Head bands

This is Knitwise Designs “Triple Crowner” headband. Linda Courtney, the designer behind Knitwise, explains that her models (and inspiration) for this design, are both “Triple Crowners.” That means they’ve thru-hiked all three of America’s long distance trails: The Appalachian Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail, and The Continental Divide Trail. In case you’re too tired to even think about how much hiking that is, it’s 7,900 miles!

Here’s Linda’s models, the Triple Crowners themselves, showing off how this design suits both men and women.

Even if you’re no hiker, but just a person with cold ears, this design works well. Glasshead looks good in it and she never even gets out of the house.

I knit mine in Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s Wool worsted. Here’s a closer look.

Those with a sharp cable eye will see that the design includes triple crossed cables. They are worked with two cables and are great fun to knit.

Keeping a headband in a coat pocket can be just the ticket to stay toasty when chilly winds catch you unawares.

These next headbands arose out of my interest in trying Plymouth Yarn’s Stained Glazz. It’s an Aran weight, put up in 99 yard skeins. That’s perfect for a headband. It’s 51% wool, 49% acrylic. Vanessa Ewing’s freebie pattern, delightfully named the “F621 Headband,” was designed for Stained Glazz.

The yarn worked up well.

I’m not sure why Glasshead insists on wearing her headbands so that her ear lobes hang out. Maybe she expects to sport a pair of earrings someday and doesn’t want them to catch?  Anyway, these wide headbands will keep heads cozy. And if the heads have ponytails, the ponytails can fly free.

Here’s another look.

F621 is an excellent easy lace, easy cable handband. The ribbons of color distract from the  patterning, but I still like the final products.

Baah Savannah

This is Baah Savannah. It’s an interesting hand-dyed yarn that forced itself upon me while I was shopping for some knitting needles at Have You Any Wool?, one of my local yarn shops.

In fact, two Savannahs eventually forced themselves upon me, Venom (above) and Tuxedo (below).

The space-dyed and speckled version of Savannah isn’t the easiest Savannah to find. All Savannah is a next-to-skln blend of 80% merino wool, 10% nylon, and 10% goat cashmere. The hank is pricey, but it’s also 400 yards of fingering-weight luxury.

This is the yarn’s special planned pooling trick, worked up in the one-row “Diamond in the Rough” pattern presently available only where the yarn is sold:

Kind of amazing don’t you think?

The trick is hardly a trick at all. You take out a mortgage and buy the skein of yarn. Well, a refinance will be enough. Actually, in my judgment the yarn is completely worth the $32-35 you’ll pay for it. Once you’ve got the yarn in hand, and the “Diamond in the Rough” scarf pattern, you use a long-tail cast on starting the slip knot where a color change occurs. Easy peasy.

Then sit back and watch the yarn do its thing.

I worked on my scarves while passengering on a few long car rides. A one-row pattern, a mistake-rib stitch, could get a little boring. But a knitters’ eyeballs are being entertained by the pooling, so a knitters’ brain stays relatively alert to the task. One skein ended up 5.5 inches wide and 66 inches long.

Here’s how my Tuxedo colorway worked up. We photographed it hot off the needles after I completed it on Christmas Day and gifted it immediately (and unwrapped).

Now I’m daydreaming about whether I may have some non-Savannah space-dyed yarn that would pool in an interesting way, using this same pattern.

Big-box store yarns

The cowl is Tin Can Knits’ Oats, a unisex freebie from this most generous duo of designers, Alexa Ludeman  and Emily Wessel. It’s part of their Simple Collection. And the hat is Elena Nodel’s Cherry on Top. Elena lost her battle with cancer in June of 2017. She left behind her loving husband and a young daughter. She made her mark in the knitting universe.

Maybe neither Nodel nor the Tincans would think it’s cool that I knit their patterns in 100% acrylic, Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Worsted Solid, by Premier Yarns. But my niece, an avid (and successful) young hunter needed blaze orange. When you need that color there aren’t too many Indie dyers who want to touch it. So, not carrot. Not apricot meringue. Blaze Orange. In Michigan, you can buy it at Meijer’s. And lots of other big box stores.

My niece is now visible in the woods from far off. That’s the important point. Visible to other hunters, that is. Deer are missing the long cones of the eye that allow eyeballs to see blaze orange. Basically, deer are red-green color blind.  So, blaze orange is a good color to hide yourself from them.

Cherry on Top has really  wonderful crown decreases. It is stunning in what the pattern calls for–Malabrigo Rios.

Here’s a closer look at Oats. It’s an easy, quick knit. This cowl is especially perfect for new knitters looking to knit their first cowl. It’s also perfect for mature (ahem) knitters looking for an easy knit.

Big Box acrylics are also great for preemie knits. Our guild donated half-a-bazillion of these little guys to a local hospital this year. Here’s mine, knit from an unidentified easy-care acrylic.

My Black Sheep Knitting Guild distributed the preemie hat cap pattern. If you search around on Ravelry you’ll find all sorts of easy caps like this one. Look for “preemie caps” or “fruit caps.”

And then there are the various Caron Cakes. I wasn’t especially drawn to the Caron Cakes in worsted. I thought the color changes a bit clunky. And I don’t like the feel of the yarn. But I fell for the DK weight Cupcakes:

Two cupcakes made their way into my basket at Michael’s.

The rainbow-like cupcake is still waiting to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. But the pink/gray cupcake turned into this:

It’s Victoria Myers’ “The Only Hat Your Teen Wants.”  I don’t know if it it will be the only hat your teen wants, but one of my 30-something stylish nieces liked this hat and chose it in an early “round” of my holiday pick-your-gift.

I was surprised by this yarn. I’ve knit with acrylic quite a bit. Knitting with this felt like knitting with yarn infused with sections of Brillo Pad. I found it shockingly rough. It also worked up ridiculously stiff. This was not initially a slouch. Initially, the hat was fully able to stand upright and at attention on its own–even with the weight of the pompom. After completing the hat, I threw it in the washing machine and then in the dryer. It softened up quite nicely with rough treatment! (I did have to rake the pills off the hat though.)

The second surprise was that, looking at the cupcake unknit, I didn’t notice that there were speckles of the red throughout the skein. I actually think that was a nice touch.

The hat pattern is a winner. An obviously simple knit, but a nice slouchy hat. I especially like the way the cupcake worked up with the bands of color.

So, though I don’t often knit with big box store yarns, to all yarns there is a season. All these projects worked out well. I still need to plan a project for my second cupcake.

Happy holidays

Our Long Lake neighbors worked harder than Santa’s elves to pull off this masterpiece. It’s another Christmaspalooza this year.

We have all the enjoyment without undertaking the zillions of hours of work that goes into creating all this seasonal glow. Thank you, neighbors. Congratulations on another year’s successful display!

Happy holidays to all!

Finding my fade

Yep. You’re at the right spot. This is the blog typically filled with knitted hats and fiddle-faddle stuff. (Or with wildlife photos.) Though I’m late to the Fade party, this is Andrea Mowry’s amazingly successful “Find Your Fade.” Mowry is a Michigander whose “Fade” patterns published through Drea Renee Knits have made a big splash in the knitting universe.

This fingering weight asymetrical shawl pattern calls for seven skeins of fingering weight yarn that play well together. Yarnies and yarn shop owners owe Mowry a big “thank-you.” Her pattern must be fueling fingering weight yarn sales all around the globe. The colors fade into one another with a simple design that Mowry hasn’t so much invented as put to new uses.

Find Your Fade must be close to setting records for how long it’s stayed in the top patterns on Ravelry’s “Hot Right Now” search pages.

Finding your fade is not for the knitting faint of heart. In fact, it’s quite the endurance test. It requires about 1550 yards of yarn and knits up, at gauge (which many don’t seem to quite manage to recreate), at 101 inches point to point and reaches a 30 inch center depth. That’s about eight and one-half feet long. And many, like mine, are even longer. I thought I was at gauge. But I used a variety of yarns, so gauge was challenging. I found my Fade grew to 112 inches after the gentlest of blocking, just to open up the honeycomb sections. I am only 62 inches tall, so this Fade makes quite a statement.

Here’s another view.

I really like the result.

My yarns, from the Fade’s opening gold point to the final purple are, first, the heel- and-toe color from an 80/20 self-striping Bad Amy sock-yarn set, Harvest Moon. I will worry about how to finish those socks some day. But the color was too much of what I wanted to pass up. Next is Rhichard Devrieze’s Peppino, in the Tangerine Dream colorway.  Madelinetosh Merino Light in Gilded is next. It’s close in color to the Bad Amy, but works well. The purple shades begin with Hedgehog Fibres Sock, in Truffle. Then comes Diamond Lake, in wine, from Alexandra’s Craft. My Fade closes with two skeins of Malabrigo Mechita, first Anniversario and then Sabiduria.

Ravelers rate this pattern “easy.” And nearly 6000 project pages are open on Find Your Fade, so there’s a lot of votes that go into that. But I rate it a “difficult.” That translates as “I had a hard time with it.” Only 3100 Ravelers report that they’ve finished it. 2100 or so are said to be in progress. The rest are hibernating or have been frogged.Those are not (I think) typical stats for an “easy” project. Don’t get me wrong. This is a great pattern. I just don’t think it’s an easy one. The honeycomb lace fits into a changing number of stitches, around a double decrease. And the whole shawl grows, or not, while maintaining that double decrease in the center until that center veers in one direction. Nope, not easy for this knitter. Granted, maybe I’ve lost knitting IQ points working on all those hats and washcloths lately.

But this project was so worth it. I will be wearing it on Christmas Day. Go Find Your Fade. For sure. And with the leftovers you can give Mowry’s Free Your Fade a try. It looks much easier and is calling to me. As others have quipped, “What? I just found my Fade. Now I have to free it?”