Tall enough

So we’ve talked about this before, but it’s helpful enough it bears repeating.  If you’re doing a hat with fast decreases (and a lot of mine use those), my favorite way to know if it’s tall enough is to get all the stitches on two needles and try it on.

Fast decreases distort the fabric (and that distortion uses up some of the fabric you’ve made), and arranging it like this does a good job of mimicking that distortion.  If it’s tall enough on two needles, it will be tall enough when you’ve done the decreases.

Here I needed a few more rows, but it’s way easier to try it on this way to find that out than to do the decreases first and then have to rip back.

Speaking of, that’s rather nifty I think!  Standard disclaimer about how it will be rather more tidy once it’s blocked, but I’m quite taken with it!



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Are you on instagram?  I am, and rather to my surprise, I totally love it.  I seem to have found the right group of folks to follow so that I see a never-ending stream of yarn and sheep and cocktails and knitting (and very very little drama and strife…making it a much more mellow place than many other social media outlets).

I’m going to start doing little flash sales there every now and then (I’m doing the first one today).  I’ll put something fun on sale, for one day only, and I’ll only mention it there.  If you want to be sure you hear about it, you can follow me (and if you don’t want to hear about it, don’t worry, because I won’t be talking about it anywhere else, so you’re totally safe).

Prepping caked yarn

You know those beautiful cakes of yarn?  The ones that flirt their way right into your cart with their glorious slow color changes?  Yeah, I love them too.  But, sometimes they require a tiny bit of extra work before you start knitting.  And, since I’m spending some serious time with yarns like this for Curls 3, I thought I’d show you how to do it.

So, when you pull out the center of a lot of cakes, you’ll probably see something like this.  See how the yarn is a bit kinked?  It’s sort of twisty and just doesn’t lay straight.

That’s usually because of how it’s been dyed.  Yarn for colorways like this is often knit up in a loose rectangle, dyed, then unraveled and wound into a cake.  So, just like if you unravel yarn from your own knitting, the yarn comes out twisted.

You really really really don’t want to knit with it in this state. Your knitting won’t be as tight or as even as it should be.  So…you’ve got to prep the yarn before you start (yes, even before you swatch).

The first step is to get out your trusty swift and wind off the yarn.  Pro tip, do not set your swift to its widest setting right now (the yarn will relax during this process, and if you use the biggest setting now, your loop of yarn will be too big later, and you will swear a lot…ask me how I know).

Now, tie off the yarn in at least three places.  Really, four is better.  Tie it loosely enough that water can still sneak in under they ties, and be sure you’re using a yarn that won’t bleed.

Then, toss the whole thing in a sink full of water.  I like to use a bit of wool wash (I use this one, but they have other scents too, and even an unscented option which is awesome).  I think it helps the water get all the way into the yarn faster (though that could just be my imagination), and I know it makes the yarn smell good.  Give it a few good squeezes and then let it sit for at least half an hour.  Longer is fine, it needs to get really really soaked (which can take a surprisingly long time, especially with sturdy or sheepy yarn).

Take it out of the water, give it a good squeeze to get rid of some of the water, then hang it up.  Be clever and hang it somewhere it’s safe to have drippy things (I usually go for the shower rod).  Let it dry (it will take a while, have patience).  If the yarn is all smooth and relaxed, yay, you’re done.  If it’s not, give it another good soak and let it dry again.  It’s not unusual for it to take two or three soak/dry sessions (if you’re getting impatient, you can do that thwack the wet skein against a wall a few times trick or twist the wet yarn up into a skein a few times to stretch the yarn a bit).

See, isn’t that nicer?  You’ll have a much better time knitting with the smoothed out version, I promise.  And you’ll be able to get to know the yarn a bit (and do things like find out of it bleeds or if there are any knots) before you start swatching.

It grew

So there’s this nifty thing where, if you keep working on something, it will usually grow.  That does seem to be happening here.  The hat is getting markedly taller.

It still needs another inch or two (I have a few things in mind for the decreases here, but any of them will need the hat to be pretty tall first), but the end is in sight (this is the inside, because some folks have asked…though honestly that feels a tiiiiiiny bit like asking to peek in my medicine cabinet…).

Then?  Then I think maybe it will need a pom pom…