Unraveled

Tales of a Feather Hat . . . Part 1

Before I get started on today's Unraveled post (and, indeed, there was some unraveling), I do want to celebrate reaching Divide For Sleeves status with Tom's sweater. There was a bit of Disappointment initially, as I discovered I needed to go up a size after our first "try on." But that's the benefit of knitting a top-down sweater, after all. So it was a Good Thing. Although More Stitches is never something a knitter wants to face when knitting a sweater for a man, y'know? But. Success all the same. (I'll spare you a photo at this point, because Big Brown Blob . . . that you can easily picture in your mind's eye.)

So.

Once reaching that Momentous Step, I decided to dip my toe into the "feather hat" pool and treat myself to (what appeared to be) . . . a simple-yet-charming hat knit up with some gimmick-y yarn in a whimsical stitch pattern. And I'll stand by that: It IS a simple hat. With charm and whimsy. And gimmick-y yarn that will (in the end, I'm sure) do all the heavy lifting.

But ohmygod . . . first I needed to crack the code of one of the most overwrought patterns I've ever seen!

Seriously.

This is a HAT. A basic, stockinette hat with a few options for the brim and the crown. The tricky bit? It's the "feather stitch." And I knew that would be the tricky-bit going in. I expected detailed explanations (and probably some practice) for that part.

What I didn't expect . . . was an overly complicated (24 PAGES, people) pattern that skips around in distracting ways and includes CHARTS for (among other things that don't actually need charts) 2x2 ribbing for the brim. (Oh, don't let me get started on my quibbles with this pattern.) Anyway. The most irritating part of this whole adventure . . . is the need to carefully swatch to even figure out where to begin. (I mean, it's nice to be able to use ANY weight yarn and knit a hat to fit ANY size head, but this is just a bit more work than I want to go through for what is basically a plain, old hat. Y'know?)

So. Once I bought in to the fact that I was going to have to swatch, swatch I did. Which also gave me a chance to practice the feather stitches. And . . . it's a good thing I did practice because my first one? It looked like this . . .

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Not QUITE what I was going for. (LOL)

I ripped. I re-tried. The second one was even worse, but in a different way. I didn't take a picture. I ripped again. And then . . . something clicked (plus I got out a crochet hook, which helped), and my third feather was definitely more . . . feather-like.

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And after a few more "practice feathers," I declared myself ready to move on to the actual hat.

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Doing the gauge swatch helped me figure out my sizing. (Because, yeah. I know. That's why we swatch.) (I just don't usually swatch for hats. A hat IS a swatch, y'know?) For the record, my swatch is 5 stitches/inch on size 5 needles. And I want to knit a hat with a 21.75" circumference. So according to the VERY detailed sizing chart (some might say unnecessarily detailed AND get an eye twitch just looking at it), I cast on 96 stitches. Which seems about right for me, based on my previous hat knitting experience. For the record, I'm knitting a 2x2 ribbing for the brim on size 4s (because I always go down a size for my brims). And I don't feel I need to refer to the chart (just sayin).

The yarn is beautiful. I love the feel and sheen of it (although it is a little splitty). But the pattern? WAY too many words. (And useless charts.) (But maybe that's just me.) I'm sure that, in the end, this will be . . . a simple-yet-charming hat knit up with some gimmick-y yarn in a whimsical stitch pattern.

Even though it's taking a while to actually get to that.

Stay tuned!

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How about you? What are you making this week?


Incentive!

As I mentioned last week, knitting content around here is going to be rather on the . . . slog side for a while.

But I'm making Pretty Good Progress with Tom's sweater. I'm only a couple of rows from that all-important milestone: Dividing For The Sleeves. That's always a huge mental release for me when I'm knitting top-down sweaters. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but with so many fewer stitches on the needles (after The Divide), everything seems to go faster, and I feel like I'm "almost done" (even when I know I'm not even halfway there) (humor me).

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But . . . wait!

What's that in the background there?

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Friends, THAT is what I call . . . Incentive!

It's the yarn for Hunter Hammersen's "Feather Hats" (which is not actually the name of the design; it's actually called Stochastic, but it will always be the Feather Hat to me). (The pattern was released yesterday, by the way.)

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I'm so tempted to just wind one of these skeins up and cast on for my first Feather Hat right this moment! But, instead, I'm keeping these beautiful skeins in plain view while I knit away on Tom's sweater.

Incentive!

Once I get to the sleeve divide, though?
All bets are off and I'll be knittin' me a Feather Hat!

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How about you? What are you making this week?


A Plain Brown Wrapper

Many, many years ago . . . at least three decades ago now, but maybe four . . . my mom gave Tom a sweater for Christmas. It was one of those workhorse kinds of sweaters . . . nothing fancy. But it was . . . 

Wool.
Lightweight.
Very basic.
And a heathered maroon color that Tom, being color blind, probably couldn't actually see accurately, but that he really liked.

He wore it all the time. While fishing. While snow-blowing. At probably every one of Brian's hockey games. Whenever he was cold and needed a light layer, you'd find that sweater in the picture.

Until . . . he lost it.
(And that is a story unto itself, but not for the blog.)

Anyway, the sweater has been gone for a very long time. Maybe even another decade? And Tom still grieves it.

It also turns out to be the kind of sweater that is hard to replace. 

Unless you're a knitter.

So, after years of Tom talking about his lost-sweater-that-he-wishes-he-still-had. And years of my trying to find a replacement that I could purchase . . . to avoid knitting a man-sized, plain-no-frills 100% wool sweater . . . I'm knitting a man-sized, plain-no-frills 100% wool sweater.

In brown.
(Because when you're color blind, you always choose brown.)
(He may actually have thought the heathered maroon sweater was . . . brown. Just sayin.)

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It took us awhile to decide on a pattern. Tom wanted . . . very basic. Plain. No frills. I was hoping for . . . a few frills? Maybe a basic gansey? But it's not my sweater, and he wants plain, so we're going with this one (which is as basic as one can get when knitting a sweater). And I'm knitting it with Shelter (in the Meteorite colorway; brown, to be sure . . . but with interesting flecks of color in there for some excitement).

I'm afraid the knitting content here is going to be a bit dull for a while.


(Until, of course, I get my Gauge Dye Works yarn for the soon-to-be-released Hunter Hammersen "feather hat." That will spice things up for me and provide a little reprieve.) (Please note . . . it is not actually called the "feather hat," but it will always BE the "feather hat" to me. Thanks, Bonny!)

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In the meantime, I'm knitting a man-sized, plain-no-frills 100% wool sweater.
It's a plain brown wrapper!

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How about you? What are you making this week?


Right On Time

Yep.

I'm right on time with my annual January knitting "jag." It seems to happen to me every year . . . After the holidays are over, I just start knitting one thing over and over and over. One year it was little gnomes. Another year it was dishcloths. Last year it was little hearts.

This year? I've got a Musselburgh jag going.

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Once I finished my own Musselburgh hat, I immediately cast on another -- this time for Tom. And I gotta tell ya . . . despite essentially knitting two-hats-in-one, these things fly off the needles! They are endlessly entertaining - especially after a busy December.  You don't have to think (once you get started, that is). Just knit. It's also a pleasure to use up some lovely skeins I have tucked away deep in my stash.

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Like this one from Kim at Woolen Rabbit, which had been "marinating" in my stash for a very long time. It's Opal in the Speakeasy colorway. Very luxurious with a touch of cashmere, although I'm not sure Kim is offering this yarn anymore.

Anyway. According to Tom, it's his New Best Hat.

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And now . . . well. I'm clipping right along on another one!
This one's for my sister . . . 

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I can see myself churning these out for a while yet. . .
January jag, indeed!

How about you?
What are you making these days?

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Don't forget to check out other Unravled posts over at Kat's today!

 

 


Putting an Accent on the Holiday

I haven't been knitting much lately. Oh, I have another Musselburgh hat on the needles (for Tom, but not for Christmas) that I work on while watching TV. But lately I've been sewing (Christmas gifts) and doing some embroidery (because I'm smitten) and . . . well . . . poking fiber into linen with a needle.

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I made a needle felted poinsettia pillow.

I bought this kit last year (oops . . . . tried to link, but the shop's website is closed for the holidays and restocking; sorry), but I was too busy cranking out gifts so I put it away (true to form) and tried not to feel too guilty about it. Anyway. I pulled the kit out at Thanksgiving and decided to give it a go this year.

I really love needle felting. There's something therapeutic about handling that fleece and then poking at it with a sharp needle. Repeatedly. It's good for stress; kind of mindful.

Anyway. This is a really simple kit (I really wish I could share a link. . . ). Very straightforward. Kind of like paint-by-numbers, only with fiber instead of paint. It started out looking like this . . . 

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The design is printed onto the (pre-sewn!) linen pillow cover, and you just apply the fiber - by poking - as drawn out for you.

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Felted Sky kits are very well put together. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, there are links to videos if you want to see the steps along the way, and all the materials are included. (Again, wish I could share a link.) This is considered an "easy" or "beginner" level kit, and I would agree . . . although it is a bigger project and still takes some time to complete. (Poking fiber with a needle is not necessarily a fast process. . . )

I did veer off the instructions a bit, though. I decided to spice things up a bit . . . 

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(I wanted to add a little "depth" to the piece, so I added some "shadows." But the pillow doesn't really need that.

When I was finished with the needle felting, I just gave it a good steam press and popped it over a pillow form.

Voilà!
A lovely Christmas accent!

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It makes me smile every time I walk into the room.

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(Here's a link to the Felted Sky Studios Instagram account if you want to check out some of their products/designs.)

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How about you?
What are you making these days?

 

 


Inside Out . . . and Round and Round

(Soundtrack for today's post . . . click here.)

Just before I left for my Mayo visit last week, I cast on for what is probably The Perfect Travel Knit . . . 

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Because after a sorta tricky cast on (easily sorted with Emily Ocker's magic cast on) (I need to watch this You Tube video every time, btw), it's just knit-knit-knit for miles.

And the result?

Best. Hat. Ever.

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Seriously perfect!

It's . . . Warm. Comfortable. Easy to wear.
I've already cast on for another one.
(I'm completely smitten.)
(This could easily be my next "knitting jag." Because I'm pretty sure everyone in my family needs one. . . )

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Upside down
Boy, you turn me
Inside out
And round and round
Upside down
Boy, you turn me
Inside out
And round and round
 
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You can find the details on Ravelry, here.

Air Travel . . . These Days: When Plans Unravel

So . . . when I got the notice of my appointment at Mayo, I had a few decisions to make. Number one being . . . how to get there. Now, the last two times I visited Mayo, I was incredibly stressed, under duress -- and sick. Tom handled everything. He drove me. (For us, it's an 8-hour drive. But not an easy 8-hour drive -- because of the lake and driving through Chicago.) But this time, I knew I could handle the journey as a solo trip -- but driving that far in December in the north is potentially . . . challenging.

I decided to fly.

It was a highly considered decision, you know . . . with Covid and all.

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But I decided to go for the air option, and I scheduled my travel to keep myself as separated from others as possible. I even upgraded myself to First Class so I could be in a less populated (and less crowded) part of the plane. (I have many, many "miles" built up. . . ) I chose seats that were "singles" so I'd have no "neighbors." I gave myself connecting flights with enough time to comfortably move between gates without having to crush in with other people on "trams." I felt . . . fairly comfortable about everything. After all, my flights were short. My time in the airports would be minimal, and my time in the air would be brief (about 2 hours, total, flying time). I had arranged for a car/driver to retrieve me from the airport to my hotel. I was . . . good to go.

Until it all fell to shit.

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I am a veteran traveler. I know better than to count on things going as planned. But, oh boy. Things really went off the rails on my trip out! That's me . . . ready to (finally) board my outgoing flight . . . after what turned out to be a four hour delay. My entire plan unraveled at the first step! What I had planned as a short stint in airports . . . turned out to be eight hours in airports. By the time I arrived in Rochester - at midnight! - I was exhausted, stressed, and generally not a happy camper. (And I ended up sharing my car with other shell-shocked Mayo patients who had no waiting car at the airport. At midnight. During a wind storm. With windchills below zero. Because it was the right thing to do.)

Best laid plans. And all that.
(And, yeah. Driving would have been faster.)

Coming home yesterday was much smoother. (Although it's never fun to get to the airport at 4am only to find that your first flight has already been delayed. Sigh.) I will say that the First Class thing did work out brilliantly (and comfortably). I was first in/first out on that plane, and I had no one breathing near me (although I know . . . circulating air . . . ). Best thing I did, upgrading to First Class.

And I did have time to knit yesterday. (I was actually too stressed on the way out to knit. It was bad.)

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Any guesses what I've got on the needles?
(Hint: it was perfect travel knitting.)

Now. I just keep my fingers crossed that I didn't pick up Covid during my travels. (Sigh.)

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How about you? What are you making this week?


Revisiting the FrankenCowl

Okay. So a couple of weeks ago, I showed you my disappointing "FrankenCowl" . . . whining a lot about how unhappy I was . . . and going on and on about the ways the colors were (not) working out . . . and blah blah blah. But not really willing to do anything about it.

Later that same morning, I jumped on a Zoom call, intending to cast the monster off and be done with it. But, suddenly inspired, I ended up ripping it right back to the "scene of the crime" instead! (I knew I'd never be happy.) (And even though I never want to do it, I'm always happier when I take the time to rip back and re-do.) (Sigh.) I sat through my Zoom meeting ripping . . . and rolling little balls of yarn.

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I ended up doing a lot of rolling and cutting and re-rolling the balls of yarn . . . so I could plan how I wanted to work them into the rest of the knitting, hoping to wrangle those oddball colors into a more pleasing configuration. I got out my postal scale and I started weighing.

And then I jumped back in.

My goal . . . was to carry that darker reddish color all the way through the cowl (because it was such a contrast to the other 2 skeins). I almost made it, too -- thescale was getting quite a workout toward the end. (If you want to see the "before" shot, click here.) It's really kind of funny . . . because this is such a nice, easy, rhythmic knit. And I made it all complicated with my color-working. Oh, well. I love playing with color, so it was a good kind of knitting adventure for me. (If I were doing this again, though, with this same yarn, I would have changed things up with that darker color earlier in the process . . . so it could have been more of a "theme" throughout the project. But I didn't want to rip THAT far back for this one.)

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And in the end, it's no longer a FrankenCowl!

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I just needed to . . . break up. . . to make up!

Break up to make up, that's all we do
Yeah, first you love me then you hate me
That's a game for fools

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You can find the details here, on Ravelry.
(And my crazy jumpsuit? It's from Conscious Clothing and it is THE MOST comfortable "pants" I own. Perfect for post-Thanksgiving, y'know???)

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How about you? What are you working on this week?

 

 

 


From the Sewing Department

I did a little sewing over the weekend. Nothing fancy or special. Just a plain, long sleeve, v-neck t-shirt.

THAT I LOVE.

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(And, yes. The lighting in my closet is . . . not great.) (Tom was away this weekend, so you'll see that all of the photos from today's post are rather . . . lacking.) (Oh well. You'll get the gist of it.)

This is the Tabor V-Neck from one of my favorite indie sewing pattern companies, Sew House Seven. I really love their patterns. (I've made several different designs from their portfolio - some multiple times.) They always have clear directions and plenty of helpful tips. This shirt, for example, includes a little trick for lining up a perfect v-neck. I'm thrilled! (This old dog is always up for learning new tricks.)

Anyway, this shirt is a wardrobe basic that I'll wear over and over. The fit is great, it's super comfortable to wear, and it didn't take long to put together either. I'm already plotting my next version(s).

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I know a lot of people avoid working with knits . . . either because they think it'll be "too hard" to work with them, or because they don't have a serger. I'm here to tell you  . . . you don't need a serger to sew knits! I don't have one. (In fact, I've never even used one!) And unless they're "slippery" knits, they aren't hard to work with either. You just need to pay attention to what you're doing, and be careful not to stretch things out while you stitch. 

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I love finding basic patterns that are easy to sew and easy to wear. 
(And, my. Sewing is so much faster than knitting, y'know?)

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How about you? What are you making this week?

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If you're looking to sew up a quick and useful holiday gift (or maybe even 4 of them?), Helen's Closet (another of my favorite indie pattern designers) just released the Sam Apron. It's even a freebie! All you have to do is sign up for the Helen's Closet newsletter. I'm planning to give this pattern a try . . . really soon!


A Real Monster

Okay. So I'm within a couple of rows of being finished with my Shift Cowl . . . 

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And . . . meh.

It's turned into a real monster.

I chose three skeins of Spincycle Dyed in the Wool in colors that seemed like they would blend well in a shifty sort of way for this project. And, yeah, there were some surprising color runs in the skeins as I wound the yarn into balls, but I decided to trust the process. I wanted to just let the "magic" of Spincycle yarn - combined with Andrea Mowry's shift recipe - play out. I fought my inclination to manipulate the colors as I knit. I gave myself plenty of "real estate" to let everything just . . . come together. And you know what?

It didn't really come together for me.

And now I'm ending up with . . . a "Franken-cowl!"

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It's like I have two cowls in one, here.

There's the rhythmic, gentle shifting, playing-with-darks-and-lights cowl at the start. And then . . . everything shifts into the Other Cowl . . . still rhythmic, sure, but suddenly looking a bit . . . Candy Land? And not really tying in at all to that earlier dark-and-light portion. And that abrupt change is kinda killing me. Or maybe it's the too-large swath of mint green? Because there is lots of of mint green, which didn't look so minty in the skein. (And I am not a fan of mint green.) 

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In hindsight, I wish I'd trusted my instincts and manipulated the colors. That abrupt change when I switched out the skeins (according to the pattern directions, but . . . with a shift project, the directions are really just suggestions) didn't work so well for this particular trio of skeins.

I spent most of yesterday considering . . . ripping back to the color change and re-working it. And I probably should have. But I didn't. (Technically, I still could. But I'm ready to move on. Y'know?)

So . . .  I've created a monster.
A real Franken-Cowl.
It will still keep me warm, though.
(Although my eye may twitch when I look at it too long.)

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NOTE: There will be another Shift Cowl in my near future. Because I love the design and I love knitting this pattern. And I will try Spincycle Dyed in the Wool again. But . . .  I'll be going in with eyes wide open and and a heavy hand, color-wise for my next one!

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How about you?
What are you making this week?