November 10, 2014

8 Wonky in More Ways Than One -- Brindled Hat by Woolly Wormhead

I always like to tackle a free Knitty pattern here and there.  To be honest, I tend to pick accessories because I always find myself in a race to the finish.  It's not for any good reason, but if I like a new Knitty pattern I just feel this need to dive in and be one of the first to finish.  I don't particularly like that about myself, but it is the truth.  For instance, how often do I pick a Knitty pattern from an old issue?  Never.  Despite all of this, I had a great time with Princess Franklin by Franklin Habit:

Woolly Wormhead, the intrepid hat designer, tempted me this time with Brindled from Deep Fall 2014.  I've never made a Wooly Wormhead hat, so I thought this would be a nice free way to do it.

The hat uses a light fingering weight held double, but I wanted to try the new Rowan Finest, a luxurious blend of 50% extra fine merino, 30% royal alpaca and 20% cashmere.  I hate itchy foreheads, and this was one of the softest fingering yarns I could find!  You only have to hold it single to get gauge, and luckily they have two uber-in shades, chartreuse/yellow and a dark gray:

The wonky stripe effect is due to knitting the stripes with short rows... and that is always fun, right?

Weeeell, not so much.  Honestly guys, this is one of the few projects I was tempted to call a Ravelry "UGH!".  For those of you who don't know, that's the lowest rating you can give one of your projects.

You see, there is one big problem with this hat.  Notoriously, short rows can leave holes where you turn, but there are a million and one ways to do it to satisfy yourself.  No problemo.  WHAT THERE ISN'T, is an effective way to pick up "wraps" that were done on the wrong side, from the RIGHT SIDE when you join back in the round.  It's just physics... coming in from the other side will always be wonky, no matter whether you use fish lips, German, Japanese, wrap-and-turn, shadow... how many other short row methods have been named?!  I've lost count.

If this hat were knit flat and seamed, you wouldn't get this, I swear.  See all those holes?

The only thing I could do to fix these purl wraps was to cheat.  You will see two large loops leaning towards each other.  Just stick your needle in and pull up the slack to the left and right of those big stitches:


Not too bad really, thankfully we are saved from an embarrassing "UGH!" experience!

And what about the Rowan Finest?  Wow, what a yarn!  I've been wearing this hat for weeks and it is very very warm and soft.  There is still a tad of itch on my forehead after long wear -- I am really extremely sensitive there.  Also, the hat has no pills at all yet.  Yes, it doesn't really rub on anything like the underarm as a sweater, but I am still really impressed. 

(Do you ever see girls on the bus or train and their purchased hats/cowls/scarves have huge pill balls that you want to tear off when they are not looking?  Is that just me?)

This is definitely a luxury yarn though, as the balls are only 25g for a price.  I feel like I got a great value, though, as this slouchy striped hat only took 1 ball of each color.  I used it up to the very end, wrapping everything I had left in my friend Jen's Clover pompom device (tempted to buy one, despite the price!).  I love the extra-wonky splatter of gray in the resulting poof.  As you may know from a previous blog post, I'm a horror at pom poms!!

Ok, so the hat was fun to make (before trying to fix the holes), the yarn is fab and I wear it all the time.  So, I really shouldn't complain too much.  But my fix won't make everything perfect, so if you are picky about short row turns showing in your work, don't make the hat.  However, if you accept the wonky holes as simply an essential part of the extreme and purposeful wonkiness of this hat, go for it... you will be entertained!

In other news, I've got two whole sweaters to show you, but my brain is filled with house inspections, well water, septic tanks, no job, currency exchange dejectedness, lack of concrete financing and feverish planning for a move with no date.  A.K.A.: what happens to everyone when they move.  I can't believe I almost signed up for a test knit yesterday... I need to focus on this stuff!  It has been a blast looking through all my knitting magazine stash and paring down, though.  If any of you in Montreal are following, I have a ton of color photocopies of library book patterns and straight needles I'll be giving away.  Make sure to be somewhere I will be if you are interested in a freebie!  :)

See my Wonky Stripes on Ravelry

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October 24, 2014

6 On Going Rogue -- The Rowan Kaffe Fassett Mystery KAL, My Way

Just on the tails of the last mystery KAL from Rowan came the announcement that another one was starting imminently.  Ack, already?!  And the crazy thing was that it was another afghan!  Holy moly, that's a lot of epic knitting.  Despite my aching hands, I was game -- but I still wanted to play my OWN way.

My version of the Martin Storey KAL afghan was somewhat rogue, in that I used only one color instead of 17 and made a different border.  It was a lot of work, but the result was very worth it.  The pattern is still available for free on the Rowan website.

Read my Martin Storey KAL blog post here

Both KAL afghans use Rowan's Pure Wool Worsted.  An update on the Martin Storey afghan -- my husband uses it as a top blanket every night and it looks pristine.  In fact, it still looks blocked, too!  I haven't washed it yet, I suppose that will be the big test.  I'll let you know.

The new KAL is designed by Kaffe Fassett (download the free patterns here), and is very very popular.  We have ~1500 people signed up on Ravelry, which I estimate is around half the participation.  Check out the interactive KAL map, too.  I'm a map fiend -- give me a map and I'll pore over it respectably.

Now, when you hear Kaffe, you may instantly think "intarsia", or "colorwork" and many presumed this mystery KAL would be an intarsia-tastic.  Sorry.  I hope that will come someday, something epic like the Jubilee Throw...

You'll never believe it, but this pattern is free, too.

...but if you actually want to knit 63 squares and a border by Christmas, pretty much the only way to do it is with stripes.  Kaffe is just as stripe-obsessed as intarsia-obsessed, did you know?  In fact, 4 of the 5 most popular Kaffe patterns on Ravelry are striped.  Here is my personal fave (and of course, it's my rogue color version of the original):

Read my Earth Stripe Wrap blog post here.

But Kaffe is also a big quilter.  Maybe even more so, as can be evidenced by him quilting peacefully during a Rowan video describing the KAL.  That was rather eerie, but that man clearly is devoted to his craft!  Kaffe has actually designed quilts and blankets that are quite similar to what we seem to be making:

knittingkonrad's X-Factor blanket, read his blog here

Quilts designed by Kaffe Fassett

So, how am I going rogue this time?  Well, almost all the way.  The pattern is designed so that each square is the same stripe pattern with different colorways.  First, I didn't feel like following the colorways, because I wanted my own style.  So I looked at the square and used Adobe Illustrator to make up a placement diagram.

Look how just changing the width of 2 stripes changes the look, so many possibilities:

I decided to keep the original stripe sequence, and that is probably the only thing similar to the pattern.  I might even make a different number of squares, because the afghan isn't quite symmetric like I would prefer (see that left edge versus the right in my placement diagram?).

The colorway goal is:

  • Permanent background color and border: Heather (dark gray)
  • Wide stripes: Light Denim
  • 3-stripe square: Moonstone (light gray)
  • 5-stripe square: The color grab bag

Mustard is my very favorite color, so I started with it.

Then I went through all my available shades and made one square.  I'm not sure if I like all of them, but since the colors are added at the end of the square, it's no big deal to change them.

Just missing the shade Apple here.  See all my shades on Ravelry.

I am making 4 of each color and sewing modules together using mattress stitch.  This turns out to be very simple, unlike in the Martin Storey KAL, because every stitch matches and is easily 'read' by the stripe changes.  Quite fun, actually!

BUT BEWARE of the points where squares meet.  I am using one long piece to stitch 2 sides of each module.  I found it was hard to do this without leaving a hole at the center point.

I highly recommend you DO NOT weave in the corner ends so that you can tidy up this hole if necessary.  Of course, I personally never darn in ends until I have a seam.  If you darn ends before mattress stitch, it will be harder to see where you are supposed to sew, and of course, ends always hide better in seams.



It's pretty astounding how many posts there have been on our KAL Ravelry thread about the different ways you can make a single square... knitted 63 times.  Here's the stuff I'm doing, using the M1 version of the square:

1. Long tail cast-on in purl so that the first row is the true RS.  Do a Google search for "long tail cast-on in purl" for more info.

2.  For the second inc f&b, add a yarn-over between the increases so it's easier to do the M1 on Row 3.

3. Always yarn-over in the row before any M1 -- this will loosen the edge so that it looks more like the decrease side.  You have some choices on how to do this.  Easiest: Drop the yarnover and pick it up to do the right orientation of M1.  Moderate: Yarn-over the same way, then flip the direction to do the right orientation of M1.  Experienced: Yarn-over in two different directions, knitting into the front or back of the stitch as appropriate for the right orientation of M1.  Moderate to Experienced: backwards loop cast-on the yarn-over in two different directions as per my blog post here.

4. End the square with k3tog, K1 then simply slip the right st over the left st to fasten off.  This gives a good pointy finish that allows sewing on either side without messing with the direction of the point.

5. Block those tacos out after a good soak.  I usually pin dry and block, but I found I really wanted the ultimate control over the shape of these guys.


WAIT, what am I doing?  I don't have time to blog -- I have to knit another square!!  One a day is my mantra -- I have 26 done, past the 1/3 mark, yippee.

By the way, life is hectic because of our move to Maine in December.  We made an offer on a house today (oh my!) and ordered a new car (a Subaru Outback, the state animal of Maine), but whether we will live in said house or be able to drive the car off the lot with all the Catch-22 logistics of moving to another country, I CANNOT FATHOM.  Oh yeah, and I *still* don't have a job... hoping very much to know that in a couple of weeks.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  :)

See my Everyone Loves Kaffe on Ravelry

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