Archives for posts with tag: hat

Look at this Cozy Posy hat from Modcloth–is it just me or is this not totally a knockoff of the Side Slip Cloche from Boutique Knits? Right down to the color?

I knit the Latitude and Longitude samples for the pattern photos in the garishly bright colors Noro is famous for, because they’re lovely and eye-catching. However, the very first Latitude and Longitude hat I made was actually in much softer shades of Silk Garden–one shade, color 267, is all earthy browns and grays, and the other, 241, was the most beautiful blend of purples ranging from the blue to the red end of the spectrum, in saturations from pale lavender to deep Tyrian.

I misplaced the finished hat (made in March 2009) for ages and thought it was lost for good, but recently, as we were cleaning around the house, I unearthed it again in a box under the bed. I thought I’d show it to you:

This seemed like a valuable lesson in color theory. I loved the two colors individually, or when I held them up against each other in skein form, but the purples and browns are too close in value and the stripes just kind of blend together in the finished hat. Not that I don’t like it, but it isn’t really the best pair of colors to show off a striped pattern.

Far more subtle–to the other version’s tropical macaw,

this might be more of a backyard bird–a purple martin or sparrow.

I also recently finished another Latitude and Longitude knit in calmer colors than the samples. This one a scarf, knit in Cascade Eco Duo.

Pattern: Latitude and Longitude scarf

Size made: Finished dimensions 5.5″ x 78″

Yarn used: Cascade Eco Duo, a kitteny-soft worsted weight singles blend of 70% alpaca and 30% merino. This is the softest, fuzziest yarn I’ve felt in a long time, and it comes in a bunch of naturally colored, subtly striping colorways: I chose 1705 and 1703, one colorway white and cream stripes and one colorway shades of gray, from palest smoke to darker slate. They were 40% off at an Easter sale at a local yarn shop, and each skein has 197 yards, so I only needed the two skeins instead of 4 like the Noro. I loved this yarn–I’m sure it will pill like crazy later on, but it is so, so, soft, it seems like a fair tradeoff.

Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) for the first few inches of the scarf, and US 9 (5.5 mm) for the rest. I cast on with the smaller needles since they were handy, but switched to the larger needles once I got a chance.

Date started: April 26, 2010

Date completed: May 30, 2010

Mods/Notes: Since my yardage was a little shorter with the 2 skeins of Cascade than with the 4 skeins of Noro, I decided to cast on 35 stitches to produce a longer/skinnier scarf. It came out to a very good scarf length, and I’m very happy with it, though I suspect there may be a lot of scarf stealing come winter–Rahul liked it a lot too, put it on as soon as I finished it, and asked (hint hint) who I had made it for.

Like the purple and brown Noro hat, it is in soft natural shades instead of vibrant dyed ones, but I think the colors contrast well enough in the scarf that the reversible vertical/horizontal stripe patterning stands out clearly.

Just look at how soft and fluffy this yarn is… does the fluff factor show up in this close-up?

I wanted to take some better pictures of the hat and scarf modeled, but since it’s high Midwest summer and about 90 degrees and humid both in and outside at all times, I instead opted for the ever-stylish “winter watchcap and alpaca scarf over cotton sundress” look. I had a black wool coat on over the dress for about 2 seconds before giving up and flinging it off.

And last but not least, because it fits into the color scheme, here is a picture of my current WIP–the Shalom Cardigan in Elann Peru Soft, color 801 (a bulky-weight but light and fluffy singles yarn–about half acrylic, half natural fibers–I resisted when it was first posted, but caved in and bought a bag when they had it on sale for 10 bulky-weight, 98-yard skeins for $18; decided to do penance by casting on right away instead of letting it marinate like all the other perfectly good yarn in my house).

The contrast between this and the last chunky weight gray yarn I used (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky) is striking. The Rowan feels very sturdy and rustic, heavy, rope-like–texture-wise, the Elann yarn is like an airy loaf of Wonder Bread, while the Rowan is like a tooth-breakingly dense loaf of whole grain, like black rye or Vital Vittles whole wheat. No wonder, as the Rowan weighs 1 gram per meter while the Elann weighs only 0.55g for the same yardage, though to be fair, the Rowan recommends only 12 sts/4″ and the Elann yarn a much lighter gauge of 15 sts/4″, so “bulky” doesn’t quite mean the same thing here.

Anyway, it’s nice, and I hope the cardigan fits in the end… this is a free pattern, and the sizing is a bit haphazard in the original pattern anyway (it only includes one size), so I took a seat-of-the-pants approach to gauge and sizing on my version. The stitch gauge turned out to match but not the row gauge, so I’m recalibrating as I go (and already had to frog and reknit an inch or two). I’m planning to add buttonholes all the way down, and add long sleeves.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this on the blog before, but I have been rock climbing for the last 6 months or so and really loving it. And “love” is really not a word I apply too often to any kind of athletic activity. But it is really fun–good strength training (and for me, decent cardio; after a few months of it, I found I could run about 4 times as far as before without getting winded), fun to work out strategies for how to get up the wall, customizable to your particular skill level, highly social but without the “oh God I’m letting everyone down” feeling that comes to utter non-athletes like me when getting involved in competitive team sports.

For many people, particularly my parents’ generation and older (since rock climbing before the 80s or so was the real deal… on rocks that can crumble or saw through your rope, not in a gym with plastic screw-on holds and padded floors), the reaction when I would mention this was “Wow, isn’t that dangerous?”

My hubris-filled reply: “Oh, it’s perfectly safe, it’s in a gym, on ropes, with a padded floor.”

I bet you see where this is going.

My friend Liz and I signed up for an Advanced Movement class at the gym and I was really excited about it. Finally, we would advance into new and wonderful realms of climbing! Moving in an Advanced way! Learning fabulous new skills!

The first class was basically a diagnostic where we were told to just climb normally, and the instructors would watch and get an idea of our climbing styles so they could tell us what we were doing well and what we needed to work on. So the doors of climbing enlightenment didn’t really crack open on Tuesday.

For the second class, last Thursday, we were supposed to pick out the routes we would be working on–a problem that was just above our skill levels to complete–and we would figure out how to do each piece of it until we could complete the whole thing in one smooth climb.  Finally! Soon we would be levitating up walls blindfolded, like true climbing masters.

I picked out an overhanging route set into a corner that I had gotten about halfway up before, and set out. I needed a few tries to get onto it, but I got past where I had been stuck before, and was doing some beautiful moves to get up past the trickiest part. I was doing great! Finally, I was at the very last move of the climb. I had to reach up really high along the overhanging face to get the next hold.

Facing the corner, I put my left foot on the left wall, right foot on the right overhanging wall, and executed a drop knee maneuver by dropping my right knee down, which should have given me a few more inches of reach on the right side.

Unfortunately, as I pushed up with my right leg towards the final hold of the climb, I felt a horrible wrenching sensation in my knee–aside from the horrific pain, when I briefly put my hand on it I could feel that something was very, very wrong. Pop! goes the kneecap. So I had an exciting ambulance ride visit to the emergency room, will be putting a good chunk of change towards my health insurance deductible this calendar year, and am stuck on crutches for probably 4-6 weeks… and will be out of the climbing gym for even longer. Plus, now that I have dislocated my kneecap once, I’m at a high risk for it happening again.

All this happened while I was “perfectly safe,” in my harness, on the rope, being held by a certified belayer. And I was doing a move I’d done before with no ill effects. I guess I just had my knee twisted a bit too far, or was just too forceful this time, or something.

As if to taunt me, the weather here has been gorgeous. Rahul took me on a walk down to the park the other evening (we’re only a couple of blocks away, but on the crutches, it probably took an hour to go a quarter mile) and it was just filled with people enjoying their knees, zooming past on Rollerblades or bicycles or just jogging along. Much like this scene from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but substitute a working pair of legs for the bikes.

The possibility of getting lots of knitting done is basically my only consolation. At least I can bend my knee again so I can sit up in a chair again instead of having to lie flat on the couch or in bed like I’ve been for the past few days… not that I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done; I finally started my second Interlocking Leaves sock–the first one has been sitting around for ages, solitary and lonely–but I screwed up the instep so had to frog back about an inch of it already. Bah.

Anyway, so that this post is not all griping and gloom, here are some pictures of my latest finished object–another Latitude and Longitude hat, made for my friend’s 30th birthday. (Rav project link) I only had time to take some overexposed photos with the flash before packing it up to give to her, so forgive the photo quality. This was a stashbuster with only one color striping, on a black background–I made it with some leftover black wool, striped with odds and ends of Noro Kureyon and Malabrigo spit-spliced together into a continous strand wherever possible.

Hope my mom doesn’t see this before the package arrives with her… but her Mother’s Day present this year was a hat I made a while ago and hadn’t photographed/blogged yet.

Pattern: Side Slip Cloche, by Laura Irwin, from Boutique Knits

Size made: If I remember right, this pattern is one size fits all.

Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Pearl Ten, about 175 yards. Pearl Ten is an interesting muddy gray-brown semi-solid–but not very saturated, so not quite brown, even; I don’t know what to call it. Somewhere between raisin and mink.

Needles used: US 6 / 4.00 mm Knit Picks Options circulars, using a 16″ cable attached to the longer US-based needle tips. The 16″ cable isn’t sold in the US but is available through Knit Pro in Europe. Purchased from eBay.

Date started: June 9, 2009

Date completed: June 11, 2009

Mods/Notes: This is a cute hat with a fin-like double ruffle along the side, intended to have a 20s cloche silhouette; unfortunately, I accidentally knit this a bit longer than the pattern called for, so it’s a bit bigger/poofier than intended, more beret than cloche. It is a cute hat, but I think I’d make it with a brighter color if I make another for myself.

I have seen a lot of these on Ravelry and quite a bit of confusion about how to attach the ruffles. If you decide to make this and are in doubt, I advise carefully studying the diagrams in the pattern and looking at pictures of finished hats on Ravelry before forging onwards.


In non-blog world, it has been an eventful couple of weeks since I last posted. I turned 30 in mid-April (had a lovely party with friends, and Beatles Rock Band, and cupcakes); demonstrated drop spindle spinning at the Great Midwestern Alpaca Festival; our good friends Steve and Jeanne came to visit and we had a really nice time with them cooking ramps, rock climbing, and drinking locally brewed beer; unfortunately, during said visit, we also accidentally ran over a deer with our new car (we just got it late last year) so a bit of energy and large amount of cash were expended in taking care of that situation. Things have settled down again a bit, and I’m enjoying the quiet and the nice warm weather we’ve been having lately. It has been so nice out that our knitting group has finally made the transition back to our summer venue, a bar with outside seating (although we were a bit overconfident and ended up having to go inside after it got dark, due to a wind advisory and chilly weather). Since it’s been in the 70s and blissfully sunny lately, it’s hard to believe that we’re still not past Madison’s last frost date for the year! (but I am dutifully holding off on putting tomatoes in the garden until I get the go-ahead from the Wisconsin gardening experts.)

OK, folks, ready for some magic?





OK, it ain’t David Copperfield, but it’s still pretty cool, right?

My latest pattern release, Latitude and Longitude (Rav link for purchase: buy now), is a set of three accessories, meant to be knit up in two complementary colors of Noro Kureyon, Silk Garden, or another self-striping yarn: the PDF includes instructions for a scarf, cowl, and hat. All three are fully reversible and, as you saw, have vertical stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other. You only use one color per row, and there’s no real fancy business going on, stitch-wise–the basic pattern is just knits, purls, and slipped stitches. There are a few fancier things happening in the hat to keep the decreases as balanced and invisible as possible, but follow the written directions or chart and you’ll be fine.

I probably shouldn’t gush too much about the awesomeness of my own work, but seriously, I love these. (Sadly, one hat and the scarf have gone missing already. I seem to always lose my absolute favorite knitwear. At least I still know where two rainbowy cowls and a hat are.)

I first came across the stitch pattern a couple of years ago, in Jane Neighbors’s out of print Reversible Two-Color Knitting, which I found in the Cleveland Public Library system (one of Cleveland’s only redeeming points, in my humble opinion). It took a while, but one day I realized its full potential as I was contemplating another Noro striped scarf–previously my favorite renditions were the vertically striped two-color brioche rib or the horizontally striped mistake rib scarf. I realized that with this pattern, at last, there was no need to choose between the two.

So I worked up the scarf, then put the pattern into the round for the cowl, and last but not least, figured out some nice-looking decreases for the hat–I think it looks pretty good from both sides:

The opposite directional striping shows up when you fold up the brim of the hat:

Or when you fold down the edge of the cowl:

Or when your scarf twists or folds, as scarves are prone to do:

The hat and cowl each take two skeins of Noro–the scarf, a more budget-busting four skeins. The cowl, like most cowls, is pretty much just a big tube, but it is a nice portable piece of knitwear to tote around in your purse (or murse, or pocket, as the case may be) in case your neck gets cold.

One of the hardest things about knitting these two-color Noro pieces is picking out colors that will work together.

Contrasting dark and light, warm and cool, dull and bright colors seems to work well. But there are always those surprising lengths of weird colors like neon yellow or muddy olive that aren’t visible from the outside of the skein, then show up with a vengeance when you’re halfway through. Liz and Other Liz, friends from my Wednesday night knitting group, were kind enough to test knit for me; Liz (or Other Liz?) had to frog a bunch of her hat because two nearly identical shades of green showed up in both skeins at the same time. I try to avoid these situations by keeping both the centerpull and outside end of each skein accessible, and switching them out as needed. But sometimes just cutting out a length of a nasty color is unavoidable.

A perfect example of careful color selection: the hat I lost was knit in an ivory colorway of Silk Garden contrasted with purple shades, which seemed to go together really well when I held up the skeins next to each other, but the contrast all washed out when it was knit up. It was attractive and subtle, but didn’t photograph well–so it was a good opportunity to choose the two most garish colors of Kureyon in my stash and knit up hat #2.

The two-sided stripes help camouflage everyone’s other least favorite thing about Noro (well, aside from twigs, breaking, uneven spin, and all the other things I see people complaining about on the Ravelry Yarn forum every few weeks like clockwork)–knots, with completely different colors tied together at the join.

So there you go. Latitude and Longitude. Please consider them for your future Noro striped accessory needs! More info, including a chart of possible yarn substitutions and links to tubular cast-on and bind-off tutorials, can be found on my main pattern page.

I have a new hat pattern up! I present: Lumi.

red lumi hat, modeled

This one has been in the works for a while. I knit the first version a bit more than a year ago. In the last year, I submitted it to Knitty, got rejected, had it test knit by the ever-helpful test knitter extraordinaire Deb, reknit it myself, pondered what to do with it for a while… and, because the timing and my plans for it worked out, finally decided to submit it to the new Knit Picks Independent Designer Partnership.

It’s an interesting program, mutually beneficial to smaller-scale independent designers and Knit Picks. All patterns are sold for $1.99, which is a low price, but the designer gets 100% of the proceeds, presumably higher volume via the exposure from KP, an advance on pattern sales, and is free to sell the pattern on their own site as well. The only caveat is that the pattern must be knit up in a Knit Picks yarn. So I thought I would give it a try and see how it goes.

(report on its success to date: the pattern, an instant download in both places, has been up on KP and in Ravelry for a day and so far, I’ve sold a few copies via Ravelry, none via KP… I noticed the patterns are added to the IDP section with the best-sellers on the front page by default, which biases browsing pattern-buyers towards the patterns that are already established and popular, so I guess it will take a bit of time for anything to start coming through.)

Anyway, they liked the pattern, and so I had to reknit it in a Knit Picks yarn. They gave me a choice of yarns and colors, and I hemmed and hawed between Gloss Heavy Worsted (wool-silk) and Andean Silk (alpaca-silk-wool), and finally decided to go with the latter, in a nice bright red color, Cranberry. It’s soft, and has a beautiful sheen from the silk. I knit it on size 6 needles, which keeps the fabric fairly tight and helps give the scallops better stitch definition.

The pattern includes charts and written directions for 3 sizes: Child’s (20″ circumference), Women’s Small (21″, which I’m modeling), and Women’s Large (24″). It’s easy, and a quick knit–you’ll need to know how to knit, purl, YO, k2tog, ssk, and knit through the back loop.

As for the name: as the pattern blurb mentions, “I knit up the first version of this hat in the dead of winter, while making my way through Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book series, which follows the adventures of various characters from fairy tales and folklore living in exile in the middle of New York City. Since the Snowdrift stitch pattern at the lower edge of the hat was adapted from the traditional Frost Flowers lace pattern, I decided to name the hat Lumi, after Willingham’s Snow Queen character, whose given name is the Finnish word for snow.”

The red Andean Silk hat is beautiful, but I admit that in the end, my favorite photos of the hat were the ones I had taken of the previous version, knit up in white:

I also liked this picture a lot. It was a good concept, but it’s a terrible picture for showing off the hat details. Just pretend you’re looking at a Rowan magazine or Scarf Style or something. Details? Who needs details when you’ve got art?

So there you go. Lumi! If you decide to knit one up, you can get the pattern via Knit Picks or buy now from Ravelry. If you head over to Knit Picks to browse the IDP patterns, make sure to check out Through the Loops‘s gorgeous Andrea’s Shawl, and Stephannie Tallent’s various sock patterns hilariously co-modeled by a blue-eyed Siamese cat embracing the bestockinged foot and gazing up at the camera.

OK, the burn mark on our linoleum is still there (now covered by a throw rug), and my leg still hurts, but my mental state today is much better than it was yesterday. The sun is out (this is how deep the flooding downtown was yesterday after the thunderstorm), knitting night is tonight, Rahul and I might go see a play at the fresh-baked cookie store after that. And, as I mentioned, I have some good knitterly things to think about.

Here’s one of the nice things. When I finished the Hemlock Ring, I cast on for a new hat as a reward for myself. It’s no kind of weather for wool berets right now, but who cares? It’s pretty! And it was fun and quick to make.

Pattern:Rose Red, by Ysolda Teague. chemgrrl, who was done with hers, traded the pattern to me for a skein of Rowan Calmer.
Size made: Small, but using a larger gauge. I can’t tell you what the gauge was, because I was lazy and fudged it.
Finished dimensions: I was lucky–it fits! I blocked it over a dinner plate, and it came out to 11 inches in diameter with the hat lying flat, with a band size of about 20 inches.
Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted from a Whitknits sale, in Violetas, about 90 grams (i.e. just under 1 skein, or about 195 yards).
Needles used: US size 8/5.0 mm bamboo DPNs to start the hat (it’s knit from the top down), and US size 7/4.5 mm 16-inch Boye Needlemasters for the rest
Date started: June 2, 2008
Date finished: June 3, 2008
Mods: Aside from the gauge modifications, none that I can think of.
Notes: My Ravelry page for this project is here. I loved this pattern. It’s gorgeous and intricate, fast and pretty easy to knit, and very well-written and easy to follow (I used the written directions, which I think to many knitters is akin to saying you like white wine better than red at a gathering of oenophiles–sort of crass, indicating a not-very-advanced palate.)

I finished the hat in just two days, after some marathon TV knitting (season openers of Bones and House; Barack Obama’s speech accepting the presumptive nomination; two nights of Daily Show and Colbert Report).

I usually cable without a cable needle, but this time, because of the way the 7-stitch cable is worked, I had to use a cable needle. It was fiddly and annoying, but I think it improved the look of my cables–they’re usually sloppy around the edges, but looked pretty tight this time. I used a size 6 DPN instead of one of the special cable needles you can buy.

I actually have some red DK-weight angora blend in the stash, and after making Rusted Root I was thinking I should add more red to my wardrobe this winter, so I think I might make another one of these hats in fluffy red DK weight, exactly like Ysolda’s original. Or maybe not. I’m not crazy about the way the cabled band looks, although I really appreciate the tidy, knitterly design aesthetics of continuing those cables all the way down the band. It’s just that somehow I feel like the hat looks a bit too… chef-like? and I suspect I might prefer the look of a ribbed band instead.

I think the recommended lighter weight yarn would also be a good idea. Malabrigo on 7s, even well-blocked, came out slightly too sturdy and the hat doesn’t drape well. For best effect, I think it should be really floppy. Also, I can’t quite decide how I feel about this semi-solid colorway–is it a distraction, or does it add to the charm and intricate look of the pattern? (This is not to say I don’t totally love the hat–I really do. This is all nitpicking.)

Anyway–on to the pictures. It’s really hard to take a picture of the back of your own head.

The hat lying flat.

The back of my head.

Plated up for blocking. The underside and band:

The flowery top, with cute li’l i-cord nubbin:

Me looking vaguely chef-like, or possibly medieval, from the front.

So–some other good things.

  • The Rainey Sisters alerted me to the fact that Niebling’s legendary Lyra doily is now available for $7 plus $4.50 shipping/handling through Lacis. It used to be rare and go for a LOT more on eBay–there are two copies up right now, the highest one, with 19 bids, currently priced at $81 plus $5.90 shipping. And I mean copy–it says you get photocopies of the pattern, not even originals. It must be a cash cow for the seller, since they can make infinite copies for 10 cents and sell them for $81+. That’s really kind of messed up.
  • You can now purchase a couple of my patterns through Sandra Singh. She posted them today and has sold a copy of The Water is Wide already!
  • Robynn sent me some freakin’ amazing yarn. Just look at how gorgeous this is.Handmaiden Camelspin, in Nova Scotia, glowing green and blue–this stuff has the sheen of Sea Silk but is much softer, probably the softest yarn I’ve ever felt, softer than the skein of cashmere I have in my purse:

    Artyarns Beaded Rhapsody in color 159, gleaming gold and silver:

Are those not just insanely beautiful? The timing was good; it made my day if not my week, and on balance more than made up for my Very Bad Day yesterday–thank you so much, Robynn.

As promised, I posted the pattern for the hat I made Rahul to keep him warm in Madison. It’s not going to win any awards for originality, but here it is: A Very Plain Hat. All the jabber about the pattern is on the page.

A standard 2×2 rib and stockinette watchcap, it’s not an interesting pattern to knit, but it’s fast, easy, and warm, and its very plain and boring nature means that Rahul actually wants to wear it. I’m sure I’m not the only knitter making clothing for men who complain about garments with any unnecessary adornments, such as color or texture.

Rahul didn’t want his picture taken this morning, so I ended up with a lot of photos like this:

And my personal favorite:

Pattern: A Very Plain Hat

Yarn used: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, 6245 Pitch Black, a little less than 1 skein

Needles used: US size 8/5 mm 16″ circular needles

Date started: March 13, 2008

Date finished: March 13, 2008

Notes:This is a watchcap with a 2×2 ribbed brim knit single-stranded and the rest of the hat knit in stockinette, double-stranded. I was thinking about doing the whole thing in ribbing, but decided after finishing the brim that stockinette was faster.

I really like Ultra Alpaca. It has a tighter twist than most worsted yarns I’ve worked with, sort of like a heavier, fuzzier version of Koigu/Louet Gems, and an interesting dry, soft hand. It worked up really nicely double-stranded on 8s, making a thick, warm, cozy fabric without being too hard to knit at that gauge.

It’s pretty affordable, at around $8.50 per 100 g skein, and it comes in some beautiful heathers. I just made one other thing from it (pictures coming soon!) in a lovely lavender heather.

The wool gives it a good amount of memory, so it doesn’t flop and sag like pure alpaca would, and the alpaca gives it a soft, luscious halo, which you may or may not be able to see in the picture below. Despite the halo, it still has pretty good stitch definition.

We’re having a very musical week–we went to see the Fauxges on Monday, we saw an awesome show by our friends Steve and Charlie’s band Aviary Ghost last night, and tonight we’re going to see Islands at Rhino’s. (Their songs “Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby” and “Rough Gem” are my favorites.)

Unfortunately, going to the Islands show means we’re going to miss Steve and Charlie playing live tonight on the local radio station, WIUX. You should all tune in at 9 PM and listen… 99.1 FM for Bloomingtonians, or there’s streaming audio at for non-Bloomingtonians. Or just go to the Aviary Ghost website and give their songs a listen (“Somewhere Else” is my favorite). Then buy a CD, because I want them to become rock stars and live off their art. And I want being mentioned on my blog to be the new Colbert Bump.

I’ve read a few interesting blog posts celebrating Messy Tuesday, a reaction against the tyranny of the perfect, clean house featured in housekeeping magazines and domestic-life blogs. I don’t know if I can truly celebrate my messes, because despite my overwhelming messiness I do enjoy it when things around here are clean, but I really appreciate the new ways to look at mess… dirty dishes as memories of pleasure, dust bunnies as choices made to pursue enjoyable (non-cleaning) activities, piles of paper as dynamic workspaces in flux. I’ll think about it a bit more and perhaps I will have something new and interesting to say about cleanliness, and lack thereof, next Messy Tuesday.

A stealth project crept in last night; nothing I “should” have been working on (i.e. neither a gift, an existing WIP, nor an original design), but I had gotten this Malabrigo from the WhitKnits sale, and really wanted to try it out because it’s one of those yarns everyone seems to be madly passionate about. So I cast on for a hat, knit for about 5 hours between watching a movie last night and waiting for files to process today, and suddenly, miraculously, I had a beret with a beautiful spirally flower design on top.

Even though I didn’t really accomplish anything with it, at least it’s red(dish), so it makes a good Project Spectrum entry.

Pattern: The Sunflower Tam, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitting Nature
Size: Child’s, with mods (see below). Finished size is about 20″ around the ribbing. The tam is about 12″ in diameter at its widest.
Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted from WhitKnits, about 3/4 of a skein, color #610, “Red Mahogany”
Needle size: US size 6/4.0 mm 16″ circular for the ribbing, US size 9/5.5 mm 16″ circular for most of the top, size 8 DPNs once the stitches wouldn’t stretch to fit on the 16″ circ anymore
Date started: 2/18/08
Date finished: 2/19/08
Mods: I started out the ribbing by using the Italian tubular cast-on, working k1 sl1 for 4 rows, then joining into the round for the 1×1 ribbing. Isn’t the edge pretty?

The pattern in the book makes a sort of weird, fez-like hat, with a purled turning row making the top into a crisp, flat, round flowerpot shape. I wanted a slouchy beret/classic Benjamin Bunny tam shape instead. To achieve this, I worked the ribbing on smaller needles–I knew my gauge would be slightly looser than specified, and indeed I ended up with a hat that is 20″ around the ribbing instead of 18″–then switched to larger needles right after the ribbing to help create the poofy shape. I rearranged the order of the increase rounds: I stacked up all the increase rounds immediately after the ribbing to create a sudden flare, and then knit 17 rounds even. Since I didn’t want the fez shape, I omitted the purled turning rounds. I worked the top pattern exactly as specified in the pattern, but instead of working the i-cord tie at the top, I just ran the yarn through the last 4 sts a couple of times and pulled tight to close. I’m quite happy with the resulting shape at the moment, but I suspect the Malabrigo may grow (especially if I let it touch water!) and then I may need to run some elastic through it or something to keep it fitting.

Notes: I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about with this yarn. The Malabrigo is definitely soft and cuddly, but knitting with it was not, in my opinion, the kind of experience that defines a generation and changes lives. You’d think this yarn was the second coming, from the way everyone talks about it.

The Red Mahogany color didn’t really photograph right. It came out too washed out and looks far too pale and purple in most of these photos. I tweaked the colors a bit on one of the pictures, and came up with this version, which is closer, but still not great–too warm and bright.

The true color is a sort of semi-solid wine color, a noncommittal brownish-purplish-red, with deep almost-black spots where the yarn sucked up the dye. It looks, if I may be so pretentious, the way a soft Merlot tastes.

The pattern is gorgeous and very well written: the twisted stitch pattern on top is inspired by the phyllotaxis spirals of sunflower seeds, and I think it’s just beautiful and brilliantly done. In my opinion, the phyllotaxis section of the book contains the most beautiful and wearable designs–this opinion evidenced by the fact that I’ve made two designs out of the book so far, both of them from the phyllotaxis section.

The other one, if you’re wondering, was the Phyllo Yoked Pullover. I was thrilled to have my version chosen by Norah Gaughan herself as the “face” of the design in Ravelry–the first picture below, the yoke close-up, is the little icon you see in search results or when you queue the pattern.

I finally got around to finding my ball of Boku scraps and adding some thumbs to the fingerless Hyphening mitts I was making for my friend Ken back in November, when I visited him in New York! I was dashing (Ha! ha! that is a Pune, or a Play on Words) to finish these for him as a thank-you gift for letting me stay at his place. I misread the amount of yarn called for in the pattern, brought only 1 skein of yarn, and thus ran out of yarn before I got to the thumbs, so I ended up giving him a 3-D drawing pad instead. But he’s quitting his Corporate Suit job soon and taking up a new, thrilling, idealistic, creative job at a nonprofit, so I thought it would be a good congratulations-on-the-new-job present instead.

Pattern: Dashing, by Cheryl Niamath, from Knitty Spring 2007

Size made: the larger size

Yarn used: Plymouth Boku, one skein and a tiny bit more, colorway 4 (brown, purple, green, yellow)

Needles used: US size 7/4.5 mm circs for the main part of the mitts; US size 6/4.0 mm DPNs for the thumbs

Date started: 11/28/07, on the airport shuttle on my way to the airport; finished knitting by 11/29/07 (it took about 3.5 or 4 hours per mitt), but had run out of yarn and put these in hibernation for a couple of months

Date finished: 2/18/08

Mods:First of all, I made these much shorter than the pattern called for–hyphens instead of dashes–bound them off after the 15th row after the last cable twist.

When I resurrected the project tonight, I inserted afterthought thumbs: snipped a single stitch on each mitt about 2.5” down from the top edge, and unraveled to either side until I had 5 sts above the hole and 5 stitches below. I put these live stitches on DPNs, then picked up an additional 3 sts on each side of the hole for 16 sts total. I knit 1 round, then worked the thumb in 1×1 rib for a total of 9 rounds, and bound off with a suspended 1×1 rib bindoff. Easy as pie, and it took probably half an hour.

Notes: The mitts are pretty loose-fitting on me, but probably will work well for my friend, assuming he doesn’t have tiny, skinny, bird-boned hands. Because I don’t have a professional photography setup, these pictures were taken with flash and look terrible.

Also, I added a couple more things to that bearded hat that make it even more amazing.

First of all, I added some ties to the back, to keep it fitting snugly around the neck:

Then I thought about what I would want if I had a beard of my very own, and I said to myself, Well, I would want to store things in it. That’s what I would want. So I added a little pocket to the inside of the beard, with a button flap, so now Rahul or I can hide little treasures in the beard. If we lived in Boston or Hong Kong or another place with RFID-based public transit cards, I could put my Charlie Card or Octopus Card or whatever in the beard and just casually wave my chin over the sensor as I went by, like the Subway Knitter’s mittens, but with more panache.
Here it is with a cell phone inside:

And open:

And buttoned closed:

I have not yet extracted any promises from Rahul regarding his wearing this hat in public, but he did go and look at himself in the mirror for a while and adjust his mustache (he prefers a narrower mustache, with the bottom edge folded up) and then announce that he wanted to grow a big gray beard himself.

Here he is, working on a marketing assignment about cereal.

Here’s how I added those modifications:

Ties: At about 5.5” back from each side of the beard, at the lower edge of the cap, I picked up 6 sts with the yarn single-stranded on a size 6 DPN and knit an 8.5” tie in 1×1 rib, slipping the last st of each row and knitting the first st.

Pocket: Cast on 15 sts single-stranded on size 6 DPNs. Work in half-linen st for 3.5” (3” wide), knitting the first WS row instead of purling to create a ridge at the top of the pocket. Bind off.

Pocket flap: CO 15 sts single-stranded on size 6 DPNs with long-tail cast-on. Work 7 rows half-linen st, ending w/WS row. Work 6 or 7 sts (last st s/b k), yo, k2tog, work to end. work 1 row even. k1, ssk, work to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. p1, p2tog, work to last 3 sts, ssp, p1. k1, ssk, work to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. BO all sts. Use yarn tail to buttonhole-stitch around the edges of the buttonhole to tidy it up.

Sew the pocket in place, then sew the pocket flap directly above it. (I used the yarn tails to do the sewing, and just whipstitched around the edges, being careful not to pull too tight.) Sew button to pocket in location corresponding to pocket flap buttonhole.

I knitted the pocket pieces separately and sewed them on because I wanted them to be as invisible as possible from the outside, and I thought picking up stitches would be more visible. I used half-linen stitch because it doesn’t have a lot of stretch, and I thought it would make for a more stable and strong pocket.

Half-linen stitch is:

Rows 1 and 3 (WS): purl

Row 2: *k1, sl1 wyif* across

Row 4: *sl1 wyif, k1* across