Hats for a cold spring

Looks like spring. But this fingering weight hat will keep the wintery weather at bay. That’s been handy this April. Good news, though. Ice-out a few days ago on Long Lake! We’ve already been in our kayaks. The beaver were kind to our Ghost Bay trees and didn’t even munch the birch trees. The small-mouth bass are moving throughout the lake. Our dock went in today. Nick’s been wake-boarding this past weekend. So, we rush the season a bit, even while I cling to winter knits. There’s no time when I don’t knit wool hats. Even in the summer, hats keep popping off my needles.

This beauty is Joan Sheridan’s Hearts and Flowers Fair Isle Cap. Sheridan kits this up in seven shades of Jamieson’s Spindrift and and sells the kit at her shop. As always with her kits, there was plenty of leftover yarn–even though I knit the largest size. The pattern is also downloadable on Ravelry.

Here’s a look at the great crown decrease section.

Such fun to knit! And so much bang for your knitting bucks.

I think I feel a red(dish) hat blog post coming on. This next one is Dawnlight Slouchy Hat by Jo-Anne Klim.

I knit mine in String Theory’s Hand-dyed Merino DK, in the Rose Madder colorway. It’s a delicious shade of reddish-orange. I knit this hat over the winter and got tons of use out of it. The texture and slouch work well for me. I’ve learned, only lately actually, that head-hugger beanies aren’t the right look for me anymore. (That doesn’t stop me from wearing plenty of beanies anyway, though.)

This is one major beanie. It’s Dan the Plug’Ole, by Nathan Taylor. A little research and I learned the apparent origin of the pattern name: “Your hoglet has gawn dan the plug’ole”  is a line from an old Cockney dialect poem. I was drawn to the pattern exactly because of that spiralling ribbing and stockinette. It’s a fairly easy knit. You have to stay awake to make it work. But the effect is worth the effort. And that wide brim really keeps ears warm. Mine is knit in Cascade 220 Superwash Effects. Good hat. Good yarn.

Here’s a look at that spiraling top as it goes down the plug hole.

Honestly, I had a little trouble with the spiral. Snooze, you lose (a stitch or two). But it worked out well. Eventually.

This next hat, a freebie by Jan Wise, also has a great name: F309 Slouchy Hat with Picot Edge. This name tells a knitter all that needs to be known. I knit mine in a great yarn, now discontinued, Harrisviille Designs’ Orchid with Cashmere:

My top ended up a tad unruly. Here it is, unblocked. I kind of like it this way.

This next hat is Brick Sidewalk Beanie, an Ann Weaver design, free on Ravelry. I knit mine in String Theory Hand-Dyed Merino DK, in wisteria. Ok, not a red like the rest of the post’s hats. But sort of a pink. Sort of a lavender pink. Close enough.

It’s an interesting knit. The ribbing is unusual. And I really like the way the three columns of ribbing continue up the hat and taper gently through the crown decrease section.

I knit the largest size and mine turned out a bit long at the back of the neck. That’s easily remedied by shortening the body of the hat about an inch. Or it could be worn with a bit of slouch and a bit of attitude.

You only have to make one hat, so there’s no such thing as second hat syndrome to deal with. You don’t have to obsess much about gauge, because heads come in such a variety of sizes you’ll always find a head to fit. And knitting hats is the perfect portable project for all those waiting rooms we need to frequent. Go forth and knit hats! All. Year. Long.

Cowls…lots of cowls

This little package definitely caught my eye at one of my local yarn shops, Skeins on Main in Rochester, Michigan. It’s a great shop. But more important, for present purposes, this was a fun kit to knit up. There was plenty of yarn, in all the colorways. The yarn is Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherd’s Wool worsted. It’s a “pure Michigan” product, in next-to-the-skin soft merino.

I had 63 grams left, which I calculate as about 135 yards. The pattern is “Yipes Stripes Cowl” by Ann Weaver. My kit didn’t tell me what color to use where in the pattern. It looked to me, though, that the yardage for each color was the same. I used: A=wine, B=white, C=black, D=pink, and E=gray.

The pattern’s directions for the Latvian braid are excellent. I hadn’t done the braid in a month of Sundays, but I didn’t even need to consult a video. One hint? Try to work the 2nd row of each braid without untangling the yarns, because the 3rd row is worked with an opposite twist, which untwists the yarns as you work. There’s one 3-color Latvian Braid, in a prominent mid-cowl placement.

Blocked lightly, this is a 12.5 inches square cowl. Here’s a closer look.

Next up is Callowhill Cowl, by Erika Flory. It’s available here and seems to be an exclusive to Craftsy.

Craftsy is kitting the pattern with Cloudborn Superwash Merino DK. I’ve not knit with it before this. In fact, I never heard of the yarn before seeing it on Craftsy at such a low price that it was an offer I could not refuse. At the moment, the pattern and the yarn sell as a kit for $11.70. $11.70? How does that happen?

I can’t given the yarn a rave review. But, I didn’t encounter knots. There was an occasional bit of fuzz that clung to the yarn. But it picked off easily and didn’t compromise the integrity of the yarn. And, good golly, Miss Molly, they are practically giving this yarn away! My colorway is Ocean.

This is a small circumference cowl. Be sure to use a very stretchy bind-off. I used Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off and that turned out to be an excellent choice. If you haven’t used JSSBO before, Cat Borhi’s “how to” video is excellent.

This next one is a super-easy, knit-while-you-chat cowl: Melissa Sibley’s Grinchy Cowl.

Again, this is Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherd’s Wool Worsted. The only modifications I made were that I cast on 120 instead of 110 stitches and knit one extra repeat of the 15-round section, to give the cowl some extra height.

If I make this again, I will end the slip stitch sections (yes, there is a tad more to this pattern than first meets the eye) after a knit row. I think that will decrease the bit of bunchiness on the underside of the purl row sections.

An extremely simple cowl to knit. And there’s something to be said for that, for sure.