were little and then they were an excuse for a lot of playing). Living in Toronto, we don’t tend to get much snow, and working at a newspaper, my workplace is never closed because of weather.

Last week, though, Toronto got hit. That same big storm that barrelled through the the East Coast hit us first, and although we didn’t get quite as much snow, we got a lot (over a foot!). It mostly came on Friday and, yes, I had to work, but waking up on Saturday to a city that was still digging out meant that everything was quite and beautiful and wintry. If that combination doesn’t fill you with the desire to knit, well, I don’t know what does.

After long grey days, snow really brightens everything up.

After long grey days, snow really brightens everything up.

L was busy marking assignments, so while we did go walking around in the snow and admiring how much prettier the city is in the snow – it was one of those perfect winter weekends, with a bright blue sky and no wind and snow everywhere – I spent the majority of the weekend happily knitting and listening to Tina Fey read Bossypants.


I was was a little all over the place knitting-wise, but here’s what I occupied my needles most:

I wish I'd taken a photo on Saturday morning, because I just about doubled the size of my Woodstove cardigan.

I wish I’d taken a photo on Saturday morning, because I just about doubled the size of my Woodstove Season cardigan.

I can sometimes be a reactionary knitter, thus, a new hat. This is Scrollwork by Irini Dmitrieva and I'm knitting it out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume.

I can sometimes be a reactionary knitter, thus, a new hat. This is Scrollwork by Irini Dmitrieva and I’m knitting it out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume.

And, last but not least, I'm making good progress on my Everyday Socks. They're good TV knitting, and with the cold, I'm extra motivated to get another pair of socks finished.

And, last but not least, I’m making good progress on my Everyday Socks. They’re good TV knitting, and with the cold, I’m extra motivated to get another pair of socks finished.

A little all over the place maybe, but I like variety; it keeps me interested and helps ensure my hands don’t get tired or sore. Those cables are addictive, though, and if it’s still cold out when I finish that hat I will probably cast on right away for the matching cowl!

Adding a little to the top


About this time last year, I knit L a hat for his birthday. It was my first hat, and it turned out pretty well. I used the classic Turn a Square pattern by Jared Flood, but L just wanted dark and light grey stripes, and then picked out Abeulita Yarns Mysterious Blend Bulky as his preferred yarn, so I modified the stitch count a little. That yarn is absurdly soft. It’s a merino/corriedale/silk blend, and I distinctly remember saying I wanted to knit with nothing else ever again.

There's no doubt that this hat has been well worn.

There’s no doubt that this hat has been well worn.

L went on to wear that hat almost exclusively for the next year, and while it remains a favourite, it has gotten quite fuzzy (bulky singles will do that), so in the fall he asked for a new hat. I knit him one for Christmas, which he has happily worn for the last month. On the weekend, though, he asked if it would be possible to lengthen the hat. Horatio, the hat I’d knit him for Christmas, is a sort of watch-cap style hat, and thus a little tighter than Turn a Square. Toronto is cold and we’re outdoor people, and he wanted a hat he could pull pretty much right down to his eyebrows. In the future, I will just lengthen the ribbing (there’s a turn row in the ribbing too, so I couldn’t even pick up stitches there and just lengthen it), but since it was too late to that this time, I made a plan for a calculated rip and reknit.

Should you ever need to do something similar, here’s what I did:

1. Assess what’s needed: Basically what he wanted required an extra repeat of the main pattern (six repeats instead of five). there’s a a plain row between each pattern repeat, so that seemed like a logical place to rip back to. At the top of the fifth repeat, though, that plain row is a decrease row, I decided to rip back to the top of the fourth repeat.

2. Put in a barrier: I didn’t want to risk ripping back too far (or not being able to see where I was ripping back to), so using a smaller needle than the one I knit with (in this case, a 3.5mm circ) I carefully picked up the righthand leg of each stitch in the row I wanted to rip back to. I then carefully unpicked my weaving in and started ripping.


It kind of looks like the hat exploded, doesn't it?

It kind of looks like the hat exploded, doesn’t it?

3. Fix any miscalculations: This is a dark grey hat. A dark grey, variegated hat with a textured pattern. This makes picking up stitches a little tricky. So, after ripping back I realized that, in a few places, my picked-up stitches were one row below where I wanted them to be. I held all the correct stitches on various implements and, as I got to them, simple knit them in pattern and left the lower down stitches stay where they were.

This makes it look worse than it was, but does explain why I opted to rip back to plain row even when that meant re-knitting a whole pattern repeat.

This makes it look worse than it was, but does explain why I opted to rip back to plain row even when that meant re-knitting a whole pattern repeat.

4. Knit to the top: Once I had that first pattern row knit (knitting from the 3.5mm needle onto the 4.5mm needle I needed for the pattern) I knit two repeats of the main pattern and then decreased as I had before. I had plenty of yarn leftover, so when I got tired of using the very crimped frogged yarn, I just cut it and joined in the fresh stuff – you can’t tell at all.

Ta da! I realize I don't really have a "before" photo, but it looked just like this, only a little shorter.

Ta da! I realize I don’t really have a “before” photo, but it looked just like this, only a little shorter. (The earlier photos are a better indication of the colour than this rather muddy one.)

This took only a couple of hours and L is very please with his slightly elongated hat (and I am very pleased the issue wasn’t with the width, which would have required complete re-knitting.) What do you think of my method? Have you ever had to do anything similar?

I can see the finish line


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Tomorrow, I get on a plane and head east to spend the holidays with my family. My original knitting plan was to be done everything today, so that tomorrow I could cast on my holiday socks knowing that everyone else was taken care of. Strictly speaking, that isn’t what’s going to happen, but I’m so close I can feel it.

Often with this blog absences indicate low knitting activity. I’m not working on much, or what I am knitting is boring to photograph repeatedly, so I don’t blog because I don’t want to bore. These last two weeks have been the opposite. There has been no time to blog because I have been knitting like a crazy person. For a while, I actually had an open cut on my left index finger because of the near constant pressure of the needle tip (this makes for painful knitting, and is not recommended).

On Friday, I finished L’s hat (I gave it to him on Sunday and it was very well received). On Saturday I finished the foot tubes. On Sunday I finished the first of my sister’s re-started mittens (minus the thumb, of course, since thumbs are last). I cast on for the second mitten on Sunday and am only 20 rows from finished (and since 15 of those rows are the decreases, that’s a quick 20 rows).

So close!

So close!

I don't know what it says about me that I always like the palm side of fair-isle mittens the best.

I don’t know what it says about me that I always like the palm side of fair-isle mittens the best.

I cast on for my dad’s hat on Monday, and am trucking right along (I’m knitting this one, in case you were also looking for a speedy man’s hat). If I didn’t have to work and pack and run last-minute errands today, I would totally be done everything before getting on the plane tomorrow. That’s a lot of ifs, I know, but still, all things considered I’m feeling okay about this. (I also still have to sew the lining into my mum’s tea cozy, but since the lining itself is done, that seems like no big deal. It’s no big deal, right?)

My new plan for tomorrow is to finish the hat and mitten on the plane. I’ll do the thumbs and tea cozy at night, and then I’ll be done! And then what, you ask? Well, as a treat for myself I’m going to knit these Cranberry Biscotti socks. I picked up some Koigu at the shop last week, and it’s all wound and in a project bag and ready to go. I may not quite be casting on on the plane, but it’ll be darn close, and that’s still okay with me.

*I promise proper FO photos after everything has been gifted, and in the meantime apologize for the crappy quality of the photos. It’s hard to get good shots when you’re trying to be both quick and sneaky.



Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

No, I am not buried under some big pile of yarn. Nearly, but not quite. That pile I showed you earlier has gotten a little smaller, but it still looms large every time I sit at my desk, which was meant to be inspiring but it starting to be just plain intimidating. It is the last day of November, and I’m not quite where I want to be.

I did finish the mittens for my grandmother (photo and details at the bottom of the post, just in case my family is trying to sneak a peek), and I am very pleased with them. They were a speedy and fun knit, and I now want a pair for myself more than ever. And, in fact, I had had the pattern queued (with the dark brown Maritime Wool in mind) for months. I love this pattern, and I hope my granny will too. So, that’s one more finished thing into the Christmas bag.

The tea cozy continues. I did end up running out of wool, and that plus the mittens has put it back a ways. It only has a couple of inches more to go, though, and since my decreasing has increased (if you see what I mean), each row is getting shorter and quicker, and I think I can buckle down and get it done this weekend. The knitting is only part of it though, since I plan to sew a lining and then sandwich a bat of wool between the lining and the knitted shell. It never ends.

I also cast on and ripped out (twice!) the hat I’m knitting for L. I knit him a hat last year for his birthday and it’s quite fuzzy and sad looking now, so he’s due for a replacement. I love the yarn, found the perfect pattern, and have somehow managed to screw it up twice. I’ve been thinking about it, though, and I have a plan of action now, so I’m thinking third time’s the charm. (Cross your fingers.)

Also on the needles are my grampa’s bed socks (also known fondly as foot tubes). He is a tall man with big feet, so yes, these are going to be big. They are my walking around knitting, and I will be knitting them for the next twenty days – I really, really, hope that’s enough time (bearing in mind that there are a few other knits to fit in too).

Not yet on the needles are my sister’s mittens (these ones), which I estimate will take two weeks or so, and my dad’s hat, which I have yet to chart out. Um, yes. That seems crazy. Twenty-five days – here we go.


I will get a nicer photo one of these days.

Pattern: Wood Hollow Mittens by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Goldenrod (#7827)
Needles: Addi Lace 3.75 mm
Modifications: Not many, actually. I knit these in the magic loop, so to keep the stitch count even on both needles through the ribbing (I like to end my ribbing on a purl), I cast on 44 stitches and then, after the ribbing, increased to 46. I also needed a little more height before decreasing for the top, so I flipped the chart. After decreasing, it seemed that, despite all the socks I knit, I am incapable of working a smooth Kitchener Stitch in worsted weight (I tried it three times, every time it came out with purl bumps and I have no idea why), so I just turned the mitten inside out and did a three-needle bind-off on the inside. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it worked. My other work around was that since I seem to have lost my 3.75mm dpns (how? where? I have no idea) I used 3.25mm needles for the thumbs. To compensate, I picked up four extra stitches. You can hardly tell and I suspect (hope) that the difference will block right out. (Ravelled here.)

All in all, this pattern was fun and super fast. I will be making myself a pair (with other modifications) in the New Year.

Elizabeth Zimmerman made me do it


Let me set the scene. On Friday, I came down with the flu. (Sick again! I know, it’s been a rough fall.) I got halfway to work, realized I was being an idiot, got off the subway, called in, got back on the subway, got home, and went to bed. L had plans that night already, and since it didn’t seem fair to ask him to stay home so he could listen to me moan, he went out. I could knit or read, so I wrapped myself up in two blankets and watched Serenity (I tend to like action-y movies when I’m sick) and while I managed to tweet about it a little at the beginning, but the end I was in rough shape. Then I watched Good Will Hunting, which was probably a mistake.

Anyway, I was feeling a little better on Saturday and although I still couldn’t really knit (I managed a few paltry stitches and gave up), I decided I could maybe manage reading if the book would lie passively in my lap. My current novel was out, so I was casting around for other options when I remembered I had picked up a copy of EZ’s Knitting Without Tears on a whim on Thursday. Perfect. I read the whole thing this weekend. Yes, I got sick and read a book of “chattily written” knitting patterns, techniques, and tricks. Try to stop reading when you pick up one of her books. Just try.

On the one hand, this was a good stand-in for knitting. On the other hand, it just made me want to knit everything (especially sweaters!) and that’s a dangerous feeling to have just as you’re coming off being sick. The result has been a bit of a frenzy of knitting all kinds of things in a short span of time. To being with, I finished the first of my Seafoam Socks (not even Christmas related!). Then I went at my sweater.

I cast on for the Woodstove Season cardigan a few weeks ago. I wasn’t totally sure about the size (my measurements put me between medium and large), and cast on for the medium anyway. It’s knit top-down, so I figured I’d know if it was too small before I got very far. I knit the collar and 12 rows into the body and then put it aside for Christmas knitting, but really also felt like it was coming in too small. I wasn’t sure I wanted to rip it out quite yet, though, and then I read EZ and, well, it went from this

I’m knitting this in SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in Cypress.

to this.

Two rows of ribbing. Sigh.

And it may well stay in this state for the next month while I finish other things. The size seems better, though.

I also started my mom’s tea cozy, which I’m making up as I go along. I honestly thought this would be a quickish knit, but it turns out that a big tea pot and a tight gauge combine to require more stitches around than your average sweater. The shaping is all in my head at the moment, but here’s how it’s turning out so far (I’m going for random-ish looking stripes):

It’s growing on me.

What do you think? I wasn’t sure about the colours, but L assures me they suit my parents’ house, so I’m going with it.

And third (fourth?), I’ve decided I need a new hat. I’ve been thinking about it, and I jotted down a little sketch for myself, and now I’m knitting. EZ got me all fired up with the confidence to rely on my own mind, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ll let you know how this goes.

I just cast this on last night. It’s AslanTrends Royal Alpaca in Plum.

In sum: I am still sick, but I am knitting. Oh boy, am I knitting. Next time you need a little push, or to feel clever, or just to be inspired when you have a fever, pick up something Elizabeth Zimmerman wrote – that woman is a force for all that is good and woolly.