Finished: The Owl In The Thicket Hat

The Owl In the Thicket is my new favorite hat! Cables, owls, beads, cashmere - what’s not to love? | withwool.com

It seems like I say this every year when I finish a new hat, but this is my new favorite hat. It’s soft, warm, and perfectly slouchy. There’s even cables and owls with beaded eyes for good measure. The only thing I’m kicking myself about is that I didn’t cast on until a year after I’d bought the yarn! Still I’m glad it’s finished and just in time for weird spring weather. Will it rain? Will it snow? Look out the window to find out.

The Owl In the Thicket is my new favorite hat! Cables, owls, beads, cashmere - what’s not to love? | withwool.com   

The pattern, Owl in the Thicket by Sara Huntington Burch, was a great challenge. This hat is all about the details and required lots of attention. Aside from the ribbing, there were only a handful of rows that were the same in the entire pattern. I had a lot of fun knitting it, and now I want work on more complicated projects. It’s nice to break out of the auto-pilot knitting every once in a while. And the knitting didn’t actually take all that long because I had a hard time putting it down. I just got hung up on how to block the thing which I’ll show in more detail in my next post.

I splurged on a skein of the recommended yarn, Anzula Cricket in the Lenore colorway, which I don’t do often. The benefit and responsibility of having a large stash means I usually shop from it first. The reason I splurged is that Cricket is a blend of merino and cashmere with a beautiful luster. The yarn was wonderful to work with and the semi-solid dye job added the right amount of detail. I’m glad I didn’t pick out a darker color because then all the cables would have gotten lost which would have been a complete waste.

The Owl In the Thicket is my new favorite hat! Cables, owls, beads, cashmere - what’s not to love? | withwool.com   

The yarn and cables certainly go a long way towards making this my favorite hat, but the pom-pom is what really makes it. I add pom-poms to stuff on a case-by-case basis. They’re cool, but not always necessary. Not this time. The pattern sample looked so good with a pom-pom, and my hat just looked so lacking without one. So I made a very large and in charge pom-pom, but how to put it on? This pom was pretty weighty and used 5 yds of yarn! I didn’t want it to pull the hat out of shape or for it to look tacked on. The answer turned out to be a .5” button. I used this tutorial for how to attach a removable pom-pom. Now, I have no intention of wearing the hat without the pom or taking it off (except maybe to wash it). The button gives the pom somewhere to sit, and that little bit of extra structure makes all the difference.

Now to wait for the weather to get cold enough to wear this beauty. I might not have to wait long with this random weather.

The Specs:
Pattern: The Owl In The Thicket by Sarah Huntington Burch
Yarn: 190 yds Anzula Cricket - Lenore
Needles: US 4 - 3.5 mm
Dates: January 11 - March 11, 2018
@Ravelry

How to Measure Knitting Gauge in Ribbing

How to check knitting gauge in ribbing, and what the pattern means when it says stretched, unstretched, and blocked. | withwool.com

Knowing your gauge for a knitting project is important. There’s no doubt about it. But how do you measure gauge when you’re not knitting something in stockinette? And why do patterns list gauge in stockinette when the project is covered in cables or ribbing or slip stitches?

Why is the gauge listed in stockinette?

Patterns usually measure gauge in stockinette because the author is assuming that if you can match their gauge in stockinette, then you’ll be able to match gauge in the pattern’s specific stitch. Plus, it’s also a lot easier to measure stitches and rows on stockinette than on a more complicated stitch pattern. Less room for a miscount that way.

 How to check knitting gauge in ribbing, and what the pattern means when it says stretched, unstretched, and blocked. | withwool.com

How to measure gauge in a rib pattern

There are plenty of patterns that list gauge in the dominant stitch pattern of the project too. The specific stitch pattern to swatch will be mentioned with the gauge info. If there’s no stitch pattern listed, the gauge is taken over stockinette.

So what do you do when the stitch pattern is ribbing? Whatever the specific pattern - 1x1, 2x2, 4x2, etc - ribbing is stretchy and the purl stitches hide in the back. How you check gauge will depend on 1 of these 3 words: unstretched, stretched, or blocked. I’m going to include the usual caveat, washing and drying your swatch the same way as the final project will help you get a more realistic measurement.

If the pattern says to measure the ribbing gauge unstretched: Put the knitting on a flat surface and count both knit and purl stitches over the length listed with the gauge info. 2” and 4” are the most common.

If the pattern say to measure the ribbing gauge stretched (or slightly stretched): Generally, this instruction means to pull the ribbing apart enough so that the purl stitches become clearly visible, but they are not pulled tight. You’ll probably need to pin the swatch out to get a true stitch count. Then count the stitches to find your gauge.

There’s a little room for interpretation with this instruction because one knitter might find that the listed gauge too loose or too tight. Or, if you’re substituting a different yarn, said yarn might not behave the same way as the one used in the pattern sample.

If the pattern says to measure the ribbing pattern blocked:  Let’s not confuse the general definition of blocking - washing and drying your knitting to help it be a specific shape or size, not necessarily stretching it - with the word “blocked” as written here. In this specific case, blocking means to wash and dry the ribbing while pulling the ribbing out until it looses it’s stretchiness. It’s important to pin the swatch out to the measurements listed in the pattern while its drying. Then once the swatch is dry and the pins removed, measure the gauge.

An Example of Measuring Ribbing Gauge:

 How to check knitting gauge in ribbing, and what the pattern means when it says stretched, unstretched, and blocked. | withwool.com

My Windbreaker hat pattern is based entirely in 2x2 rib, even the cables. So, I wrote the gauge like this:

13 sts and 13 rows = 2” in 2x2 rib, unstretched

The hat is worked in worsted weight yarn, and 13 stitches seems like way too many to be in 2” at first glance. “Unstretched” is the keyword here. Since the measurement is taken over unstretched ribbing, all those purl stitches hiding in the back are counted. The stitches per inch would be very different had the gauge been listed as “stretched”.

The Windbreaker hat knitting pattern by April Klich

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17 Fiber Arts Things That Made 2017 Great

I’ve enjoyed making lists since I was kid and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I wanted to write up a 2017 review, but couldn’t muster up the energy or motivation to write about in paragraph form. So, I’m taking a page from Austin Kleon’s blog and making a list of the knitting and spinning that made 2017 great. Somehow the 2017 list was 17 items long without any extra help from me.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

1. The Bearded One and I going to our first fiber festival, Estes Park Wool Market.

2. Completing 100 Days of Spinning where I spun and worked with handspun yarn for almost all of those 100 days.

3. Putting in the work to design more knitting patterns. Most of them didn’t make it past the layout stage, but they’re so close to being released in 2018.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

4. Releasing the Melded Scarf, a free pattern for a striped reversible scarf, in February.

5. Knitting a Boneyard shawl with my own handspun yarn.

6. Mostly staying on the sheep and being more conscious about my yarn and fiber buying. The stash is still worthy of the name Yarn Fort, but it hasn’t taken over any more space.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

7. Spinning along with Tour de Fleece for the 5th row in year.

8. Pushing my spinning boundaries to try new batts and more textured yarns.

9. Going to Interweave Yarn Fest.

10. Finally playing around with the drum carder and figuring out how to use it.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

11. Digging into my fiber stash and spinning a beautiful gradient from one giant batt. 8 matching skeins!

12. Taking my first ever spinning class about different ways to spin color with Maggie Casey.

13. Going to meetings and being a member of my local fiber guild.

All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com
All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com
All the #knitting and #spinning that made 2017 a great year. | withwool.com

14. The KIS hat and Mosaic Sisters patterns being used to teach classes on color work and mosaic knitting respectively.

15. Getting a whole room to use as my studio where I can work and get to all my art supplies, yarn, books, and notions. Wanted this for years so it’s great, but scary too.

16. Developing a new appreciation for hats knit with fingering weight yarn.

17. Wearing and enjoying my own hand knits. And seeing the Bearded One wearing and enjoying his hand knits too.

A Half-Finished Hat

Cables, owls, and beautiful yarn make a hat that’s hard to put down. #knitting | withwool.com

I’ve been planning and working on other projects this past week, but the Owl In The Thicket hat has been my go-to knitting. The complicated chart means it’s not great for travel knitting so I’ve been using it as reward knitting instead. Got 5 minutes before the next pomodoro timer starts? Put a round on the hat. Crashing on the couch at the end of the day with some tv? This WIP is going to be in my hands. At first glance the chart and instructions look really complicated, and they do require attention. The secret is that the hat is worked in bite-sized repeats which makes even complex rounds doable. So all those random chunks of time have added up rather quickly. Knitting to see the owls and leaves appear in the stitches might have had something to do with it too. I’m not far from the crown decreases when I was sure that I’d be working on this hat for at least a month instead of a few weeks.

Cables, owls, and beautiful yarn make a hat that’s hard to put down. #knitting | withwool.com

While I love the complexity of this pattern, the yarn is another big reason that I’m enjoying this knit. For once I’m actually using the recommended yarn, Anzula Cricket. It’s a DK weight yarn and a blend of merino, nylon, and cashmere. It is wonderfully soft and feels great moving through my fingers. Plus it was a lovely luster and a semi-solid dye job that I really love. The yarn adds interest to the pattern without detracting from it.

Working on this hat has also come with one unexpected benefit. It’s given me a perfect opportunity to practice cabling without a cable needle. There are lots of different cable twists, even on the same rounds, but they’re all easy to do. The hardest part was just getting all the symbols straight in my head. After a few dozen rounds, I have twisting cables without a cable needle down pat. Those complicated sections are definitely going a lot faster without that extra needle in the mix.

Cables, owls, and beautiful yarn make a hat that’s hard to put down. #knitting | withwool.com

I missed my chance to wear this hat during the most recent snow fall, but it was also nice to work on this project and watch the snow coming down. Pretty sure the hat will be ready for the next storm though at the speed I'm going .

The Last Knits of 2017 and Then Some

You wouldn’t know it by the snow falling outside, but it’s 2018 and the frenetic season of gift knitting is over and done. Well, not done for me. There’s still a few unfinished projects still on the needles, but they’re smaller things. Still, I am happy with what I did get finished, and it’s no small amount of knitting.

Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com

This is the second time I’ve knit the Elder Tree Shawl as a gift. One of these days I’ll make one for me. The pattern can be subtle or so so dramatic, especially if you add beads to every leaf. I used a single skein of Colinette Jitterbug which made a shawl-ette perfect for wearing tucked in to a coat. I also added beads to the picot bind off for extra sparkle.

Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com
Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com

I wasn’t sure what to make for a friend of mine, so I asked her what she wanted. She requested baby socks. Funny how well asking works. I picked up 2 skeins of Patons Kroy Socks FX, each a different color, and got to work. The charts in Kate Atherley’s Custom Socks where really helpful for getting the measurements I needed once I knew the length. As for the pattern, I used my my own basic toe-up recipe and sized it down. Both pairs came out pretty cute if you ask me, and there’s room to grow too.

Scarves, hats, shawls, and socks - 2017 saw a lot of gift knitting. | withwool.com

I tried something a little different last year and put something for myself on the gift list too, the Owl in the Thicket hat. It wasn’t a reward for finishing everything else, but a gift for myself because why not. I bought the pattern and the yarn a year ago and never made it to casting on. So I pulled out one of my favorite knitting bags and made a kit. I wound the yarn, printed the pattern, got the right needles, put the beads on my Fleegle beader, and gathered all the notions. While I didn’t actually cast on until after New Year’s Day, it was so nice to have that kit ready and waiting. I’ve finished the brim and am a few rows into the body charts. It’s been awhile since I’ve knit such a complicated chart, and I’m enjoying the change of pace. The yarn is lovely too. Why did it take me a year to get started!?

As for the stuff I didn’t finish, the first projects was a pair of socks for the Bearded One. Still working on the cable design for that one. The other is a hat which I’m halfway through designing. Plus, there’s a handful of ornaments from previous years which I haven’t started yet. At least I have a plan. Is anyone else finishing up their gift knits in January or getting on with the new 2018 knits instead?

Monogamous Knitting For The Win

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com   

I did it! Two and a half weeks of monogamous dedicated knitting turned into cabled scarf and a matching hat. It’s nice to know I can still speed my way through a project or two every now and then. Why the rush? The scarf and hat were gifts for a friend visiting over Thanksgiving and I wanted to give them to him in person. Nothing like a hard deadline to light a fire under under your butt.

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com

I spent way too long trying to pick out a pattern which is part of why I cast on at the last minute. Nothing seemed quite right, and I was just about to give up and design something myself when the Palindrome scarf popped up. Easy reversible cables? Yes, please. I knit this pattern way back when as a newish knitter and was pleased with the results then. And I’m pleased again with this latest version. The only difference this time is that I made a few mods. The scarf started and ended with 2.25” of ribbing. I added an extra cable repeat for width. Plus, cable twists happened every 8 rows for a looser cable.

I can’t leave out the yarn’s wonderful contribution either. Normally, I wouldn’t choose Ultra Alpaca for a cabled project because the alpaca/wool blend wouldn’t have the same crisp texture as a 100% wool yarn. I wasn’t worried about that in this case since the purls would be “hiding” and not acting a background for the cables. The blend created a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect. And warm. Did I mention warm? The main reason I picked a wool/alpaca blend was that it’d be worn through winters with regular snow, wind, and freezing temps.

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com

And because the weather required it, I made a matching hat. I did end up coming up with a pattern for this beauty at the last minute. My original plan was to have both the scarf and hat finished before he arrived. That didn’t quite happen. In fact, I knit most of the hat in front of him and figured out the crown decreases on a drive through the mountains.  Then I gave it to him mere moments after weaving in the ends. The look on his face was totally worth it.

I am absolutely smitten with this hat pattern. So much so that I’m writing it up with a few more sizes so I can knit at least one more for myself or as gifts. I’m all for versatility. In the meantime I’m getting on with the rest of my gift knitting and making. Since monogamous knitting has been working for me, I’m going to keep it up. Thankfully, the rest of my projects are on the small side so I won’t get bored and can power through.

The Pattern: Palindrome Scarf and a hat pattern I’m writing up
Yarn: 3 skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) circulars
Dates: November 5 - 24, 2017
Scarf details @Ravelry
Hat details @Ravelry

 

A New Hat For Winter

It’s still warm around here, but I know winter is coming. New red hat to the rescue! | withwool.com

Ever since figuring out that most of my hand knit hats are green, I decided to branch out. First I knit myself a marled Sockhead hat which turned out to be the perfect slouchy hat for snow. Next, I wanted something lacy, maybe with cables, and still slouchy. Slouchy hats are my favorite kind of hat after all. I went digging through my Ravelry queue and found just what I was looking for, the Regina Hat by Alex Tinsley. The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn. I kept digging through the green stash until I found a skein of Knit Picks Hawthorne in Picnic red. I don’t knit a lot of things for myself out of red so this was an added bonus.

It’s still warm around here, but I know winter is coming. New red hat to the rescue! | withwool.com

I decided to be a through knitter and work a swatch before I cast on for the real thing. I had to do down 2 needle sizes to get a nice fabric which meant a different gauge. Based on my swatches, I figured out I’d need to add 2 more repeats to get the right fit. The ribbing turned out way too big, like ‘could wear this hat at the same time as someone else’ too big. After a break, I ripped out the hat and started over with the original stitch count. But I still needed that slouch and to compensate for un-stretchy cables. After finishing the ribbing, I knit one round plain and increased all the stitches I’d need for the body. That little trick worked perfectly. I got the fit and fabric I wanted without losing what I loved about the pattern. 

The rest of the hat was smooth sailing since I didn’t have to make any other modifications. I don’t knit a lot of lace or cables and it was a nice change of pace.

Now that this hat is done and blocked, I’ve got a nice little pile of new knits ready for Winter. It’s holiday knitting time already, but I’m still thinking about starting another hat for myself just because. Maybe the Owl in the Thicket Hat? Or maybe I should make a pair of mitts just to round out the set?  Should probably just get started on the gift knitting though. We’ll see. :D  

It’s still warm around here, but I know winter is coming. New red hat to the rescue! | withwool.com

The Specs:

Pattern: Regina by Alex Tinsley

Yarn: 239 yds Knit Picks Hawthorne - Picnic 

Needles: 2.5 mm (for ribbing) and 3.25 mm (for lace) circular needles

Dates: May 8 - August 10, 2017

@Ravelry

Second Cast On's The Charm

It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. Usually works out on the second try though. | withwool.com

It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first time attempt is always too big. Even when I throw in the 10 - 20% amount of negative ease that I like in my hats, too big. I added an extra repeat to the Regina Hat and knit an inch of ribbing before trying it on. Here’s the ribbing with a copy of Yarnitecture for scale. Way too big.

It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. Usually works out on the second try though. | withwool.com

I put the hat out of sight until I felt like ripping out and starting all over again. That turned out to be a few days before I needed some simple knitting for a day trip. Casting on 100+ stitches at home sounded a lot better than frogging and casting on 100+ stitches on a bumpy road. So I grudgingly got to work. 

It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. Usually works out on the second try though. | withwool.com
It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. Usually works out on the second try though. | withwool.com
It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. Usually works out on the second try though. | withwool.com

Here’s a tip that’s saved me a lot of frustration over the years. Whenever I have to cast on a large number of stitches, say more than 80, I use stitch markers. It’s easy to count to 20, place a marker, and start another group of 20 stitches, than count more than 100+ stitches at once. The number of stitches in a repeat is a nice place to drop a marker too. Those markers mean that interruptions aren’t as big a deal. Also, you don’t have to question if that was the 82nd stitch or the 83rd before giving up and starting from 0 just to be sure. This trick is just one of the reasons I have so many markers.  

I got a few rounds on the needles and packed it into my purse with the pattern and my usual notions. Travel knitting ready and waiting to go. 

It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. | withwool.com

Ended up with a nice chunk of time in the car and another inch of 1x1 rib. The hat actually seems to fit this time! Thankfully, the second time is usually the charm. I didn’t spend the entire time looking at my hands which is why I keep my travel knitting simple. I want to enjoy the sights and the adventure, not be stuck looking at my knitting counting increases. Ended up seeing a lot of beautiful landscapes, incredible views, and chubby marmots at Rocky Mountain National Park.  

It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. | withwool.com
It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. | withwool.com
It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. | withwool.com
It never fails. No matter how diligently or how much I swatch for a new hat, the first attempt is always too big. | withwool.com

And Now There's Swatching

Even when knitting swatch doesn’t work out the first time, there’s still plenty to learn from it. | withwool.com

I usually keep a knitting project in my bag for when I’m out and about, but not in the past few weeks. None of my other projects are suited for purse knitting. They’re too big, too complicated, or too bulky. So I’ve got to start something new so my bag doesn’t feel worryingly empty. 

I want to make a pair of mitts from my Sockhead leftovers but I can’t decide how just what I want the pair to look like. Plus it’s hard to design a pattern and write down the instructions standing in line at the grocery store. Socks, my usual travel project, aren’t all that exciting right now. What I really want to knit is another hat from fingering weight yarn. I even picked out a pattern, Regina by Alex Tinsley

Even when knitting swatch doesn’t work out the first time, there’s still plenty to learn from it. | withwool.com

Casting on willy-nilly for a fingering weight hat seemed like a bad idea so knit a small swatch last night. It went well until I started the pattern. I managed to muck up the lace on row 3. Not a good sign. And I definitely need a cable needle to work the cable twist. Plus, I’m not a fan of how firm the fabric is working up which means I need to go up a needle size or two. 

The swatch wasn’t a total waste though. The ribbing looks good and stretchy on the current needles which is a good start. I like how the yarn, Knit Picks Hawthorne Kettle Dye in Picnic, is working up too. It’s a good fit for the pattern and adds interest without overwhelming the lace and cables. 

After a bit more swatching with a larger needle or two, I’ll be able to cast on for real. The ribbing will be good purse knitting after all. Still not sure what I’m going to carry around in the mean time. 

The Sockhead Hat

How the Sockhead Hat pattern showed me the greatness of hats knit from fingering weight yarn. | withwool.com

I was kicking myself for taking so long to make this hat because it seemed like I’d finish it just to pack it up for next Winter. But then it started snowing the afternoon I bound off. So, I guess my timing was perfect. 

The Sockhead is the first hat I’ve made out of fingering weight yarn. Every other hat I’ve made has been knit from sport, worsted weight or bulkier. Those yarns certainly work up faster, but I also thought they’d be warmer because it’s a thicker layer. This hat, worked at reasonable gauge of 8 stitches an inch, certainly proved that theory wrong. The Bearded One and I went on a spontaneous 8+ mile walk through the falling snow. I wore snow boots, a down jacket, this handspun cowl, and of course the Sockhead hat. Not once did my head get cold even with the wind and heavy snow flakes. 

How the Sockhead Hat pattern showed me the greatness of hats knit from fingering weight yarn. | withwool.com
How the Sockhead Hat pattern showed me the greatness of hats knit from fingering weight yarn. | withwool.com

And the other thing that makes this hat awesome is that it has the perfect amount of slouch. I can fold up the ribbing for a medium slouch (and extra warm ears) or not fold it all for maximum slouch. 

There’s also something to be said to have a hat that looks good with pretty much every coat I own. And having enough yardage leftover to make a matching pair of mitts is icing on the proverbial cake. 

How the Sockhead Hat pattern showed me the greatness of hats knit from fingering weight yarn. | withwool.com

I know it’s a lot of “boring” stockinette, but if you’ve got a skein of fancy sock yarn that doesn’t want to be socks or a shawl, consider making a Sockhead Hat. The finished hat is definitely worth the effort. 

The Specs:
Pattern: Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure
Yarn: 319 yds Rio de la Plata Yarns Sock Multicolor (sadly discontinued)
Needles: 2.5 mm circular needles
Dates: February 19 - April 27, 2017
@Ravelry

Bringing Back The Creative Mojo

#The100DayProject got me spinning yarn again, and brought back my creative mojo! | withwool.com

There’s been a lot of making going on around here, and I have #The100DayProject to thank. I was in a bit of a making rut the past few months. Didn’t really want to knit, spin, or draw beyond the simplest doodle. Reading, video games, and staring on my phone claimed my free time. I don’t regret how many books I read or hours spent playing games, but I knew I’d need a push to get making again. #The100DayProject turned out to be just the thing. 

#The100DayProject got me spinning yarn again, and brought back my creative mojo! | withwool.com

I had started spinning the big purple gradient in March in bits and pieces. It certainly wasn’t the every day project that it is now. I’m glad that changed because there’s no way I’d have 4 finished skeins and have started the 5th otherwise. Being halfway through with what feels like a rather large project - at only 6 ounces of fiber total, it’s not - is rather nice. I had a sneaking suspicion that would be the case. 

#The100DayProject got me spinning yarn again, and brought back my creative mojo! | withwool.com

What I didn’t expect was that a routine of daily spinning would bring back my drive to knit on slumbering projects, draw more complicated sketches, and even fiddle around with video editing. At the beginning of March just the thought of that stuff made me tired. Now now. My Sockhead Hat is a few rows taller and my past due gift knitting is almost done. My sketchbook is getting full and I put together a short video of a bobbin filling up with chain-plied yarn. 

I wish I could put my finger on exactly why a daily project recharged my creativity. I’d certainly use the trick to hack my behavior on a regular basis. Maybe it’s seeing daily progress. Maybe it’s because I’m solving puzzles and focusing on the details. Whatever the cause, this high tide of creativity isn’t going to last forever, so I’m going to enjoy it while it’s here. Then I’ll enjoy the low tide too and take a break. When I’m ready to start making again, I’ll pick another daily project and see where it takes me.

Sockhead in Progress

Yarn from the deep stash finally told me what it wants to be - a Sockhead Hat! | withwool.com

My sock knitting mojo has disappeared. Once I bound off the last pair, cosy and nice as they are, I wasn’t excited to start another pair. So I didn’t, but I still wanted some auto-pilot purse knitting. 

The good thing about having a sizable stash is that I can still find yarn I want to use even if a particular kind of project doesn’t appeal. This time a skein from the deep stash circa 2012 was calling my name. I had wandered into my favorite yarn shop way back when because it seemed like something fun to do and found this beauty on the clearance shelf. I loved it and bought it even though I had no clue what to do with it which is how a lot of yarn came into my stash. I figured the yarn would tell me what it wanted to be eventually. Didn’t expect it to take 5 years though. 

Yarn from the deep stash finally told me what it wants to be - a Sockhead Hat! | withwool.com

The yarn wanted to be a simple, slouchy hat which is great because my hat knitting mojo is on the rise. The marled colors would hide anything detailed or lacy so I kept things simple and went the with Sockhead Hat. The 13,573+ projects on Ravelry can’t be wrong, right? Sockhead has been in my queue for awhile, but I could never pick a yarn to use until now. Plus, I’m in the mood for auto-pilot knitting at the moment and this is the perfect project. 

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I knit a mini swatch to find the right needle size and get gauge before casting on. If only the swatch hadn’t lied to me. I’d almost finished the 4” of ribbing when I tried it on. My slouchy hat was tight and not slouchy at all. I put it in time out for a couple days and then ripped it out. Cast on again with 160 stitches the second time around, and it seems to be the magic number. The ribbing is cosy without feeling tight and the stockinette seems perfectly slouchy. Hope I have enough yarn to knit the hat as long as the pattern calls for. And that the longer circular needle I ordered arrives soon. Don’t want to tug the slightly too short cable just so every round for magic loop.  

Yarn from the deep stash finally told me what it wants to be - a Sockhead Hat! | withwool.com

FO: Fructose Hat

Fructose is the first hat I’ve knit from handspun and it won’t be the last. #handspunchallenge FO: Fructose Hat | withwool.com

Don’t let the green leaves in the background trick you. I finished knitting and blocking this hat just in time to wear it for the weekend’s snow. 

When I moved to Los Angeles, I only brought one hat knitted hat with me, the Slouchy Babe. That was fine for awhile because it never got cold enough to wear it. Then I moved to San Francisco, the land of fog and rain, and actually needed a hat. Slouchy did it’s job admirably, but I got bored of only wearing one hat. But not bored enough to actually cast on for another hat until I moved again. Road trip knitting is a definite necessity after all. Alex Tinsley’s Fructose had been near the top of the queue for awhile and I already had the yarn picked out, a sparkly handspun single. I cast on the week before the cross-country drive and stashed it in my purse for the trip. 

Fructose is the first hat I’ve knit from handspun and it won’t be the last. #handspunchallenge FO: Fructose Hat | withwool.com
Fructose is the first hat I’ve knit from handspun and it won’t be the last. #handspunchallenge FO: Fructose Hat | withwool.com

Fructose turned out to be the perfect project. It was simple enough to let me knit while checking out the scenery and easy to come back to after navigating or putting it down for the night. I knit while we drove across stormy Donner Pass. I knit round after round across deserts, salt flats, plains, and mountains.  Sometimes I took it out just put in my lap and stare out the window. I put a few more rounds on it after The Bearded One and I were unpacked. Then I couldn’t knit for 2 frustrating weeks which is why it took a month for me to finish. The hat’s worth the wait though. It’s warm, cosy, and cute too. 

Fructose is the first hat I’ve knit from handspun and it won’t be the last. #handspunchallenge FO: Fructose Hat | withwool.com

I spun the yarn, a blend of Columbia and green Firestar, during the 2015 Tour de Fleece. I only had 2 oz of fiber so I decided to keep it as a single. It’s definitely not my most consistent handspun but the thick and thin created great texture within the ribbing. Going to file that trick away for the next time I knit with wild or wild-ish handspun. I haven’t given up on the #handspunchallenge and this hat is only making me want to knit with more of stashed beauties.

When I cast on I was a little worried that the sparkle from the Firestar would be overwhelming. It’s not though. The Firestar adds mottled color and only up close does the glint of the fiber come into play. Glad I didn’t shy away from it and skip the sparkle. 

Fructose is the first hat I’ve knit from handspun and it won’t be the last. #handspunchallenge FO: Fructose Hat | withwool.com

Pattern: Fructose by Alex Tinsley

Yarn: 138 yds of sport weight handspun

Needles: US 6 (4 mm) circulars

Dates: March 5 - April 8, 2016

@Ravelry

Knit All The Things!

There was a terrible, no good, absolutely rotten time when I could not knit or spin because of stitches and doctor’s orders. Thankfully that time is now over! To make up the two weeks when all I do was longingly pet yarn and plan what to do with it, I’ve been finishing and casting on for all the things.

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

My almost finished Fructose Hat was the first thing I picked up after my stitches came out. I was working my way through the crown decreases when I had to put it down. Knowing that I was so close to a finished hat that I could’ve been wearing was incredibly annoying. All that was standing between me and a finished hat was a few rows of decreases. It was so tempting to finish the hat during my knitting hiatus - doctor’s orders be damned - but I didn’t. Thought about it though. 

Anyway, the hat and I went out to lunch Friday. I was 4 rows away from cutting the yarn and pulling it through the last stitches when my food arrived. Hunger and tasty Indian food won out so the hat had to wait until I got back home. Worth it. I still need to wash and block the hat but at least the knitting is done. 

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

With the hat off the needles, I pulled out a cone of cotton and cast on for the Garterlac Dishcloth that I’m modifying to make a kitchen towel. I’ve knit this pattern before and it does great things to variegated yarn. The last cloths were a gift and it’s past time to make some for my own kitchen. 

This is only the second or third time that I’ve knit entrelac and it’s still addicting to make square after square. I don’t even mind picking up stitches to do it. Shocking, I know. Plus, each square has been pretty good bribery. Whenever I cross something of my to-do list, I get to knit a square. Makes for slower knitting, but a completed list at the end of the day.  

This time around I cast on using the increasing base triangle method which starts with just one stitch. It’s not any easier than casting on all the stitches for the bottom edge in one go, but it is a lot more flexible. 

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

These socks have been hanging out in my purse for way too long. They’re still purse knitting for the time being because there’s still a few inches to put on the second cuff. If I can put in a few rows between garterlac squares, this pair should be on my feet soon enough. 

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

And the most recent cast on. I’m swatching for a secret project so this is all I can show you for a bit. I can say that it involves some fun cables.

I’m celebrating being able to knit again by finishing lingering WIP’s and casting on for a bunch of new projects.  Knit All The Things | withwool.com

I might be going overboard with the knitting to make up for the two week hiatus, but I regret nothing. I had a winding party Monday night and wound these three skeins of Malabrigo Chunky in Frank Ochre. The plan for them is to knit the Vertigo Cowl; I feel in love with the shop sample years ago but didn’t get the yarn until last week. Once I finish that green swatch, casting on for Vertigo will be my reward. Sounds like good bribery to swatch right?

The Cat And The Hat

Say hello! This vermillion kitty cat doesn’t have a name yet but he (she?) is heading to a new home for the holidays.

Will there be catnip, snuggles, and tea parties? This cat does love a good tea party.

Traveling with the vermillion cat is a matching hat. Since I knit the hat in the 18 month - 4 years size, I was able to make both from one skein of Tosh Vintage. Even had a few yards to spare. I knit the cat mostly as written with the few mods I used detailed here. The collar is garter stitch and 5 stitches wide with a yarn over buttonhole. The hardest part of the whole pattern wasn’t the knitting but embroidering the face. Ripped out the nose and the whiskers several times to create just the right expression. 

 If you’re looking for safety eyes to use on your toys and softies, I recommend 6060 on Etsy. The selection for safety eyes - cat, round, or handpainted - and safety noses is amazing. There are plenty of different sizes and colors to choose from at reasonable prices. I picked up a 12mm variety pack of 5 different colors so I could pick out the eyes that would pop best on the vermillion yarn. Plus, my order shipped quickly so I’ll definitely be ordering from that shop again. 

Cat Pattern: Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger

Hat Pattern: Slouchy Babe Hat by me - Download it here

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage - Vermillion

Journey of the Aviator Hat

Now that this aviator hat has gone on its own cross-country journey, I can finally write about it. Knit for a brand-new baby boy, it was an easy knit that came out adorable. The hardest part was picking just the right buttons. My only mod was to tack down the corner edges of the front flap so it didn’t stick out due to sturdy button stitching. Thanks to the multiple sizes, all the way up to an adult small, I’m sure I’ll be making many more for both boys and girls.

It wasn’t until the hat was in front of the camera that I noticed something. The hat was staring back at me. Now I can’t un-see that face with it’s stubby legs and bulky body. What does it want? Cuddles, I hope, and maybe cookies. When I picked out this pattern, I never noticed the face. It was just a cute hat. To be fair, it’s still a cute hat and not all of the finished projects on Ravelry look like silly creatures. I’m glad this one does though.

The Specs:

Pattern: The Journey of the Aviator by Gabrielle Danskknit

Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted - Electric (143)

Needles: US 7 & 6

Dates: July 17 - August, 2014

@Ravelry

Aspiring Teenage Mutant

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Was in the mood for a little yarn shopping last week and ended up at the beautiful Twist Yarns in Manhattan Beach. After perusing and petting everything that caught my eye, I walked out with 2 skeins of Twist Fluff, hand dyed by the shop’s owner, Cathy Karen. There was some vague idea in my head about knitting them into a slouchy hat and a matching pair of mitts. Whether it would be a pattern of my own or someone else’s, I hadn’t gotten that far.

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While catching up on  Dull Roar, I saw the I Was A Teenage Mutant Hat from Apocalypse Knits. The pattern was and still is one of my favorites from when I first looked through the book but I’d forgotten about it. Though I somehow managed to buy the perfect yarn for it. Cast on last night and it’s rather relaxing to just knit something that someone else has already put the work into designing.  Sometimes the thought gets into my head that I have to design and write up everything that I knit. As enjoyable as it is, the process gets tiring after awhile. Plus, let’s not forget that other designers are constantly coming up with amazing patterns that I want to make and wear. I’m not doing myself any favors my fencing myself in to my own patterns and thoughts. It’s important to get an idea of how other people think about yarn and fiber too. The only thing to do is give myself permission to work from other patterns and give myself the opportunity to be inspired and learn new tricks.

Speaking of inspired, the ‘Teenage Mutant Hat’ pretty simple, which makes it a relaxing knit, but has a great twist at the end. There’s no crown shaping because the hat to closed off with some strategic kitchener stitch. I can’t wait.

So far the yarn, Twist Fluff, is lovely and held up to frogging like a champ. The first attempt was too big. Whomp whomp. Anyway, the yarn soft and cushy but still seems durable and sturdy. The color, no idea what it’s called, reminds me of a rocky beach and is knitting up wonderfully in garter stitch. Should be equally lovely in stockinette. 

Christmas Knits

Before it’s definitely old news, I did knit a few things for Christmas. I didn’t feel any obligation to knit for everyone on my list so there were no crazy deadlines to stress over. The projects were small, simple, and only took a few hours of dedicated work. I hope I remember this lesson for 2014’s holiday season. 

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The first projects off my needles were a set of kitchen towels for a friend who recently bought a house. I used one ball of Knit Picks Dishie, US 6 needles, and two of my own patterns: the Laddered Cloths and the Bridges Kitchen Towel

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The Cornered Slouch Hat, a pattern I released last December, was also a Christmas gift and I was incredibly tempted to keep it for myself. 

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Then, there were stockings. 

Big & Stripey here only counts as Christmas knitting because, A, it’s a stocking, and, B, I knit it during Christmas. My other travel project wasn’t working out and I wanted to just knit something. Decided I wanted to make a stocking with stripes and went from there. It was a simple thing to keep my hands busy during long car rides and low-key gatherings. I’ll block it eventually. Probably, right before it’s time to hang it up 11 months from now. 

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The tiny one continues my tradition of knitting a new ornament every year. I couldn’t resist putting a palm tree down the leg since the Bearded One and I have been surrounded by the things since we moved.

Now, no more talk from me about Christmas knitting until it’s time to start knitting for this year. The time will arrive sooner then it should. Always does. 

Pattern: Cornered Slouch Hat

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A quick, simple hat pattern is a great thing to have up your sleeve whether you have a great yarn or just 2 more knitting days until Christmas. Simple cast on. Simple ribbing. Simple stockinette. Simple crown decreases. Simple finishing. Let the yarn do all the hard work. 

I designed the hat to showcase a marled orange and blue beauty of a skein. The yarn was originally a pooling mess of fingering weight that I chain plied to create a lovely, marled aran weight. You can easily use any aran yarn that’ll give you 4 stitches to the inch or ply your stashed fingering weight yarn with the help of this tutorial

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Cornered Slouch Hat

Sometimes, all you want is a simple, slouchy hat. Knit up a fun yarn or show off some handspun. This simple pattern with squared decreases is the perfect display for your favorite yarn. 

Thanks to the stretchiness of ribbing and stockinette, this hat will fit a wide variety of noggins. 

Sizes: 21” and 23”

Yarn: 110 - 130 yds of aran weight yarn

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) needles

Download Now

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