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

FO: Meadow Multi Socks

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

It’s March and it feels a little strange to be thinking about holiday parties right now, but that’s when I cast on for these socks. I needed something to keep my hands busy at a potluck last December and a pair of toe-up socks were just the thing. Then the pair was my constant companion, even if I didn’t always take them out of my purse. They flew cross-country and back, went to movies, binge watched tv, and went skiing with me too. I’ve got a lot of memories knit into these socks even if they are just a simple 2x2 rib.    

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

The pattern is my own default toe-up vanilla sock with an afterthought leg. Ever since trying Cat Bordhi’s Houdini Socks pattern, I really prefer it over working an afterthought heel. When you bind off the cuff, you’ve got a finished sock - aside from weaving in ends - that’s ready to wear. That beats having to come back and add a heel any day of the week. 

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

The weather’s been on the weird side for the past few weeks. It snowed for a couple of days, and by the end of the week temps were in the 70’s. I didn’t need a jacket, let alone a pair of wool socks. And now it’s chilly again. Weird. At least the socks are ready to warm my toes when it does get cold. 

Toe-up socks with afterthought cuffs make perfect travel knitting. | withwool.com

The Specs

Pattern: My Default Toe-Up Sock with an Afterthought Cuff

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Multi - Meadow Multi

Needles: 2.25 mm circulars

Dates: December 13, 2016 - February 18, 2017 

@Ravelry

Review: Knit Picks Hawthorne

The Yarn: Hawthorne Fingering Multi 

Company: Knit Picks

Price: $10.99 US


TL;DR: One pair of washed socks later, I’m impressed and will definitely buy Hawthorne again. 

Yarn Weight: Fingering

Knitting Gauge: 7 - 8 sts = 1" on #1 - 3 needles (2.25mm-3.25mm)

Crochet Gauge: 21 – 32 sc = 4'' on B - E hooks (2.25mm-3.5mm)

Yardage/Weight: 357 yds/ 100 g

Suggested Care: Machine Wash Gentle/Tumble Dry Low

A good friend of mine has knit me several comfy pairs of socks and I wanted to knit a pair for her. Even if they have small feet, sock knitters appreciate all the work that goes into a good pair of hand knit socks. I didn’t have anything in my stash that I thought she’d love so I went shopping for a nice skein of sock yarn. I was looking for yarns for other projects on the Knit Picks site and decided look over their sock yarn. One Hawthorne’s colorways, Vancouver, seemed like the perfect choice and, after checking how it knit up on Ravelry, it went in the cart. 

My first impression after carefully cutting open the box was good. The colors were as saturated and true as they appeared on my screen. As for the yarn, it was soft but still seemed strong enough to be made into a pair of socks. The good impression continued when I wound the hank into a ball/cake. I didn’t have to untangle any of the strands and didn’t find any knots or weak spots. The only thing left to do was knit. I cast on for a modified version of the Smokestack socks which you can check out here.

At 357 yards per hank the yardage is on the low side when compared to other put-ups; however, the 2-ply yarn is on the thicker side of fingering weight which is a major bonus for me. Hawthorne is spun to high twist suitable for a sock yarn and held up well to repeated ripping. I couldn’t see or feel any difference between the yarn that I worked with several times and the yarn I’d only knit once. The other bonus of the twist was that it created strong stitch definition. Cables popped and garter ridges stood out. Even with this twist, the yarn isn’t wiry and it didn’t hurt my hands while I was knitting it.

Hawthorne is hand painted and the Vancouver colorway is a combination dark earth tones - green, purple, brown, burgundy - and a bright sky blue. Looking at it directly, the majority of the colors are muted but saturate the yarn. There are no white spots nor muddying between colors. The full color repeat is several feet long while the length of individual colors varies. Thanks to the blended nylon and the smooth tight twist, Hawthorne has a slight luster which really shows up on camera.

Knit Pick’s care instructions say that the yarn can be machine washed on gentle and tumbled dried low. I didn’t machine wash the pair since I didn’t need to do laundry and wanted to save my $3.25 in quarters for another day. The socks got a 30 minute soak in cool water with a bit of unscented Eucalan. I dried them by squishing them, rolling them up in a towel, and stomping on them to get out the last of the excess water. Then I hung them up to dry.  The socks stayed the same size and the colors didn’t bleed at all. 

Since my friend has small feet, I had ~150 yards leftover. I loved working with this yarn so much that I’m going to pair it with a skein of the kettle dyed Hawthorne to make socks for me. The Broken Seed Socks seem like the right pattern. 

Smokestack Socks

I’m pretty sure that hidden away in all the math that is knitting there’s a simple equation which reads: give hand knit socks = get hand knit socks. I’ve gotten a few pairs of comfy, well-fitting socks as gifts from one particular knitting friend, and it was past time I equalized the equation. 

Step 1: Buy sock yarn in her favorite colors. I took a chance on Knit Picks Hawthorne and picked up a skein of the Fingering Multi in the Vancouver colorway.

Step 2: Snoop through her Ravelry queue to find out what she likes in a sock. Cables popped up quite a bit which lead me to pick the Smokestack Socks by Tanis Lavallee. The pattern has been in my queue to knit for myself for awhile but I also picked it because of the cables and how easy it looked to modify the stitch count. Just as important was how the pattern looked with variegated yarn which, thanks to Ravelry, was quick to see.

Step 3: Wind the yarn.

Step 4: Actually knit the socks. This is easier written than it was done because of how many times I ripped out. Not the patterns fault at all; it was all me. The Smokestack Socks are written to be knit from the cuff down, but I worked them toe-up as I knit all of my socks. The first ripping came when I found out how small knitting friend’s feet are. The rest of the sock was smooth sailing asides from the moments I tinked back to add the purl ridges or cross a missed cable. 

The second sock was not as forgiving. I cast on, knit the toe, worked the foot, increased for the gusset, turned the heel, and was working the heel flap when I noticed that it was too long. By almost an inch and there’s no fudging that. I measured and my gauge had increased by 1 row/inch; nothing else changed except the speed I was knitting. That’s what I get for rushing. At least I had the company and sympathy of a few knitting buddies when I ripped all the way back to the toe. Thankfully, my gauge cooperated for the second attempt. 

Step 5: Wash the socks. No problems here.

Step 6: Mail the socks. The package arrived over the weekend and I got a photo of the socks on her feet. Social media is pretty awesome like that. All the ripping and re-knitting was worth it because they’re a perfect fit. #knittingwin The equation is equal, and now I get to knit a pair for myself in green. 

The Specs

Pattern: Smokestack Socks by Tanis Lavallee

Yarn: 204 yds Knit Picks Hawthrone - Vancouver (204 yds)

Needles: 2.25 mm circulars

Dates: April 3 - 21, 2015

Full modificaitons listed @Ravelry