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.
This is a pattern I came up with YEARS ago, but I don’t seem to have ever published it to Ravelry. I came across this utterly DIVINE yarn, Phildar Pur Angora, and I had to buy it, and then of course had to make something with it … so the old Slouchy Angora Hat pattern came out. I’ve re-edited and made some updates to the pattern.
The hat is a basic, slouchy toque. You can wear it with the brim turned up and wear it as a watch-cap, down and slouchy, or turn the brim under and wear it as a beanie. It’s pure angora, it does all the work! It is knit with 2 strands held together, in our sample we used one strand of black and one of the lighter grey, Perle, to create a marled effect. If that feels a little busy for you try using two strands of the same colour and make it a dense and delicious colour.
The yarn is just so gorgeous and precious! I hold it and I’m like “Oh hello you beautiful thing!”, and then I start talking to it like it’s a baby with the fattest thighs I’ve ever seen. I like using different kinds of yarns, and once in a while using something and precious special REMINDS me that I’m special and precious (it seems like the further we get from that yummy baby fat the less we receive that kind of honour, so I undertake it myself).
Please note … I am currently wearing the hat (brim turned under) and I’m not sure if it is influencing my writing, but I think that if it *is* inspiring me to love myself and treat myself well then it qualifies as an EXTRA-successful project, regardlessof any of it’s other properties. Thanks to Erika for making the sample, it’s my new thinking cap!
Finished Circumference: 17(19, 20.5)”
To approximately fit head circumference: 21(22, 23)”
I’m definitely going to have to make a little beret and maybe a matching neck thing with this yarn!
I also have an open ended mindfullness question for those of you who practice such things …. if you work on a project, and the entire time you are making it you intentionally think of about how precious you are (or whatever you choose), will you feel those emotions every time you wear the finished garment? Has anyone ever tried this? What would you call the practice? How did it turn out? …. It’s pretty clear to me at this point that I’m going to have to try it and share. 🙂
ALL Cascade 220 Superwash Sport is 35% Off! This yarn is on clearance and we won’t be ordering any more, so this is a “While Quantities Last” opportunity.
Cascade 220 Superwash Sport is a super soft, 100% merino superwash yarn. It’s great for kids and babies (I frequently use it for my niece and nephew), and the 50g skeins make it a nice choice for colourwork. 1 skein is usually enough for a baby hat, 2 for an adult hat or mitts/gloves, 4 for a scarf or infinity cowl, 8 for a baby blanket (approx 30″ x 30″). It’s also perfect for blankets and afghans that require a lot of colours, like those by Attic 24.
I know everybody’s always looking for a yarn that “does stuff”, but sometimes there’s something to a clean, simple cable in a soft, smooth merino. It never goes out of style, it looks good with everything, anybody can wear it – ’nuff said, start your holiday knitting! Plus, the pattern is FREE.
Manos del Urugay Alegria Grande is a sumptuously soft superwash yarn that’s great for EVERYTHING (except felting). Made with 75% merino wool & 25% polyamide, it’s strong enough for house-socks and soft enough for baby hats and sweaters for the entire family. This is also the perfect yarn for learning how to make socks (we use it in our sock classes with 3.75mm/US5 needles).
75% merino wool, 25% polyamide
100g/180m (197 yds)
18 to 20 sts = 4″/10cm
4mm to 5mm (US 6 to 8) needles
Machine or hand wash in cold water, lay flat to dry
Manos Alegria Grande Semi-Solids are exactly the same as their muti-coloured siblings, but they are kettle dyed for a semi-solid aesthetic. They’re worsted weight, super soft merino, machine washable, and great for garments for people of all ages and sizes, from babies to grown-ups. Semi-solid colours are perfect for making a pair of Rye Socks (picture above), or other garments that involve lace, cables, or other textural details.
How Much Yarn Do I Need?
You should always check your pattern for yardage requirements, but here are some estimates:
Socks, hat, neckwarmer, mittens, wrist-warmers: 1 skein
FYI, we were supposed to do the 25km ride, but we just kept going and scored ourselves an extra 25km … I’m a little tender in the posterior, but I totally earned my donations this year! If you wanted to donate but didn’t get around to it it isn’t too late – my brother is only $12 ahead of me, I think that needs to be rectified …
Me & my father at the half-way point on a particularly wet & cold Ride for Heart.
Ride for Heart
Some of you already know that every year I do a charity bike ride with my father. This year I managed to drag my BROTHER along, so all three of us are riding 25km up, and then back down the Don Valley Parkway (a local highway).
Anyway, the purpose of the even, besides getting out of the house and getting some exercise, is to rise funds for the Canadian Heart and Stroke association, who does A LOT of important work helping EVERYONE improve their cardiac health (after all, scientific research has no borders). According to an article in the news yesterday women are TWICE as likely to die from a heart attack than men. This is NOT GOOD, because I know from computery data stuff that 95% of the people reading this are WOMEN! Sure, I’ve got a vested interested in keeping you alive, many of you reading this are my clients, but I also feel strongly that the world needs women, as many as it can get. And as women, we deserve to be strong, healthy, and happy.
P.S. They symptoms of heart attack in women are often different than those seen in men. Women can have chest symptoms (the ‘Hollywood’ clutching of the chest & sweating), or any of the following:
profound nausea and vomiting with palpitations
discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back
Since I’ve been talking about women’s health, who better to invoke than the head amazon herself, Wonder Woman. I’ve actually seen this hat in the wild, on some dude in the subway, and it was AWESOME. Sure, you can still wear your Pussy Hat to protests, but sometimes you want something a bit dressier for your day-to-day lady needs. The pattern isn’t free, but it’s only $3, which I don’t begrudge to have someone else do the work of charting the symbol.
To make things easier, I’ve pulled all the suitable colours off the shelf and come up with colour combinations that work well together (you can never really tell online which shades are actually going to look good). I personally like a darker, more sombre colour combo with a dark red, gold and blue, but I know that everyone has different Wonder Woman Toque needs, so I chose colours that were both thematically on cue and look great together. By the way, if this project appeals to you, you might want to bookmark or Pinterest this post for future reference – you’ll want to revisit the colour numbers!
Since this is such a cool project, and it is in honour of a charitable fundraising endeavour, we’re offering a one time discount of 10% Off Online orders of the yarns we think will work best (discount is applicable to all colours, you can have your order shipped or choose to order online and pick-up your order in store): Use code WONDERHAT at checkout.
Cascade 220 Superwash is a soft, machine washable, 100% Peruvian wool, it comes in a bunch of colours, and the price is very reasonable. You’ll need 1 skein in each colour plus optional 1 ball for pom-pom in colour 817 Aran:
Berrocco Vintage is a super soft, machine washable blend of wool and synthetic, and the price is right at $9.97/skein. You’ll need 1 skein in each colour, plus optional 1 skein for pom-pom in colour 5101 Mochi:
Clear Colours Combo: 5150 Berries, 5121 Sunny, 5143 Dark Denim
Medium Combo: 5181 Black Cherry Heather, 5127 Butternut, 5143 Dark Denim
Dark Combo: 5181 Black Cherry Heather, 5192 Chana Dal Heather, 51182 Indigo Heather
Malabrigo Rios is a hand dyed, SUPER soft, machine washable merino wool, and while the price point is higher at $23.97/skein, comparable hand dyed merino yarns tend to run north of $30/skein. You’ll need 1 skein in each colour, plus optional 1 skein of off-white for pom-pom in Manos Alegria Grande in AG2800:
Brighter Combo: 611 Ravelry Red, 96 Sunset, 415 Matisse Blue
Medium Combo: 611 Ravelry Red, 96 Sunset, 150 Azul Profundo
Dark Combo: 33 Cereza, 96 Sunset, 150 Azul Profundo (the dye lot of 33 is darker than the picture)
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!