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.

Road Trip! The Kindness of Strangers

My grand-dog, Mabel, always happy to ride in the car!

This weekend, I put a lot of miles on my daughter’s car, took some long subway rides, knitted in public and watched my son (my youngest child) graduate from college.

I wanted to blog really badly when I arrived in New York at my daughter’s apartment. But didn’t bring my laptop and was sure NOT going to attempt a blog entry on my phone. So, now that it’s not as fresh, I want to mention that I was struck by how many people on the uptown A train (express from Howard Beach to 190th Street) were kind to each other!

When I lived in New York and was pregnant with my first child, I remember long train rides, standing. I was the size of a subway car for goodness sake … and nobody seemed to notice my balloon legs and Omar-the-tentmaker “dress”? But I am happy to report that kindness (and manners) are alive and well in 2012. A gentleman in a suit got up and gave his seat to a woman with a tiny baby on her chest (in a baby carrier – get your head out of the gutter!) Another man gave his seat for the woman’s little girl. An older lady nearly fell into the lap of a woman seated. Rather than copping an attitude, the lady helped her sit and said it was “no problem”. It was sweet to see! I’d likely have written more if my mind was still fresh but alas, it’s not!

Thursday plane, train and subway from Maine to my daughter’s apartment in Washington Heights (Manhattan). Friday a ten-hour drive from New York to Cincinnati. Saturday brunch, graduation and dinner. I also managed some knitting in public both on my son’s porch and at Starbucks! Sunday the return ten-hour drive from Cincinnati to New York – with a lovely traffic jam only five miles from my daughter’s apartment that delayed our Tony watching for over an hour! And today, subway, train and plane back to Maine! Lots of travel for a momentous occasion … my last child’s graduation from college! That means three have successfully completed four years of college and they all are employed! I am one proud mom!

I made a lovely new knitting friend at my gate this afternoon. I believe it’s safe to say that I have never met a knitter I don’t like! She’s from New York State and was heading to Maine on business. On her needles a shawl (pattern had no photo … brave soul!) and in her suitcase, a pair of socks in progress. A woman after my own heart! Her 401k is being earmarked for yarn while her husband’s will pay for retirement. Hey, a girl on a fixed income has got to have a stash of yarn to knit with! I say, that is mighty good planning! We had a great chat and agreed that when traveling we both plan and pack our knitting first!

As nice as it is to travel, I will be happy to sleep in my own bed tonight. Listening to my little Lola snore. I am grateful for friends who open their houses to this Queen Bee and for precious time spent with my children. Tonight I’m too tired to even download photos. So, suffice it to say, I’m not knitting … but I’m going … to bed! 🙂