Monday, January 26, 2009

FO: Yzerman Aran Hat

Yzerman Aran Hat
Pattern: Fishtrap Aran Hat (January)
Author: Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Cascade 220 in charcoal
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 7
Started: January 11, 2009
Finished: January 18, 2009
Modifications: none
Ravel It!

Yzerman Aran Hat - profileThis is goal #4 in the January Hat Trick KAL. I plan to knit the Aran Cardigan from the January chapter of Knitter's Almanac, but I definitely wanted to practice the pattern first. The hat still needs to be blocked, but I love how it fits. I'm not sure if the fishtrap pattern pulled up or the ribbed cables at the sides pushed down, but the result is a very handy brim edge. The ribbed cables extend just enough to cover my ears comfortably while the front and back of the hat sit up a little higher, so it doesn't slip down to cover my eyes and it doesn't bunch up in the back. The cables at the side also give some extra thickness for even warmer ears. 

You may be wondering about the name I chose for this hat. I try to come up with interesting names for most of my projects rather than just calling them by the pattern name. This project is named after Steve Yzerman, arguably the best hockey player in Detroit Red Wings history.

The decreases for the top of the hat were a bit tricky. In the Knitter's Almanac, Elizabeth Zimmerman simply states, "bring the hat to some type of close at the top," thus leaving everything up to the knitter. I knew I wanted to preserve the cable patterns a long as possible, so I had to get creative. 

The main fishtrap pattern forms diamond-like points on the side with purl stitches for a background. A plain purl column separates columns of twisted knit stitches on either side. I knit two full repeats of the fishtrap pattern before beginning decreases with a p2tog at both edges. This still left a purl column separating the main motif from the twisted rib next to it, and followed nicely with the diamond shape of the fishtrap. I also worked a double decrease in the center of the pattern and repeated all decreases for the other side of the hat, to eliminate 8 stitches per decrease row. 

I repeated the decreases every other row until 60 stitches remained, where I stopped knitting a plain row in between. I also changed to centered double decreases at four points: the center of the fishtrap at front & back and the center of the ribbed cable pattern at both sides. I continued this way until 18 stitches remained and - following the trick I learned from my pocket hat - grafted these together for a flat top. I'm not quite sure how I ended up with 18 stitches down from 60 (42 is not a multiple of 8) but that's ok. It's a swatch after all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Check Out My Big Ten Inch...

Cobblestone progress
... sweater for a man that's knit in blue ...

I've knit over half the length to the under arm, which is where you join the sleeves and things get exciting again. I'm really happy with the progess I'm making, I knit on this a little bit each day. Making hats in between has definitely helped with little bursts of instant gratification.

It's been tough working this 51" sweater on a 40" circular needle, but all is well now that I've gotten my new 47" cable from Knit Picks. Oddly enough, it came with 10 skeins of yarn as packing material. Weird.

Monday, January 12, 2009

FOs: 5-Hole Pocket Hat & One Good Turn Deserves Another

Hat Trick complete!

8-trick pocket hat
Pattern: 8-trick pocket hat
Author: TECHknitter
Source: TECHknitting
Yarn: Cascade 220 in burnt orange, marine, yellow, charcoal and red
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 5 & 6
Started: January 2, 2009
Finished: January 7, 2009
Modifications: none
Ravel It!

I've been wanting to make this hat since seeing it on TECHknitter's blog last February. I knew I had enough Cascade 220 to make it work, I just needed the motivation of the January Hat Trick to get started. I was pretty surprised with how little of each color I used. The yarn was leftover from various projects and I still have enough for at least one, maybe two more hats.

8-trick pocket hatI knit the brim on size 6 needles, but decided to switch to size 5 for a bit tighter gauge for the body of the hat. I'm glad I did. The hat hugs my head nicely, not too tight and not too loose. The only part of the fit I don't like is the top. It really needs to be ripped out and made shorter for two reasons. One, with the brim positioned just below my ears, the top sticks up and looks goofy. I prefer a hat to fit snugly on the top of my head and to do so now bunches the hat in back. Two, the extra room up top allows the hat to shift around while I'm wearing it. We got 6+ inches of snow this weekend and I wore the hat while shoveling. I had to continually re-adjust the hat to keep it out of my eyes. Luckily, the pattern accounts for size adjustments all in the last 'stripe' at the top of the hat, so I won't have to redo the whole thing.

Turn a Square #2
Pattern: Turn a Square
Author: Jared Flood
Source: b r o o k l y n t w e e d
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in black & Noro Silk Garden in 252
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 7
Started: January 10, 2009
Finished: January 11, 2009
Modifications: knit two stitches between crown decreases
Ravel It!

To complete the hat trick, I took the easy way out.* My first Turn a Square went so quickly, I knew I could whip out another easily. I happened across some leftover Wool of the Andes in my stash this weekend and - after seeing how little yarn my first TaS took - thought it would be enough to make another hat. To better ensure I wouldn't run out though, I switched things up and knitted only 2 rounds in the main color and 3 rounds in the contrast color. I was right to do so, I only had a few yards of the black yarn left when finished. 

Turn a Square #2 topI had a bit of difficulty with the decreases on my first attempt at this pattern, so I decided to try something different. I knit two stitches between the decreases to try and eliminate the gaps that formed the first time. I'd say it was a success, but had one unexpected side effect. The normal raglan decreases form the titular square on top of the hat. Putting extra stitches between these in effect rounded the corners of that square. If I were to knit this pattern again - and I think I have just enough Silk Garden to do it - I would move the decreases so they lay in the middle of a needle rather than at the end to better close up the gaps.

All in all, the January Hat Trick was (and still is!) a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed seeing everyone else's hats and getting to know members of the Puck This! group on Ravelry better. Thanks to Lolly and Mesange for putting this together. I look forward to more great KALs with this group.

Finally, I leave you with an outtake from this weekend's hat photo session:

Me and Ruby
She was so fired up, she wouldn't sit still for a photo

*I've since cast on for the Aran Swatch Cap I originally queued to complete my hat trick. I fully intend to finish with 4 goals this month.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

FO: Top Shelf Turn a Square

A Square Turned

Pattern: Turn a Square
Author: Jared Flood
Source: b r o o k l y n t w e e d
Yarn: Cascade 220 & Noro Silk Garden
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 6 & 7
Started: January 1, 2009
Finished: January 2, 2009
Modifications: none
Ravel It!

My first FO of the new year and boy did I get it in early! I cast on shortly after midnight passed on New Years Eve, knit all through the 2009 Winter Classic (Go Wings!) and finished just before 3 a.m. Hey, I was on a roll!

This is the first of at least three hats I plan to make this month as part of the January Hat Trick KAL in the Puck This! group on Ravelry. If you knit three hats, they're all put into a poll to be voted on by group members and the top vote getter wins a prize. I'm not in it for the prize, I'm sure my hats will be more on the boring/simple side, but so far it's been great fun to read all the chatter about hat patterns, yarns and goals.

I made sure to knit this pattern long enough to cover my ears. When I originally knit my orange Koolhaas, it covered my ears, but after weeks of wear, it seems to have shrunk up. It also needs to be washed and blocked again, so I wanted to have a replacement hat ready in case it doesn't dry in time.

Turn a Square HatFor some reason, the skein of Cascade 220 I used here is Really Soft. I don't find Cascade 220 to be scratchy by any means, but this particular skein was remarkable. Combined with the Noro Silk Garden, I ended up with a very cozy hat. I was a little unsure how the colors would stripe and work together, but I'm VERY happy with the result. I even have enough yarn left over for a second hat.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Second First Sweater

Bartlettyarns 2-ply
I've been jonesing to knit myself a sweater for a while and when I saw eight skeins of Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-ply for $25 shipped on a Ravelry destash, I knew the time had finally come. I originally thought I would knit EZ's Aran Cardigan and set about knitting a swatch cap. Unfortunately, I misread her instructions and attempted to squeeze 5 stitches into one inch. Let me tell you, knitting cables with a true aran weight yarn on size 5 needles is no picnic. However, once I got straight with the gauge, I found that my cable patterns looked like crap. I thought to myself, "I can make this much nicer with Cascade" and promptly frogged.

After having knit several stockinette swatches with garter borders, I rather fell in love with the look. I laid in bed that night thinking, "Maybe I'll just knit a simple raglan sweater with garter borders. Oh, and I could even do a line of garter up the side for more interest." And then I realized what I was envisioning: Jared Flood's Cobblestone. Well then, aren't I a genius?

Cobblestone pieces

Next morning I cast on for a sleeve and was off to the races. The yarn is a bit stiff to work with, but I think I've gotten used to it. It definitely softens up after a good washing. The only troubles I've had so far are with the cable length on my circular needle (it's almost too short to knit the body comfortably) and knitting garter stitch in the round. It wasn't much of an issue with the sleeves, but switching from knit to purl and back at the end of the round on the body has created a weak spot where the fabric wants to fold. I'm hoping it will block out, but I'm planning to try the jogless garter stitch employed by Alice here for the yoke.

Cobblestone detail

I'm now into the endless sea of stockinette that is the body of a man sized sweater. The garter panels at the side break things up enough to keep it interesting, but I don't really mind all the stockinette. I've been in the mood for something mindless for quite a while now.

Friday, January 2, 2009

FO: Mom's Mitered Mittens

Mom's Mitered Mittens

Pattern: Mitered Mittens (May)
Author: Elizabeth Zimmerman
Source: Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Valley Yarns Sheffield
Needles: Knit Picks Options, size 7
Started: December 2, 2008
Finished: December 9, 2008
Modifications: Same as last time
Ravel It!

My Mom requested a pair of these after seeing my own pair knit with Noro Silk Garden, so I decided to make them part of her Christmas present. She wanted them in all black, but as you all know, Noro doesn't come in solid colors. In searching for a replacement, I took the opportunity to try something new. 

Black Sheffield YarnI wanted a yarn with a high silk content, but also some wool for warmth. I settled on Sheffield by Vallen Yarns from WEBS. It was the worsted weight yarn with the highest silk content they offered, although it wasn't until I placed the order that I realized that NSG is mostly silk with some wool and mohair. Sheffield is essentially a merino yarn with some silk and angora. Dissimilarity to NSG aside, it's a really nice yarn. I don't know that I'd make a sweater out of it because of the angora (too fuzzy for me) but it would definitely be luxurious.

The finished mittens turned out really well. They'll be nice and warm and they look sophisticated enough to be work with a dressier coat. Mom liked them and put them on immediately after opening the box. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos other than the blocking photos. With them being all black, I didn't want to move them around much so they would stay nice and clean.