Missing the fine print

I probably shouldn’t admit this in such good company, but I never bought a mini-skein before though I’ve been tempted. The thought of winding all those cuties into something I could knit with was daunting. And anyway I’ve never been sure what I’d knit.

But this Blue Sky Woolstok worsted weight bundle was on sale at a wonderful online shop. And they recommended a cowl pattern to knit with my bundle. Well, or so I thought. I succumbed.

I read through the pattern and that’s when I saw that I was supposed to also buy a full skein of Blue Sky Woolstok at a dainty 123 yards but a not-so-dainty price. And the cowl was pretty tight on yardage for one skein so I really needed to buy two skeins to be safe. Now my sale price was feeling a little shaky. But in for a penny in for a pound.

My first task was turning those bundles into balls or cakes I could knit from. There were two mini-skeins of each colorway. Curses. Double the trouble. How do knitters handle this? Because I tried everything and nothing was very satisfactory.

On my first few attempts I put a mini on my swift. My swift expanded to a cramped 12 inches or so and then I wound the minis into pitiful looking cakes using my winder. Geez, this is going to take longer than it will take to knit the cowl. Next, I opened up three minis and placed each one at a different height on my swift. If you think about how many hands a person has, you will see my predicament. Even when I pressed my mouth into service, loading that trio onto the swift was quite a task. Winding three minis in quick succession sort of worked to speed up the process. But no way was I going to keep that up.

My next try was to unroll the mini and hook the tiny skein around my two feet. I wound a ball using my feet to hold the tension. That worked fairly well until I got a little too enthusiastic and one foot slipped out. Finally? Finally I unwound a mini and laid all the yarn out on my bed. And then I just hand-wound a ball. That worked best. Whoever dreamed up minis should get a marketing prize and then a lump of coal for their birthday.

I dutifully charged into the recommended mosaic/slip stitch cowl. With my vast mosaic dishcloth experience, ahem, I figured I should be sure to match up high contrast colors. Oh my. I got halfway through the cowl and decided it looked like a 1960’s hippie monstrosity. It was probably that gold shade that was fouling the creation. My placement of the pink shade didn’t help.

Time to start over. What to do with these bundles, plus my 246 yards of Woolstok in the beautiful Northern Lights colorway?

Scrappy hats turned out to be just the ticket.

I am totally satisfied with Theresa Schabes A Fairly Scrappy Hat. It’s actually gathered quite a few Ravelry “favs” since I knit it back in late March when Hillman Michigan’s Long Lake was still a snowy place.

Seventy-six grams of yarn, lots of ends that I mostly wove in as the knitting progressed, and a well-behaved crown decreases. Great hat!

Next up was Justyna Lorkowska’s Scrappy Ski Hat. I’ve knit this freebie before in 2-color versions, here and here and here. And I know I shouldn’t insult Woolstok minis by calling them scraps. But gosh I like how treating them as scraps turned out.

Excellent how the crown decreases work out when you continue the colorwork.

I still have about half a skein of the main color Woolstok and assorted oddments of minis. There’s likely enough for another hat!

The next “read the fine print lesson” is a little more nuanced. This is Rainbow Indigo Fisherman Beanie, a DK weight freebie designed by Janet Stimson. Obviously, my version is light on the rainbow. Actually, even the blue denim shaded original is merely aspirational on the rainbow.

Such an excellent classic beanie. So, what does this have to do with reading the fine print? The pattern says a knitter will need 220 yards of DK weight to knit this hat. My two balls of Classic Elite Song totalled 220 yards. I’m good to go. Well, no.

My completed hat, with its rusty red Classic Elite Song bullseye, weighs 98 grams. What happened? She-who-does-not-enjoy-being-called-out-in-public forgot to weigh the balls before starting out on the hat. That’s something that should be done whenever your yardage is as close as mine was to what the pattern called for. At least I had a bit more Song in my stash to complete my one-of-a-kind hat in the same yarn.

I will definitely knit Stimson’s pattern again sometime. Lesson learned on not trusting that a skein of yarn is going to contain at least the yardage the ballband indicates.

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.

Hatty New Year!

This is a severely hacked “Scrappy Ski Hat.” It’s a great little free pattern by Justyna Lorkowska. If you’re just returning from that link you are probably scratching your head as you ponder how different my version is.

My Scrappy is knit in two partial skeins of Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, by Stonehedge Fiber Mills. The shades are Antique Rose and Spruce. The pattern calls for changing the colors after just one pattern repeat. The thought of weaving in all those ends felt daunting, so I decided on a two-color version.

And that pompom is made with the largest sized Clover Pom-Pom Maker. Such a clever little tool. If you have one and haven’t been able to make much sense of the rather compact directions on the packaging, this is Susan B. Anderson’s great video on its operation. I feel like the extravagant pom-pom really makes this hat.

This next hat is Joan Sheridan’s “Freedom Cap.” It’s also knit in Shepherd’s Wool Worsted.

I’ve knit this before. Recently, I was at Joan’s great shop, Heritage Spinning & Weaving in Lake Orion, Michigan. I just couldn’t pass up the chance to buy an additional kit and knit this one again.

I enjoy knitting warm wool hats in yarns that are bright and cheerful. This kit definitely fits that description. (But Joan also stocks these kits in other colorways–jewel tones and grays.)

This is easy Fair Isle work, even though there are a lot of ends to work in. There are very few longer floats. I often take the measure of a hat by the crown decreases. It can’t get much better than this one,

Not every knit a knitter tackles turns out wonderfully well. I’ll save what’s off about this next one to the “reveal” at the end. This is Hanna Maciejewska’s great free pattern: Snow Bunnies. Let’s start at the crown this time.

My Snow Bunnies is knit in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash. That pom-pom isn’t hiding an icky crown decrease. The crown is quite nice. It’s a slouch hat and the gathers are very appropriate.

So, here’s a view of the snow bunnies.

So cute. Really. I like this hat, a lot. But I made a rookie mistake and didn’t check my gauge before knitting. I knit hats for all sizes of heads, so gauge usually doesn’t really matter much. And when hats come out rather large, both Steve and I have gigantic heads. So big hats fit us well.

Every hat eventually gets its head. If you know an offensive tackle who wants to wear bunny butts and a fluffy pom-pom, let me know.

Sometimes your knitting can give you some challenges. I wasn’t quite up to this one. I couldn’t just get with the program for the crown. More on that in a bit. This is Black Brook Beanie, a new free pattern by Tammie Canavan-Soldaat. The hat is a glory of two-color linen-stitch. It’s slow going, but so so much worth the effort.

My Black Brook is knit in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash. The pattern had one teeny hiccup in it, which the designer corrected–so if you downloaded it in its earliest days, be sure to download it again or read the errata on the Ravely pattern page. Despite the crown decreases being correctly written, a knitter needs to be able to read the knitting to keep the linen stitch colors properly lined up through the crown.

I just wasn’t up to it.

After a few tries, I gave up and just knit the entire crown in a salt and pepper “fair isle” pattern. It worked. It’s cute. But I have to call it my Black Brook Beanie Hack. Do give this pattern a try. In the original, it’s a beauty!