Persevere

I know in my secret heart that I am happiest with a nice deep brim.  I know, I really really KNOW that this means a minimum of five inches of ribbing (which when you fold it in half and stretch it onto your head turns into more like two and a half inches of brim).

So why am I trying this on now.  Now when it is clearly not yet five inches.

Because that right there is the quickest way to ensure a hat languishes at the bottom of the hat bin, never to be worn.

Maybe some day I’ll learn to not even start to get my hopes up until I’m a full five inches in.  But today is not that day.

And after the swatches comes the cast on

All those swatches?  All those many many many swatches?  Well now that they’ve led to a stitch I’m happy with, now it’s time to start the project.

I’m going to have to do a post about how I cast on at some point…there are a lot of fuzzy ideas about cast ons floating around out there, and we should have a chat.

But for now, I’m talking myself into slogging through a good five inches of brim, and that’s taking all my motivation.  Remind me how I pretty much only wear hats with nice folded brims, and so it’s worth it put in the time.  Because I know somewhere around two inches I’ll start trying to convince myself that surely that’s enough!

Swatches…So. Many. Swatches

So I know I’ve talked about how swatching is a thing…but I’m not sure if you really believe me.  I’m not kidding when I say that I sometimes spend as long swatching for a project as knitting it (especially for little things like hats).  I mentioned last time that I stared with some swatches to see how I liked the needles and the yarn together.  But that was just the beginning.

I doodled around with the blue yarn for a while, but didn’t like how things were shaping up, so I set it aside (and I did that at night when it was dark, so alas I don’t have a picture of that swatch, you’ll just have to take my word for it). I switched to a different yarn to see if what I had in mind would play better there.

It was better, but not quite right.  Good enough to take some notes though so I can come back and work with it more later.  But not quite what I had in mind, so I tried a few different variations on yet another yarn.  Still no love.

So I scrapped the herringbone thing I was experimenting with and decided to go in a totally different direction.  Might as well keep going with the same yarn though since it was handy.

Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.  I mean I know this actually looks sort of like a pile of crumply bug pods.  But there’s potential there.  Enough that I went back to the blue yarn and tried it (with a few tweaks) there.

And now we’re getting somewhere.  This has lots of potential. Enough that it’s worth making the swatch bigger and blocking it to see how it behaves at a larger scale (meaning I’m not done with the swatching, but I’m done with the sort of experimental pre-swatching that comes before I get down to a proper swatch).

So that’s what, five or six different swatches (usually with a few different variations on any given swatch) tried out to get to an idea worth running with and doing a big swatch for.  This is totally normal by the way!  Taken all together, I’m pretty sure there are at least as many stitches in my swatches as there would be in the finished hat.  But the finished hat will be oh so much better because of the swatches, and I’ve learned all sorts of stuff along the way.

Pairing

Have I mentioned recently that I believe in swatching?  Swatching teaches you all sorts of things.  It tells you what size your finished thing will be.  But it also tells you if that yarn and that stitch want to play well together.  And sometimes…sometimes it tells you that your yarn and needle combo is not meant to be.

You’ll recall I was all excited to go back to knitting a hat on DPNs (after having grudgingly knit the last one on circs).  I had my awesome new Indian Lake Artisan needles all lined up and ready to go.  And I had some lovely Manos Silk Blend yarn all picked out.  And when I put yarn to needles, I pretty much instantly learned that this yarn and these needles do not want to play together.

Now, this is not the fault of the yarn or the needles.  They’re both lovely.  I like them both very much.  I will happily use both.  But the loosely spun, slightly grabby, single-ply yarn does not want to be knit with the wooden needles, no matter how silky smooth they’re sanded.  My stitches were uneven, I kept splitting the yarn, and the whole thing just felt frustrating.

I switched to metal needles and things instantly got easier.  No more splits and much more even tension.  Knitting this way will be a much more pleasant experience.  And I’ll save the wooden needles for the next project.

But this is the sort of stuff that you just have to swatch to figure out.  You’re not just swatching to check needle size (though of course that’s a big part of it).  You’re swatching to check the overall pairing between the yarn and the needle and the stitch.  That means you’re looking at the texture of the needle (grippy? slippy?), the sharpness of the tips (blunt? pointy? long or short taper?), and even the color, as well as size.

So swatch.  Swatch early, swatch often.  And don’t be afraid to have lots of needles to choose from.

Not purple…still a hat

So it’s been sort of all purple all the time around here.  The hearts and the hat and before that the slipper were all rocking the purple.  So I think it’s time we bring on some blue.  I mean not too much (we all know blue is not my favorite shade)…and not for too long (because that second slipper needs to happen and it’s firmly back in the purple camp).  But a little break from the purple could be good.

That’s Manos’s Silk Blend in (I think) Ice Melt.

And it’s getting knit up with my shiny new Indian Lake Artisan needles, because I have had Quite Enough Of Circular Needles Thank You and am ready to get back to my happy place.