Pumpkin Hats, etc.

I’ve been working on knitting down my (sizable) stash. When a knitter talks about his/her stash, we all respond that we have bins and bins of yarn. And we do. It seems to me that we all think we have the largest stash but we likely don’t. BUT mine is sizable and I’m proud to say that I did really well to knit only from stash UNTIL I went back to work and customers started giving me ideas again.

This is the yarn corner of my atelier. I had the shelf (and a matching one on the other side of the window holds my knitting books and fabric in the cupboard. Sadly, I have three Ikea shelf sets that also hold yarn. A total of about a dozen fabric boxes in addition to my built-ins. It’s a good sized collection … and I like to think that it adds to the r-value of our home.

Anyway … I digress. I have been trying to knit down my stash so that when I die my children won’t have to deal with it. Partly because they don’t have a clue as to its value. At the end of the year, I dumped out all of the little bins and boxes and went through the yarn to try to cull some that I knew I wouldn’t be knitting with – not ever. I also noticed some that I could knit up and get out. One of those was the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that I have had forever (or the last time I had fall babies to knit for.) I knew that this yarn had to be a pumpkin hat for my great-nephew-to-be who is due in September and who will live in Salem, MA. A perfect gift for a Salem baby.

So, last week I cast on and knit the smallest size pumpkin hat. I had forgotten how cute the hat is and how little yarn those tiny hats use. I had a significant amount still left. Surely, I thought, I can use it all up if I make a medium-size pumpkin hat, right? This weekend I cast on again and am nearly finished with pumpkin hat number two. And guess what? I have a feeling I have enough for a third hat, too. The extra hats will go into my gifts drawer or maybe I’ll have a giveaway on my Instagram page. I haven’t done that for a long time.

The Fiber Trends Patrick’s Pumpkin hat is really one of my favorite patterns. It’s a clever construction with a “shark tooth” piece done up first in garter stitch and then added to a rolled brim. When the hat is finished and blocked you can tack the pieces to that they stay in the right spot. The pumpkin part is so simple and yet so obviously a large orange gourd and it makes a great gift for a fall baby’s arrival. Especially in New England.

Cotton Fleece yarn by Brown Sheep is what I have always bought for this hat. I’m not sure why but it is. I love knitting with this cotton/wool blend yarn. It’s not as stretchy or squishy as full wool but for a baby’s tender head, it’s a soft but warm alternative to acrylics or acrylic blends. And we all know that cotton yarn doesn’t really hold its shape. So … this seems the perfect solution. I also love Brown Sheep because it’s an American company.

Brown Sheep was started over 100 years ago and pivoted in the 1970s when farming prices were low and the market for lamb was dropping off. The Brown family pivoted and began processing wool from their sheep and the rest is history. The Brown family (now with the last name Wells after a couple of generations of marriage) still owns and runs Brown Sheep.

I’ve made a LOT of these hats but on this last one, for whatever reason, I increased in every stitch when the color changed to orange so I had WAY more than 90 stitches. After an inch or so, when the stitches were so squished on the 16″ needle, I had a second look at the pattern and kept knitting. After two inches, I pulled it out, realizing my error. Good grief. Knitting keeps me humble.

I recovered my place again last night while I was watching the Tony Awards. I’m about ready to decrease for the crown of the hat and then I’ll weigh the remaining yarn to see if I have enough for one more hat. It must be my Yankee upbringing that makes it difficult for me to “dispose” of yarn that could still be used. I hope my fingers and wrists hold up well into old age.

Gone knitting.

Making No. 9 Simple – Simple Bird and Nest

I love this magazine! Every one that I have purchased has at least a few patterns that I’d like to try to make. Note, I said, “try”.

This time, in issue 9 Simple, it’s the Simple Bird and Nest by Susan B. Anderson. Susan has made a beautiful little business for herself designing the most exquisite “toys”. Ostensibly for children, the toys are so clever that they’re tempting to make for yourself (even if you’re a senior citizen!) This time, the birds just got me.

I dove deep into my stash and found a couple of colors of DK or Sport weight yarn. I know the first color is a Knit Picks City Tweed DK that I was given for mothers’ day a long, long time ago. It’s a soft, 2-ply yarn that knits up beautifully. Just so happens that I am planning two bird and i had two colors of this yarn in my stash. One is more purple and the other more a dusty rose. The pattern calls for several colors … I found a creamy white, a brown, and a grey. Since they’re for toys that probably won’t be washed, I’m not going to worry about fiber content. Suffice it to say, they’re all wool or wool blends and some may be superwash.

The pattern is so simply written that it makes it a cinch to knit. The bird is quick to knit with a couple of rounds of beginner colorwork. Not too scary when you can do it on something small. The nest has a Latvian braid at the top which is, again, described so as to make it easy for anybody to try. I finished the bird and nests in a couple of sittings but I do knit quickly – and have a lot of experience. The eggs, too, are quick and simple. I’ve got one knitted for each bird so far. Again, stashed “rainbow” yarn will make the eggs completely fictional but colorful. My intent is to write a little story to go along with the gifts … we will see if I get that part done.

Gone knitting!

Stephen West MKAL 2016

Yarn Choices 1-4

Yarn Choices 1-4

I have been wanting to knit one of Stephen West’s designs but have been putting it off because 1) I have so many other knits to complete and an order from a customer and 2) because there are so many good ones and I’ve had trouble deciding which one to make first! SO when a MKAL came along, I dumped out my stashed fingering weight yarns and chose several to start with.

My knitting students helped me narrow my choices to the four required in the pattern and I got started on the first clue. I love the i-cord cast on and the subsequent i-cord increases. Picking up and knitting stitches from the i-cord is simple enough and the pattern is easy to follow. I am not loving the blue in my design – oh boy, should I have chosen the bright pink? I’ll knit on a ways and see what I think as I go.

Nearly at the end of knitting clue 1 and I realized as I was switching to needles with a longer cord that I was knitting with a US3 not the requested US4. Now, one assumes that the difference between a 3 and 4 is a small one. One is right but the difference is JUST enough to make a big difference in the way the fabric feels. The US3 fabric is tight and much less flexible and flow-y than the US4 fabric.

The question now is … to frog or not to frog. The shawl has two points already against it and I’m not even finished with clue 1. I’m frogging and starting over. I’ll knit the hat for my customer and then cast on again.

Happy knitting!

Extra Large Box (of yarn)

IMG_4512You may know that we are moving from Florida to Maine later this week.

So, this weekend is focused on finishing our packing. We’ve packed our master bedroom closet except for the clothes that we’ll take with us. I will have one suitcase full of my hand knits, of course!

Next on my packing agenda was my atelier. When the yarn is in its bins, it doesn’t look like a bunch. But what I forget is that the bins lie! I filled one “extra large” moving box full of my worsted and bulky yarns. I have another big plastic bin of fingering weight and several bags and boxes of the rest. It’s going to be like Christmas again when I get to sort the big mess back into their bins!

I dare not think about what I have invested in all the yarn! I’m going to try to stick to my strict yarn diet and knit from my stash for awhile more. I’ve pulled out several sweaters worth of yarn for knitting this summer and some socks and various other patterns and yarn. I just know that my Maine knitting friends are going to have projects that they’re working on that I want to knit … and all my stash will be in storage.

I’m eager to get started with the move to Maine and the building of our house so I can set up my new atelier!

Gone knitting.

Future Planning

I’ve taken the day off today, a personal day, to plan our move to Maine … well, actually, I’m planning what yarn and patterns that I will be taking with me for the summer. I’m really trying to be a “good girl” and to knit from my stash. I’ve done pretty well … with a couple of hiccups!

One Hiccup!

One Hiccup!

Cotton Blend

Cotton Blend

So far, I’ve found a couple of cardigan/vest patterns to knit from some fingering weight cotton and a cotton blend. I’ve matched a sock weight merino to knit up for a hat for my guy and have pulled out a few sock yarns to knit up for me into socks for my sock drawer project. I have a pair of worsted weight socks to knit for my guy, too.

Baby Sweater Cotton

Baby Sweater Cotton

A long time ago, I bought cotton yarn to knit up for my first niece. I never did … so I can use it now for the second niece (if I can find the pattern!) It was so pretty! I have this stinking feeling that the pattern is in one of the binders that have already been packed and are out in the boxes stacked in the garage.

I’ll definitely be bringing the pretty blue tweed yarn that I bought to knit a dress in the Elsabeth Lavold designer’s choice pattern book. It’s been waiting for me! 😉

Noro

Noro

I have a bulky weight Noro yarn that wants to be a scarf or shawl for wearing next winter. I fell in love with the colorway which is gray … and some other colors, too. You know how Noro has the most wonderful colorways!

And I’m still working away. Of course, I have the patterns that have been put into time out and those that are in process so hopefully I won’t run out before our house is built.

Gone knitting!