Polka Dot Sheep hats

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This is Polka Dot Sheep designer Aimee Anderson’s newest hat pattern: Maeve’s Hat. I was part of Alexander’s test knit on Ravelry. The pattern hasn’t yet been added to her website, but it’s available for download on Ravelry.

When you check out the pattern you’ll notice I modified it some. Everywhere there’s one of those beefy bobbles, Anderson’s pattern has a bead. In the test-knit phase, bobbles were an alternative in the pattern. The beaded version is elegant. My version is, well, not elegant. Mine is funky and fun.

This is a fingering weight pattern. I didn’t want puny bobbles, so I knit one, purled one, three times into the stitch, to create six from one. Then I turned and knit back on those six stitches, turned and purled those six stitches, then passed each of the 5 stitches, in turn, over the one nearest the right needle tip. In the body of the hat, I placed a bobble at each spot where the pattern called for a bead. In that first set of bobbles near that sweet picot edge, I spaced the bobbles four stitches apart.

Here’s another view, with a bit of the pentagon-shaped crown showing.

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Ah, what’s that yarn? It’s Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin (80% merino, 20% nylon) left over from my kayak shrug I knit a few years back. I was saving it for a special project and decided the time had come.

This next hat is Evelyn’s. The pattern, though, is Margot’s Hat. And again it’s a Polka Dot Sheep pattern by Alexander.

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The pattern calls for DK weight, but the DK I had on hand didn’t want to get to gauge. So I knit it instead in Malabrigo Rios, a worsted weight.

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Alexander’s patterns are very attentive to small details. In this hat, it’s the way the picot edge is created and how the earflaps are tucked in place. My only modification was to use I-cord ties instead of twisty cord ties.

Of course, little ones look very sweet in pastels. But, I enjoy seeing them in earth tones.

Alexander’s two daughters are Maeve and Margot. Now they each have a hat pattern named after them. Both my creations will end up in Evelyn’s collection.

Vauvan Sukka

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Keeping to the recent almost-theme, this is Vauvan Sukka, Finnish for something pretty close to “train socks.” The pattern is attributed on Ravelry to Kerttu Latvala,and is posted by her daughter Terttu Latvala as a free pattern. First Kerttu and then Terttu have gifted hundreds of pairs of these baby socks to all the babies they can.

The story of how the gifting started is explained this way by Terttu, as translated into English at Teakat Translation, where the free pattern is also available.

“In early 1939, Terttu Latvala’s mother Kerttu Latvala was evacuating ahead of World War II battles along with her 2-month-old baby daughter. Her train trip from Vaasa (coastal Finland) was delayed due to a section of the railroad tracks having been destroyed by bombings. A fellow passenger, a retired needlework teacher, took pity on the un-bootied little feet of the baby girl, and during the delay, unraveled yarn from her own white hand-knit sweater, and used it to make the baby a pair of socks.”

Once again, knitters show people at their generous best.

My train socks are knit in leftover bits of Wollmeise superwash “pure.” The bands of Quaker rib should make sure that these will stay put and not be easily kicked off.Here is my Ravatar modeling them.

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A cool-weather kayak shrug

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In the early (and late) season paddles on the lake, kayaking can be a tad chilly. I figured an extra layer to cover the low back and my arms would work well. I’m quite pleased with this one, a Cleckheaton pattern from their #615 booklet, “Celebration Days.” They’ve given it the unfortunate name: “Hug-me-tight.”  Knit up in the pastel pink or yellow shown in the booklet, I can picture it as a hug. Think bedjacket, on a mother’s day morning, with young ones feeding mom her breakfast in bed. Not a scene that set my heart to thumping, actually.

But, as a kayak shrug, this works really well. And, just in case you think I don’t wear a PFD in the kayak, I do. I’d just taken it off, to remove an outer gortex jacket, when Steve snapped this photo.

I am quite pleased with this little shrug:

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It’s as bright and eye-catching as a signal flag. The center colors are knit in fingering weight Wollmeise “Pure” 100% merino superwash. The blue is Wollmeise Sockenwolle “Twin,” an 80 percent merino, 20% nylon fingering weight. 52 inches of ribbing on size 4 needles doesn’t exactly keep a knitter on the edge of her seat. I got bored with the blue and that’s when I started trying to think of how I could liven up the experience some. Odd how the center panel seemed to knit up much more quickly than the blue.

Here’s a useful tip. When you get to a color changing row in ribbing, just knit the entire first row of the new color. The out-of-place knit stitches just fold nice and unnoticed into the furrows of ribbing. Instead of those ugly half-one-color-half another color purl stitches, you end up with a nice crisp color change.

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Wollmeise Color Affection

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This is my first time knitting with Wollmeise, a yarn so sought after in the United States that knitters watch Twitter feeds for its availability and buy grab bags without even knowing what exactly they are buying. And, it is also my first Color Affection, a crescent-shaped, wildly popular shawl by Veera Valamaki, of Rain Knitwear Designs. More than 6100 Color Affections are posted on Ravelry and it’s currently in nearly 8200 knitters’ queues, awaiting casting on. So, two firsts and the opportunity for two reviews.

This is how my Color Affection started out:

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Three gigantic 575-yard skeins of fingering weight superwash wool, in the Wollmeise Tandoori Marsala colorway (the red wine), Campari Piccolo (the burnt orange) and Sternschnuppe (the bright yellow). I was aiming for an autumnal shawl. At times, I thought it was just turning out to look like Halloween candy corn. But it sort of grows on you. Or, at least it did on me once I added a lot of Tandoori Marsala as the shawl got wider and wider and wider.

I’ve always been a willing “but the emperor wears no clothes” kind of person, hopefully only if the situation warrants. The color saturation is what everyone loves about Wollmeise and on that score I’m a huge fan. These colors grab hold of your eyeballs and won’t let go. And the garter stitch fabric produced on my size 4 needles has a great feel to it. Bouncy, as is always true of garter stitch. Wooly but not a bit scratchy. But knitting with this stuff was not really wonderful. I found the yarn to be quite splitty. That tendency was reined in some when I ditched my old Addi circular and bought a new Addi lace point circular. But I still had to knit with a lot more care and attention than I usually devote to mass quantities of garter stitch.

I decided to make a few modifications to the Color Affection pattern. I couldn’t get anywhere near the 18 stitches to 4 inches that is the gauge for fingering weight with this yarn and not have it go all loosey goosey on me. So, I decided to follow the lace weight instructions instead and aimed for 22 stitches to 4 inches. I didn’t like that either. On size 4’s my gauge was 26 stitches to 4 inches and that’s what I went with. Valamaki says that gauge doesn’t matter much, except in terms of running out of yarn, and I was confident I had lots to spare with these huge Wollmeise skeins.

I followed the instructions and used raised bar “make 1’s” rather than the knit in the front and the back and yarn over combinations a lot of Ravelers have used instead. They are trying to avoid the tightness that results from an edge constructed of “make 1” increases. An admirable goal. My edges were very tight. They relaxed with steam and almost blocked out.

In the last large section of the shawl you are carrying 3 yarns along the edge and that brings up the question of how you will treat those carries. Valamaki recommends just twisting the 3 yarns together every other row. I decided that was likely to look rather sloppy, a conclusion I was helped to reach by looking at some close ups of projects on Ravelry. So, instead, I knitted the first stitch of every other row with all three yarns. I’ve never done that before and wouldn’t recommend it except with a fingering or laceweight yarn.  But it worked out well.

Since my gauge was puny by comparison with the pattern, I knew I would have to do something to gain depth to the shawl. I worked all the short rows one stitch less (3 instead of 4) and then repeated the sequence of 12-short row sets a few extra times, for a total of 13 sets of repeats.

I thought I’d likely have to wet block my Color Affection, but my trusty Jiffy steamer did the job, well, in a jiffy.

And now, a few more views (click to enlarge):