A Hat for Gray Days

It’s generally gray in the Pacific Northwest in the winter. Often the outdoors can inspire your color scheme to match.

This winter has seemed particularly dark due to a heavy flu and cold season in the region. What better to ward off illness than to knit and wear warm hats!

I started this hat without a pattern—I just wanted a black and gray striped hat. At first I thought of doing a jogless horizontal stripe, a pattern I picked up at KnitFit from designer Lisa Ellis. Instead of starting off that way, I decided I wanted a larger ribbed edge and liked the idea of doing it in two colors. But when I’d finished the ribbing, I thought, ‘Why not keep on going?’

I’m sharing the recipe right away, since I usually put it off and don’t do it. I’m trying to be a “finisher” this year, even in my pattern writing.

Following other DK patterns, I started by casting on 80, then 88, but both seemed small even for my small-sized head. I’m guessing the extra bulk comes from holding two yarns together. In the end I landed on 100 for a medium size adult hat. For a bigger or smaller size, I suggest adding or removing eight stitches (pattern can be any multiple of four).

The goal was to create a warmer hat and this design achieves it because the carried yarn creates a textured heat holding layer inside.

Contrasting Colored Ribbed Hat

This pattern should work well for any DK yarn—or for whatever meets the stated gauge. If you use wool, as I did (Patons North America Classic Wool DK Superwash), I recommend superwash and high contrast colors, with the lighter/brighter shade for the knit stitches and the darker/dimmer color for the purls.

Glossary:

  • MC – Main color
  • AC – alternate color
  • PM – place marker
  • SM – slip marker
  • DK – double knit weight yarn
  • K2P2 – Knit 2, purl 2
  • P2K2 – Purl 2 knit 2
  • P2Tog – Purl two together
  • K2Tog – Knit two together
  • CO – cast on

Gauge: 21 stitches and 14 rows over 4 inches

Needles: Size 5 circulars (16”), size 5, 4 and 3 double points for crown; medium (G) crochet hook (optional)

Yarn: 150 yards MC yarn; 100 yards AC yarn in DK weight

Recipe:

CO 100 sts with MC (darker) yarn and PM.

Row 1: With MC only P2K2 the first round being careful not to twist

**NOTE**: Row 1 is different from all the other rows switching purls for knits and knits for purls in order to prevent the purl bumps from the MC/AC color showing on the outside of the hat. But you need to do a rib–even on the all MC row to prevent the hat brim from curling.

Rows 2 through 44 (or until piece measures 6.5 inches): holding MC yarn in back, K2 with AC, place AC yarn in back and P2 with MC. Repeat these K2P2 in alternating colors until you reach the marker and SM.

Row 45: K2, P2, K2 in color. P2Tog. Repeat until you reach the marker and SM

Switch to size 5 double point needles on next round.

Rows 46-47: follow color pattern, Knitting the AC knits and purling the MCs purls.

Row 48: in color pattern, K2, P2Tog twice, K2P1. Repeat until you reach the marker and SM

Rows 49 and 50: K2P1 in color pattern

Row 51: K2tog P2, K2P1 twice in color pattern. Repeat until you reach the end and SM

Row 52 and 53: follow color pattern

Row 54: K1P1, K2Tog, P1, K2tog, P1. Repeat until you reach the end and SM

Rows 55 and 56: K1P1 in color pattern (50 stitches)

Switch to size 4 double point needles on next round.

Row 57: K1, P1, P2tog (with MC). Repeat until to end.

Row 58: K1P2 to end

Row 59: K1P2Tog to end

Switch to size 3 double point needles on next round.

Row 60: K1P1 to end

Cut yarn with approx. 18” of each color remaining.

Run the MC yarn through all of the stitches and pull tight and secure. Feed through the center of the hat crown (to the outside).

Finishing: using a medium crochet create a 10-stitch chain and pull the yarn through to secure. Clip 5 four-inch pieces of each color pulling them through the last stitch in the chain. Wrap an additional main color around these pieces to create a tassel and trim to desired length. Weave in ends.

And now for something completely different… The 2 Day Cape

I grew up with Monty Python. As a child I used to belly crawl into my parent’s bedroom and watch lying just at the foot of their bed. Sometimes I’d give myself away by giggling. This week I needed a giggle.

Home from work with the flu and just done with yet another pair of socks, I needed a knitting pick me up. Even so, I also had to have a small knitting project for flying from Seattle to Florida for Christmas, so I cast on the next pair of socks, this time for dad. And then was too sick to travel. Grumpy didn’t do my mood justice.

Even pouring over online yarn stores didn’t help, so I decided I should look at my queue. That’s when I hit on the pattern Hott Pink. Though the color was off and the design too busy for my liking, it reminded me of the beautiful bespoke cape dress Meghan Markle wore on her solo trip with Queen Elizabeth II.

I’d bought the yarn a year ago with this project in mind. If anything, I was overdue to work on something just for me.

After gauge checking with a swatch, I went up a needle size to create a bit more give in the fabric. I also made it a bit smaller around, only 42 inches to give a more fitted look. To make sure that it was easy on and off, I kept the design element of ribbing, but went with K1P1 to match better with the seed stitch.

Surrounded by a mountain of notions scattered on my bed, in two days, with only a few backing up (many to get the fit just so) I finished. So much faster and more satisfying than two months for a pair of socks!

Here’s how it turned out! So pleased!

Sock-a-Rama

Though started before the Blacktop Ferry Socks, the Ultra-fitted socks took considerably longer. Thinner yarn, smaller needles, more stitches to the inch; it all adds up longer time on the needles.

I’m headed back out on my international travels so I swung by my LYS and picked up more (not needed) wool and another set of size 0 wood needles (since I broke my last pair). Not sure which ones I’ll take for the trip, but I think I’ll stick with my new ultra-fitted pattern.

Which would you choose?

And yes, I am on a German sock yarn kick. It’s because I’m feeling too lazy to cake the locally made and dyed sock yarn hanks. 🙂

Rock ’em Sock ’em

Extermely Fitted Socks

Many times, I’ve said, that socks are my least favorite to knit. And yet…

Socks are the first to mind when I cast on these days. Partly, its demand pull (Nick is a sock fiend) and partly it’s what’s in the stash (READ: went on a MASSIVE sock yarn buying spree). Mostly, it is the need for a traveling project.

With a commute like mine from Orcas Island to Seattle (a once a week round trip), I need the packable project. And I must admit, socks are growing on me. They can be hard or easy, depending on the level of sophistication. I’d say, other than extremely custom fitting of Nick’s funny foot, I’m still in the “plain” sock mode as an “intermediate” sock knitter.

I envy the beautiful projects by experienced sockers, with all the intricacies of lace, braids and such. I also started with patterned socks. These days I tend to be more plain and practical, with the exception of fitting. And I must be getting better because this final pair, still on the needles, is my own pattern. Not only is there lots of fitting, it’s got a Turkish cast-on and a German short-row heel.

In the future, I’ll try and make it a download, but with a new job, long commute and very little free time (even for knitting and blogging) that might be a while. Certainly not until they are finished.

For now, I’ll just have to be happy about the Blacktop Ferry Socks I just finished. This happy accident is because I ran out of the Yarnachy Liberty sock wool I started with.

Now you see the blacktop, now you don’t. 🙂

Wooly Skye

In Broadford on Skye, is The Handknitter Having Fun shop. I often find astounding deals of wool there. This year, since socks were my travel project, as if often the case, socks yarn was top of mind. And for another reason as well—I lost a just finished sock on an Edinburgh tram.

Wooly clouds on the Black Cuillins from the Sligachan Hotel

We time our visits to Skye to coincide with the climbing season. This year we were a week later than usual. I expected it to be warmer than it was two years ago when I brought long-johns and wished for t-shirts. This year the opposite was true. It was cold, rainy and blustery. I on one hike I was wearing almost everything I owned, soaked through and got blown off my feet by a gust of wind.

Reverse view from Loch Scaivaig on a sunnier day

Not to say the trip was a bust—not so! I was there for rest and the weather gave me time for knitting and a bit of shopping. I picked up three beautiful sock skeins and started another pair of socks, having brought two projects for the trip. Here are the three skeins which seem to be color inspired by the location.

Can’t wait to see how the socks turn out. Too bad they take so long to knit!

NOTE TO SELF: hand dyed—don’t use different skeins and expect them to look like the belong together. This said, in spite of cutting the skein in half and caking it in reverse, the Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball® socks I started are variegating in the most peculiar fashion. Even if I make that mistake, it won’t be *this* different.

Even with taking a ball in the middle and caking it opposite, these socks look VERY different from one another

And Then There Was One

I love travel. It’s a good thing, given I travel 33-50% for my work. This means I also like being at home when I have time off.

My husband has a love of Scotland that comes from his youth in the South of England. His father took him to the Isle of Skye when he was fifteen and every year or so, we go back. And for me, it’s all about the hiking and the wool.

The project I brought was a pair of socks using Knitpicks Felici in Stormy Sky (fitting for Scotland). It was a special striped run I’d picked some up at Stitches West last year. And I was so excited to finally use it and hopeful my husband would have a spare pair of socks for hiking.

We used Edinburgh as our basecamp for the trip. We only passed through the city—several times as we came and went from visiting friends and family in Southern England before we headed to Skye. I was just reinforcing a heel when our stop came and I thought I’d safely tucked the sock away, but when we got to the hotel, I was one sock short.

Yes. I did cry. But then I immediately picked up my needles and cast-on another pair.

You gotta get back on that horse and ride it! Am I right?

Hibernation Over–I hope!

You know you have them. Those UFOs waiting in the closet—sometimes for months and years. You know why you started them and there is even the hope that you’ll come back to them. Yes?

I’ve only once met someone who didn’t have any unfinished objects (UFOs) or a stash because she only crocheted one project at a time. Now she’s a normal person with both. I sometimes have phases of no UFOs. It feels both exhilaratingly hopeful and strangely empty.

This past week, we were doing the usual 3-hour weekly car commute and I needed a project FAST. I couldn’t find my “traveling” project—usually a pair of socks for my air travel carryon. For the car, a big project would have been fine, but I couldn’t lay my hands on the UFO I wanted, an easy and time-consuming afghan at the end of the commute. And given we were up against a ferry crossing, there wasn’t time to dither.

With husband a-foot tapping, there was no time to find a pattern, yarn, notions etc. so I grabbed a hibernating project. You might recognize it from this blog from February of last year, where I was stuck (sleeves). I skipped onto the button band collar where I felt more secure. But this got me to thinking about the different reasons for hibernating projects. Because there are a complex set of reasons for it—and they aren’t always the same!

So why do projects hibernate? I listed a few of my reasons below:

  1. Got bored (did you really want a project this easy?)
  2. Got tired (happens with LONG projects, small yarns, small needles)
  3. Got stuck (happens at transitions)
  4. Made a fixable mistake and will have to tear it back (otherwise you’d just frog it, no?)
  5. Got interrupted (the “shiny object” syndrome)
  6. Lost a key notion
  7. Didn’t get enough yarn, buttons, etc.…
  8. Can’t find the pattern
  9. Can’t find it

Though I’m a fairly organized person with lots of online patterns, the  last two happen more than I care to admit. My primary ones are 3, 4 and 5—probably in that order.

Which if these seems to be your most common? Are there others?

From a Toque to a Beanie in One Heat Cycle

There’s a lovely young lady that makes my protein shakes at the club where I work out. Every time I see her, it brightens my day. She calls me by name, remembers what I order and she’s 3 dimensional; she talks about her life, work and laughs at herself. In short, she’s a good soul.

One morning she was talking about wanting a hat now that the weather is turning cold and though she’d been looking she could not find one she liked.  “What color?” I asked. “A pretty dark blue; not as dark as navy”. She wanted She also it to be ‘slouchy.’ “You know what I mean?” “Yes,” I replied, “I do.”

And what better thing is there to do, than to use a skill you have for a good soul? Nothing. I was on a mission to make her a toque. It would only take a day or so and it would be a nice thing to do for a nice person. Colorwise, my mind instantly went to Azul Profundo by Malabrigo—but I worried about variation in the varigation—some skeins are lighter than others. Ordering it was a risk.

That weekend I was at Tolt Yarn and Wool with a friend from Yorkshire, UK and happened on Woolfolks’s Tov, 6 T. I knew the minute I laid eyes on it, that I’d found THE color. Heaven knows what 6 T means, but ‘in person’ it is a richly saturated darkish blue nearing teal without the inky blackness of navy. I paired it with a dark gray—also baby cashmere—Sublime Yarn–Tittlemouse.

I was so thrilled when I finished. It just needed a wash and a block, but it ended up in the drier with a few other superwash woolens when my husband did the laundry. Oh! No! Even still damp, I could see it had felted into a beanie—and not a toque that would fit the need. 

So, I’m on the hunt for replacement yarn and this time in a superwash wool. In the meantime, I’ve got a tiny beanie for my child-sized head.

*head shake*

Shades of Gray

It’s always a bit gray in the Puget Sound in the winter. Oddly this weekend and past it has been sunny, but my knitting starts haven’t. They’ve been gray, gray, gray.

I’ve been slow to post because I’m traveling a lot. And because I’ve returned to the road, I need small projects to take on my trips. My last pair of socks, two-at-a-time, toe-ups, were a perfect airplane project for two consecutive trips to DC and India.

This week I cast on the yarn Felici Stormy Sky from Knit Picks that I recently purchased at Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco. Right now they are barely more than the Turkish cast on I learned at the event. But with all my international trips on the horizon, they will be socks soon enough!

I also cast on a hat for myself I call Greywurm. I’m using the Wurm pattern and two Sublime Yarn baby cashmere and silk grays—Skipper and Tittlemouse. Since it is a quick knit, it’s not a great travel project. But I’m dying to use these beautiful yarns I won in a Woolful drawing also want a “get ‘er done” project I can feel good about in the way I never do with socks or larger projects like the next one I started just last night.

The last project is another Squares Throw in Cascade’s Tivoli; color: Fog. My mother has been trying to get me to knit her an afghan in bright aqua, but I was drawn to this project because of how beautiful the brown one that sits at the end of my bed looks—and that this one was already in the queue (not that I stick to the queue order—ever).

This said, it will go great in the spare bedroom and it will make an excellent “lap” project for the car and ferry commutes to and from Orcas Island.

Though I always think I should knit summer things in winter, it just never turns out that way. All I can think about is getting and staying warm.

How about you? What’s your go-to winter project?

It’s the Big Stuff

“Don’t sweat the small stuff”, my mom’s favorite saying. And it is projects for her and lots of big projects dominating my knitting.

Domestic projects are still ruling the day. Mainly because they are simple and square. That’s about all I can handle right now.

And as I come to the end of another simple squares throw, I’m eyeing my next BIG project.

My mom has put in an order for a long bathmat and a chenille afghan. I let her pick out both colors from online and when they arrived, the gold of the cotton bathmat seems too subtle and the turquoise chenille of the afghan seems—LOUD. Just look at this Ice Yarns mountain!

I think I’ll do the bathmat first, because it will be quick and easy.

With the afghan, I’m hoping to use up a few more of my odds and ends; some dishie my husband didn’t like for kitchen towels and some sparkly stuff that grandma had in dribs and drabs.

And for my next trick?

Well, I’ve fallen in love with Purl Soho’s Shadow Study Throw. I found some Louet Gems on sale and though my first order didn’t quite work out, I think I’ve got a good plan for what comes next.