2-color slip stitch hats

Kelbourne Woolens is releasing a free hat pattern each month in 2019 as part of their Year of Hats series. They’ve gathered a good group of designers. Each hat is designed for worsted weight Germantown. Good old  Germantown. I used to buy it at my local “dime” store. I’m pleased that Kelbourne rescued that workhorse. Month-by-month, these freebies are available on Ravelry. A number of the patterns are standouts, this one included.

This is the June Hat, designed by Meghan Kelly.

You have to be willing to purl in the round, but that never troubles me. The basic technique is that you switch the yarn color each round, and the lines of raised stitches are created by slipping a stitch of the contrast color (at controlled intervals) in one round and knitting that stitch in the next round. Very clever.

The pattern doesn’t mention it, but it will be known by any except an absolute newbie, that you have to move the yarn to the nonpublic side of the work before and after slipping the stitch.

The pinwheel crown decreases are totally clever!

My June Hat is knit in a new-to-me yarn: Denim by Nako. Denim is 60% cotton, 40% acrylic. It reminds me some of Berroco Comfort, both in its feel and its handling. It’s very soft and would make excellent hats for the itch adverse or for chemo caps. I worked with my lacepoint needles because, like Comfort, for me the yarn was a bit splitty. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I was quite taken with the yarn, and with the slip stitch technique, so I looked for another pattern using slip stitches.  I’ve had Marina Hayes’s “Prepared for Vancouver?” hat in my queue since sometime around the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Some may have purchased the pattern through Knit Picks, where it went by the name Blue Ridge Hat. Vancouver uses stockinette as the slip stitch basis.

Here’s another view.

Vancouver alternates colors every 2 rounds. The raised lines of slipped stitches are formed by slipping a stitch in the first round and knitting that same stitch in the second round. Honestly, I find the result quite remarkable. It doesn’t seem like such a technique would end up looking like this.

And, again, the crown decreases work out well.

A new yarn and, for me, a hat-building technique I’ve not used much before. Great fun!

A sad knitting story

I attended a knitting retreat in late 2018 and was totally gobsmacked by the beautiful colors of Sun Valley Fibers MCN Fingering weight. Such depth of color. Such choice of colors. This is what I purchased, influenced by the sample of Melanie Berg’s On the Spice Market that the booth showed in exactly these colors:

That’s surely enough to make any yarnie get the needles clicking.

Berg’s pattern is beautiful. I’d had it in my queue to knit almost from the time it was first released. I’m a big fan of mosaic knitting, which is what that middle section is.

I had a blast knitting this and thought I’d done a good job of working up my Spice Market.

As my favorite 4-year old would say, “Ta da!”

I debated about whether I should wet block the shawl. I often don’t block garter stitch, but it looked to me like the sections of wider color blocks at each end of the shawl could use some evening out. So I put the shawl in cold water to settle into a soak. I returned to the basin within a few minutes to see if the shawl was sinking and saw that vivid red dye had leached into the water. I removed the shawl from the water within 5 minutes of gently starting the soak.

This photo doesn’t quite do justice to how much the antler shade was stained pink. But when your eyeballs  compared the off-white sections on the red end with the off-white sections on the green side, the definitely pink cast was very obvious. And the red leachate looked particularly bad in the narrow strip of off-white between the two reddish blocks near the end of the shawl.

Knowing I might try to remedy this, somehow, I carefully dried the shawl flat–with no application of heat. Not from the furnace heating vent. Not even from the sun.

I consulted the yarn gurus on one of the main Ravelry forums and heard that some have had success removing dye by re-washing the garment using Shout ColorCatcher. This stuff:

The sheets are meant to be placed in the washing machine to catch color.

After crying in my diet Coke for a few weeks, I filled my sink basin with cold water, dropped a color catcher in, and then added the shawl. The color catcher sheet almost instantly turned a deep pink, as tons more dye leached out. I quickly removed the shawl, cleared the basin, refilled it with cold water and another sheet. I added the shawl and AGAIN, the basin filled with red and the color catcher was overwhelmed with pink. I used about 20 basins of water and 14 color catcher sheets before I gave up. The sheet (and the water) eventually turned a lighter shade of pink.

Here’s what my Spice Market turned into:

All of the antler shade, the off-white, picked up some dye and turned sort of dull looking.

 

And the red end of my Spice Market? A particularly yucky shade of pinkiness. I’m confident you feel my pain.

I reviewed the yarn on Ravelry and commented on the dye run off in early June. Another knitter, 2 months before me, had the same problem with the same string of shades and her On the Spice Market. There’s no reply from the company on either of our Ravelry reviews. I also private-messaged the company through Ravelry on June 2nd and have yet to receive a reply. Disappointing.

I believe I’ll likely knit another On the Spice Market. It’s a wonderful shawl pattern. I won’t use Sun Valley Fibers MCN fingering though. And color catchers doubtless have some wonderful uses. I can confidently say that they definitely sop up dye. But, for this yarn, not enough and not fast enough. I am not a happy camper. I own two other skeins of this yarn, both in strong colors. I intended to use them together. I’ll not be doing that.

I also recently washed my Crimson Leaves Cowl knit in the same yarn, in Sun Valley Fibers crimson leaves colorway. I washed it in cold water and Euculan. It bled dye like the proverbial stuck pig.

Frogging your knitting

This beautiful yarn is Karen Bradley’s hand-dyed Kaloula Yarn in her Grand Merino worsted weight. I found it once, late in 2012, at Knit Michigan. That’s a cancer benefit smallish yarn meet-up in the Detroit area. My eyeballs were dazzled by this yarn. But later it was hard for me to find a pattern that would suit. Even though these three skeins are all one colorway, the colors aren’t evenly disbursed or even all represented in each skein.

I searched Ravelry’s database and decided I’d knit a rustic shawl with an unusual construction: the Portuguese Fisherwomans shawl. It’s a Vermont Designs by Shelagh pattern. At that point, Shelagh Smith’s pattern was still downloadable from vtyarnco.com. (The pattern isn’t available anymore and, of course, I have no permission to share it or copy it and since I want to keep it in my library I can’t give it to anyone either.)

It’s a pretty thing, hanging there on the hanger. And I feel as if I did the yarn justice with my pattern choice.

The lengths of color worked out nicely.

Knitting that long garter stitch band and sewing it on wasn’t easy for me. I wore the shawl, a bit. Around the house. Where no one could see me in it. Knowing where all the mirrors in my house are located, I could easily avoid them. Steve knew his job was to answer the doorbell while I scampered out of my fisherwoman’s costume. Taking nothing away from Portuguese fisherwomen, they must go for warmth rather than style. Or else their body type isn’t portly (being charitable to myself) or buxom.

In 2018, I decided the shawl needed to be frogged. (“Rip it…rip it.) The yarn was just too special to see light of day so seldom. I ended up with about 1100 yards of yarn. Just for the fun of it, I wound it up all in one ball. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in my yarn bowl. It was as big as a small watermelon.

Then I went shawl/wrap pattern shopping and came up with a new Susan Mills pattern: Licola. You might want to click away to Ravelry now and take a look at Licola as Mills envisioned it. It’s supposed to be knit in 4 colorways of worsted and to end up in alternating striped rows. That would have been lovely. But, well…I had my Kaloula Yarn.

I just couldn’t be happier with how this turned out! Without any planning at all on my part, the bobble bind off even turned out to be mostly in shades that stand out from the rest of the shawl. Some who’ve knit Licola don’t care for the rustic knitted fringe. It’s created by casting on stitches at the start of a row and immediately binding them off. It’s one of my favorite features of this wrap.

Here’s another look at Licola.

I know I will wear this wrap. It used up a bit under 900 yards.

I had enough left to knit a new Sunrise Side Bear. This bear is my freebie donation to the knitting universe. So far ten knitters have posted their projects on Ravelry and about 1200 people have downloaded the pattern. I’m pretty geeked about that. You can read more about my one-seam, knit flat bear pattern here.

This guy is my Kaloula Sunrise Side Bear.

My Ex-Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl was the gift that kept on giving. I even had enough left to complete my 5th pair of Fetching mitts, by Cheryl Niamath.

Ok. So you doubt my decision to frog the Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl? Here’s me wearing it. And since then I’ve gained weight–which wasn’t enhancing the look. The ends of that long garter stitch band criss-cross your back and then pull forward to tie at belly button height. I hid the knot under the top flap.

Licolo works so much better for me. Here’s another view of it

Fourth birthday for my granddaughter

This is a child’s size 4 Jones by tincanknits. Stop. Don’t say it. I know. You like the buttons. That’s exactly what the little sweetie, my granddaughter, said when she opened the wrapping. She gets a pass on that comment. You don’t. You need to say: “Great cables. Classic yet modern design. Wonderful stitch definition in that Wollmeise Merino DK, an easy-care superwash. Heirloom quality!”

I think this sweater is just the cat’s meow. It was a bit of slog. That was mostly because I was afraid of the knit-on button band and shawl collar. The button band worked out just fine. I knit the body on a size 6 and the pattern says to drop down 3 sizes for all the ribbing. My only modification was that I knit the band and collar on size 4 US needles. I consulted my section of the knitting universe (thank you, Dot especially) and decided the band might pucker too much with a 3-size disparity on the needle size. That was my choice even though I followed the pattern and knit the bottom ribbing on the body and sleeves on size 3s.

Here’s a look at the back and then I’ll have more to say about that shawl collar.

Bottom up construction is old-school, but it makes for such a nice fit in this sweater. As all the project photos show, Jones is a snug-fit sweater, without much ease. It comes in a huge array of sizes–from 0-6 months to 4XL!

Now, about that short-row shawl collar. Bottom line? It benefited greatly by a somewhat aggressive wet blocking. As you  look closely at many of the Ravelry project pages, you will see that the left side of the collar, as worn, has the unkempt side of the short rows and pick-up the wraps showing on the public side. That bothered me enough to knit the button band and collar twice to try to remedy it. But I wasn’t clever enough to figure out a proper fix. Maybe it’s time to really learn the German short row technique.

There is a right side and a wrong side to the short row work. The directions have you pick up one side of the collar’s wraps on the right side and the other on the wrong side. I think that’s the rub. And the short rows only shorten by one stitch so the wraps are all tightly packed. I am dissatisfied with the collar. And it’s such a prominent feature in the otherwise beautiful sweater. But after I soaked the sweater in Eucalan and laid it flat to try, the stitches relaxed and even the collar looked much better.

No 4-yr old should only get clothes for her birthday. So I added in a Doll’s Moses Basket. Well, a sort of amazing technicolor Moses Basket because my granddaughter is sort of a technicolor kid.

Michelle Williams’s Doll’s Moses Basket is a great Ravelry freebie that deserves more attention than it gets. I’m actually the only project on Revelry. Yep. The only.  If you or yours have a doll in need of a comfy bed, please seriously consider giving this pattern a try. Williams’s pattern photo shows a beautiful all-off-white version. Mine. Well you see it.

Mine is knit in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride worsted. And all of the natural color is frogged from a shawl I hadn’t worn much, which made it an economical knit even though the total yardage used was a little over 800 yards.

Here’s a view of the bottom-side, showing the cabled handle and its construction. Williams’s pattern calls for knitting the sides in two pieces and sewing them together. I decided to knit the sides as one piece and just knit a few rounds of garter stitch to create a somewhat natural folding point for the top. I thought about the fact that the sides would be floppy. I even tried putting a flexible plastic layer between the inner and outer parts of the sides, but decided it looked too stiff. I decided to declare the floppy sides a design feature. And when I saw my granddaughter tuck some stuffed buddies in the basket and easily sling the basket over her shoulder like a purse, I decided that I’d made the right choice. The handle is a double cable folded in half and sewn up lengthwise.

My 20 inch Ravatar tried the basket on for size before the basket was gifted. She daintily crossed her legs and declared the basket a perfect fit. She loudly demanded I knit one for her if I wasn’t going to let her keep it.

2019: Summer of the muskrat

Long Lake yielded a robust crop of muskrats this year. For several days in a row we met up with this individual every trip through the narrows, often on our passages both coming and going. You’re wondering how we know it was the same one? He has an unusual habit of floating on the surface with his long tail pointed up out of the water. That is so not a smart move for a muskrat. They aren’t particularly large and would make an excellent meal for a bald eagle or even a hungry mink or big snapping turtle. And, although muskrats are typically active at night and near dawn and dusk, Long Lake’s muskrats apparently didn’t get that message this year. Because they’ve been moving about a great deal in the daytime.

They are Ondatra zibethicus, the only species in the genus Ondatra and the tribe Ondatrini. Muskrats are rodents. You can’t look at that long hairless tail and think otherwise. Speaking of the tail, it’s an interesting muskrat bit. It has no fur, but it’s covered with scales and is somewhat vertically flattened. Muskrats are mostly aquatic, but when they walk on land it’s that flattened tail dragging behind them that makes their tracks easy to identify.


Keep a lookout near the shoreline, especially in the north section of the narrows just before it opens up into the bigger lake. They’ve also been very busy near the shore just to the south of the small island in the lower lake. If you see a bundle of greenery making its way through the water, that will be one of our muskrats gathering food. They are busy foraging,  presumably bringing dinner home to the burrow where they stash their litter. But they also stop swimming and fill their own bellies. Keep a good lookout around the yellow water lilies. That’s a special treat for muskrats. And they look quite comical as they munch away on the long water lily strands.