The perfect little knitting respite

The perfect little knitting respite

Multiple new skills learned: check. New-to-me yarn: check. Fast finish: check. Amazingly great hat: check! I’m happy I gave myself this little break from knitting my Tag Team Sweater — it can be so rejuvenating in the middle of a long project to shift gears for a minute or two. And this hat is immensely satisfying, both from the process and the product perspectives: fun to knit (the Portuguese way!) and one of the grooviest things I’ve made.

Pattern: Gorro Montanhac by Rosa Pomar (previously seen here)
Yarn: Blackthorn (undyed/#7016) and Wynter (gold/#7650) both from Classic Elite Yarns

A few notes:

  • My favorite kind of pattern these days boils down to “Cast on X stitches. Knit the chart,” and this fits that bill. Love!
  • It’s charted from the wrong side, as the Portuguese knit from the wrong side. So the “right-slanted decrease” (the first in each pair) is actually left-leaning when viewed from the front. Knit it as an SSP. And conversely, knit the “left-slanted decrease” as a P2TOG. (Of course, if you’re knitting it from the right side, that would be SSK and K2TOG.)
  • I realized I haven’t really dealt with charted colorwork decreases before, so I’m not sure if it would be done differently here in the US, but I was momentarily confused by the decrease and the stitch next to it (which it actually consumes) both being present in the chart. In case that should confuse anyone else, note that the paired decreases are right up against each other — there are no worked stitches in between. So whereas the chart makes it seem like stitches 8, 9 and 24, 25 continue to be worked all the way to the top, they actually cease to exist as you work row 26.
  • [edited to add:] I skipped row 37 of the chart, the last work-even round, just to speed up the decreases that tiny bit for a less pointy hat.
  • The pattern calls for aran-weight yarn with US10/6mm needles and a gauge of 4 sts/inch. I went up to a bulky yarn and US10.5/6.5mm needles, because hats tend to be small for me, and my gauge is still smaller than Rosa’s! Her hat must be 20 inches and my finished circumference (before blocking) is about 19, which just fits my big head. I may gain a little room in blocking, but FYI.
  • Love this yarn, but I’m also eager to do it with Rosa’s own Beiroa.

Anyway, I’m smitten, and there are more of these in my future. Here’s this one on Ravelry.

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Top 2 ways to purl a stitch

Top 2 ways to purl a stitch

Friday was a big learning day for me. I picked up all sorts of random stuff from Ragga Eiriksdottir in the course of learning to steek. (I steeked! And I was in the local paper!) I took another Mary Jane Mucklestone class wherein I learned the Norwegian purl — purling without moving the yarn to the front. Life altering! And then that night in the Marriott lounge, Brooke taught me to knit the Portuguese (ish?) way so I could knit Rosa Pomar’s ridiculously great hat as intended. (Coincidentally, Brooke had learned this from Mary Jane last month, in her Andean knitting class.) And wow, that is the most genius way of knitting EVER.

You knit with the “wrong side” facing — so it’s all done in purl — and the working yarns looped around the back of your neck, one each direction. So instead of working out how to hold two yarns, you hold neither! For tension, you just pull down on the work. And to purl, you insert the right needle into the stitch and use your thumb to pop the appropriate yarn over the needle. Hard to describe but I’m telling you: genius. I only want to knit this way forevermore.

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Vogue Knitting Live was good — much smaller than Stitches West, less manic — and once again it was great to see/meet so many of you. (And Laura from the Purl Bee! And Jared Flood!) Anna and I did do a Tag Team Sweater Project photo shoot on Saturday, with none other than Kathy Cadigan as our photographer, and I can’t wait to show you the results on Wednesday. But I’m in the van today headed back to CA and am pretty fried, so please forgive me if I don’t manage to get a post up in between. Blogging on a mobile device still leaves a lot to be desired!

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New Favorites: Rosa Pomar’s blanket hat

New Favorites: Rosa Pomar's blanket hat

In all seriousness — no hyperbole or exaggeration of any kind — this is the single best hat I have ever laid eyes on. It’s Gorro Montanhac, which I believe means (roughly) “blanket hat” in Portuguese. It’s by one of the most inspiring people I’ve run across in the knitting realm, Rosa Pomar, owner of Lisbon’s Retrosaria Rosa Pomar. I’ve been following her on Instagram for a while and am deeply smitten with her knitting and her style and her photos and the whole equation, and dying to travel to Lisbon to visit the shop. (We both have a penchant for shooting our knitting on the floor, but she has far more interesting floors. And more interesting knitting, for that matter. I’m also hoping to get her to do Our Tools, Ourselves …) But anyway, this hat is just killer. It’s knitted Portuguese style, meaning the purl side of the fabric is facing the knitter. I’m planning to google it and see if it the method is any more complex than that — did I mention I’m also desperate to have her book? — or if you could simply work it right side out with no problem. (Anyone know?) But it’s so cool I will actually try that if, for some reason, it must be done that way. Make sure you look through her Instagram feed for all the variations she’s done, including the cowl version that turned into a mini-skirt. Too too good.

New Favorites: Rosa Pomar's blanket hat

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Svalbard

New Favorites: from Amirisu Spring 2014

New Favorites: from Amirisu Spring 2014

The Spring 2014 “issue” of Amirisu is out, and it has me pondering once again all the weird and wonderful, uncategorizable hybridizations of publications that abound on the Internet these days. (Amirisu is a lookbook for a pattern collection, packaged up with magazine content and ads, and delivered in free e-mag form — patterns sold separately.) Along with interviews with Kirsten Johnstone and Jared Flood, and an essay by Flood about Elizabeth Zimmermann, there are some pretty cute patterns. I like the little summery top by Veera Välimäki, Wispers (minus the split sleeve maybe), and the Fiske  semi-circular shawl by Gudrun Johnston, but the ones I’d most love to knit are the Mondrian Socks by Yuki and Preble, a cute and simple beanie by Leila Raabe.

You can flip through the whole issue here. Don’t miss the essay in the back and deciphering Japanese knitting patterns!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mega tunic

Next of the best of Fall 2014: Wool and the Gang’s runway beanie

Wool and the Gang's runway beanie

There have been all sorts of moves toward immediacy in the past few years, where the big fashion shows are concerned — to the point where some shows now allow for people to order the garments as they’re walking down the runways (and then wait months for them to arrive). But I’m pretty sure Wool and the Gang broke new ground this week with the first beanie to grace the catwalk and be available as a knitting pattern on the very same day. Apparently Giles Deacon approached WATG for a collaboration and this Eek Hat was born. WATG created the ones that were worn in Monday’s Giles show, along with 200 more to be scattered all around London Fashion Week in various ways. The Eek is a new spin on the basic Zion Lion hat they do so much with, in this case with big ol’ googly eyes added via duplicate stitch. So dang cute — I want one.

See their blog for the backstory and lots of behind-the-scenes photos.

Wool and the Gang's runway beanie

New Favorites: Kyoko’s colorwork

New Favorites: Kyoko Nakayoshi's colorwork

This must be one of those “grass is always greener” things, because suddenly all the solid-colored stuff in my knitting queue is making me crave colorwork. I’m also strangely drawn to fair-isle-style vests these days. My fascination with them was heightened by learning stranded knitting and beginning to pay a little more attention to Fair Isle traditions. But then ever since reading about Amber’s steeked vest (even though it wasn’t meant to be a vest), I’ve been dying to try that. Maybe this spring. Anyway, one of the best ones I’ve seen — in terms of something I could actually imagine wearing as opposed to revering — is Kyoko Nakayoshi’s vest, Suzu. Which also reminded me of these great chevron-patterned accessories of hers I’ve been craving to knit: Silver Maple Comfy Socks and Beanie. I want those socks on my needles as much as I want them on my feet. Which is to say: a lot! (In black and natural, of course.)

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SHOP NOTE: Pom Pom 8 is here! as are another few copies of 7 and 6 — which I’m told are the last of their kind!

Best new hat patterns

Best new hat patterns

There have been so many outstanding hat patterns published in the last few months, I thought it was time to highlight my favorites. I’m crazy about all of these:

1. Fractals Hat by Olga Buraya-Kefelian — striking geometry and a great crown

2. Hickory Cap by Veronik Avery — great pillbox shape, clever construction

3. Boyfriend Hat from the Purl Bee — a total classic (free pattern)

4. Magnolia beanie by Maria Socha — simple lace-stitch chart, fantastic crown (free pattern)

5. Wissahickon beanie by Meghan Kelly — top-down and all about the crown

6. Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Bee — sized for the whole family (free pattern)

7. Walsh head scarf by Julie Hoover — I want it as is and also at kerchief or shawl size

8. Lara’s Hat by Susan Ashcroft — previously mentioned, now available (free pattern)

9. Muckle Toque by Mary Jane Mucklestone — the hat version of her great Muckle Mitts

10. Quadrifurcus beanie by Rililie — great woven texture and shaped back/ribbing

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SHOP NOTE: So pleased to report that the sold-out buttons have been restocked!

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MORE GREAT HATS: A hat for every head / Beautifully textured hats / All star crowns