And now we start actually knitting

So, after all those swatches, it’s time to actually knit the thing!

I’m doing a rolled brim (in part because I like how it looks and fits, but also in part because I want to get to the color change bit as quickly as I can, and plowing through a solid brim in the colorful yarn lets me get there quick).

And I generally cast on over two needles (not to make the cast on stretchier, it doesn’t do that, but it does make the loops of my first row of stitches a better match for the rest of my knitting…I’m a loose knitter but a tight cast-er on-er, and this balances things out).

And then it’s time to cruise along, clicking happily away, and wait for the color change!  You know, assuming I don’t get distracted by cupcakes and fall down that rabbit hole…

Colorful yarn is Freia Fine Handpaints’ Sport base in the color Flare. White yarn is Malabrigo’s Rios in Natural.  And the needles, alas, have no brand as they’re some random ones I found somewhere along the way.

 

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Can blogs have birthdays?

So some time in the last few days, two very unlikely things happened.  The blog turned 10 (how…how can that have happened), and I realized I had 50,000 followers on instagram.

My first thought was “I so totally deserve a cupcake.”  Well no, my first though was “how in the name of all that’s woolly is that even possible?”  But it was quickly followed by the cupcake thing.  So I knit one (and then a few more because who wants just one)!

And then a moment later I realized I sort of wanted to have a birthday party.  Now I can’t actually have you all over, and I can’t actually make you all cupcakes.  But I can do one heck of a sale on ravelry.  So for ten hours (from 10am eastern time until 8pm eastern time on March 20, 2019) everything in my ravelry store is 50% off with the code CUPCAKE.

There’s not much in the way of fine print.  Just please know it’s only on things I sell myself in my ravelry shop (so not anything that a third party sells somewhere else).  You can use the code as many times as you want during the sale period.  And when it’s over, it’s over (I tried to pick a timeframe when most everyone anywhere in the world would be awake for at least part of it, but I do need to be firm about the start and end times).

Oh…and someone will ask, so yes, yes I think there is a very good chance that there will be a cupcake pattern somewhere in the near future.  I need to knit a few more to fine tune the technique (oh the hardship!), but if you all think they’re as cute as I do, I’ll totally write them up!

The Progression of a Swatch

You know how I’m always telling you to swatch? How I’m telling you that like 75% of knitting questions/problems can be addressed with a good swatch?  Yeah, that’s today’s theme once again.  I want to walk you through the swatching that happened for my next project.  Keep in mind this is just for a hat (that is, a small project, with no weird fit stuff…about as easy a situation as you could hope for).

It started with this (way back last summer…like I think last July).  I was futzing around, trying to figure out how a stitch I saw in a picture went together, when I did something weird and got a result I liked.

I wanted to make sure I really understood what was happening and make sure I could do it again, so I figured I’d try it again, this time taking some notes.  I had the stitch down, but I didn’t love the color combo with that stitch.

So I went back to the original colors.  But this time I wanted to see if there was a better way to transition into the pattern (I didn’t like the harsh line I had the first time), and I wanted to see how it looked if I reversed light and dark.  The transition worked, the reversed colors didn’t grab me.

So now I needed to make sure I could do something pretty to decrease in pattern (because if it’s going to be a hat, you need a pretty way to do the decreases for the crown), and try another color combo while I was at it.  Once again, I liked the decreases, but didn’t love the colors.

So for those of you counting along at home, that’s four swatches in three different pairs of yarns (four if count swapping light/dark for the orange ones) before I even get started thinking about which yarns I want to use for the project.  (That orange/white combo in the first picture is great, but it’s with scraps from the scrap bin and I’m not sure what yarn it even is, and I don’t have enough for the project.  Also, it’s fingering weight and makes for a small scale pattern that would not be dramatic enough on something the size of a hat.)

So next comes yarn shopping and stash diving.  Back in January I started thinking it was about time to come back to this one.  I knew from the swatching that I wanted a white yarn for the background, something in the dk/worsted neighborhood, preferably a plied yarn.  And then something bright and high contrast for the fancy bits, close to the same weight as the white, and single ply.  I bought some yarn and dug around in the stash a bit and came up with some possibilities.

And now?  Well now all I have to do is decide on a pairing and do the regular swatching for size.  (Translation, I’m not actually done swatching, but I’m getting close to being done.)

So that’s a minimum of five swatches (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being seven or eight) for a basic hat.  And I’m not even having to try and match gauge (because I’m writing the pattern, so whatever gauge I get and like is totally the gauge I’ll write the pattern for…if I were trying to match my fabric to a given gauge, there could be even more).

And is it worth it?  Well…I mean I guess we’ll have to wait and see what you think of the hat here in a few weeks.  But I suspect it will be!

Snip snip snip

Ok, so if I’ve convinced you to make your pompoms with much more yarn than you would expect (and if I haven’t go read the previous post again), then the next step is to get you trimming them.

There’s really no secret to this other than practice, persistence, and patience.

That and maybe seeing that ALL pompoms look like a shaggy mess when they come off the form.

No really all of them.

Every time.

Every single time.

You just need to trim them into submission.  I do it in a few passes, shape first, tidy up second, and a final pass (often the next day) at the end.  Trimming is easily the most time consuming part of the process.  It always takes me at least half an hour.  But if you do it right, you get something really lovely at the end!

All the details on how to make the striped or polkadot designs (plus everything else I feel like saying about pompoms, like how to make them detachable) will be in the speckled hat pattern (plus, you know, all the stuff about how to do the speckles!).  But I really did want to show everyone that pompoms look a mess before you trim them.  It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, it just means you aren’t done yet!

 

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