Red stuff day

This is Faye Kennington’s fun “Off With Her Head” design. She writes that “The hearts and flouncy garden trellis motif of this hat have an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality to them.” Indeed they do. My Glass Head shudders to think of Iracebeth’s a/k/a the Queen of Hearts uttering her famous cruel phrase. Maybe it brings up old memories from the glass factory? Anyway, the hat does have an Alice in Wonderland look going.

And somehow this hat also conjures up a much less threatening Valentine’s Day vibe. I knit mine in Berroco Ultra Wool Worsted. The yarn is a sturdy superwool that’s skeined up in a huge variety of colorways including many solid shades.

The pattern is wonderfully clear. The fair isle chart didn’t even need magnifying to make it a comfy-on-the-eyeballs knit. It was almost completely clear of longer floats. That’s definitely a plus in fair isle work.

I followed the pattern precisely, including working the ribbing for 3.25 inches. If I knit it again I believe I’ll either shorten or lengthen the ribbing because the hat’s a tad awkward to wear. The ribbing is too short to fold over nicely. But with the ribbing unfolded the hat lengthens into more of a slouchy than I prefer. Still, an excellent pattern. And a fun knit!

The position of the hearts just before the crown decreases begin is a great look.

Next up, red socks.

These are Carol A. Anderson’s Iowa Crew/Cruise Socks. Mine are knit in a new-to-me yarn, Raggen by Viking of Norway. It’s another sturdy worsted in 70% wool 30% nylon. Steve’s pair has machine washed well–absolutely no felting.

Anderson’s been at the helm of Cottage Creations for a month of Sundays. Her booklets have been digitized and are now available on Ravelry. The pre-printed booklets are also still available through the Cottage Creations website and at many local yarn shops.

If you need a warm pair of boot socks or bed socks, this fits the bill. The pattern is written for all size feet. As with all Anderson’s patterns, she holds a knitter’s hands in a tight grip throughout the knit. The patterns are wordy and folksy. They make for a good read as well as a good knit.

Back to hats. This next one is Susan Villas Lewis’s Breck knit in sportweight Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. This my fourth Breck. You’ll find the others here and here. I haven’t yet found a color combination that doesn’t work.

The simple slip stitch work has always been very effective for me. Go for the high contrast is my only advice. My sense is that it’s the mix of stockinette and garter that makes this hat stand out from the crowd. And the knit 2, purl 1 relaxed ribbing throughout the body is a great touch too.

The crown decreases are simple. But they work. It doesn’t bother me that the ribbing first changes to 1 by 1 and then to stockinette as the crown stitches draw closer together.

Breck is a seriously excellent pattern. Give it a try, especially since DK weight seems to be squeezing the sportweight yarns off the shelf. I’m finding sportweight somewhat over-represented in the sale shelfs of my local yarn shops.

Whether it’s Valentine’s or Galentine’s or Palentine’s …or even just another Wednes Day…have a great 14th!

Sport team hats

There are sports fans galore lingering near or in the knitting universe. I’ve got some young Buffalo Bills fans who asked for hats. This one is an easy peasy freebie: Beka Inman’s “Go Steelers.” Clearly Steeler black and gold was not going to cut any mustard. I searched around on the Bills’ website and found quite a collection of high-priced knit hats. I felt pretty smug that I could knit at least a pair, with yarn to spare, from a few skeins of Plymouth Encore.

To help match the team’s color, I downloaded this from its website:

Those Pantone colors sure get around. Too bad the yarn manufacturers don’t do Pantone even on their solids. I got a great match on the blue. The red? Not so much. But the Bills fan kids are still well satisfied with their “Go Bills!” beanie.

All together now: That is a really great pompom. The trick, which isn’t much a trick, is using the Clover Pompom maker and winding it very full with yarn. You should barely be able to swing its arms to the closed position before you stop winding. And to get multi color poms, you simply cut off one color and start winding with another. I like to have the colors end up in blocks so I group the colors together on the winding arms.

A good serviceable hat. And knit in Encore it’s easy care, though the pompom always presents a care challenge.

This next sports helmet is Carol A. Anderson’s pattern from pages 6-7 of Cottage Creations booklet R18, “More Projects for the Community and Family.” The entire booklet is downloadable via Ravelry. Or you can be old school and buy the pattern booklet direct from Cottage Creations or from the many local yarn shops that stock the booklets.

At the color change rounds, I first knit a full round in the new color. Even though the helmet is K2, P2 ribs, knitting (with no purling) the first round of the color change works just fine. The knit round nicely melts into the ribbing and you avoid any of the dreaded half-one-color, half-another-color purl stitches. The stripes are 3 rounds white, 3 rounds red (or the reverse)–including the first round in all knit–with 8 rounds of blue (again, with the first round in all knit).

This one is warm for sure. If the wearer needs to accommodate glasses or ski goggles, just work a few extra rounds after the mid-round bind-off before casting on again for the home stretch.

It’s getting close to the main US sport team seasons. Plus the kiddos are headed back to real school, COVID permitting. Time to get your needles clicking.

Rows are Rambling Again

There hasn’t been much to brighten our days lately. I thought I’d knit something to keep my eyeballs entertained during this long winter of our discontent. Did I maybe go overboard?

This is enough yarn to knit a full-sized Rambling Rows blanket by Carol A. Anderson of Cottage Creations. It’s, she clears her throat, my 10th. Does a knitted item count if you don’t have a photo to prove it? If so, then this is my 11th.

Just about everyone who sees this, or who saw my color choices before those 22 skeins turned into this, asked me if this goes with my decor. No. Not one bit. I believe that everyone breathes a sigh of relief upon hearing my answer. Maybe they feel reassured that I don’t live in a Crayola Crayon box. Why do this? Why knit 4,144 yards of not-inexpensive Rowan Pure Wool Superwash worsted only to be left with something that matches nothing. I am not sure. I think it has something to do with COVID stresses, with feeling gloomy, with sunrise happening too late and sunset happening too soon.

Knitting this happy blanket was a salve for how the world is too much with us yet. Here it is laid out on my queen-sized bed.

I’ve knit Rambling Rows and written about it a number of times during the nearly 11 years I’ve been writing this blog. Check here for another knit in this same Rowan yarn, and here for one in Plymouth Yarns Encore, and here for one in Berroco Comfort, and here for four more including one on steroids, and here for one knit in 1995.

Rambling Rows has obviously become a major knitting stutter for me. I repeat it at least every few years. It’s knitting comfort food. I know it always works out. Maybe not always colorwise because this knitter sometimes has the color sensibilities of a 5 year old. But knitting 2.34 miles of garter stitch soothes me like not much else.

Most of the Cottage Creation booklets have been digitized and they’re available for purchase on Ravelry, including Rambling Rows. If you don’t yet own this classic knit I highly recommend you check it out. The booklet includes 3 sizes of blankets and lots of hand-holding for those who need it. Anymore I just turn to the center fold chart and cast-on.

Patterns revisited

This is Aimee Alexander’s Antonia’s Scarf. I knit it in the now-discontinued Classic Elite Song. Song is a DK weight mix of 50% cotton, 50% wool. I wish I’d have discovered Song before Classic Elite did its swan dive. It’s excellent yarn. The feel is more cotton than wool.

I’ve knit this scarf  twice before, both times in Noro Yuzen. Even if you don’t know Yuzen, you’ll assume it’s many-colored (and you’d be correct). My Noro versions shout “look at me.” Song, by contrast, produced a subdued, calm scarf that just nestles into your coat and keeps your neck cozy.

One of the fun things about Antonia’s Scarf is that it knits up super fast. That triple wrap stitch eats yarn like crazy and adds three-quarters of an inch in two shakes of lamb’s tail.

This next repeat performer is Cecelia Compochiaro’s Swirl Hat, from Mason-Dixon’s Field Guide No 5. I knit it in my last remaining bits of Classic Elite Fresco. Fresco is, well was, a wonderful 60% Wool, 30% Alpaca, 10% Angora sportweight. I even added a machine-made pom-pom this time. Somehow the halo of the angora inspired me on that.

Great hat. Again (head to the end of the post). Such an interesting sequence knitting design. You just keep knitting the same sequence of knits and purls, each round, adjusting the stitch count at the start of a round every once in awhile. Surprisingly, the purl bumps zig first one way and then the opposite way. I didn’t understand much about why or how it worked the first time I knit it. And the light bulb didn’t go on the second time either. But it does work.

I had only 80 yard of worsted weight Rhichard Devrieze Fynn left after completing a recent project. Fynn is expensive enough that I’d saved my two skeins for years until the pandemic came along and I started to wonder what I was saving it for. After knitting myself a pair of bedsocks (yes, bedsocks), I set to looking for a pattern that would make good use of my remaining 80 yards.

Seventy-eight yards is all it took to knit myself one of the headbands from Knitwise Design’s Rugged Trail Headbands.

I’ve already found reason to wear this during the chilliest of these recent sunny late winter days. Great yarn, if you can forgive short yardage (175) and a major price tag.

Someone asked if my helmet/facemask could do any coronavirus duty. No. Too porous. But come next winter this helmet, knit in easy-care Plymouth Encore, will keep someone very warm. Three of my helmets are already hard at work on that task.

The pattern is from Carol A. Anderson’s a/k/a Cottage Creations R18 booklet “More Projects for the Community and Family.” Here’s the BIG Cottage Creations news. Almost every booklet in the Cottage Creations catalog, even the discontinued ones, are now available for download and purchase on Ravelry. Such great news!

No post on repeat performers of mine would be complete without including my newest Fetchings. These three sets of mitts are knit in my favorite yarn for this pattern: Noro Silk Garden. Unless you can find it on sale, it’s a splurge for a quick knit. But oh the colors!

These are my 8th, 9th, and 10th Fetching. Yep, I have a major stutter going when it comes to this pattern. My ten Fetchings posted on Ravelry contribute to the 21,216 total finished projects. I typically knit them just as Cheryl Niameth’s 2007 pattern directs. Some knitters lengthen the mitts some before binding off. Some work the bind-off to tame the bit of ruffle. But I find all the features somehow endearing.

Even more doubles

A repeated theme on this blog is knitting doubles. I get a kick out of working up the same pattern in different yarns or by reversing colorways. This first doubles is Justyna Lorkowska’s freebie Scrappy Ski Hat. Lorkowska designed this hat to use up worsted weight oddments. And it is beautifully suited to that. But I knit mine in Mirasol Umina, a 50% merino 50% alpaca worsted that is wonderfully soft.

Check out how nicely the crown decreases work out.

If you like this next hat (I do), you’ll have to work a bit harder than merely clicking over to Ravelry to buy a copy of the pattern. This is Carol A. Anderson’s Anna Hat. You’ll find it in her company’s (Cottage Creations’) “Caps (and more) for the Gals” booklet, #R32, copyright 2010. The pattern is on page 16 and is labeled “A Very Warm Textured Cap and Mitten Set for Rialey and Anna.” The booklet can be ordered here. There are a number of excellent patterns included.

I’d purchased two deeply discounted skeins of Cascade Pacific, a 60% acrylic 40% merino blend, figuring I’d find a use for them. The variegated colorway was a little overwhelming but this pattern stitch worked really well to tame it.

Without those stitches slipped with the yarn in front, which creates that bar of yarn, this colorway would have been hard to take.

I’m now liking this wild colorway and cool hat quite a bit. Here’s the same Anna Hat in a quieter variegated in the same yarn.

Kelbourne Woolens released a free hat pattern every month in 2019. This is a pair of June Hats, designed by Meghan Kelly. I like many of Kelbourne’s Year of Hats and knit quite a few of them. In fact, I’ve knit June before. I think that easy slip stitch chain in the main color is just the cat’s meow.

And my pompoms aren’t too shabby either. These hats are knit in Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted.

It’s yarn leftover from one of my favorite Rambling Rows ever.

“And now, for her next trick…” a triple. A triple Boon Island, by Aimee Alexander. First in Ella Rae Classic Solids, Heathers & Marls, but this is marl:

And the next two Boons are in Plymouth Yarns Encore, a 75% acrylic 25% wool workhorse.

 

Boon Island is very versatile. I much like the rough pebbly non-public side, which makes for a good brim for those who favor brim over slouch.

The crown decreases are handsome and well-behaved.

“Tha…tha…that’s all folks!” If you’d enjoy some more doubles, check out here and here and here.