Hat Mania

I don’t know if it’s the weather or the appeal of the simple, easy, quick project, or just necessity born of the fact that I have successfully lost or at least misplaced a number of hats by this time of year, but this time of winter I tend to go into a hat mania.

Just before Christmas, I shared my finished Rikke Hat. I’ve been wearing it a ton, so I was aptly inspired to finish up my Acai Hat. I wound the yarn at the same time as the yarn for the Rikke Hat. It’s handspun Three Waters Farm Superwash Targhee in the Put Off My Blues colorway.

 

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It’s a beautiful colorway that makes me super happy, but the way I spun it really made for a busy fabric. I start with a stockinette stitch hat pattern, but I was not a fan of it so I opted to switch gears and find a pattern that is more textural.

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I’m really happy with how the Acai Hat worked with it and it proved a great project to work on with the puppy in the house. Interesting to occupy my mind that was tired after chasing the pup all day, but easy enough that I could still knit it on auto-pilot to an extent.

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It’s quite different from the hats I usually knit and that’s exactly why I like it!

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I think the texture compliments the busy colors nicely.

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And I have just enough slouch in it for the relaxed look that I love.

It won’t shock you to know that I’ve got 2 more skeins of yarn sitting on my desk, all wound and ready to become hats. Let the hat mania continue! You can’t have too many hats during winter in Wisconsin, can you?!

 

 

A Handspun Tecumseh Triumph

When Caitlin Hunter released Tecumseh last March, it was — like so many of her patterns are — instantly added to my to-knit list. I toyed with the idea of buying yarn for it a number of times, but always stopped short. It was hard to justify a yarn purchase (no really, it was!) when I have sweater quantities here “in stock.” Toward the end of summer I realized that I had two out of three of the colors I was looking for in my fiber stash. Could I do it? Should I make a handspun Tecumseh?

The answer, it turns out, was yes. I had to get a little extra fiber, but it was still less expensive than buying another sweater quantity of yarn (that’s an important note in my irrational rationalization of this whole thing). If you’ll remember I spun up a test skein in September…

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It was a little on the heavy side for the knitting to gauge, so while I still did all the calculations in case all the yarn came out a little too heavy, I aimed lighter for the rest of the yarn which I spun mostly during Spinzilla. It turns out Spinzilla is a great opportunity to spin a sweater quantity of yarn if you’re in the mood to fly through it and not allow yourself time to get bogged down. It only took a week or so beyond the event to finish up all the yarn…

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And shortly after that, I swatched again and found that I’d indeed hit the nail on the head for gauge. I started knitting.

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, this project just flew. If I were a cat, colorwork knitting would be my catnip. It’s normal for me with any colorwork project that I cannot put down, but this sweater just hit the perfect rhythm for me. Colorwork, short stockinette section, more colorwork, repeat. It was the project that just kind of propelled me forward effortlessly.

Even though I was busy during the month of November, each night my few rounds of Tecumseh were something I looked forward to, like a treat for making it through the tougher days. img_4449

And it just flew.

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Before I knew it, I was on to the sleeves. And then I was trying it on, a finished sweater. I was a little concerned on that first try post-finishing that the sleeves were short. I’d followed the pattern’s recommendations, but I believe they are written to be what comes across to me as a little high-watered. I knew from other people’s photos, the sleeves did run a bit on the short side for many and I was torn between leaving them or giving mine a bit more length. Considering the fiber blend I’d used (80/20 Merino/Tussah), I thought there was a good chance that a warm soak would relax them enough to make them perfect without adjusting them. This is where knowing your fiber blends, how you spin, and the resulting yarn helps a lot!

I drew a warm bath for my sweater with a bit of wool wash and a hefty dose of vinegar, too. I had already washed and set the yarn and did not expect any of the colors to bleed, but with colorwork projects I don’t think you can ever be too careful. After letting it soak for a while, I pulled it out squeezed as much of the water out as I could and set it out to dry, with just a very basic reshaping. And then I waited. It’s a fairly heavy sweater with the colorwork, so even in low humidity it took a few days to dry.

And Voilà! A finished sweater!

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I went with the ultra generous fit. I think my positive ease is 13-14″ which is a lot. And I love it.

I was doing some garage and yard work this morning and I’m not exactly presentable, so I had my girl take this headless portrait so you could see the final fit, including the worrisome sleeve length which thankfully turned out just right.

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Perfetto! It’s big and cozy and just the absolute perfect comfy weekend sweater.

I think the blue + yellow + grey turned out just right, too.

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The yellow is definitely bright, but I love the combination and I think these colors play so nicely together.

Can I show you a little secret, too?

You may or may not know that I’m a huge fan of subtle little imperfections. As I was spinning the grey, I happened to have a few little bits of red fiber from a previous spin sitting next to me. I thought… wouldn’t it be kind of cool to spin them into this grey? Just a little something to make it truly unique, a little yarn design element that’s all mine.

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There are two spots in my sweater that have just that little hint of red. It’s kind of like a little secret just for me.

And there you have it! My handspun Tecumseh sweater is officially finished. I’m wearing it as I type. I may not take it off until next spring!

 

Down The Road & Back Again

The Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group selected the Down The Road and Back Again Shawl as the second annual knitalong this fall. I need to give a great big shout-out to my two amazing moderators and everyone over there. They keeps things so fun and inspiring and wonderful even when I drop in and out of the conversation and for that I am just so happy and thankful. I’m always humbled that this incredible group meets up under a banner I created and have made it their own. I could sing their praises all day long, but they would probably be happier if I’d just get on with it and share my project today!

Unlike last year, when I had to restart the group KAL no fewer than three times because the first 2 yarn combinations just didn’t fit, this year I got it on the first try. Sure I had a half dozen options pulled out of my stash, but when it came time to cast-on I kind of had a pretty good feeling where it was going to work.

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I mean, how could I not fall instantly in love with this?

And unlike last year, I just couldn’t put it down…

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Anywhere I went!

It took me about a month from start to finish.

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And then about 6 weeks to get it washed and photographed. Seriously?! Am I the only one with this lag time problem? I need to work on that!

In any case, today I have some FO photos (finally) and I’m just so pleased to share them!

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It’s cold where I’m from, so this is likely how I’ll be styling this shawl most days. But I think you need to open it up to really appreciate it…

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From the details…

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To the shawl set wide open…

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I’m just extremely happy with how it turned out.

The tonal was a gift from a dear friend and is String Theory Caper Sock in the Dark and Stormy colorway. And the contrast color is my own handspun, a 40/40/20 Merino/Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk fiber in the Merry Poppies colorway from Three Waters Farm.¬† It was actually the first yarn I spun on my Jensen Tina 2 when I got it earlier this year and it’s just a simple 2-ply fingering weight. The two yarns went together beautifully.

There you have it! Another year of the annual Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group KAL is in the books for me! Who else is already looking forward to next year?!