Same yarn, different stuff

Each of these accessories are knit in Purl Soho Good Wool. The company lists its Good Wool as “sportweight to light worsted/DK weight” at “5.5-6.25 stitches per inch” on US needles sizes 4-6. My call is that it’s a sportweight. Anyway, recently I’ve been having fun knitting different patterns in the same yarn to see, well…just to see I guess.

First up is Purl Soho’s freebie hat and mitten pattern: All Roads.

Warm, for sure with that doubled brim. And just up my alley with miles of garter stitch. Thanks to well-placed short rows the “roads” narrow. And they intersect thanks to well-thought out crown decreases.

I couldn’t be more pleased with my new warm hat. Here’s the entire set.


Maybe you noticed the thumbs don’t seem to match exactly? These mittens are an odd (but clever) construction. On one mitt you create the thumb at the end of the knitting and on the other you create it at the start. My theory is that there’s something in that construction that rounds up one thumb a tad more than the other. Once your hands are in the mittens, the slight thumb disparity completely disappears.

All Roads mittens are left and right specific. Here’s a look at the palm sides and, again, those thumbs.

Same yarn. In a very different hat pattern. This one’s Traci Bunker’s Reversible Rotating Ridge Hat. Before the big reveal on how this hat looks on a head, here’s why a knitter wants to knit this hat.

Is that cool or what? How does it work out this way? Magic, I think. My only hint is that it’s knit from the top down. That’s not much of a hint.

Here’s Glasshead modeling Bunker’s creation.

I’ve knit this hat twice before and each time finishing the hat once the rotating stops hasn’t worked out well. The bind off is either way too loose or way too tight. This time I tried different endings. What worked best for me was following the pattern with one modification. Instead of leaving all 208 live stitches entering into the knit-on double I-cord bind off, I decreased the stitch count down to about 155. Then I worked the first I-cord band with a needle size 2 sizes smaller than the body of the hat (a US 2 instead of a US 4). Instead of decreasing every 8th stitch in the I-cord band by slipping 3 stitches instead of 2, I simply worked a knitted-on 5-stitch I-cord, without any decreases. I made that same modification for the second I-cord band. These modifications drew the stitches together enough to tighten up the bands. Phew! In my first two tries, while I played with a knit 2 purl 2 ribbing, my finished hat ended up looking like a snood. Now it’s more appropriately beanie-like.

I also decided I didn’t want a pointy itsy bitsy I-cord sticking out at the top. So I lengthened the I-cord at the outset and then just knotted it up.

I believe the real problem with this knit is that my gauge was off. Off by a lot is the only explanation. I will protest that I checked my gauge (I did, twice). But I must simply have read my stitches wrong. Once I’d checked my gauge at the recommended needle size, a US 2, I moved to a US 4 and thought I had gauge. Anyway, the ending I-cord modifications fixed the hat. Pretty much fixed it. Even after blocking you can see that there’s a puckering between the main body of the hat and the I-cords. Not the end of the world. What was almost a silly snood transformed to an entirely useful cute hat with a stunning somewhat slouchy beanie body.

I started out with the required number of skeins for my All Roads set in size large–2 skeins of Winter Grass and one of Roma Tomato. But I only needed about an inch of the second skein of Winter Grass and not many yards of that tomato. Some elf must have been sneaking in each night to spin more of this yarn. It just would not cooperate with my efforts to leave no major oddment unknitted.

For something completely different, I knit Houndstooth Headband by Karolina Adamczyk. Actually not completely different because it’s still a Purl Soho Good Wool project.

Such a cute pattern. A sweet 1940’s look.

Through no fault of the designer, so far this headband is an unfortunate epic failure. I knit it, ahem, beautifully. And the pattern is clearly written and error-free. But at the end you need to fold the work a certain way and sew through 8 layers of knitted fabric. My sewing skills, as in my lack of them, totally trumped my knitting skills. I goofed and initially missed a few inside layers. When I tried to recover from my mistake, it just got more messed up. I ended up catching all the layers but the sewing is way too bulky. I tried to unravel the seam but that only made matters worse since I couldn’t always distinguish between my sewing yarn and my knitting yarn. Because of my mistakes the lumpy seam will be uncomfortable for everyone except Felthead. Drat. Drat. (Felthead does look cute in it though.)

Don’t be deterred from knitting this by my lack of sewing success. It was a failure of execution and not a design or pattern failure! My knitting buddy Cristie knit Houndstooth Headband and it came out perfectly.

I’ve a daring recovery plan. I plan to sew (or have someone with a sewing machine help me sew) a strong new seam through all the layers below where my messy seam is. Then I will cut the bulky sewn mess out. Sort of a steek. As it stands now, only Felthead can enjoy this headband. If all goes well maybe my 8-year-old granddaughter will benefit from my goof.

Warm hands

It’s time to bundle up your and yours’s (OK, I made that contraction up but it’s still kind of a good one)…it’s time to bundle all hands in good warm wool.

These mittens are Jane Richmond’s Woodstack Mittens. I knit this pair in Kelbourne Woolens’ Germantown in the Wild Rose colorway. Excellent pattern. Wonderful wool. But a long way price-wise from the “dime store” Germantown from decades past.

I made a few minor modifications. Instead of working a plain k1, p1 ribbing, I followed the lead of some Ravelers who worked the ribbing in knit one through the back, purl one. I think it makes for a more crisp ribbing.

And when I started the body of the mitt I could see clearly this was going to be a bit roomier than I wanted, so I didn’t change needle size. I knit the entire mitten on US size 6.

I also picked up 2 stitches at the base of the thumb as I was taking the stitches off the waste yarn. On the first round I immediately knit those 2 stitches together with the first and the last of the live stitches. It still left the typical hole to sew up at the base of the thumb. But it worked out well.

Both mittens are the same. So no fussing about which is left and which is right. I cast on for a second pair almost immediately after finishing my first pair. Again I used Kelbourne Woolens Germantown, this time in their Natural colorway.

I don’t begrudge the price (much) of Germantown. The yarn was evenly spun. In the 3 skeins I’ve worked with lately there were no knots at all. I understand we knitters need to be tolerant of a knot or two in a skein. But it’s a delight to not have to deal with any knots in a small project. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Woodstack Mittens have rather squared-off tops, ending with 18, 22, or 26 stitches to be kitchenered together (depending on the size you’re knitting). I like that. It’s a tad extra work compared to a gathered top. But the shape fits the hand well.

Next up is yet another pair of Cheryl Niamath’s Fetching mitts. This is the 13th time I’ve knit these. Most of them, as here, I’ve knit in Noro Silk Garden. While 13 times is nothing to sneeze at, my friend Dot has knit this pattern 61 times! And I think she’s gifted almost all of them. This is truly an epicly great pattern–and a free one to boot. There are currently 21,362 project pages on Ravelry. And, obviously, not everyone posts every finished project on the site.

Fetching is an easy peasy knit with just enough detail to keep it interesting. Notice that the cables move in opposite directions on the two hands. If what hands need is warmth without confining the fingertips, Fetching is a must-knit pattern.

I had a bright red skein of Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted in my stash just itching to be knit into mittens. I decided to give another very successful freebie pattern a try: Karen Hoyle’s Comfy Gusset Mittens.

I first saw the pattern knit by a member of the I Make Mittens Ravelry group. The knitter raved about them and I decided to give them a try. As you can tell from the photo, the thumb-gusset increases line up in an atypical way. The heavily-slanted gusset allows for tons of movement in the thumb. Big hands, and that includes mine, are especially comfy in these.

Mittens can be complex knits though within a simple template. They’re exceptionally beautiful in the hands of those skilled in fair isle and embroidery. But there’s an allure to the simple quick knits featured here. No one’s tempted to think they’re too good for snowball fights. If they felt it’s likely OK because you’ve probably knit them a tad roomy. And if you make them three mitts at a time, when you can lose one you’ll still have a pair to wear.

Grand Rapids Fish Ladder Park

This place is a little strange. Not really a dam’s normal fish ladder. It’s an architect’s vision of a fish ladder. A stark and brutalist vision though.

Joseph E. Kinnebrew (the IV, to distinguish him from his three ancestors of the same name) is the architect who designed this “sculpture and fish ladder” for the Grand River as it flows through the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was dedicated not quite 50 years ago, on June 6, 1975.

Seems to me like Joe struggled some to capture “the aesthetic significance of our environment.” But maybe not. I am no proper art critic. And I definitely totally enjoyed seeing the ladder sculpture and the river that runs through it.

Salmon, steelhead, and brown trout use the ladder regularly in the fall and into the winter. The height of the dam means they can’t get to their spawning spots upriver when the time is right. So they need a boost from the humans who set up the obstructive dam in the first place.

There’s been a push locally to return the river to itself–minus the dam–but that’s a tough sell.

Fall fishing can be really good at the dam and near the ladder. Maybe a fisherman needs to keep a lookout that one of those big logs doesn’t dislodge though.

We didn’t see much being caught. But we did see a few fish get hooked and manage to outsmart the humans.

This guy reeled in a pretty big one while we watched.

The cormorants were watching too.

The mallards though? They were disinterested in the hullabaloo and just dabbled around in the shallows.

The giant soap bubbles at the river’s edge didn’t pop.

You probably would like a closer look at those.

The giant bubbles are “Evanescent” by Atelier Sisu. The installation was part of GR’s Art Prize 2023. This city is a more cool place than uncool me deserves to be hanging out in. Cormorants, big fish, and giant soap bubbles. What an unlikely combination.

Check out these You Tube videos if you want to see fish actually running the fish ladder and drone shots of the dam area.

More hats

The major season of hat-knitting is upon us! I knit hats year-round. But from now until spring, they finally start disappearing from my finished knits stash.

This first hat is Tanya Thoman’s (of Maybea Crafted’s) excellent design, Munising. I purchased the kit from Thoman at the Tip of the Mitt Fiber Festival at the Emmet County Fairgrounds in Petoskey Michigan. What a great venue for a yarnie event. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport. The kit had plenty of yarn, in each color.

Munising is near the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore. The Lake Superior shore is home to amazing sandstone cliffs. Streaks of minerals stain the face of the weather-sculpted sandstone when groundwater oozes out of cracks and trickles down the rock face. Iron (red and orange), copper (blue and green), manganese (brown and black), and limonite (white) are among the most common color-producing minerals. The cliffs near Munising inspired this hat’s design.

Pictured Rocks is an amazing feature of our “Pure Michigan.” Plan a visit if you can and be sure to include a visit to some of the many waterfalls around Munising (the city).

Munising (the hat) also has colorful swirling crown.

Shifting gears completely, next up is the popular Ravelry freebie, Ditto. It’s designed by Anne Gagnon. I’ve knit it before. This time I pinked it up with a sweet shade of 7 Veljesta by Novita.

Ditto’s crown is stunningly beautiful but easily knit.

And how could I not knit a second Ditto soon after the pink one? Ditto’s pattern name, not to mention how pretty it is, calls for a second knit. I used Sugarbush Bold, a discontinued yarn whose passing I continue to mourn.

If you’re looking for a fun quick knit that yields great results give Ditto a try. Or two tries. It’s totally worth it.

Next up is the 1898 Hat. It’s a free pattern available via Ravelry or direct from Seaman’s Church Institute’s website. The mission of the institute is provide services to the maritime community. For many decades that has included a Christmas at Sea program. The Institute’s website says the program is one of the “oldest and longest continuously-running charter knitting program in the U.S.” It delivers knitted gifts to the “thousands of professional U.S. mariners at work aboard towboats, harbor tugs, and dredges on the Mississippi River system and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterways” as well as to certain international seafarers. Maybe knit one for your ears and send another to warm a mariners’.

The 1898 Hat is Kristine Byrnes’s winning design in the Institute’s contest looking for hats with earflaps. This hat’s earflaps are the best earflaps ever–amazingly warm, double thick.

We probably can say aloud that this hat is not for the fashionistas among us. But if you’re a person with ears you should definitely considering knitting, wearing, and gifting this hat. I knit this one in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride worsted.

The 1898 Hat is said to be inspired by a pattern that Byrnes found in a magazine published around 1910. Demonstrating that I am an incorrigible knitpicker, I admit that I wonder why it isn’t called the 1910 Hat.

My next knit is Jo-Anne Klim’s Totalee Slouchy hat. If you’re interested in checking out my five prior knits of this hat, type misspelled Totallee into the search window and they’ll show up. Klim’s versions are very dignified. My versions tend to the wild side and this version is the wildest yet.

It’s knit in Ella Rae’s Cozy Soft Prints, a DK weight. That’s the yarn in the body of the hat. And the brim is knit in Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine 120. I’d knit a A Bunny Named Quwi in this Ella Rae yarn…

…and this Totallee Slouchy project was designed to use up the remainder. An excellent bunny, methinks, and an interesting hat.

The crown decreases work out into a very pleasing swirl. Kind of a kaleidoscope effect in this difficult-to-tame yarn.

This post has definitely gotten my knit-a-hat juices flowing. So has a few 40 degree mornings!

New knitting room

Well, well. Our new home has a (ahem) bonus room in the lower level. Maybe we’ll turn it into an exercise room. Um. No. Maybe we’ll turn it into another guest bedroom. Um. No. I now have a knitting room! I am so pleased that I can hardly contain myself. I don’t want to get on too much of a digression but that is a strange way to express intense joy, in terms of being unable to contain yourself. But on this occasion it’s apt.

My new knitting room is a place for all things knitterly, and yarnie, and also a place for remembering good people. The bent wood stick chair was my grandfather’s. I’m no spring chicken so you know it’s old. Pa used to sit on that chair, which was in his basement. That’s where he changed out of his work boots and into something more house-appropriate.

The carved map behind the chair is of Hillman’s Long Lake. My younger brother gave us the map and it will forever remind me of good times at the lake and my brother. My swift and ballwinder need no introduction to you yarnie folks. An assortment of knitting bags are sewn from a number of needlepoint pieces my mom left me. They hang on a (new) coatrack its designer calls “Knit.” I couldn’t resist. My knitting room isn’t all looking to the past. I’ve added new stuff too. My new work table is “Jive” from Haworth, a cool Holland Michigan company. The yellow chair is one of a set of four I purchased several years ago from Overstock. Super comfy, very sturdy, and totally colorful. My granddaughter made my new snips container by decorating a paper carton Robinette’s orchard uses to pack fruit. The tall staff with the red apple on top was carved by my older brother.

By now, you get the focus of my new knitting room. It’s wonderfully unfocused. Knitting. Yarn. Old stuff. New stuff.

My rocker is the best place ever for comfy knitting. Good light roo. And that’s another of my older brother’s creations next to it. He’s an avid fisherman and often paints and carves fish into his furniture pieces. You can see him and more of his work here in my “I knit for folk art” 2010 post.

My knitting room has a shelf its entire length. I’ve peopled it, well crittered it, mostly with my recent stuffies. I knit almost all of them while we waited patiently/impatiently from the closing date to our very delayed move-in. Except, that sheep in the corner. Do you recognize that she’s a version of the Serta mattress company’s advertising mascot?

I found my metal sheep mascot in the mattress section of a local furniture store near Grand Rapids. I sort of, to be honest, begged the owner to sell me that sheep. Sheepie was a dusty mess but cleaned up very nicely after a sudsy bath in Dawn dishsoap.

My new sheep magnetic board is from Wayfair. Many of my favorite photos have found their new home, including one of 3-year old me standing behind Pa’s chair looking a bit mischievous.

My new space has lots of room for knitted critters, including Jutta, Olivier, Vera, Joris, and the rest of my Annita Wilschut gang. The mini storage drawers on the ledge contain my buttons, all nicely sorted by color or style.

The wall opposite my critter ledge is a great spot for my yarn bins and tools. That’s my Ravatar doll slumping on top of one of the plastic shelving units. Most of my bookcase is devoted to paper patterns and books. I ruthlessly trimmed back on these in recent years as I went (mostly) all-in on digitized patterns. I’ve kept the special books and discontinued non-digitized patterns. Otherwise my library of books and patterns found new good homes.

My granddaughter visited here last month. She loves to draw and I found this near my swift one afternoon.

She has a new desk that sits just outside my knitting room and she’s drawn it in the foreground. The package of Dutch Cocoa cookies she’s given me needs a bit of explanation.

They are Evelyn’s favorite cookies. I plan to frame her drawing and add it to my knitting room permanently.

Moving takes a lot out of a person. Especially an old one! But I love our new home and our new part of Michigan. And I definitely love my new knitting room.