Same Encore, different stuff

It’s back. If you’re a regular reader and you’re surprised, I am too. I thought I was done with “same yarn different stuff” posts. Turns out I was wrong.

I bought four skeins of Plymouth Yarns worsted weight Encore in Winter White and four skeins in Lagoon for a baby blanket I planned to knit. I thought I’d have one extra skein but I hadn’t yet decided which color would be my main color and which would be the contrast. Turns out I that after knitting the blanket I had enough left over for 2 accessory knits. So I thought I’d return to my past “theme” and write about how my Encore worked out in three different knits.

The hat is a fairly new pattern from Shelby Nichols, the Sava Springs Cap. That pair of mittens tucked around Glass Head’s neck is Sophie McKane’s Coin Slot Mittens. And the star of the show, that slip stitch/mosaic baby blanket, is Amy Marie Vold’s Sleeping Under the Stars.

Here’s a view of the entire blanket. I rate it a spectacular design for a wee one.

I knit the stars in the contrast-color (white) and the background in the main-color (teal). My blanket is 33.5 wide and 35.5 long (so almost square). Encore kept those dimensions even after machine washing (on delicate) and machine drying (on a low temperature). As I knit the blanket I was concerned that the mosaic stitch was creating too firm a fabric. I was knitting basically at gauge on US size 8 needles and I was concerned that if I moved up to a size 9 I’d run out of yarn. I want the blanket to nestle nicely around the new babe and not just sit atop him like a stiff paper bag. So I was concerned about the firmness of the fabric. But Encore saved the day, relaxed nicely into the stitch, and softened in the washer and dryer. I’m completely satisfied.

I took the designer’s advice and used the Chinese Waitress Cast-on with a matching Double Chain Cast-off. If you haven’t tried these techniques yet, consider taking them for a test drive. Admittedly the cast-on is a little fiddly at first. But you’ll pick up speed in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. The cast-off is super easy. The result is that your knitting will begin and end with a neatly chained row of stitches. Quite spiffy.

With some of the remaining Encore I decided to knit the Coin Slot Mittens. While shopping at Country Needleworks recently I made myself comfortable and browsed through their crates of discounted patterns. This one commanded my attention and my frugal bone. 99 cents for what looked like an excellent pattern.

I wasn’t wrong. The fair isle in this mitten is easy and well planned. The directions are error-free. And I was super pleased to see that the charts were super-sized so I wouldn’t need to test my computer skills to try to enlarge them. My new personal wimpy-knitter whine is charted patterns so small you need magnifying glasses to read them.

The coin-slot top pattern integrates well with the palm and thumb patterns. I followed the instructions exactly and it worked out perfectly. The mittens did need an extra amount of sewing repair at the base of the thumb though. The pattern calls for placing the thumb gusset stitches on a holder and then casting on a bunch of stitches using the backward loop method. Next time I knit these I’ll likely substitute an afterthought thumb.

The mittens needed a good soak to relax the stitches and let the coin slots emerge. Next time I will try to be more aware that I need to loosen my tensioning over the slot section.

After knitting the mittens I had an entire skein of white left and a tad more than a half-skein of teal. I had the Sava Springs Cap in my queue and decided it would be a good fit for the yarn.

I wasn’t wrong. This beefy worsted, sometimes identified as an Aran weight, worked out well.

The pattern provides alternatives for the cuff. You can work a short section of ribbing, a traditional longer folded rib cuff, or a doubled cuff. I decided the doubled cuff would be totally cozy. I started with a crochet provisional cast-on. Be sure to follow the pattern directions and knit (no purls) one round after the cast-on or you’ll have a royal mess to untangle when you try to unravel the cast-on. After knitting the proper length of cuff you unravel the cast-on and place those stitches on a circular needle. Tucking that extra needle of stitches inside the cuff creates the folded cuff. Then continue with your working needle, knitting one stitch from the working needle with one stitch from the needle containing the stitches that emerged once you unravelled the cast-on. Once you complete the round you’ll have a permanently folded cuff.

The crown decreases create an attractive well-behaved top. If you gift the non-pompomed hat to a kid you can look down at their head and congratulate yourself. They won’t look like their head comes to a point.

I decided a colorful pompom would work well with this hat. I use a Clover pompom maker to make my pompoms. The not-so-secret to using that tool to achieve a very full pompom is to stuff it so full of wound yarn that it will barely close.

I abhor wobbly pompoms so I sew them on very firmly, going back and forth through the core of the pompom 2-3 times. That makes them very difficult to remove when washing the hat though. And pompoms do not weather machine washing very well. So pick your poison I guess. A wobbling pompom or one that matts somewhat after washing. Sewing a snap onto the bottom of the pompom and the top of the hat can work. But my sewing skills aren’t quite up to the task.

I’m so pleased with how my Sleeping With The Stars worked out that I thought I’d give you another look.

Two warm hats

We’ve had the weirdest entry into winter in recent memory here in southwest Michigan. December was the warmest on record in eons. And there was no snow. None. OK. One dawn we woke to a dusting on the lawn but it was gone with the sunrise so that doesn’t count. But snow is on the way in the coming week or so. The 1/2 inch we had last night hasn’t yet disappeared and it’s nearly noon. Plus very soon the highs will be only in the 20’s (Fahrenheit). Definitely the time to feature hats.

This first pattern is Jeanette DeVita’s Seafarer’s Beanie. It’s a freebie available through Ravelry or directly downloadable at The Seaman’s Church Institute website. I don’t think I can do better than the Institute’s website to describe itself and its mission:

Since 1898, volunteers of the Seamen’s Church Institute have knitted, collected, packed, and distributed gifts to mariners who were miles away from home during the holidays. Today, for seafarers calling on the Port Newark and Elizabeth in New Jersey, the gift consists of two hand-knitted garments, a Christmas card, and information on SCI’s services for mariners along with toiletries like hand lotion, lip balm, and toothbrushes, and individually-packaged candy or snacks. The items for the seafarers’ gifts are housed in an individual hand-sewn ditty bag, and they are delivered to the ships by SCI chaplains from the Monday before Thanksgiving through Epiphany on January 6. Mariners working on U.S. inland rivers receive a box for each boat containing handmade Christmas cards and a knit for each mariner.

The only modification I made to DeVita’s pattern was to work the double-thick earband by knitting the live stitches into the cast-on ones. Joining live stitches to a traditional cast-on is always an awkward process for me. So I used a provisional crochet cast-on. And when the time came for the join, I removed the provisional cast-on, placed the stitches on a second circular needle, and then knit the two sets of live stitches together onto my working needle. That worked well. Also, it made for a more stretchy join that helps the hat fit larger heads.

The crown decreases are super simple but very effective in making sure that the top of the hat lays flat. Allright. A digression. I know that English grammar is not a matter of consensus building. But does the top of my hat lay flat or lie flat? What I recall being drilled into me is that you lay in a bed you don’t lie in it. (Though I supposed you might speak lies in a bed also.) And you lie with your mouth and obviously don’t lay with your mouth. In search of some clarity, I consulted the Associated Press Stylebook.

AP says that “lie indicates a state of reclining along a horizontal plane and does not take a direct object.” The phrase “lay flat” has no direct object. And maybe my hat’s crown is sort of in a state of reclining along a horizontal plane. Do you think? The past tense of lie in the reclining sense is “lay.” That’s way too much for my head. AP acknowledges that “lie” means speaking an untruth. Clarity has not been achieved. So let me try this again. The super simple crown decreases make sure the top of the hat doesn’t come to a point.

I knit my first Seafarer’s Beanie in Plymouth Yarns Galway Worsted. It’s such a reliable workhorse wool. And it’s available at a decent price point in lots of colorways. For my second knit of this pattern I chose Kelbourne Woolens Germantown. Great wool yarn. Not such a great price point though. Many fewer colorways but every one is a winner.

This teal version has been getting a lot of favorites on Ravelry since I posted it. Maybe that’s just because I offered the tip about starting with a provisional cast-on. It’s such a reliably great pattern. Both hats were selected from this year’s Pick-Your-Gift in an early round. Here’s the beanie laying flat. Or is it maybe lying flat?

Next up is another Seaman’s Church Institute freebie: Kristine Byrnes’s 1898 Hat. Here’s a direct link to the pdf on the Institute’s website if you’d rather go that route. (Let’s not start on the subject of singular possessives with names ending in an “s.”)

My skein of Lamb’s Pride Alaskan Sea must have been a bit short on the yardage. So I used an oddment of Orange You Glad Lamb’s Pride to add in some stripes. I’m very pleased with how that worked out.

This is a great whirligig crown decreases that behaves itself well.

If you haven’t knit this hat before you’ll be surprised about how its earband is knit. Here’s a teaser: that’s not an I-cord at the bottom edge. And both the inside and the outside of the double thick earband are knit flat at the same time. Totally clever.

A lot of knitters have found that the earband works best if it’s knit on a smaller size needle than the body of the hat. I used US size 7 for the earband and size 9 for the body. Major pumpkin-heads may find this hat’s a tad snug. Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride can stand up to size 10 needles and that might work better for the big heads among us, including me.

To quote a famous piggie “Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks!” Welcome to 2024!