A Soft Spot for Birds

We always had bird feeders growing up, but it was a general interest for me and not something I really explored in great depth. I knew what a cardinal was and a goldfinch, but that was pretty much it. My husband, however, grew up in a family of birdwatchers — his parents talk about going to spots to watch birds on their first dates and my husband always had and used binoculars growing up. They even named him ‘Martin’ for the Purple Martin.

When I met my husband he was actually working for an optics company that specialized in outfitting birdwatchers. On one of our first dates, we went for a hike in a local arboretum and he called out a Barred Owl — the first I’d ever seen. I didn’t know if I should be more impressed by the bird or the fact that this guy I was standing with in the woods just imitated an owl call with some serious skill. I asked him where he learned to do that and he responded, “When you spend enough time alone in the woods you learn to make a lot of weird sounds” or something like that. I was pretty sure in this moment that my life was going to be interesting.

Fast forward a couple years and we’d gotten married and I was a full-fledged bird nerd. We’d taken our honeymoon to southern Texas where I accumulated an obscene amount of ‘life birds’ and just learned a ton about them. At some point in the following years, my husband got his parents a martin house for their yard as they love their bird houses and feeders. A common topic of conversation in spring is always when certain birds return for the summer and at some point we learned that it was no longer ‘the Martins are back’, but ‘the Martins and Sarahs are back’ — of course, referring to the male & female Martins. I realize I’m biased, but I think that’s the cutest, sweetest thing.

You can bet that when Erica Heusser released her Passerine Hat last November this hat simply had to be on my needles. When I saw the purple-y blue Ink colorway in Madelinetosh’s Unicorn Tails, I knew that this hat was destined to be ‘Martins and Sarahs’. There just was no question. I immediately picked up enough Ink & Silver Fox Unicorn Tails to make the hat.

And as things go, it sat for a couple months while I tended to other projects.

Thankfully at the beginning of February I had a little time and I was able to cast on. As if often the case with colorwork I plowed ahead with wild enthusiasm.img_2294I did the brim one night and started crown shaping by the next. But… my colorwork was just a little tight…

img_2295And the next morning I frogged back to the brim. This hat is what I would classify as an intermediate colorwork project as you are required to control some longer floats. It’s not what I’d call hard, but it’s definitely a skill builder for anyone new to colorwork. For those — like me — who are pretty well-versed in colorwork, it doesn’t hurt to take your time either. Obviously!

img_2297By the following day, I’d finished (again) and this time for good.

detIt was worth it as my Martins and Sarahs are now perfect in every way.

hat onAnd now I have the cutest, sweetest hat just in time for Spring migration, just in time for the Martins and Sarahs’ return.

hat flatI’m pretty sure this brings me to a new level of nerdom awesomeness. I guess when you spend a lot of time in the woods with the person you love, you learn to make some weird sounds and adorable hats.

To Call a Fig a Fig

Two nights ago while waiting for a swatch to dry so I could start a new project, I thought I’d be responsible and whip up a quick hat for which I’d wound yarn before our Yellowstone vacation. Responsible because the yarn was wound and I knew it’d be a quick knit. I got going on the ribbing and then had some… ahem… issues with putting it down.

img_2292-1Having been on a real colorwork kick lately, knitting up the Passerine Hat would be a great choice. I’d gotten the pattern & yarn right away when the pattern was first published for some very sentimental reasons (which I’ll share when it’s finished) and I knew it would be just a treat of a project. Plus, with the feel of colorwork already in my hands, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, yesterday I was knitting away, completely addicted to seeing the pattern take shape and before I knew it I was through the colorwork and beginning the crown shaping.

img_2294As my bedtime crept closer and I got more tired, I started looking more and more at my little birds. The tension in the colorwork wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It looked fine, really, and I knew it would wear just fine, but the more crown shaping I did the more I knew I was not going to be satisfied. This treat was going to be imperfect unless I took drastic measures.

As knitters, I think we’ve all been in the spot where we have a choice to make about a project. Maybe the sizing of a sweater is a little off, maybe some stitches are twisted way back in the pattern, or maybe your colorwork isn’t quite perfect. The hardest choices are the ones that don’t have an obvious answer. Yes, I could leave this hat with the little imperfect birds. I’m really not a total perfectionist and I could probably live with it. Besides, no one would know except me that they were a little off.

Alas, just before bed I decided I couldn’t ignore the tension issues and I simply had to call this fig a fig. And thus, I awoke this morning to this…

img_2295With fresh eyes and a good night’s sleep under my belt, I’m ready to have another go at this little treat of a hat and to make it the little beauty that I know I can knit it into, the adorable hat that it is meant to be. Sure, it would have been nice to have done a more perfect job the first time. Yes, it’s a little frustrating to go back and re-do basically an entire hat. But if there’s one thing I’m certain in this craft, it’s that knitting in real life is rarely perfect and sometimes it requires a second go. That’s a fact with which, my friends, I am at total peace. And on that note, here I go again!