Canadian Red Cross Toque

Apparently, Victorians didn’t really wear toques.

At my work, as an outreach event, we participate in a local maple syrup festival, dressed in our Victorian finest. We have warm dresses, bonnets, capes, sontags, and undersleeves a plenty for staying warm, but this is the first year where we’ll have a man representing the museum, and I wanted to make sure his ears were going to stay warm for the three hour shift.

I searched and searched and didn’t really find any Victorian toque patterns. There was one historical text from the turn of the 20th century which remarked on the weather in our area, and the author tried to insist that it was warm enough where we are not to need a toque. I’d love to have a word with him on days that it’s below freezing, but I digress.

So, rather than make our guide a Victorian toque, I made him one from World War II. The pattern was from the Canadian Red Cross Knitting Instructions for War Work, Number 1 For the Services, and this pamphlet was published in November, 1940. It is the Toque Useful for a Sleeping Cap (RAV LINK).

All in all, it’s a basic toque. That said, I really have to question the instructions. You cast on your stitches, work ribbing for 3.5 inches, purl a row, then rib another inch. Then, you turn the work inside out and knit plain for 3 inches before the crown decreases.

Why do you turn it inside out? No idea. It never says to turn it back right-side out. The row of purling creates a brim turn, a nice place for the brim to fold at, but, if it’s meant to be work with the knit stitches out, why purl the row then turn inside out? Why not knit that row, and then knit the main part of the head? Like said, I have questions.

I followed the pattern as written, turning inside out and all. I used Berroco Ultra Wool for the project, a nice, superwash, worsted weight yarn. I got the recommended gauge of 5sts/inch with this yarn while using the recommended ‘No 8 Knitting Needles,’ which I took to mean 4mm (or US6).

It was also a fast knit. I needed to move up the timeline for when the hat was ready, and I was able to dedicate about two evenings to getting it finished.

I’m not going to leave the pattern directly here as I’m sure the status of copyright for the pattern, but I will leave a link for the pamphlet which I accessed via Ravelry. You can find this instruction booklet here:

The Hamilton Fibre Forge

The first fibre festival of 2023 kicked off in Hamilton, ON this weekend, and my cousin and I were there, masked up, and ready to explore!

Honest moment, I was more than a little overwhelmed at the event, but this, I recognize, is very much a ‘me’ problem. I’ve spent the last three years actively doing EVERYTHING possible to avoid COVID, including avoiding spaces with a lot of people. This has been three years of habits, ones that aren’t going to break with a morning at a fibre event.

Despite my moments of panic, it was a lovely day. The drive took over an hour to get there, and we spent more time than I wish we did trying to find parking. Thank goodness for my cousin navigating us to a municipal lot!

The venue for the event was in the top floor of an former cotton factory, so even the venue lent itself well to the day’s event! There were dozens of vendors on hand, and, really, everyone was happy to be out and around yarn.

This might have been my most modest purchases from a fibre event – I bought one skein of yarn (yes, only one!), stitch markers, a shawl pin, and what might be one of my favourite project pags

This was a great day out with my cousin, and I’m looking at it as practice for Knit City Montreal in May when I have a mini weekend getaway planned with my knitting BFF!

March to May KAL

In January, I took the time to organize four projects, ready for cast-on. I had the pattern, I had the yarn, I just needed the push to get them started.

The first push came to my inbox last week from Andrea Mowry with her 2023 DRK March to May KAL. I bought the pattern months ago, and I had the yarn ready, or so I thought.

On March 1, the start of the Knit-A-Long, I grabbed that project bag and started to get organized. I wasn’t able to start right then and there because, to my sheer amazement, I only had one 3.75 (US5) needle big enough for this project, and it was busy working on my Bright Axis sweater. So, I couldn’t cast on, but I could wind all the yarn.

And so I wound. As soon as I had the first two balls ready, I realized there really wasn’t enough contrast between them, not the amount of contrast that I was hoping for anyways, and this really didn’t pop until they were wound.

While I was winding, there was a skein sticking out on the shelf, a skein I bought last November when I was visiting a friend in Kingston. The good thing about having a fairly consistent taste in colours means I was able to easily dig into my stash, and this skein suited the project well. Excellent. I kept winding.

And then, I started second guessing. A project that used 5 skeins soon became a project only using 4 skeins. I played around with a few colour combinations before settling on the following:

  • The lightest is Skein or Shine Fingering, Arctic Stone colourway
  • The next colour is the one I bought in Kingston, All Dyed Up in My oh My colourway
  • The second darkest is the shop brand for Village Laine Yarn Cafe in Ajax, ON: North Star Yarn Co. Bellatrix in Sea Serpent colour
  • Finally, the darkest shade is Akara Yarns Merino Sock and the colour name is Dark Like My Soul – isn’t that delightful.

I could have started the sweater on Saturday – I got the body of Bright Axis done by then, freeing up my lone 3.75 needle, but, we got a significant snowfall which meant I was shovelling a lot of heavy snow through the day. My mind couldn’t handle the idea of starting a new sweater. But Sunday afternoon, after a few hours at the office, I cast on. It’s a start, right?

Test Knit: Morning Sunshine

Sometimes, it comes down to timing. I happened to check Stephanie Lotven’s Ravelry group on my lunch hour the Friday before last, and she had posted about a test knit for a new cowl. I couldn’t believe my luck that I was early enough to see this post and be able to sign up to be a test knitter! This was my first time testing a pattern, and I loved it.

The pattern is a cowl, and we all know how much I love these accessories. I had one skein in my stash that would work, and two trips to a yarn store later (one to buy a skein, and one to exchange the skein when I realized it was the wrong weight for the pattern) I cast on and dedicated much of the long weekend to knitting this project. The yarn I used was Shelridge Yarns Classic DK, colours Smoke and Amythist.

There is a two week turn around for the test knit, so I opted to test the DK version rather than the fingering, just in case I needed a heavier yarn to ensure I met the deadline. My fears were unfounded (or maybe the DK was the right choice) as I got most of the cowl knit over the Family Day weekend.

Also, because it was a test knit, I wanted to be sure I did everything right, so I knit a gauge swatch. Like, properly, knit, wash, and blocked the gauge swatch. I was rather proud of myself for that one.

It took me about a week to finish the cowl, between swatching, finishing, reknitting half of the bottom border, and blocking. The bottom needed reknitting because, through the testing process, the directions needed to be rewritten to be more clear, and I wanted to re-work what I had done with the first set of instructions.

All in all, loved this process, and I love my new cowl!

Why did it have to be black yarn?

Bright Axis (RAV LINK) has been an excellent pick up/put down project. And I’ve been doing just that for almost a year and a half.

This statement tee was included in Stephanie Lotven’s Knit Happy with Self-Striping Yarn: Bright, Fun, and Colorful Sweaters and Accessories Made Easy. I’ve professed my adoration for this designer’s patterns before, and buying this book when it was released in 2021 was a no-brainer. I fell instantly in love with Bright Axis and just needed to decide on what yarn I was going to use to make it.

And, I thought I had made that decision…

The body yarn, well, that one I’m set on (and after 11+ inches of stockinette, it’s well set). I had two skeins of Cascade Heritage Sock in black, and I had planned to use skeins of Felici Time Traveler as the contrast, the stripes along the shoulders.

The thing is, when you plan out a sweater, and almost 18 or so months pass, tastes have a funny way of changing.

After hours of dedicated knitting, I thought I reached the point of being ready to start the shoulders, but the more I thought about it, the less happy I was with the Felici. The black felt like a grounded colour, while Felici was too whimsical. Now, don’t get me wrong, a little whimsy is always a good thing, but it didn’t feel right for this sweater.

Instead, my mind started wandering to TurtlePurl Yarns in their trenchcoat colour. This Burberry inspired colour with the solid black sweater was feeling more and more like a better fit.

Well, it was all a moot point anyways. After the body is knit, the work is divided, and there’s short row shaping before starting with the CC.

I decided I wanted the body to be longer.

And that meant ripping back my short rows and carefully putting 132 stitches back onto the needles.

132 stitches. In black, sock weight yarn.

I’ll never know how I managed to get them all back onto the needle without dropping any.