New Favorites: the WATG x Raeburn beanies

New Favorites: the WATG x Raeburn beanies

I love a pleasant surprise. As previously noted when the collection first walked the runway, I really like the pieces Wool and the Gang designed for Christopher Raeburn’s Fall 2015 show. My favorite was the giant beanie, especially for the way the mixed yarns mimicked that incredible bouclé tweed fabric used for the coat it was worn with. Well, the knit kits have just hit the WATG website, and what I missed when looking at those photos before (or have long since forgotten about) was the solid black version. Seeing it yesterday in white, up top, gave me a whole new appreciation for this hat. But even more than that, I LOVE the way it looks folded up (like, you know), as opposed to the way it was worn on the runway. So now I’m coveting it in white, black and the runway-multi version. It’s not sold as an individual pattern (at least at this time) but the solid kit is called Abyss and the multi-hued version is Atlantis.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Rowan 58

A handful (or two) of Hermaness Worsted

A handful (or two) of Hermaness Worsted

It was hard to guess how much participation there might be for A) a wool hat knitalong kicking off in June and B) a lace knitalong. Combine the two, and I was really wondering! But it’s been a month since the Hermaness Worsted pattern went live and the hats continue to come rolling in. I’m trying to make mine last — and even switched from Soot to Fossil — but continue to be in awe of all the hats and yarn choices and stories to go with them. And I’m beyond thrilled at the number of people who’ve taken it on as their first lace knitting project and have said they wouldn’t have attempted it if not for my notes. Yay for trying new things! And thanks again to Gudrun Johnston to giving us all the pattern to work with.

It’s also interesting to see how much more neutral the color choices have been for this one, as compared to the rainbow of L’Arbre hats that came before it. It’s incredibly hard to pick favorites from so many beautiful contributions but I wanted to highlight a few of the many that have been shared on Instagram.

From top left to bottom right, working across the rows:

@leighsideknits who is simul-kal-ing — pictured is her finished hat with her #quillKAL shawl

@ellalcgordon who was the model for the original Hermaness

@2littlesticks with an excellent road-trip knitting shot

@whit_knits so pretty pic of the yarn she selected and nettle-dyed (see her feed for the finished hat)

@pinkrosecottage is one of many people to have knitted multiple Hermanesses (Hermanessii?)

@recklessglue is another, and I just love this FO shot of her third

@waldorfmanufaktur scaled it down in sport weight for her daughter’s birthday (and one for herself)

@evergreenviolet working on one thing while pondering the next, as we do

@things_from_scratch’s (in handspun!) is one of the many pale ones that made me switch, and I love her caption

@gudrunjohnston herself, wearing the sample — in Iceland, no less

There is an incredible amount of great knitting photography to be found in these accounts (and many others participating) so be sure to click around and explore! The whole knitalong feed is at #fringehatalong, and it’s never too late to join in. All three patterns so far are now listed in the right rail over there (if you’re on a full-sized browser). Dive in with any pattern anytime! The next one’s coming up in August.

One other note: You may recall I meant to feature a hat charity with each installment of this series. Regrettably, with everything going on in my life these days, I didn’t have a chance to pick and vet one for this hat. But I would love to hear from you all about your favorite charities that take hat donations. If you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments below!

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 3 Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Queue Check — July 2015

Queue Check — July 2015

It’s possible I spoke too soon about that house we have under contract. We got a not-so-good inspection report this week and now the whole thing is up in the air. So instead of marching through the steps toward closing, I’m in limbo, daydreaming about it. All I can think of when I think about that house is that it will be Fall there. It’s almost like I think that will somehow be true on the day we move in! I imagine the leaves turning on the all the big trees, and picture sitting out on the covered patio (in the rain!) when the temperatures get milder and the humidity packs its bags and shoves off. For when it gets colder, I have visions of knitting in front of the fireplace. A fireplace! Then there’s that screeching sound in my head as I remember the fireplace needs extensive repairs before that can happen. Anyway, somehow that house and Fall are inextricably entwined in my mind, and it makes me want it more than I want to want it when it may not happen.

Between all of that and the fact that Fall really is coming soon (it is! it is!), I’m rethinking my knitting queue. June mayhem didn’t allow for that summer sweater to get cast on, and now it seems too late to start. Time to start in, instead, on the sweaters I want to be done with in time to wear them on that covered patio, right? But my plans feel a little scrambled. All of this secret and required knitting the past few months has amplified my aversion to knitting that feels in any way like an obligation, to the point of making me a tiny bit allergic to my own to-knit list. Next up was supposed to be whatever that dark grey Hole & Sons is meant to become, but I haven’t solved that riddle yet. And next after that was supposed to be my Channel Cardigan, finally and again, but there too I’m on the fence about yarn. My latest theory has been that I would use the camel Shibui Merino-Alpaca I stocked up on when it was discontinued, but I fear it will be too hot and heavy with all that fisherman’s rib and textured stitch. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s not to cast on a sweater before really knowing it’s right and worthy, but these past couple of months without a sweater on the needles have been agony! So for the moment, I’m enjoying my Hermaness Worsted (have you seen all the #fringehatalong hats?) and pondering the notion of turning that Merino-Alpaca into a Linda. A big cozy fringed scarf might not satisfy me in the knitting like a sweater does, but it would in the wearing.

I hope you all have a magnificent weekend! We got a fresh batch of Yarn Pyramids in this week, and there are tools allegedly arriving this afternoon — bonsai scissors and counters and crochet hooks, among other things — so if you’ve been waiting, check in later today or tomorrow morning! xo

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: June 2015

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

The Shetland Trader Book TwoI’ve mentioned not once but twice how much I admire and want to knit Gudrun Johnston’s Hermaness hat, from her beautiful collection The Shetland Trader – Book Two. When I thought about how much I wanted us all to knit a quick and simple lace hat this summer, Hermaness was all I could think about, but it’s fingering weight. So I asked Gudrun what she thought, and she generously worked up a worsted-weight version and has made it available to us as a free pattern for Fringe Hatalong No. 3! Just click to download the Hermaness Worsted pattern PDF.

I ADORE it at this chunkier gauge and hope you’ll love it as much as I do. As I mentioned in the preview, this is very simple lace, so if you’re a seasoned lace knitter you can do it in your sleep. If you’re a lace first-timer, it’s an absolutely perfect place to start! And if you don’t believe me, try swatching it — it’s important to swatch anyway, and it’ll be good practice before you start in on the real hat. I’ve got lots of how-to advice below, and the whole Hatalong community will be happy to help if you have any questions or trouble along the way!

If you prefer the fingering-weight version, you can buy that one individually at Ravelry or buy the book. You’re welcome to knit either Hermaness or Hermaness Worsted for the knitalong. Remember to share everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)HOW TO SWATCH FOR
HERMANESS WORSTED

Gauge for the pattern is 22 sts per 4 inches in the lace pattern, and it’s an 8-stitch repeat. So if you cast on three repeats [3×8] that’s 24 sts, which should get you 4 inches of knitting to measure. You do need to swatch “in the round” and you’ll need a couple of stitches on either side of the lace to keep it intact and measurable. So I cast on 30 sts: 3 in stockinette, 24 in the lace stitch, and 3 more in stockinette. Target row gauge is 29 rounds per 4 inches, so I worked 30 chart rows: 1-20, then 1-10 again. Block before you measure since lace, of all things, changes once it’s resting.

As far as how to measure this one, Gudrun’s advice is to pick an identifiable spot in the lace to measure from — either a yarnover or a psso — and measure to a spot that is 8 or 16 or 24 sts away from that. For instance, if I measure from the left edge of the left-most yarnover in my swatch to the equivalent yarnover two repeats away (16 sts away) I get 3 inches. 16 sts divided by 3 inches is 5.33 sts per inch. Multiplied by 4 inches is 21.32 sts, so my gauge is slightly bigger than Gudrun’s 22 sts. The body of the hat is worked over 120 sts — at 5.33 sts per inch, that’s a 22.5-inch hat, so I’ll need to go down one needle size. Make sense? Ask questions below if not.

(For further thoughts on the why and how of swatching, see How to knit a hat, part 2: Gauge and size.)

How to knit from a chartHOW TO KNIT FROM A CHART

A chart is simply a picture of the right side of a piece of knitted fabric, with each stitch mapped out. They can be infinitely easier to mentally process than long strings of written-out instructions, and yet charts can seem intimidating when you’re new to them. I think the most important thing to keep in mind right off the bat is that we only knit one row at a time, so if you only look at one row, it will seem instantly less scary! It’s a good idea to use a post-it note or piece of washi tape (or the thousand other really great suggestions people will make in the comments) to track which row you’re working on. Some people stick it below the row they’re working; some stick it above. Do whatever makes the most sense to your own brain — there’s no right or wrong. I’m a post-it-below person, but for the sake of reducing the chart to just Row 1 for you, I stuck it above for this photo. See how much more digestible that is? Go ahead and print out the PDF or have it open on your screen so you can see the whole thing and the legend while we talk about how to work it.

We knit from right to left and each new row is created on top of the one before it, so you’ll see a little number 1 at the bottom right corner of any chart — that’s where you start. Generally speaking, an empty square is a knit stitch, and a square with a black dot in it is a purl stitch, of which there are none in this particular chart. For any symbols you don’t recognize (you’ll memorize the basic ones the more charts you use), there’s always a legend telling you what each symbol means. I classify this as a simple chart for three reasons: 1) it’s only 8 stitches wide, 2) there are only three kinds of stitches (knits, yarnovers and that broom-looking thing we’ll get to in a minute), and 3) there are only three different stitch sequences. At least in the main chart.

Row 1 of this chart tells you to knit the first two stitches, then that broom-y thing (consulting the legend plus the abbreviations list if needed) means “sl1kw (slip 1 stitch knitwise, or “as if to knit”), k2tog (knit 2 together) and psso (pass the slipped stitch over),” then knit two more stitches, yarnover (wrap your yarn once around your needle), knit one, yarnover. You can totally handle those eight stitches — just take them one at a time — and then you simply repeat the sequence until you reach the end of the round. Row 2 is all knit stitches! And then you’ll notice Row 3 is exactly the same as Row 1 — nothing new to learn. In fact, all of the even numbered rows are just knit every stitch, and the odd rows 1 through 9 are all the same. Then the odd rows from 11 through 19 are the same three stitches just in a different order. So like I said, there are only three different stitch sequences in the whole body of the hat, one of which is just knit every stitch. Plus the whole chart repeats, as indicated by the red border. (In some cases there might be stitches on either side of the chart that don’t repeat, but there’s none of that here.)

The other reason this is a great first lace or chart project is that a hat is knitted in the round, which means every row/round is worked from the right side. Since we’re never turning the work and working a wrong-side row, we never have to imagine ourselves behind the chart, like you do when you’re knitting flat. We’ll tackle that some other time! For now, just take pleasure in working every chart row from right to left, exactly as pictured in the chart. By the time you get to the Crown Shaping Chart, you’ll have chart-reading licked.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Stitch markers are your friend. I’m a perfectly competent knitter but I have a very short attention span and I also watch TV while I knit (sometimes with subtitles!) so I find it very helpful to place a marker between each repeat. In other words, when you get to row one of the chart, work the 8 stitches of the chart, count that you have 8 sts on your right-hand needle, and place a marker. Then work the 8 sts again, pm, etc, all the way around. Make sure your Beginning of Round marker is different in size, color or something so you know where your round ends and a new one begins. And then be careful, in this case, that the yarnover next to a marker doesn’t try to pop over the marker.

As is counting. Now as you work your way through the chart, if you ever find yourself with more or less than 8 sts between your markers, you’ll know right away that you’ve done something wrong.

Those knit rounds are saviors. If you do make a mistake, just take a deep breath and look at what you’ve got between your markers as compared to what the chart says you should have. Tink back as needed and straighten it out. And if you can’t figure it out — or you spot a mistake in an earlier row — rip back to a knit round. If you rip out a lace round, the one before it will have been all knit stitches, which are much easier to put back on your needle so you can start again. No need to panic about trying to put lace stitches back on your needles!

A lifeline might help you sleep. I think the knit-stitch rows are really all the safety net you need in this case, but some of you might like a lifeline just for good measure. To create a lifeline, you simply thread a length of smooth waste yarn (cotton is best) onto a tapestry needle and run it through a full round of stitches on your needle, being careful not to split your yarn in the process. Why would you do this? If you need to do a big rip, you just rip back to the lifeline and it will hold that row of stitches safe for you to slip your needle back into. So perhaps you want to place one after every five or ten successfully completed rounds. Then just pull it out when you’re all done.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

DOWNLOAD THE HERMANESS WORSTED HAT PATTERN and remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. I’ll be on the lookout for photos everywhere, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (Sorry, I’m not able to reliably answer questions across multiple platforms!)

I can’t wait to see your hats!

And make sure to save/fave it on Ravelry: Hermaness Worsted

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 2 L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose

Hatalong No. 3 PREVIEW

Fringe Hatalong No. 3 PREVIEW

Hooray, it’s getting to be time for another Fringe Hatalong! I’m teasing you today, of course, but this time I’m being a little more revealing than before — by showing you my Actual Swatch in advance of the pattern reveal. (If you recognize it, please keep it under your, uh, hat!) I will say that a swatch does not do justice to the finished hat — it is a truly gorgeous hat — but I wanted to give you a heads-up that it’s lace this time! My kind of lace, though, nothing frilly or fancy. Just a nice, tasty Shetland stitch that’s infinitely simpler than it looks. And it’s also charted — but it is a tiny, very simple chart, and I am going to walk you through it. It’s only 8 stitches wide and with just three different non-complicated stitch combinations, and you will see that it is totally doable even for advanced beginners. (If you’ve knitted lace before, you’ll be able to do this one in your sleep.)

All lace means is fabric with strategically placed holes in it, and all you do to make a hole is a yarnover — just wrap the yarn around the needle. If you’re a newer knitter, chances are you’ve done that lots of times unintentionally! This time we’ll do it intentionally, according to the aforementioned chart. So this will be a wing-stretcher for some of you, but how better to learn charts and lace than with a really simple project in the company of lots of helpful friends? Go ahead, dip that toe in the water!

I’ll post the pattern and kick things off next Thursday, June 18th! So be ready.

Recommended yarn: The pattern is written for Brooklyn Tweed’s worsted-weight Shelter. I will tell you that the sample is knitted in Sweatshirt, that perfect grey, and a lot of you are going to want yours to be exactly like the sample. It is so good. Shelter is available at all of these lovely stores as well as directly from BT’s website. You will need 1 skein if you don’t intend to swatch. If you do want to swatch (and I recommend you do), pick up a second skein. The hat uses 45 of the skein’s 50 grams (126 of the 140 yards in a skein). Shelter will be an especially good choice for anyone who’s nervous about this — it’s a “sticky” yarn which means if you do have any trouble and need to do a little ripping or repairing, you can feel good about the stitches staying put even when you slide them off your needle.

Suggested substitutions: If for whatever reason you won’t be using Shelter, some good tweedy worsted alternatives would be Quince and Co Owl, Harrisville Highland and Cascade 220 Heathers. For a non-tweed in a solid or semi-solid color try Quince and Co Lark, or Sincere Sheep Bannock (or her new Cormo Worsted!), or any of the hundreds of great worsted-weight yarns out there with good stitch definition (i.e. a nice multi-ply yarn). Again, you need approximately 126 yards for the hat, so if you want to swatch, make sure you’re buying enough to cover that. Many worsteds come in 220-ish yard skeins, so you’ll have plenty to work with in that case.

(If you plan to donate your hat to any of the chemo patient charities, remember to use a really, really soft yarn.)

Are you excited? I seriously can hardly wait to get started on this one. Big reveal right here next Thursday.

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 1 – Audrey and No. 2 – L’Arbre

A L’Arbre … for my niece

A L'Arbre hat ... for my niece

As I was watching the rainbow of L’Arbre hats appear on the #fringehatalong feed on Instagram, I was debating what color I wanted mine to be. The icy blue ones are killing me, but so are all the jewel-toned ones from the Road to China palette. I’d decided in the swatch phase that I’d be using Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist, of which I have several colors in my stash. (Thanks to the nice people at Purl who sent me that bag last year.) When it came time to cast on, I grabbed the palest pink for some unknown reason. As I was knitting it, I just kept thinking how much my littlest niece would love this hat, not knowing I’d be seeing her again before it was even done.

Bob’s birthday is today, and late last week we decided a spontaneous road trip was in order. So we drove to Savannah, spent a night at a Georgia beach, and then drove to my sister’s house in Florida the following day. She and her husband are away, but the kids are here with my parents. And as predicted, the little miss fell in love with the pink hat. I asked her if she’d model it for me when I finished it, and she thought it needed a flower and to be hers. And so it is.

Once again, it’s been fun to knit along with so many of you. I especially love all the comments from people who would have shied away from this stitch pattern and were thrilled to find it so simple and satisfying. I want to say a huge THANK YOU again to Cirilia Rose and the fine folks at STC Craft for giving us this pattern for the knitalong! If you haven’t cast on yet, there’s plenty of time! I’ll announce the next Fringe Hatalong Series pattern pick in June, and I’ll tell you in the meantime that it’s a very simple little lace pattern. So if you’ve never done a yarnover (on purpose) or knitted from a chart, this will be a good chance. But meanwhile, keep those Audrey and L’Arbre hats coming! And keep tagging them #fringehatalong so everyone can see.

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 2: L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose

New Favorites: The hats of BT Men Vol 2

New Favorites: The hats of BT Men Vol 2

Yesterday Brooklyn Tweed released BT Men Volume 2, and my favorite patterns are the two beautifully cabled, perfectly unisex hats. Crag by Jared Flood, up top, features the most gorgeous staggered, interlocking horseshoe cables. Snare by Norah Gaughan, bottom, has more of a twisty-twining cable pattern that also looks like a lot of fun to knit. And thankfully both are written for worsted-weight Shelter so they’ll be just what I like a hat to be: quickly, deeply satisfying.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: the Purl Bee three