Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Knitted hats

I decided at a very late stage to knit hats for my parents as Christmas presents.  My original plans had fallen through, and I was at a loss for what to do.  It was a challenge, to finish two projects in a few days and to find patterns that I liked and could follow.

I took this as an opportunity to buy expensive wool that I would not normally allow myself, since it was for presents and because not much is needed for a hat.  For my father I found the pattern in the Rowan Colourscape Folk brochure because I wanted to use Rowan's Colourscape yarn with colours chosen by Kaffe Fassett.  I bought the mainly navy shade as suitable for my father, and with luck and some planning I managed to avoid the pink and burgundy sections.

The pattern called for 7 mm needles, but I thought it produced very loose knitting, so I used 5.5 mm, and I preferred to knit on double pointed needles.  To compensate, and because I wanted a largish hat - as the ribbing would pull it together - I added an extra pattern repeat.  After a few cms I thought it was still too loose so I added a strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe - also with Kaffe Fassett colours.  The colours in the two yarns were roughly similar, and I really liked the result.  It made the hat softer and the colours more interesting.  I decided to knit it on the wrong side so that I could knit instead of purl the k1p3 pattern.  It worked well until I got to the decreases in the crown, where I had to be inventive. 

The pattern was an easy rib pattern, with decreases at the crown.  I made it longer than the pattern, so that the edge could be folded up.  I knitted it in two days, and I am very happy with the result.  It fits, and it is snug and warm, and looks OK.

The second hat, for my mother, was more complicated and more interesting to knit.  I found the pattern in Vogue Knitting Fall 2009, Norah Gaughan's Blossom hat.  That issue has a number of interesting hat patterns.  For this I chose another Rowan yarn, Creative Focus Worsted.  The most difficult thing with this yarn is the name.  What is wrong with a snappy name like Tapestry, Lima, Savannah?  I knew the yarn was thin for this pattern, so it was for this that I bought the Kidsilk Haze Stripe, and together they produced the right tension.  Not that I knitted a tension square.

The pattern has bobbles at the crown - not so visible in the pictures -  and then four leaves leading down to the ribbed brim.  It was fun knitting it, ticking off the rows as I knitted each.  This one took me three days, but the result is lovely.  The two yarns produced a soft fabric.  I was not that happy with the colours.  Kidsilk Haze Stripe has very long colour runs, and I was surprised to see the dark purple emerge when it came to the ribbing, but I had no choice but to continue.  I am very happy with this hat, and I would gladly have kept it for myself.

Now that I was on a hat run, I cast on a third for myself after Christmas, but I have yet to photograph it.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Account for 2011

Every year I do an account of the amount of wool I have knitted (and of how much I have bought, but we won't mention that).  I don't seem to have knitted very much last year, so I was afraid that my yarn consumption had gone down, but it is in fact nearly exactly the average over the past four years, at 13.0 kg.  That is five 50 gr balls of yarn per week.

I have not done any adventurous knitting.  The majority is my standard blankets, and I finished eight of them.  That is not surprising because I can keep knitting them forever, because the change in colour is exciting.  I tire quickly of other knitting.  I thought perhaps using more wool by changing to aran weight helped, but that applied to only two of the blankets.

So that was a nice surprise.  I have noticed that the unravelled yarn has gone down.  This year I will try to knit from new balls of yarn.  There is quite a lot of them in the yarn store, and they are growing because I don't touch them.

And, in order to add a picture, I will show the SIA figure I could not resist buying in a charity shop, a tomten lookalike in grey with sheepskin gilet and sheepskin lined boots carrying a lamb.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

New year, new blanket

Christmas and the New Year are over, and it is back to every day routine.  I started my new blanket several weeks ago, and now it is nearly finished.  This time it is back to dark colours, my favourite brown, grey and black with some green and teal.  I am knitting this one with size 4.5 mm needles again, because I thought most of my dark yarns are aran weight.  It is not necessarily so, but I quite like the effect I get with the larger needles.  I do mean to get back to double knitting weight blankets on 4 mm needles in time.

I don't like the bright teal colour, and soon I will have finished this particular lot of teal wool, and I will be pleased.

The first jumper that I meant to unravel for this blanket I changed my mind about.  It is this Paul Costello chunky jumper knitted in tweed yarn.  The yarn is lovely, and it is in the mink colour that is one of my favourites.  But I didn't examine it thoroughly enough when I bought it - the seams are serged, so it would mean short ends of yarn and a lot of fastenings of ends.  For a long time I thought I would unravel it anyway, because the yarn is so nice.  But there is so much yarn in the wool store that I really don't have to do it.  So it has gone back to the charity shop, and I hope somebody will enjoy wearing it.

The one that I did unravel is this Marks and Spencer big man's cardigan.  It is a nice grey colour, in pure wool that felt nice.  The yarn turned out to be double strands of 4 ply shetland wool, a pleasure to knit with after separating the strands.  The cardigan was very easy to unravel too.  The covered brown buttons are bound to come in useful some day.

The second was a Ralph Lauren Polo man's sweater in navy cashmere - the colour in the photograph is too light.  This is nice yarn.  The seams were impossible to unpick, partly because of the dark colour, so I did more cutting than I would have liked.  The yarn is slightly thinner than 4 ply, and so nice.