Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Fourth Time is the Charm?

A couple of weeks ago I had the idea that I wanted to use the herringbone stitch in a hat. I really love the way it shows off hand-dyed yarn. It was wanting to make this hat that drove me to run out to Dyelots and get roving to spin my own bulky singles just for this hat! After that, I decided that I needed to engineer the stitch to be done in the round.

I got out some old yarn and started working on a swatch just to see how the stitch went together. I used the pattern from My So Called Scarf and went to it. A couple of rows and I figured out a trick to working the stitch in the round. I also worked out an 'easier' way to do the first row.

Start with an even number of stitches
Row 1: K1, *s1, k1, yo, psso both knit and yo* - repeat until there is one stitch left, K1

The second row gets interesting.
Row 2: *yo, k1, slip both stitches back to the left needle, pull third stitch over yo and knit stitch, slip two stitches to right needle* repeat around

It creates a beautiful pattern... that has absolutely no give along its length. Having worked from the top down, I had the crown of my hat done and started working this pattern, only to find I couldn't stand how stiff the cloth came out. Hat #1 hit the frog pond.

I immediately went to Ravelry and browsed patterns for bulky and superbulky hats and found Urchin, from Knitty (isn't it pretty?). Here was something just made for this yarn, right? I cast on and worked my way through two sections of the pattern. Texturally it was a good fit, but boy did it not look nice with my yarn. The handspun merino/bamboo blend has lovely silvery streaks running through it because the bamboo does not take the acid dye and remains white. Garter stitch reduces that to a muddy sheen. It's pretty, but it's not drop-dead gorgeous the way that stockinette is with this particular yarn.

Hannah - back
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Back to Ravelry again! For a long time I have had Hannah from MagKnits in my saved patterns. It's for bulky yarn, and a super-cute hat. I decided to give it a try.

Our first problem here is that Hannah calls for bulky yarn and my handspun ... well, to say it nicely it transcends "bulky". My second skein is much closer in weight to a milled bulky yarn, but I'm saving that for some mitts. I sat down with the pattern, my handy Molskeine notebook, and math on the brain. Then I went for it. Even as I knit, I decided that parts of it were still going to be too big. I made the buttonholes smaller (only one YO instead of two), and dropped out rows left and right. The beauty of very-bulky projects is they knit up SO FAST!! Two hours later and I had a "finished" hat again. I tried it on and it was incredibly cute! Plus my yarn had made a rather interesting color-spiral at the crown.

Unfortunately it was just a shade too big. Oh, it looked nice. It looked like it fit. But if I bent over, this pretty "little" hat would tumble right off my head. I tried snugging up the button-band. I shoved it in my suitcase for the trip home and considered for several hours if a little bit of elastic woven in would do the trick.

Instead, when I got home, I carefully picked out the woven-in-end at the crown and pulled the whole hat apart once more.

Yesterday I cast on ten stitches less, figured out how to make the first row of decreases bring me back in line with my pattern for the crown, and whipped this baby out one last time. It worked! The hat fits beautifully. It looks lovely, with a wonderful match between yarn and pattern (and my clothes). And it is amazingly soft and warm.

And I made it, yarn and all!

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