Hats off to Stash Down

One of the several reasons why I love knitting is the sense of gratification one gets by seeing your project grow.  You can see your progress, your efforts and time becoming a thing. This past weekend, I saw the efforts of my labour come together fairly quickly as I’m knitting away for Christmas and, conveniently at the same time, working away at my stash.

I can write about these projects because a) I’m not specifying for whom they were made, and b) I doubt the recipients will read this blog.  I think this is a safe space. If you think you know the destined recipients, please, keep my secret!!


Saturday evening, this beauty flew off my needles. Bulky weight, 6 millimetre needles. I LOVE how simple the hat is, but then the designer hit you with a pop of interest with the crown decrease and these lovely cables.  The pattern is Subtle Twist Hat by Jennifer Tallapaneni, and I used up the better part of a skein of Berroco Vintage Chunky.


I’ve also started a hat I’ve been wanting to make for a while, Pathways by Erica Harbin.  This lovely hat was inspired by one worn on the show Once Upon a Time, and the first season of that show was filled with lovely pieces of knitwear.  I’ve had Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine 85 in my stash for years now, and it is working up like a dream in this project! The plying of this yarn is unusual, but it’s not affecting the fabric being created, so I’m happy.

I may find excuses to knit a few more hats because they are a seriously quick project, and I’m rather happy to find use for yarn that I’ve had on the shelves for some time now.  The Mercury is dropping and a few snowflakes have fluttered by. Winter is coming, friends.  I’m sure it won’t be hard to find reasons for hats.

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I’ll always have warm toes

Last week I wrote about a ‘Simple Pattern’ for socks, taken from a book written in the 1800s.  I had fun experimenting with this pattern, using rather old yarn from my stash.  I made it about 12 rows or so into the body of the leg before I frogged them.

This was how the pattern was shaping up – lace panels in between garter stitch.  I was happy with it, but this has now taken a back seat.  The socks were ripped out so I could free up the needles for vanilla socks.  I was at a conference last Thursday and Friday and knew I would want something simple to keep the hands busy while still listening and engaging with what was being presented. 

These, I must say, are shaping up to be perhaps the most boring socks ever.

The yarn is slowing fading into different shades; the top has more green with the purple, and the heel looks like it’s doing the same thing. It’s all very subtle, and no texture is making these seem just a little yawn. Again, I dove into the stash for these socks, and really, they are serving their purpose very well, simple, transportable socks that require no thinking at all.  Although they are a wee bit boring, there is nothing wrong with that. Socks are socks and they will keep toes warm regardless of the simple yarn.

This is where self patterning or self striping yarn shines. A simple vanilla sock becomes so much more interesting because the yarn is doing all the heavy lifting, the yarn is dazzling while you are simply repeating the knit stitch over and over.

While I soldier on with these unremarkable socks, the ‘simple pattern’ is still on my mind, and I have an idea of how I want to tinker with the pattern. Going at this rate, it’s safe to say my toes won’t be cold.

Simple Pattern for Simple Socks.

A few weeks ago, I bought a beautiful skein of sock yarn online. I won’t post details about it because it was purchased with the intention of becoming a gift, but I will say the yarn is soft, squishy, and beautifully self striping. I was looking for an interesting texture or stitch pattern for this yarn to become socks; the yarn would do most of the heavy lifting because the stripes really would shine, and I didn’t want anything to take away from it, but I also wanted to make something more than a vanilla sock.  Hours, it felt like, were spent on Ravelry, Pinterest, and googling to try and find something that would be inspirational. Nothing seemed quite right to suit this yarn.

Then, I came across a blog written for Knitty by Franklin Habit, where he used patterns written in the 1840s by Mrs. Frances Lambert to create a sampler, and this got me thinking… was I looking in the wrong places for inspiration?

Well, I ended up in a historic knitting pattern wormhole. I downloaded both of Mrs. Lambert’s books, filled with historic patterns, and somewhere along the way, I found the Victorian Knitting Manuals collection on archive.org, maintained by the University of Southampton, where they had digitized The Stocking Knitter’s Manual: A Companion to the Work Table, by Mrs. George Cupples in 1870.  Here I found my inspiration.

 

The story of sock 1, made with the amazing self striping yarn, will continue in a further blog post another day.  I found a very simple lace pattern, adding interest to the overall pattern and yet simple enough so as not to take away from the yarn.

I’m currently experimenting with her ‘Simple Pattern.’  As written:

Calculate six stitches for each pattern

1st row – Pearl (sic) 3, O, T, P.
2nd row – Pearl 3, P 3.
3rd row – Pearl 3, P, O, T.
4th row – Pearl 3, P 3.

O means put over the thread
T is knit two together
P is plain 1

I charted this for knitting in the round, because I like charts.

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My interpretation of this pattern, it looks like you’re working three garter stitches alternated with three stitches work as lace.

Worked as a sock, 12 or so rows in, it looks like this:

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It’s rather pretty and, as the name suggests, fairly simple.  This is further spinning my inspiration; the sock I’ve started in the picture is using stash yarn and isn’t intended for anyone. I’m right now knitting it for knitting’s sake and to test this pattern (shocking for a project knitter, I know!).  I’m adoring the lace ‘columns,’ but I’m also thinking how I could tinker with Mrs. Cupples’ pattern and make it something new.

I’m not at a loss for inspiration now.  The history geek in me should have known at the outset to start with something at least 100 years old!

Hopefully next week I’ll have another sock update!

Happy knitting!

Seeking Ravenclaw

I just couldn’t find the right yarn, so I dyed my own. My co-worker asked me to make a pair of socks for her daughter for Christmas, made in the colours of her Hogwarts House, Ravenclaw.  I was heading to Toronto last week and thought, since I’m on Queen Street, I’ll take a trip to Romni. Surely, they should have some self-striping yarn in blue and grey/silver. Romni has rows upon rows of yarn, but I couldn’t find the right yarn.  I found something close, though:

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This is Regia 4-fädig, and I think it was part of a sports-team/college colours line, but it was a blue (check) self striping (check) sock yarn (check). It just wasn’t grey.  Halfway between buying it and walking to my car, I thought it could be fun to try and dye it, making the white grey and hopefully making the blue a little deeper.  If it works, awesome! If not, it was an experiment and I’d have a blue and something self-striping yarn that could become socks sometime down the line.

Unfortunately, grey is a really challenging colour to achieve with food dyes as most grey/black colours are comprised of many different colours to look black.  Example, when I dyed yarn for my Captain America shawl, they grey looks great in the slow cooker, but when it dried, it became obvious the colours broke, giving a variegated purple/green look.

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It was pretty, and it looks great in the finished shawl, but this certainly wasn’t what I was trying to achieve.

As the Regia soaked, I experimented with a few colour combos. Ultimately, I was happiest with the look of Americolor Soft Gel Paste in ‘Slate.’  You can test your dye by dipping paper towels into what you’ve prepared.  All the Wilton tests were giving off too much green, but this one looked like it would be a muted grey with a hint of green/blue halo. I held my breath, added the dye to the slow cooker, and walked away, lest I compulsively checked the crock pot every three minutes or so.

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To prepare the dye, I used 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp of vinegar, and about 1/4 tsp of the Americolor gel (fun fact, I had to type ‘color’ about four times to spell it the American way). Ultimately, I prepared the dye twice, so it had about 1/2 tsp of the colour added.

The finished skein?

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I am rather pleased! There’s only the hint of a green hue, but overall, it’s grey and blue and oh-so-Ravenclaw!