Doubled

I think these are super cute and so do hundreds of others who’ve knitted Jelka since Isabell Kraemer released the pattern as a freebie in December of 2021. Jelka is a very easy slip stitch pattern, with a doubled brim that will keep ears warm and dry.

It starts with a provisional cast-on. Here’s my favorite crochet provisional cast-on, demonstrated by Lucy Neatby. Don’t groan. This one is easily worked. And it pulls out beautifully when you need it to, no unraveling or tangling. Just be sure that your first row after the cast-on is all knits or (I think) all purls. Jelka’s first round after the cast-on is all knit. Such an alert call by Kraemer. Other than working the provisional cast-on properly, another hint for the joining round is to pick up the cast-on stitches onto a needle 1 or 2 sizes smaller than your working needle.

Of course the pompom is optional. I think they usually look ratty after the hat is washed, so I often steer clear of pompoms. But this hat just seemed to want one. So I obliged.

I knit my first Jelka in Malabrigo Rios. The main color is Sunset and the contrast color is Teal Feather.

The hat benefited by a steam blocking to encourage the slipped stitches to relax into the fabric.

Why would anyone want to knit something more than once? I know that there are many knitters who ask that question out of sincere puzzlement. They want each knitting adventure to be, well, an adventure. Take it from someone who’s knit 50 Acorn Hill Ponies, 26 Calorimetry earwarmers, 16 Sunrise Side Bears, 15 Windschief hats, 13 Noro Striped Scarves, 11 Fetching fingerless mitts, 11 The Thinker hats, 11 Rambling Rows blankets, 10 Better Dorm Boots, and 9 Rib Sampler Scarves, that some knitters take solace in the familiar. Sometimes knitting adventures aren’t what I crave.

As soon as I knit my first Jelka, I wanted to knit another. I don’t think there’s a much higher compliment to a designer than to feel that way.

My second Jelka is knit in Plymouth Yarns Select Merino superwash.

I was curious how a much more tame color combination would work out. My sense is that it worked out quite nicely.

I even decided to add a two-color pompom.

I’ve already mentioned that I’ve knit The Thinker hat 11 times. Recently I realized it had been nearly 2 years since I’d returned to Susan Villas Lewis’ excellent pattern. Thinkers look especially nice in solid colors that show off the stitches. And I had recently purchased some solid skeins of Sugar Bush Bold worsted. First came one.

And immediately came another. The second is worked in a nice bright shade of Bold tailor-made for walks during hunting season.

The Thinker has an excellent pinwheel crown decrease. It looks a little odd laying flat. But just tell your recipients to stop laughing and put it on their heads because what first looks pointy behaves absolutely non-pointy.

One of my best knitting buddies, Dot, has knit multiples of this next hat. I figured that must mean it’s an excellent knit. Jesie Ostermiller’s Portsmouth Beanie did not disappoint. I knit my first one in Cascade Yarn’s Elysian. It’s a new yarn to me. It’s an easy-care worsted in 60% merino, 40% acrylic. I liked the yarn. I really like this unisex pattern.

The pattern also eats yarn very daintily. I knit the largest size and only used 127 yards.

I knit a second Portsmouth Beanie in Sugar Bush Bold. I apologize for that funny little purl hiccup in the middle of my ribbed brim. If I’d have seen it before the photograph, I’d have fixed it. But it’s still a very serviceable and attractive hat.

And the no-nonsense crown decreases work well.

I see no shame in knitting doubles. Maybe there’s a little bit of shame in knitting 50 of the same ponies or 11 of the same blankets. I’ve already confessed my guilt on that score. At a minimum it shows my knitting imagination is easily satisfied. I genuinely enjoy seeing the same pattern knit in different yarns. But likely the major motivation is that such knitting feels comfortable and familiar. Sort of chicken soup for my hands.

Gifted

Maybe you remember that I recently wrote about a report that llama toys have supplanted all other eccentric critters in popularity? Supposedly unicorns aren’t top dog anymore. It was a bit of a sore topic since I’d just completed knitting my granddaughter a winged unicorn, OK a pegasus, as a holiday present.

I decided to hunt for llama knitting patterns and came across Wee Sandy’s Llama Divine pattern. Llama joined unicorn in my granddaughter’s holiday gift package. Honestly, it was a fiddly knit. I much prefer knitting critters that require a minimum of sewing up after the knitting’s finished. But, for this result, I’ll consent to sewing. Happily, the boucle yarn covers up a multitude of sewing sins.

Now, about that boucle yarn.

It’s Classic Elite Mouton. This designated super bulky boucle is 73% wool, 21% mohair, and 6% nylon. It was skeined up with 51 yards. Maybe you can make out the price tag? $6.25. That is a good indicator of just how old this skein is. It’s not quite as old as my 35-year-old-son. My estimate is I bought it in approximately 1995. I bought 2 skeins to use as doll hair. My version of Kristen Nicolas’ Eclectic Ethnic Dolls came out all wild and wooly thanks to Mouton, which was exactly the look I hoped for.

And now llama. The boucle was perfect for this project. I’m satisfied that my llama has just the right level of wooly, with an excellent sassy expression. I think llama looks just about ready to spit. Mouton waited a long time to be knit up. Maybe it was worth the wait.

Next up is a Janice Anderson pattern. It’s a bit of a mystery. Until recently, it was freebie available on LoveCrafts site. I am certain it was a freebie originally called “Rowan PureLife Sheep Toys,” yes, as in Rowan the major yarn company. I am certain because I downloaded and retained a copy of the Rowan PDF. When I knit this very distinctive sheep, I found that it had disappeared from Ravelry and from LoveCrafts and from Rowan. (I know you’re not really tempted, but I do get inquiries from time to time, and must refuse providing anyone with a pattern copy.) I figure that someone’s in a tiff about the rights to distribute this pattern. For now, anyone without a copy will have to drool from afar or wade into the Wayback Machine. where this knitter dares not go. Hopefully this cool pattern will be released again and soon. Here’s how the Rowan cover-page shows the sheep:

And here’s my version, knit in Barrett Home Worsted Weight wool.

You can see that I didn’t quite capture the full oddball sheepiness of the originals. Somehow my ears turned out quite small. And though I tried those long vertical slit eyes, I couldn’t get them to look right. Plus the mouth turned into more of a muzzle. Bottom line, I winged it some.

Every single time I look at this character, I smile. It’s pretty much impossible to ID him as a sheep though. It kept bothering me about what my critter looked like and then a fellow knitting friend, Audrey, figured it out:

By golly I’ve knit a white Pink Panther. With a bobbed tail, poor thing.

More Maria Socha hats

I’ve already accused myself of being obsessed with Maria Socha’s hat designs in another blog post. Apparently I’m out to prove that I’m guilty as charged.

This is Estera. It’s been one of my favorite hats during this early cold Michigan winter. I knit mine in Malabrigo Rios in the lettuce colorway. Socha makes bobbles look amost elegant in this hat. And the strong architectural lines of the body of the hat flowing into those graceful crown decreases? Wow. Just wow.

Next up is Jelenka. It’s knit in a yarn that’s new to me: The Yarn Collective’s Pembroke Worsted. Excellent yarn. Great hat. Here’s a close look at the texture flowing back, and forth, and back again in this hat.

It’s an interesting, simple stitch that creates a dense but squishy fabric. Glasshead found it quite cozy. So does the head currently wearing it. The flow of the stitch pattern does a great job of taming variegated yarns,

Socha’s designs often have spectacular crown decreases. This one is more subtle than most but the pinwheel effect works great and looks great.

Klapsa is next. Here’s the pear, a favorite variety in Socha’s native Poland.

Here’s the hat. (I probably should have knitted it in green.)

Klapsa is a wonderful fun knit. Mine is knit in HiKoo by Skacel’s Sueno Worsted.

Socha’s patterns are both charted and provided line-by-line. I worked from the chart. The 22-stitch, 55 round chart is super easy to use because it prints at full-page size. It makes for a comfortable read for my old eyes. The chart is even easier to work than it seems at first glance because every other row is simply working the stitches as they appear from the prior round.

And, once again, a great crown decrease.

For the cold ears among us: Ulena. That’s a very wide doubled brim, with a picot edge. Starting with a provisional cast-on creates live stitches to join to the stitches on your needle. And then it’s off to the races with fun increases and decreases. Plus some well-placed bobbles.

Here’s a look at the interesting effect.

Ulena finishes off with a great crown.

Ulena calls for an Aran weight yarn. I used Novita’s 7 Veljesta Solid. I wasn’t sure how a yarn with 25% acrylic would work up with the tugs of the increases and decreases and bobbles on stockinette, but it did well.

By now, I must seem to be quite the fan girl of Socha’s hat patterns. To me, she’s a major talent in the knitting universe.

Color exercises a/k/a cat blankies

I’ve a number of posts already on my exercises in color combinations that do double duty as cat-bed blankets. Instead of linking to the old posts, I’ve decided to include photos of the older ones after I show off my three new ones. And at the end I’ll tell you how I knit them.

First off, they work out great in the colorful line of Lamb’s Pride worsted, by Brown Sheep. What at first looked to me to be some very unlikely color combos turned out looking cool. And also cozy. Cozy enough that I’m beginning to think I might start saving the pieces up to someday piece together these squares to create a very colorful throw. That’s partly because all the cats I know already have one of these. When I knit with Lamb’s Pride worsted, on US size 8 needles, the piece takes about 3.5 skeins. And the result turns out to be a 24 inch square. During an especially mellow knit, the square approaches 25 inches.

The main three colors in this one are: M187-Turquoise Depths, M80-Blue Blood Red, and M02-Brown Heather. There’s also some M-10 Cream making an appearance.

Next up is another new one in M-120 Limeaid, Orange Creamsicle, and M-155 Lemon Drop. I have no notes on a color number for Orange Creamsicle. It was basically a quite-bright orange with some cream streaking. A check on the Brown Sheep website doesn’t list it as a current color. And that purple splotch in the corner of the mitered square is M-59 Periwinkle alternating with French Lilac.

For this next new one I used  M-105 RPM Pink, M-38 Lotus Pink, M-120 Limeade, and  French Lilac. French Lilac may have been some special run, or possibly even a “seconds” because my notes say the ball band had no color number designation. It’s the very vibrant purple-pink in this next square.

Now for a retrospective on squares I’ve blogged about before this.  Here’s one in M-68 Pine Tree, “VM”-Eucalpytus, M-184 Pistachio, Orchid Blush, and (I think) a touch of M-59 Periwinkle at the end of the mitered square.

Next is M-113 Oregano, M-159 Deep Coral, Orchid Blush, and a smidge of M-59 Periwinkle again. Orchid Blush is still available on Brown Sheep’s website, but its color number doesn’t show up there.

Here’s M-155 Lemon Drop, Orange Creamsicle, M-187 Turquoise Depth, and Lemony Lime. Some of these color numbers are lost to the antiquities (apparently).

This next one is M-59 Periwinkle, M-105 RPM PInk, Lemony-Lime, with some Orange Creamsicle tossed in.

Here’s Ink Blue, Rosey Velvet, Pine Shadows, and Orange Creamsicle again.

Next up is an experiment, two colors. I don’t like it as well. Maybe that’s why I didn’t record the identifying numbers on the colors.

Based on the amount of each two colors used, review of my used stash photos suggests that the colors are M-22 Autumn Harvest and M-59 Blue Boy.

This next one is M159 Deep Coral, M-78 Aztec Turquoise, M169 Woodland Green, along with a touch of one of the purples.

Finally, before we get to the “how to,” this next one is another experiment. I’d purchased a major amount of Lana Grossa Fusione at a deep discount and thought I’d try a square. Fusione is a bulky weight, so I used a US size 9 needle (rather than an 8). It’s a typically pricey yarn spun in 30% cotton, 26% alpaca, 25% wool, 19% nylon. This one is headed out soon to my granddaughter. One of her baby dolls could use a new blanket.

It’s pretty. And very soft. I’m fairly confident that baby doll will love it.

So, here’s how I make these. I give credit to Donna Druchunas for the inspiration. Her pattern for a bulky-weight shelter-cat blanket, with half or 75% fewer stitches than my version, minus the final mitered square and minus the border I use can be found on her blog and is also accessible via Ravelry.

Here’s how I make mine:

I use a US size 8 needle and end up at a gauge of about 18 stitches and 34 rows per 4 inches, in garter stitch. If you prefer a different gauge you’ll need more (or less) than 3.5 skeins of Lamb’s Pride Worsted per square. For Square 1, cast on 48 stitches and work for 48 garter ridges (96 rows). Change colors every other row. There’s no need to cut the yarn. It’s best to be consistent about whether you choose to bring the new color over (or under) the working yarn. Keep a consistent tension as you change colors.

Square 2 is the wide stripe. Pick up and knit 48 stitches on the right side of Square 1. Work all pick-up of stitches looking at the right side (the public side) of the square. Work 16 ridges (32 rows) of Color 1, 16 ridges of Color 2, 16 ridges of Color 3. You will have to cut the yarn at the end of each 16-ridge section. Join the new color looking at the right side of the work.

For Square 3, pick up and knit 48 stitches along the left side of Square 2. Work Square 3 the same way you worked Square 1.

Square 4 is the mitered square. It’s my major modification of Duchunas’s version. With the right-side facing, pick up (and knit) 48 stitches on the left side of Square 3 and 48 stitches on the top of Square 1. Place a stitch marker to mark the middle (after you pick up the first set of 48 stitches). Count that picked-up row as Row 1. Knit across all 96 stitches for Row 2, a wrong-side row. Continue to alternate colors, starting with the next row, a right-side row. On each right-side row: knit to within 2 stitches of the center marker and knit two together. Slip the marker. Reverse the next stitch on the needle and then knit 2 together through the back loops (including the flipped stitch and the next one). Knit the remainder of the row. Continue to decrease this way at the center of every right-side row, eliminating 2 stitches each right-side row and knitting every wrong-side row. When you have 2 stitches left, knit them together.

Next, knit the border. Working in the round works well. Looking at the right side, pick up and knit 48 stitches on each side of each square, plus 1 stitch at each corner. Mark the corner stitch with a marker on each side of it. I use a 60 inch circular needle but a somewhat shorter needle will be OK. Continue working garter stitch in the round. That means you need to follow a knit round with a purl round. So, after the pick-up round, purl the next round. To keep the corners from curling, work mitered corners by knitting in the front and the back of each stitch on either side of the marked corner stitch on each right-side (knit) round. Bind off when you’re satisfied with the width of the border. Five or six garter ridges (10 or 12 rounds) works well.  Knitter’s choice on whether to alternate colors or add a one-ridge stripe or just use one color. Also knitter’s choice on whether to bind off on a right-side or a wrong-side row. I prefer a knit bind-off on a right-side row.

Druchanas’s pattern called for an applied I-cord border. That’s an interesting look. And if you want the garter-stitch look without using mitered corners or circular needles, you can pick up stitches along each side, adding extra stitches to lengthen the border. Then you can sew the corners together.

Yipes. After all these words, maybe your eyeballs need a rest. Here’s some photo inspiration.

Cats really do like these. My theory is that it’s something about the 85% wool, 15% mohair mix. Or maybe cats just know warm wherever it’s to be found.

Pairings

Sometimes one thing fits so nicely with another thing that a knitter just can’t resist. This was a gift for a newborn and a gift for his sib. Levi got the Milo vest, by Georgie Nicolson. It’s knit in HiKoo Simplicity Solid, an easy-care DK weight spun in 55% merino, 28% acrylic, and 17% nylon. And for the sib? My Sunrise Side Bear, a Ravelry freebie, dressed in Nicholson’s Dolly Milo.

This is one time that matchy-matchy is no shame. I kind of think it’s baby-present perfect.

Here’s a closer look at this iteration of Sunrise Side Bear, knit in Berroco Comfort Print. Comfort is a very soft yarn so I knit this fellow at a very tight gauge, on US size 3 needles. That’s because it wouldn’t do to have stuffing showing through because Bear would be very emBEARassed.

I decided to knit Judith Durant’s freebie Watch Cap with the rest of the Comfort skein. I was surprised and pleased by how precisely the striping worked out.

And just look at the sweet bullseye-patterned crown decrease.

This Watch Cap is a classic unisex pattern. Easy peasy is sometimes just what a knitter needs and just what a wearer wants. Pair it with a cute stuffy for a great holiday present. Knit it in playful striped yarn to brighten up a dreary wintry day. Or knit it in somber tones for all your dearly beloved stick-in-the-muds who wouldn’t be caught dead in a hat as cheerful as this one.