Smitten

Aaaaand here’s the rest of it.  As always, I like to clip it up and try it on to check the height.

I feel like brioche grows just a tiny bit more than most knit fabrics, so I’ll err on the side of ever so slightly shorter if I have to, but I also like my hats awfully tall, so not too short (yeah, I know, not super helpful, sorry about that, I think you just really have to try it on and see what you like best).

And the decreases are, of course, adorable.

As is the finished hat!

Now, the inside looks a bit chaotic here, but when it’s stretched (aka when it’s on my head), it looks grand.  I’ll get it on one of the head forms at some point and show it off properly.

This is before it’s blocked and before it gets proper photos, but I confess I’m smitten with it.  If you’re similarly smitten, you can do that mailing list thing and I’ll let you know when it’s out.

Overcome

I was overcome earlier this week.  Some yarn winked at me.  I found myself unable to resist.  And before I knew it, there was a whole new hat in the world.

This might well be my personal record holder for speed knitting.

I cast on Monday night and cast off Tuesday night.  It was less than 24 hours from cast on to bind off (I mean, it took it a bit longer than that to dry after I blocked it…but I’m totally saying drying time doesn’t count).  This is what happens when you’re home alone, have a shiny new audio book, and use really bulky yarn.

Like most brioche, it looks awfully nifty on the inside and the outside.

And like most hats, I secretly wish I’d been more stoic and knit the brim about 5 inches deep so I could cuff it.  But that would make it a much-more-than-24-hour hat.

I’m going to be a meanie and spread this out over more than one blog post (because I’ve been doing this ten years now and the one constant truth of putting stuff on the internet is you always need more content).  But it won’t be long.  And I think I may actually be able to turn this into a pattern and sneak it onto the calendar here in the next few months too!

Yarns are Malabrigo’s Mecha in Lotus (the purple one) and Worsted in Natural (the white one, but you could probably guess that).

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming

Held Double

Flexes fingers…stretches arms…ok, this is all stuff I’ve said before, so totally feel free to skip right over this if you’ve been here a while.  But just in case you’re new, here’s the spiel on the cast on.

Yup, I totally cast on over two needles held together.

Before anyone screams or cries into their tea or sends me worried messages…don’t panic, I know that doesn’t make the cast on any looser or stretchier.  To make the cast on looser, you need more space *between* one stitch and its neighbor. But casting on this way does make each individual stitch a tiny bit *taller*.  And that makes my cast on a better match to the stitches I make on the rest of the project.

See, I’m a pretty loose knitter.  So the loops of yarn I make are a good bit bigger than the needles I make them with.  BUT…for some reason I’m a tight cast-er on-er (no, not a word, but you get what I mean).  So if I just use one needle to cast on, the loops of yarn I make in my cast on would be way smaller than the loops of yarn I make my regular stitches with, and that’s no good.

So, casting on over two needles helps balance them out.  I could get the same result by casting on over one much larger needle.  But that would require digging such a needle out of the needle cage (and runs the risk of inadvertently then using that big needle as I start knitting, which you wouldn’t think would happen, but I can say with certainty that it can).

So, this works for me, and I know how/why it works.  If you knit tightly when you cast on but loosely otherwise, it might work for you too.  But if all you need is for your cast on to be bigger around, then you have to leave more space between stitches instead!

That’s going to work out nicely…

Pretty sure we need more brioche.  And I’m pretty sure this is going to be the way to do it.

That orange is some seriously deep stash.  The company is, alas, apparently out of business…and normally that means I would not use the yarn, but it’s a common enough base that it won’t be hard to find an equivalent yarn.  And my goodness but it’s too pretty not to use.

All my suspicions are confirmed by the swatch (insert ‘yay swatch, swatch is important, swatch is useful’ peptalk right about here).  That is, indeed, going to be smashing.

Yarns are Punta Yarns’ Mericash in color HP66 and Malabrigo’s Rios in Sabiduria. ⠀

I mean I suppose technically it’s more ribbing…

So now we’re at the bit where I more or less…well…have to knit ribbing again.  And I’m not quite sure why an inch of ribbing at the bottom, before the fun bits, feels like endless purgatory, but three inches of ribbing at the top feels like zipping towards the finish.  But somehow it does.

So I’m not actually minding tooooooo much.  Though if we’re being honest, it’s still not my favorite bit.

Perhaps my uncharacteristic stoicism is because it means it’s just about time to do the crown.  And I have a suspicion brioche crowns are their own special kind of magic!

Oh, and let’s see…some pre-emptive answers to possible questions.  Yarns are by Ontheround, Everyday DK in Natural and Plush Single in Ring of Fire.  And you totally could do more of the wee flower pods instead of switching back to ribbing.  I’m just fond of having things happen in threes, so that’s what I did. But you could do just one or do it the whole way up the hat if you were so inclined.  There will be a pattern (but I’m running it by lots of folks more familiar with brioche than I am first…because I don’t want to lead anyone astray).

The fun bits

The ribbing is never my favorite bit.  In fact, the ribbing is the bit I sternly make myself do because I know I will like wearing the finished thing better as a result.  But really…my heart is in it for the swirly middle bits.

Though to be fair, I was rather pleased with myself for being comfy enough with brioche to reach the ‘yup, ready to be done with the ribbing’ stage right on schedule.  I’m pretty sure you can’t be both bored and scared at the same time, so if I got to bored, then I’m well past scared, right?

But now I’m on to the fancy bits, and oh but wow do I love them!  In fact, I’m going to be all shameless and just flash the pretty.  Because I’m tickled!

Oh, and before I forget, yarns are Ontheround’s Everyday DK in Natural and Plush Single in Ring of Fire.  And they are yummy!  Brioche is totally going to get me to experiment with more adventurous color combos over time, but for now, I’m going with bright and high contrast, and magical orangey bits and mellow neutral totally work!

Dive in

Perhaps you remember the other day? When I was very very very mean and told you that there was a decent chance that some of the reason you ‘could never do that’ was because you kept telling yourself you can’t?  Right…so let’s talk about that some more.

Earlier this year, when our house was invaded by absolutely lovely, skilled, kind people doing extremely noisy, dusty, disruptive things to deal with the aftermath of the burst pipe, I decided I’d deal with the chaos by teaching myself two color brioche.  Because that’s a reasonable way to cope.

So I did!  I watched some videos and read some blogs (this walkthrough is great) and knit some swatches and swore a bit and possibly squinted a lot and after an hour or two I was feeling competent.  So I cast on for a hat.

That pile of swatches up there?  That’s more or less every single bit of brioche I’d knit before I said ‘ok, time to stop swatching and do a project’ (the orange and white one is the same yarn I used for the hat, so it more or less counts as a gauge swatch).

And you know what, it worked.  No I mean it really worked.  It’s just yarn, so the potential for disaster is pretty low.  But there’s really not any drama at all.

It wasn’t any harder than sorting out cables or lace or slipped stitches or any other knitting thing (yeah yeah, I know it looks hard, I put it off for years because it looks hard…but it I can sort it out in an afternoon, so can you).  In fact, it was mellow enough that my traditional “oh god, ribbing, I’m so bored of ribbing, can I do the pretty bits yet?” feelings kicked in right on schedule.  I’ll show you the pretty bits soon!

So…pep talk part…whatever that knitting thing is you’re sort of intrigued by but you’re worried it’s going to be hard?  How about you go spend an hour or two this week reading about it.  Because I suspect if you do that, you can have something on your needles in no time!

You’re probably right

We need to talk about something…

When I post a picture of a swatch or a project on instagram, the second most common comment I get (right after ‘what’s that yarn?’) is some version of ‘I could never do that, that’s way too hard for me!’  And it sort of breaks my heart.  Because if that’s what you’re telling yourself, you’re probably right…you probably can’t.

But I have some news!  You’re not right because the thing itself is particularly hard.  You’re right because if you go into it thinking ‘I could never…’ then you’re not ever going to try, and as trite as it sounds, you aren’t going to learn anything new if you don’t try.  So I’m going to ask you to make the tiniest little shift in what you’re telling yourself.  Instead of saying ‘I could never do that,’ say ‘I haven’t done that yet.’  I promise it makes all the difference in the world.

I had my own little ‘I haven’t done that yet’ moment earlier this year.  We had folks here working on the house (burst pipe…water everywhere…ongoing nightmare of plaster dust, paint cans, phone calls, and despair…we’ll talk about it later).  And while they are all lovely and are working hard to fix everything, it is disruptive.  And disruptive means I can’t write.  So I decide I’d learn something new.

The next thing on my list of stuff to learn is brioche.  So I grabbed a few bits of scrap yarn, poked around on google for five minutes, and started trying.  A few minutes later I had this:

Stunningly beautiful? Nope.  Full of mistakes? Yup.  Instructive? Oh very much so.

So…with the stuff I’d learned , I grabbed some other yarn and started trying more things.  Five more minutes of searching and reading and I was ready to try again:

Is it going to stop anyone in their tracks? Nope. Did it make me feel a whole heck of a lot more confident? Once again, very much so.

At this point I was ready to just play around for the afternoon.  If I got stuck I could always either rip it out or go read something and see if I could find help.  This was just a swatch, not anything precious…plus it kept me distracted while the nice people tore my house apart.  After an hour or two, I had this:

Again, not especially amazing.  But in a few hours of practice, I’d gotten comfortable enough to go from ‘brioche…oh yeah I don’t know how to do that’ to being able to cast on, work flat or in the round, increase, decrease, cable, and cast off.  And I was ready to cast on for my first actual project.

And I’m not special.  You can absolutely do this too…if you’ll let yourself.

In fact, if you knit at all, you have done this. You’ve gone from ‘I don’t know how to knit’ (because none of us are born knowing how to knit) to whatever level of proficiency you have now.  And there’s no reason at all that you can’t learn more.  So if you look at cables or lace or colorwork or brioche or steeking or whatever else is freaking you out and think ‘I could never,’ stop that.  ‘I don’t want to’ is fine…that’s totally valid and there are all sorts of things I don’t want to do right now (sweaters, I’m looking at you…you too blankets).  But if you want to but just haven’t yet, try switching from ‘I could never’ to ‘I haven’t yet.’  Leave yourself room to learn something…and be smarter than me and don’t wait for a burst pipe and a house full of contractors to make you do it.

Out of order

So some time very soon now, I’ll do the thing I’m supposed to do. I’ll show you the first swatch, and the second swatch, and the third swatch, and I’ll show you the yarn I bought, and I’ll tell you about my thoughts and plans.

That’s all the stuff I /should/ do before I show you this swatch.
But instead I’m showing you this one because I’m so stinking pleased with it I can’t bear to keep it to myself one moment longer and am basically accosting strangers on the internet and going ‘look what I made’ like some sort of deranged preschooler.
You should prepare yourselves for a fair bit of this if I’m being honest. You’ve been warned.