Not even close

From time to time, I’ll post a picture on instagram or on the blog, and someone will say some variation of ‘oh my goodness, your knitting is so perfect, mine never looks like that.’  And this is very very sweet…but absolutely not true.  My knitting is somewhere around middling to fair.

Now, I am pretty good at blocking, and blocking is a huge part of making your finished knitting look great (that’s why I’ve done so many posts about how to block stuff…I really really really want you to be blocking your projects).  And I do have a slightly fancy camera, and that helps everything look all spiffy.  But the knitting?  The stuff hanging off my needles at any given moment?  Yeah that’s not all that special.  And it is totally not perfect.

Want proof?

See that? That’s a rogue purl stitch way back on row 3 or so of the now finished hat.  I didn’t notice it because it’s on the inside when you’re knitting (meaning it only shows when you turn the brim up at the end).  And the way that stitch pattern works, laddering down to fix a stitch isn’t really practical.  So I’m just going to leave it.  I’ll make sure that’s in the back for the pattern photos, and no one will ever notice when it’s on my head.  If I really really really cared, I could duplicate stitch over it.  But I totally don’t.

And here’s another one.  I actually didn’t notice this until I was checking the ravelry listing for Constellate to show someone a picture, but one of the stitch groups in the very first row is off center.  It even shows in the pattern photo.  Now, lots of folks have bought and made that pattern. And no one has yet written in to say that one little group of stitches is off by one stitch and this totally ruined their whole project/life/day.  No one has stopped me on the street to tell me it’s wrong (to tell me it’s cute, sure, but not to tell me it’s wrong).  So my suspicion is that it’s really not that big a deal.

So I’m going to encourage you to maybe give yourself a break.  Your knitting is probably better than your give yourself credit for (and my knitting is for sure less perfect than you think).  Everyone makes the occasional mistake, and I promise it’s ok.  Your work is still awesome, and you should still feel good about it.  Take the time you were going to spend fretting and spend it blocking instead.  I promise it will make more of a difference!

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.

A sickness I tell you

So when last we left the hat it had gotten pleasantly tall.  But it whispered to me that we weren’t quite done…it needed one more little thing…

Yes, it’s true, I’ve fallen prey to the dread pompom sickness.

From what I can tell there’s no cure.  Luckily, with the right treatment, it’s a fairly manageable condition.

And the symptoms aren’t even that bad when the yarn is this pretty!

For anyone wondering, the purple one is Entrapment, the pink one just came out this week and is called is Misprision, and the blue one should be out later this summer, possibly even next month.  If you want to hear when it is, you can make that happen here.  And the yarns are all by Madelinetosh (vintage in smokestack for the background, various shades of Tosh Merino Light or DK for the contrasty bits).

Misprision (plus giveaway)

If you’ve been around for a while you know I’m scared of proper colorwork.  The sort where you use two (or more, eep) colors in one row.  But I don’t want to be left out of all that multicolored fun, so I’ve started playing with ways to use two different yarns, but keep it to one yarn per row.  Misprision is one of the results of my experiments (and through Friday, it’s 10% off with the code POMPOM)!

It’s also more fun than it has any right to be.  The background is just lovely, mellow stockinette (can’t ask for anything easier than that). All the action comes from the magic little nubbly bits.  They’re easy (you only work with one color per row), you’ll feel clever while you’re making them (half the look comes from some judiciously placed slip stitches, and I always love how such a simple technique can look so impressive), and if you’re anything like me, you’ll zip through it because you really want to knit just one more row of the doobly bits!

And then of course, there’s the pompom.  Now it’s optional, I promise.  The hat works just as well without the pompom as with it.  But oh my am I ever taken with it!  (If you want to check out my inexplicable descent into pompom madness and see how this one came together, you can follow the whole process over here…don’t judge).

To make this one, you’ll want two yarns.  I used Tosh Vintage in an imminently respectable gray (smokestack) for the background, and Tosh Merino Light in a much more enthusiastic pink (alizarin) for the contrast.  This is the perfect way to play with color if you’re a bit wary of it (that would be me).  You can pick something fairly wild for the contrast and the structure of the stitch will help it look amazing.  Just keep the background mellow and you can go crazy on the stripes!

I’ve been loving the Madelinetosh yarn combos for this one, so I’ve got a set of the yarns I used here to send off to one lucky knitter. I want to know how you feel about pompoms.  Love them? Think they’re ridiculous? Haven’t tried it yet but find yourself oddly intrigued?  There’s no right or wrong answer, I just like to know how you feel!  Leave a comment and someone will get a happy package in the mail!

And for everyone I can’t send yarn to (I’m just not cool enough to get yarn to everyone, sorry!), I’ve got a coupon for this pattern.  You can use the code POMPOM to get 10% off the hat between now and Friday.  Just put Misprision in your ravelry cart, click on the ‘use a coupon code’ button, and type in the code POMPOM.  You’ll see the change in price reflected right away.

Oh, and if you like this pattern, you might like Entrapment, too.  It was the first in this set of colorwork-without-the-work experiments and uses some of the same ideas!

Comments left between now and the end of the day (eastern time) Friday, May 5, 2017 will be entered to win.  I’ll pick a winner, contact them to get their addresses, and arrange to send yarn their way.  Be sure to use a real email address so I can contact you if you’ve won (I won’t do anything with those email addresses besides notify the winners).  If I do email you, I need to hear back from you within 72 hours or I will pick a new winner and contact them. Sorry, but I can only ship physical prizes to US addresses.

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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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…

Once you pom…

Sorry folks, didn’t mean to leave you hanging on the pom pom front!

The first round went pretty well.

Though I did learn a few things.  Namely, you want to fill that pom pom maker up as full as you can, and you want to be nice and tidy and keep your wraps straight and even as you go.  Also…the large pom pom is, well, rather large.

Hence a slightly smaller pom pom for the second go round…

I suspect the pink and gray hat will have this perched proudly on top from time to time!

I may end up getting the next smallest size of pom pom maker at some point…I’ll have to try wearing these and see just how comfortable I am having a yarn-y tennis ball perched on top of my head or if I’d feel more at home with something a wee bit more restrained…


I’m loving how this is shaping up.  Once you’re done with the colored bit on the brim, you don’t actually ever make another knit stitch with the contrast yarn.  You just weave it in and out of the stitches knit with the gray yarn.

For some reason this both entertains me and makes me feel clever (and yes, I realize that I probably am not actually terribly clever if that entertains me, but I’ll take what I can get.

And once more, for anyone wanting to track down their own, the yarns are Tosh Vintage in Smokestack and Tosh Merino Light in Turquoise (and they’re lovely…I haven’t had any problems with the dark yarns bleeding onto the light, which is always a worry with contrasting colors).


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So you saw the swatches the other day, and here’s how it’s shaping up.

There’s no way to make a few rows of stockinette all that interesting…so I’ll distract you with the purple hat (Entrapment, that one’s out now) and the pink hat (out soonish…probably) instead.

Then you join in the gray bits…though it’s still not all that interesting.

Then you get to do the fun bits!

That’s much better…


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This should be fun

So I keep seeing folks putting adorable pom poms on top of hats.  And I have sort of a lot of hats.  And now?  Now I also have a pom pom maker…

I have this one, which makes what they call large pom poms, but there are lots of other sizes too.  I watched a couple of youtube videos (this one was handy) and jumped in.

There was a bit of this.

Then a bit of this.

Then it was time to do this. (By the way, this whole project reminded me just how much I love my tiny, sharp scissors…I’m not actually sure how you do this without them…)

And in a moment here, I’ll do some trimming and see where we are.  I’ll report back later, but I suspect this could be habit forming!