I got bit by the knitting bug again, and I spent a quiet weekend at work rabidly devouring new patterns and techniques on Ravelry and other sites. I tracked down a sweater pattern that I was in love with that I had seen sometime in 2005 when Pat and I were first dating (I should have known then he was a keeper: he asked me if I wanted to go poke around at a yarn store by his house and then watched amusedly as I flitted around for two hours, and he even bought me a book!).
I’m beginning to develop an eye for knitted patterns. I’ve got a pretty good eye for fabric patterns. I can look at one and tell in a heartbeat if it’s going to work or not, or if there’s something I want to change, if it would be easy or hard to change. But knitted patterns? Up ’til now I would look at a pattern and be drawn in by the artful photography, or a lively model, or a pretty color. Sure, there were designs that I liked, but I didn’t have a feel for shape and substance. Looking at patterns for a few days has made me think in terms of what I know about other patters–drape and fit, balance, alterability. That sweater pattern that I loved? it’s terrible. Downright hideous. And the directions aren’t quite accurate. What I was actually remembering was all the *changes* I would make to that sweater to come up with something really pretty. It might be a terrible pattern, but the adaptability is off the scale, and even though I’ve never knit a sweater before, I am confident that I could easily adapt this one.
After work on Sunday I stopped by The Yarn Branch because I was itching to get my hands on some wool. I had been through my stash, but I have a lot of novelty and acrylic, and I just wanted to sink my hands into skeins of lofty wool, finger smooth strands of sock wool, and just take in the colors and sights and smells.
Ostensibly I was there to check and see if they had larger double pointed wooden needles (they did! hooray!) so that I can try to re-work the Jayne Hat. I am happy with the colors and shape, but I am not thrilled with the gauge. I’m thinking that I should go up from size 10 needles and two strands to size 13 needles and three strands. I think it’ll make all the difference. It’ll take less time to knit too, and that’s always a bonus. I still wish I could have found a single-ply in the right colors, but until I’m dyeing my own, what I’ve found is cheap and easy until I do.
What I ended up leaving the store with was three skeins of yarn to make Lyra’s hat from The Golden Compass movie. I found a pattern that I liked on Ravelry by Froggie Meanie, and I decided to give it a whirl. I thought this hat would be fun in my Landscapes wool by Lion, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to use it, so I bought $40 of yarn to test the pattern. You have to understand that I got the Landscapes for perhaps $3 a skein, and I’ve got 4 skeins. $40 to save $12 of yarn that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use? Only me.
On the upside, the yarn that I got is fantastic. The pattern called for 2 strands of super bulky or 6 strands of worsted, so I needed enough yarn to make up this thickness. I used 1 strand of Misti Alpaca Chunky, two strands of Himalayas, and 1 Strand of Castello to achieve an appropriate thickness. The effect is nice. The Misti Alpaca gives softness and loft. The Himalayas is a little rough, and I wasn’t aware that the twist variations were extremely regular between super huge and super small. The effect when knitted was a spectacularly colorful tweed that I’m very happy with, but I won’t be using this yarn by itself anytime soon. I chose the Castello because the colors mirrored the Himalaya perfectly, plus it has a ribbon of gold in the mix. The effect was exactly what I was looking for: just a tiny hint of sparkle mixed within the colors of the hat.
Which was a bitch to get right. I knit up Froggie Meanie’s hat as directed with the alternate bind-off, but I suspect my gauge was too tight, and the hat came out small in both directions. I frogged it and started over with 36 stitches instead of 32 and a promise to myself for a too-loose gauge. I probably should have gone up to size 20 needles for what I wanted, but I don’t have any. I’m sure I added a number of rows as well because I wanted this hat to sit deep and low. I used the remainder of the yarn for the twisted ties, attaching them differently than suggested but in a way that makes them look like extensions of the curl around the face. My ties are much thicker than those I’ve seen.
I’ll make Patrick look for my camera cable soon, so that I can get pictures up.
I adore this hat, and I haven’t taken it off since I finished inspecting it in the mirror. I can’t wait to try another hat in the handpainted Misti Alpaca. It’s 100% baby alpaca and it’s incredibly soft Unfortunately it’ll have to wait, as I need two skeins at $25 a skein, aack! It’ll be worth it, though. That should be the softest hat I’ve ever owned.
It was a worthwhile experiment. I decided that I’d rather use the Landscapes in either a cloche hat or a banded hat with an over sized button. But we’ll see.