A simple sweater makes for a very satisfying project (and a great sweater), and PetiteKnit is really, really, really good at that. Besides designing patterns for beautiful, simple silhouettes, she does a lot of combining of fibres, which creates a depth of colour and texture that goes beyond what you can get out of a single strand. The Novice Cardigan Mohair Edition is designed with 2 strands of a lace-weight mohair, like Drops Kid-Silk, held together. There are a few different ways you can go about this:
1. Same Yarn & Colour (Identical Twins)
You can use (ie. Drops Kid-Silk) like the designer has done in her sample (see the picture above for a closeup). Easy, peasy, no thinking, falls under Keep It Simple Sister.
2. Combine Two Colours(Fraternal Twins)
A second option could be to use two different colours of the same yarn (ie. Drops Kid-Silk). If you want to create a depth of colour chose two that are close together, and their fuzzinesses will blend together and make them look like something new. Below are a few examples of to illustrate my point ….
3. Combine Fibres(Kissing Cousins)
The option that gets me really excited is to combine different fibres in colours that complement each other, thereby creating a dept of colour and texture – something you’ll never find in a store-bought garment. For this pattern I’m crushing on Fibre Co Meadow(On Sale to Sept 6) paired with Drops Kid-Silk. A lighter shade of kid-mohair will brighten up the base yarn, while a colour that is closer to the base will blend more, and create a halo. The most important thing is that the base tones match. For the the following examples I’ve eyeballed and scrutinized the skeins in natural light to make sure they work together, or as Erica says ‘make sense’. (FYI, if you’ve only got 1 skein of Meadow see the bottom of the page for a smaller project)
Designed to fit an approximate bust circumference of 80-85 (85-90) 90-95 (95-100) 100-110 (110-120) 120-130 (130-140) 140-150 cm [31½-33½ (33½-35½) 35½-37½ (37½-39½) 39½-43¼ (43¼-47¼) 47¼-51¼ (51¼-55) 55-59 inches].
Designed to have approx. 10 cm [4 inches] of positive ease, meaning it is designed to be approx. 10 cm [4 inches] larger in circumference than your body. (This means that if you, for example, measure 90 cm [35½ inches] around your bust or widest upper body part (measure yourself around your bust, or your widest point, using a measuring tape), you should knit a size S which has a circumference of 100 cm [39¼ inches]. This will give you 10 cm [4 inches] of positive ease.)
Drops Kid-Silk: 8(8-9, 9, 10, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14-15) balls in one colour
Drops Kid-Silk: 5(5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8) balls in each of TWO colours (you may end up with an extra ball of yarn this way, but it’s better than running out)
Drops Wish is a dreamy, super bulky weight, blown yarn made from baby alpaca blown into a core of merino wool and pima cotton. Wish is cosy, light, airy, soft, fluffy and absolutely itch-free. Wish is a great choice for sweaters, accessories (hats, wraps, scarves, cowls, shawls, etc), blankets – you name it. To make for a REALLY thick knit, you can hold 2 strands of this yarn together and use 15mm/US19 needles. We also love that Wish is made in the first world, and made exclusively with natural, biodegradable fibres (no synthetics).
If you do not already have the needles for this project we recommend buying interchangeable needles. They are very versatile for top-down sweaters and have more longevity for future projects (if you need a longer or shorter needle you can purchase an inexpensive new cord, rather than an entire needle. If you are buying individual tips and cords, that Knitter’s Pride are the most affordable option. If you are thinking about investing in a set, the Chiaogoo Twist Red Lace 4″ Tips: 2.75mm – 10mm have the best range and versatility for an assortment of projects.
I don’t love the way Drops formats their pattern, I find it makes them harder to follow. If you find you have the same issue consider copying the text into a free, cloud based text editing program like Google Docs and cleaning up the formatting to your liking – I find it’s worth the time to separate the sections. If you have a more pronounced learning disability you may even want to put it into a spreadsheet program like Google Sheets to break it down into line-by-line instructions – you can even make it into a chart and tick off your work as you go.
Harvest Queenis a cozy, oversized pullover that’s knit in one piece from the top-down. It features a yoke construction with pretty cable and lace detail. It’s knit on 9mm needles, so it works up fast! The yarns recommend are blownyarns, making it a lighter, airier textile than expected. Video and written tutorials are provided at the bottom of the free pattern (they even have a place you can ask them questions about the pattern, and the pattern is available in 15 languages).
XS(S, M, L, XL, XXL)
Bust circumference: 36.75(40.75, 43.25, 47.25, 51.25, 56) inches or 92(102, 108, 118, 128, 140) cm
Shout for Winteris a cozy, oversized cardigan that’s knit in one piece from the top-down. It features raglans sleeves with a pretty mock English rib detail. It’s knit on 9mm needles, so it works up fast! The yarns recommend are blownyarns, making it a lighter, airier textile than expected. Video and written tutorials are provided at the bottom of the free pattern (they even have a place you can ask them questions about the pattern, and the pattern is available in 15 languages).
S(M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL)
Bust circumference: 40(43.25, 46.5, 51.25, 56, 60.75)inches or 100(108, 116, 128, 140, 152) cm
Just Rightis a cozy, oversized pullover that’s knit in one piece from the top-down. It features raglans sleeves with a pretty cable detail and puffed sleeves. It’s knit on 9mm needles, so it works up fast! The yarns recommend are blownyarns, making it a lighter, airier textile than expected. Video and written tutorials are provided at the bottom of the free pattern (they even have a place you can ask them questions about the pattern, and the pattern is available in 15 languages).
S(M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL)
Bust circumference: 40(41.5, 44.75, 49.75, 54.5, 59.25)inches or 100(104, 112, 124, 136, 148) cm
In my last post I talked about tension, why it’s important and how to do it properly. In this one I’m sharing two projects that inspired me to swatch. In that post I mentioned that it’s a great idea to upload your swatch data to your Ravelry account for posterity, which is already proving handy today as I’m writing from home, without my swatch at hand! All the patterns today are beginner friendly, accessible and affordable.
This is the pattern that got me swatching, Over Easy. I thought it would make a great, quick ‘n easy fall knit, especially for the less experienced knitters. It’s knit in the round from the bottom up, the upper front and back are each worked flat, the shoulders are seamed, and then the sleeves are picked up and knit from the top-down. It’s worked up on BIG needles, and the yarn is fuzzy and hides a multitude of sins.
The yarn I was testing out is Drops Melody, a super soft, light and fluffy blend of alpaca and wool. What I really love about this yarn is that it looks like a bulky mohair, but it feels like a baby’s bum! Seriously, every time I touch a ball I’m shocked that it doesn’t have new-baby smell. The reason I was testing it was because I recognized that it would look great worked holding multiple strands together, but I didn’t precisely know how it would respond on different sized needles, or the difference between holding two or three strands together. It turns out my first instinct was right, I think this pattern would work best with12mm/US17 needles and holding two strands together. If you find you knit tightly on larger needles (some people do, but I don’t) then you’ll want to go up to a 15mm/US19 needle.
Sizes: 1 (2, 3, 4)
Body circumference: 64 (69, 76, 76)”
Sleeve length: 8.5 (8.5, 7.5, 7.5)”
Length from shoulder to bottom: 18 (18, 21, 23)”
Use the following as a general guide for sizing based on bust measurement:
This is the other sweater that got me swatching, Kelowna. This one is knit in the round from the top-down, and is approachable to everyone- at any knitting level. For this sweaterI’d use two strands held together and whatever size needle gets you gauge (my swatch was closest with a 9mm/US13, but you might want go bigger … it’ll be a great opportunity to practice checking your tension!
This might be my next COVID sweater (I haven’t been especially prolific), but I’m not sure which colour …maybe the petrol green?
One of the cool things that have come out of COVID is that there are a lot of new and inexperienced knitters out there, so I’ve been on the lookout for patterns and projects that you guys can do at home without the support of an in-person class. I think Four Scoreis a great sweater project for newbies or just people whose skill threshold isn’t advanced, but they want to try and do something more.
The sweater is worked flat in four pieces, on two straight needles (or circular if you prefer) and sewn up later using mattress stitch. The back and front are the same. A generous 4×4 rib pattern makes this a stretchy, flattering sweater with a bit of cling. It is designed to be worn with 3-6” of ease.
The yarn, Drops Air, is also super accessible. It’s super soft, light as air (hence the name), fluffy (which can be both cozy *and* forgiving), and affordable. I think this project is one you’ll love making as well as snuggling into. It’s a good thing many people are working from home, because when people see your new sweater they are going to ask you to make them one!
The skills and techniques used in this project are not complicated! The most advanced skill is seaming. Don’t let seaming scare you, it isn’t complicated, you just have to do it to practice it. The yarn that this project is made with is a great canvas to learn on – you don’t have to be perfect, the fuzzy aura will obscure so many sins.
ssk (slip, slip, knit – an easy type of decrease)
knit 2 together (a very easy type of decrease)
purl 2 together (a very easy type of decrease)
bind off in rib (knit the knit stitches, purl the purl stitches)
seaming with mattress stitch
If you’re looking for help on the interweb I always recommend the following two resources to new knitters:
I have fallen seriously behind in my COVID knitting … you know how it goes, make plans and universe laughs. I pulled some sexy yarn from my ‘stash’ and have been working on Love Note. I know fuzzy isn’t really spring but hey, my pandemic, my rules. My sweater is not the pink one, that belongs to the pattern designer, mine is the dark one in progress below.
I finished the body last night and tried it on and it looked amazing! I’m feeling motivated to finish the arms and wear it – it feels light as air, it should be great over a cami. The lace looks really pretty, I’m not really a lace person, but it isn’t too much, and it’s in the right place. There is a sort of high front/lower back thing going on, if you aren’t into it you can skip it, although I would put in at least half of the short rows to even out the front & back. The pattern has both a cropped and full length version, I’m making the adult size XS in the full length (see below for interesting things about size), I added a 1/2 inch, and it’s still on the short side style-wise. I highly advise trying on your sweater before starting the short rows. BTW, the lace is fairly simple, and the pattern comes with both a chart and the written instructions.
The pattern uses a thin mohair held with a fingering weight yarn, but I’m not really up for mohair (itchy), so I have subbed a ‘blown yarn’ with baby alpaca. Blown means it has a knitted core and the alpaca is literally blown into it with a machine. It makes an extremely light, airy yarn that has some depth to it. I’m using Illimani Amelie, but you can also use the very similar and quite affordable Drops Air(or if you want I’ll special order you some Amelie, it’s super yummy scrummy sexy (I don’t have any in store right now, it costs $24/skein).
The pattern is EXTREMELY size inclusive, it runs from a baby 0-6 months up to an adult 5XL (72″ bust). I’m thinking matching mommy/baby sweaters? Sibling sweaters? Cousin sweaters? BFF sweaters? The opportunities are endless. The baby and child sizes are an ideal opportunity to use Drops Air – my mom always said you can put a baby in anything, that they can’t complain, but I beg to differ – they seem to be adept at wailing their adorable little heads off for as long as they feel uncomfortable.
Sorry we haven’t connected in a while, I’ve been working hard and am healthy and happy. You know how it is, this experience is wearing on the most resilient of us – going eyeball to eyeball with fear and vulnerability is challenging. Anyway, I haven’t been feeling myself lately, but I think that’s ok, I’m growing into something new, so I’m just sort of letting myself marinate. I saw my niece and nephew for the first time since before march break and found they have grown … they used to fight like cats & dogs and now they’re BFFs (it only took a month and a half of being locked in together). They got bigger too, but that’s a given.. they’re kids. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to (should you be interested):
Reading:The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle (audiobook) … I just started this on Sunday and it’s the kind of book that you’re going to read over and over as you grow. I think it’s also the kind of book that you don’t read until you’re ready for it. I wouldn’t say the material is over my head, but I’ve got some work ahead of me.
Listening: Tara Brach podcast …. I’ve wandered from her excellent weekly pandemic support content and have crawled into the back-catalogue from B.C. (ie. before covid). The episodes on Radical Compassion from December 2019 are excellent, this morning I was listening to Desire and Addiction from March 2020.
Discussing: The Zombie Apocalypse … apparently I’m not on my beau’s Zombie Apocalypse ‘team’ and he’s throwing me under the bus. On the upside, he says the team will eat me. I don’t really blame him, I can’t run and I bruise easily. Anyway, I don’t really want to be around for the Zombie Apocalypse anyway, it sounds stressy and low on crafts. Other topics of interest include washing our winter coats … is there anything better than sucking the air out of the storage bag containing your winter coats? That’s a feeling worth savouring!
Cooking: Instant Pot Chicken Adobo. Yummy, simple and easy! Serve with Rice and a veggie. Freeze in batches for quick prep later.
Working On: Making vulnerability my BFF … according to researcher Brené Brown in Daring Greatly: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
With the holidays coming up I’m going to try to focus on smaller projects that make great gifts (hats, cowls, scarves, slippers, sockies, mitts, leg-warmers, etc). What are you making for the holidays this year? I received a reprieve this year, only one hand knit required, so I’m developing my self-love and making myself some new leg-warmers and a new sweater made with the new Fibre Co. Cumbria. I’m looking forward to sharing that project with you, the results so far are great – I’ve gone off-book and am trying a new experiential experiment with it, fingers crossed!
I was originally thinking of using a sightly heavier yarn for this, some Cascade Eco+ Merino that was leftover from our Felix Pullover, but I kind of wanted to experiment and see what the hat would be like with Drops Air, a lighter, airier yarn. I think it made for a really nice fall hat or something for people who have a lot of hair. Now that I’m sitting down and giving it another thought, I’m having a “what were you thinking?!” moment and realize that it would look sensational made with the Malabrigo Mecha (smack forehead). Thankfully, there’s always another hat on the horizon! It would be interesting to make the same hat over & over in different yarns and see how they turn out …. maybe that will happen some day, when I’m no longer a person with a DaVinci-esque attention span (he was notorious for not finishing his work, once DaVinci solved a puzzle he lost interest and moved on).
If you mke a pompom for this hat, don’t kill yourself making it dense. I did, I got all perfectionisty and packed it tightly, which made it look smooth and dense. Unfortuantely, this made it smooth and dense. This hat looks great with a “hand-made” looking pompom, and light and airy is definitely better. If you like a tight pompom, go for a smaller size pompom maker, like the yellow one from clover.
Design Hack: Want a quick pick-me-up for a dull hat? Add a fur pom-pom or a hand made pompom in a contrasting colour!
Another experiment with Drops Air, Antler turned out super light and cozy. Like, super-duper light and cozy. I just tried it on, and it’s so cozy that I’d kinda like to crawl into a matching onesie made with the same yarn … that would be quite a sight, quite possibly the ultimate in ‘cocooning’ (something to think about for halloween next year). I’ve completely lost my train of thought … that’s how cozy it feels!!! Oh yeah, wear it with your Infinitude cowl, you’ll never want to take your outerwear off.
We made the brim of our hat short so it can be worn like a slouch, but it was designed with more ribbing and you can take it either way, depending on what looks nice on you.
Please meet our latest success, Decemberist! I’ve been eyeballing this pattern for a while and figured “What have I got to loose?!” It knits fast with super thick yarn on 9mm/US13 needles (or larger if your yarn is accommodating). We used 3 balls of Drops Andes in colour 8112, an icy blue, so it was a pretty affordable project too ($33). The pattern was straight-forward, and the lace is given in both written instructions and as a chart – it probably fits into an advanced-beginner/intermediate skill level, and would probably make a decent introduction to lace knitting for anyone wanting to expand and explore.
Overall, I think it is a very successful project, and it would make a great holiday gift knit (I kind of like that it looks like a substantial sized gift, even though it’s light on cost and labour). If you know someone with a cottage it would make an amazing wrap to snuggle up in at night or at the end of the season. Women who work in cold offices will also appreciate one of these. I also think that this wrap is so pretty that when your friends/family/colleagues see you wearing this they are going to ask you to make them one, so you might as well get ahead of the curve and start early. Will it look a little strange seeing the women in your office walking around wearing the same wrap in different colours? Maybe, but the Pointer Sisters rocked the look, so I say own it and be your best, favourite you!
Drops Andes is a comfortable, lofty 2ply blend of Alpaca and Peruvian Wool. It’s soft to the touch, and kind of feels like what I always wish wool actually felt like – that stage that is just short of the buttery soft texture you normally find with a fine merino or baby alpaca. All of the colours are lovely, but I think the pattern would look especially good in the following:
Greys: 519 Dark Grey Mix, 9020 Light Grey Mix, 9015 Grey Mix, 8465 Medium Grey (solid)
Neutrals: 100 Off White (naturalish), 1101 White (cream), 206 Light Beige Mix, 619 Beige Mix (oatmeal)
If you want to make yours larger the easiest way is to use a slightly thicker yarn with a larger needle. Malabrigo Rasta (5 skeins) and Cascade Spuntaneous (3 skeins) would both be great yarns to sub, and you can go up to a 12mm/US17 needle with both of them. Unless you are a tight knitter, I would NOT increase the needle size for the Drops Andes; after blocking the fabric flows and drapes, its a beautiful tension (around 9 sts over 4″/10cm).
If you feel confident with your mathimagical abilities, you can also upsize the pattern by increasing the amount of stocking stitch you work before starting the lace. You’ll need to add an extra 36 sts to the stocking stitch section (so you’ll need to do an extra 6 repeats for “Section 1”, which would add an extra 12 rows). Depending on your tension, this should give you about an extra 3.75″/9.5cm of depth and about 16″/40cm in width.
If you don’t already own 9mm/US13 needles (or larger) this might be a great opportunity to buy some Knitters Pride Interchangeable needles. You’ll need a long cable for this project, which is something you may not get a lot of use out of in the future (unless you’re going to get into making Bulky Blankets, which are awesome things in their own right). With interchangeable needles one pair of tips can become any length of circular needle from 24″ to 60″, and extra cords are a very reasonable $3.97 each (instead of $20 to $35 for a new pair of needles with a different length cord).
This project is a two thumbs up! It’s pretty, fast, not too complicated, affordable, and giftable. I’m thinking about trying it again in Malabrigo Rasta in 429 Cape Cod Grey, but I’ll wait a month or so in case you guys need the yarn.
I really love how this project came out! It’s soft, airy, light, cozy, and with the pattern being free and the yarn only costing $20, it’s a pretty cost effective knit too! If you’re starting to think about holiday gift to knit, this is a great go-to project.
The pattern is called a scarf, but I don’t know why because it’s actually a cowl. We made the smaller size and in the yarn we used (Drops Air) it can be worn either once or twice around the neck. I also found that the “twice around” brings the ‘full goldilocks’ – it isn’t too big or too small, it’s just right (in my mind, that means it doesn’t gape, letting cold air in). If your finished project looks small just wet-block it, mine stretched from 20″ x 10″ to 24″ x 9″.
The pattern, Infinitude Scarf, is a simple little thing that combines knits and purls in the easiest way. The skills are pretty simple: casting on, working in the round, using a knit & purl stitch in the same row, and binding off. We made the smaller size, but had extra yarn so just kept going in the welt pattern by adding an extra 3 pattern repeats (so we did “Knit 4 rnds, purl 4 rnds” a total of 6 times).
We used two skeins of Drops Air, a new yarn for us this year. It’s a super light and airy alpaca that knits easily and looks great! It’s a ‘blown’ yarn, which means it consists of a loosely knit chain core made of polyamide and then the Alpaca is literally blown into and through this core, coating it in a delightful halo of the softest alpaca. The result is an extra depth of colour because you can see a bit of the core through the translucent outer layer. Drops Air comes in both heathered and solid colours, but I think the heathers are extra pretty, with that extra dimension of colour added. Did I mention that it’s also super soft? Yeah, it’s crazy soft, it totally passes the neck test. Drops Air comes in a bunch of colours, made in Peru and the European Union, and it only costs $9.97 a skein.
I just finished a third Nuvem and it was a total win! It’s light and airy as a cloud and cozy as hell. It’ll be an awesome spring/fall wrap, I just want to cocoon in it. I used Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk and 4.5mm/US7 needles, so it also didn’t take a super long time (I took about a month, but I totally dawdled because I wasn’t into any tv shows or audiobooks). Anyway, everyone who picks it up says they they feel compelled to make one – especially after I tell them the yarn only cost $36 (total).
The pattern isn’t very complicated, but it does involve a cast-on that some may not be familiar with: Judy’s Magic Cast-on. It’s isn’t hard, and I don’t think you should let it stop you from making this project. Judy’s Magic Cast-on is a very popular technique for making toe-up socks, and there are tons of videos and tutorials for it online, so if you have a hard time with one just skip to the next.
Nuvem Needle Hacks
The last time I made a Nuvem I came up with an easy Knit Hack to help keep track of my needles on this project!
This pattern is worked on two identical circular needles, which can get unwieldy. After I had been working for a while and my Nuvem had grown sufficiently I found that I was able to transfer all of my stitches to a single 60″ circular needle. My preferred type of needles for this project are interchangeables (I have a set of Addis, but Knitter’s Pride are also a great option, their extra cords and tips are affordable), because if I’m going to buy two identical needles of the same size, they might as well be interchangeable tips.
I always wonder why shawls and wraps don’t come in sizes – people comes in different shapes and sizes, and a person with larger shoulders, back and/or bust will need a larger garment, right? Luckily, this pattern is extremely flexible, so it’s very easy to make this wrap smaller or larger. I cast on 143 stitches, which measured 37”/94cm in length after blocking (the end sections each measure about 17″/42cm). I feel like my wrap would fit up to a size large, but if I was an XL or larger I’d make it longer. If you want yours longer you can cast on more stitches (based on my tension, that’s about 3.85 stitches per inch, so if you wanted your wrap to be 4″/10cm longer I’d cast on an extra 15 stitches). If you want it wider you just have to knit extra rounds (or block it width-wise – I blocked mine length-wise).
Width (after blocking length-wise): 23”/58cm
Length (after blocking length-wise): 71”/180cm
You can get an idea about the finished size in the picture below. The mannequin is a size 6 and on the small size at that (no booty whatsoever), so I’d say that this is what it would look like on a small person.
On our Last Date I promised to update you on my yarnsperiments, and I have lots to share! I originally played around with holding 2 strands of Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk together, and since then I moved on to see how it acted when I held it with a heavier yarn. The concept is to hold a light, airy yarn like a brushed alpaca or mohair with a heavier, more conventional yarn. The heavier yarn stabilizes the fabric, giving it body, and density. The airy yarn gives it a soft, all-over halo (please note: the fabric can only be as soft as the fibre. A downy alpaca will continue to be soft, and itchy mohair will still be scratchy).
And so, I offer up my experiments …. I’ve used the same 2 yarns throughout: Cascade 220 Superwash Sport and Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk. The Cascade is a sport-weight machine washable merino wool, it is super soft and comes in 50g/125m skeins (perfect for experimenting). The Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk is a worsted weight brushed alpaca that looks kind of like mohair but feels like happiness. It comes in 25g/140m skeins. Both yarns are 100% natural fibres.
On the C Train
My first foray into this combo was On the C Train, a pattern that was designed to be made with 2 strands of yarn held together. It’s made in a K1P1 rib (which I like to call ‘stupid stitch’, which while tedious to knit, makes for an elastic fabric that fits well. I ran short on my base yarn, the Cascade, so the size is a bit on the small side (slouchy on a 21″ head) – all of my modifications are in Our Ravelry Notes.
The finished fabric almost looks felted, I think because of the colours:
The yarns were a dead-on colour match, there’s just about no distinction between the two when they were knitted up. Of course, dye lots can shift colours around, but this combo on this day for this project were twins.
Both yarns are solid colours. They are not heathered, so there isn’t any differentiation in the colour, it’s flat.
The colour is dark and doesn’t reflect much light. (Yes, yarn can reflect light, and it affects how you perceive the colour. The darker the colour is, the less depth and the flatter it’ll look). The halo of the alpaca also prevents light from being reflected off the merino.
Anyway, it looks really cool! It doesn’t feel remotely felted, it’s soft, extremely comfortable, and has an all-over lightly fuzzy texture. This hat could look really cool in a black on black combo.
Chunkeanie is a pattern we’ve made before, and I’ve always really liked the aesthetic. When I’m knitting it I feel really meh about it, but once it’s done it just looks amazing! It especially looks good on, which is important, since it’s a hat, not a tea cozy. One caveat, I feel like the pattern runs small, their size medium fits my 21″ head. The texture is still soft, and very comfortable. I like this particular yarn combo knitted on the 5mm/US8 needles, it blooms nicely, although I think the brim could be knitted on 4.5mm/US7 needles.
This colour combo with the light greys looks amazeballs! The light grey of the Cascade merino is a bit more of a cool colour, and the alpaca is warmer. They ended up working well together, with the fuzzy alpaca becoming the dominant colour. This is an interesting phenomenon that I hadn’t actually noticed until now. I’m glad I photographed the hats next to their constituent yarns, you can kind of see which colour is more dominant when they are neighbours. Cool! I just learned something new!
The fabric of this hat looks a lot less flat and more fuzzy than felted, probably for a few reasons:
Both of the yarns’ colours are heathered, which give it a bit more depth of colour.
In the purple alpaca yarn the silk and alpaca content are almost indistinguishable, the entire strand looks the same. In the light grey the silk (the carrier yarn or core) took the dye in a different way (silk does this, it’s fickle) and it is lighter than the alpaca (you can see the silk shining through in the picture below). This little hit of colour runs through the stitches, randomly creating little highlights. (One of the advantages of knitting holding 2 strands together is that the colour distribution is completely random. When the yarns are already pre-spun together you lose that added depth of colour.)
The value (the lightness or darkness of a colour) of the colours is much lighter than the purple hat. The dark value of the purple hat added to the flatness of the colour. With this hat, the lightness of the colour creates a greater depth of colour. I can still see details in the yarn, like the stitches and the plies. Even though our mind doesn’t tend to register those little lines, they create micro shadows which in turn creates contrast and adds more depth to the overall colour.
Anyway, this hat-speriment was definitely a win. It looks really good on me, and I think I’m going to have to make myself a second – otherwise I’ll swipe the store sample.
The grey hat worked out so well that I decided to try a different colour and make one for my mom. My mother has a little mini head, so I opted to try a smaller needle size and went down to a 4mm/US6 for the ribbing and 4.5mm/US7 for the crown. The tension was fine, but I definitely feel like the 5mm/US8 was a prettier tension.
The first hat (purple) was a dark colour, the second (grey) was a light colour, and this one was in between. It looks like the fuzzy yarn (the alpaca) is still coming out as the dominant colour in the fabric. The alpaca also seems to look patchier in this hat, which is an optical illusion because it is exactly the same as the other two hats. This is because of the special things going on with this particular colour combo:
The Cascade merino is a heathered colour, so it isn’t as flat as the purple. But the heathering is only one colour, white, and it isn’t as complex or have the depth of colour that is in the light grey, which has black and white in it. (You’ll have to take my word on this, my camera skills haven’t made it this far.)
The Cascade merino is a bit lighter than the alpaca, while in the other combos this was reversed. The base is showing through a lot more than the other hats, which look more uniform. Light colours project and pop out to the eye, while dark colours recede.
Like with the grey hat, the silk hasn’t taken the dye exactly the same as the alpaca and is peeking through, creating some small highlights.
The Chunkeanie pattern calls for an Alternate Cable Cast On, which you do not have to do to make this hat, but I like trying new things, seeing how they work, why the designer chose to use it, etc. The Alternate Cable Cast On is a great way to cast on for a ribbed edge of K1P1 or K2P2 and is a much, much, much easier alternative to a Tubular Cast On. Like, SO MUCH.
So if it’s so much easier, why does it need a hack? Good question. When you do this cast on you’re basically alternating making a knit stitch, then a purl stitch, a simple enough concept – in theory. In theory, my brain should be able to pay attention to knits and purls and knits and purls. In THEORY. In reality, I found myself having a nice little rendez-vous with my learning disabilities. I was constantly screwing up the sequence of the knits and purls and having to rip it out.
How I Mastered this Cast On
Stitch Markers. Get them, use them, they’re your little plastic friends! I placed a stitch marker after every 10 stitches, and before proceeding more than a few stitches past that I went back and checked to make sure the last 10 stitches were correct. Once I confirmed that I was on track, I moved on to the next 10.
Read the Stitches. The other thing I had to do was learn to read what the knit and purl stitches looked like. You can’t check to see if your stitches are correct if you don’t know what they are. The best way is to just practice casting them on and looking closely to see how the knit looks compared to the purl. To my eye, the knit is a long bar that sticks out and the purl is bead or a bump that recedes. I tried taing a picture and labelling it for you, but I don’t know if it’s super helpful – people all conceptualize things in different ways, so it’s best just to study your stitches closely and get familiar with them in your own terms.
Pay Attention to Your Join. This is where reading your stitches again comes in handy. Because the sequence of the stitches is what this cast-on is all about, I joined my stitches by threading the yarn tail on a darning needle and pulling it through the other side. I don’t know why, but I found that once joined my stitches had gotten turned around to the other side, and my round was starting with a purl. At this point I didn’t really care why or how this was happening, I just wanted to get on with it and make a hat, so I adapted and started my ribbing on a purl.
OMG, that was SO. MANY. WORDS. I’m sorry if it’s too many words, too much explanation. Please feel free to take it or leave it, or take some and leave the rest. My conclusions are thus:
The hats look really good!
I like the yarn combination, it worked out well.
The grey hat made me the happiest, but the purple was cool.
I now know more than I did before, and this exploration was definitely a worthwhile use of time and resources.
I’ve already moved on to my next project, I’m knitting a Nuvem with the Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk as a straight-up single stand. I think it’ll make for a super cosy wrap for spring, and so far it looks great – but more to follow!