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!
I tried this pattern a few weeks ago, and I thought it would make a great post-holiday knit because it makes great use of bits ‘n bobs of stash yarn. It’s really nice to find a stash busting project that’s small and fast – so many are blankets! The pattern is Snap from Tin Can Knits, who are great designers (and are very reliable).
The colour variation and gradation are achieved by working with multiple strands of yarn held together and periodically changing them out. I used 4 strands of fingering weight yarn held together, although the pattern offers guidance for combinations with lace weight and sport/DK weight yarn. Working with multiple strands of yarn wasn’t hard, but if this is a new thing for you it’s just a good idea to take things slow and don’t rush your stitches.
All of the yarn I used was fingering weight from stash, and almost all of it was variegated. I worked the ribbing in a combination of 4 colours, and then I started changing out a single strand of yarn every 4 rounds, graduating from the darkest colours to the lightest. I think I used approximately 9 to 10 different colours/yarns in all. I started with the darkest greens and then transitioned up through the lighter or more yellowy greens, and then into the yellows.
I’ll be honest and tell you that while I was working on the hat I fussed in my head about which colour should go next, but I don’t think it was necessary. There was so much going on visually with 4 strands of variegated yarn, and I had so many colours that were somewhat close, that each individual change of yarn didn’t make a huge difference. The hat is knit on the knit side and then turned inside out after it is finished, and the colour changes are much more subtle on the purl side.
I made the size “adult S/M”, but after blocking it fits an adult M or 22″ head. If you are knitting for a smaller head (20.5 to 21″) I suggest going down a size. The fabric is heavy, a bit on the dense side (which makes sense, sock yarn doesn’t tend to be fluffy stuff).
December is always a good time to try out new patterns for accessories – winter can be long in Canada and I’m always sick of last year’s accessories by the time the fall has ended. I found this neat looking hat on Ravelry and figured it might make a nice new style. The pattern is the Copy Cat C.C. Beanie by Emily Ingrid (a freebie)and we used one skein of Malabrigo Rios.
The hat is designed as a beanie, so if you want something slouchier I would knit an extra pattern repeat. Ours is a smidge shorter than normal, I think we also accidentally left off the last tier of 1×1 rib at the top – oops! It fits a 22″/size medium head, but if you want to make something larger it is an easy pattern to modify, you can just add 8 stitches to the pattern. To make it smaller omit 8 stitches (or knit it on 4mm/US8 needles).
The brim is turned over, but I don’t know if that is a necessary feature, I think you could just knit the ribbing on 3.75mm/US5 needles and do it as a single ply.
I’m so sorry you haven’t heard from me a few days, you guys have been keeping me very busy in the store! I did manage to get a quickie off the needles this week – check out my Mega Rib! I managed to knit up this beanie in a single night – does that make it a one night stand? It;s definitely last-minute-giftable! It was quick & easy, I used one skein of Fleece Artist Merino Stream and 8mm/US11 needles. This yarn was a bit thinner than the one specified in the pattern, but I think it still works. The hat would also look good made according to the pattern’s directions with Cascade Spuntaneous (a super soft, single ply merino wool). Oh, and I forgot, the pattern is a freebie!
I used 8mm/US11 needles and the tension was comfortable a bit loose for a Canadian winter. Use 7mm/US10.75 needles for a denser tension.
I cast on 48 stitches, it fits an Adult medium. For an adult large cast on 51 sts, for a small cast on 45 sts.
We just finished this easy Classic Ribbed Hat, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The pattern was a freebie, so yay! We used a single skein of Diamond Baby Alpaca Sport, which is a BULKY weight, supremely soft 100% baby alpaca, and it feels marvellous! We used 5.5mm/US9 needles, so the tension is tight and the fabric will hopefully be a bit on the dense side, and more Canadian winter friendly. I kinda really like the colour, sometimes pinks and purples can be so surprising. And of course, we topped the whole thing off with a Raccoon Fur Pompom – I think they add a little polish and finish the look. I think it makes a beautiful, personal holiday gift (and it works up fairly quickly, so you can get it done in time).
I wasn’t sure about the sizing, so we cast on for the child side to fit an adult S/M, and then followed the instructions for the adult size. We also did an extra round of decreases at the end, to make the top more manageable to close. We always try to write out mods in the project notes on Ravelry.