You guys, I’m stuck in the most boring knitting season of my entire knitting life. For months it’s been nothing but stockinette and ribbing and — hold onto your seats! — a little garter stitch in the round. I am in favor of all of the future finished objects I have in progress, but working dropped stitches every few rows doesn’t really make the stockinette any more thrilling to knit. The only bit of fun I’ve had were those precious few rows of nupps on my Trillium yoke, and that was two months ago. It’s starting to make me think knitting is boring. Aiieeeee! I’ve given myself permission to cast on a Channel Cardigan sleeve if I want, and to intersperse it with all the stockinette going on, but I’m not convinced those knits and purls (however luscious) are enough to really break up the monotony. I want all the fun right now. I want cables, and I want lace. Specifically: Anne Hanson’s Wheaten, which I will knit one day, in wrap proportions. But to satisfy this particular craving in quicker/smaller fashion, I’m thinking a hat would suffice. Maybe Amy Christoffers’ Manhattan or Robin Ulrich’s Bosc.
I’m back home and mostly recovered from my whirlwind 7-day, 2-city tour. In case you’re wondering, I did do some knitting — although shockingly little. In the air between Phoenix and Indianapolis, I knitted a hat. (Ok, 7/8 of a hat.) Rebekka Seale had sent me some of her gorgeous handspun alpaca and this adorable baby hat pattern. After knitting a good chunk of the seed stitch for the hat, I didn’t feel like it was the best showcase for the black and white marl. So before I left, I downloaded the Caldwell Garter Cap pattern instead, which is plain enough to let the yarn shine. Because bulky 100% alpaca is heavy, I cut down on the number of crown rows to make a shorter hat, but I wish I’d also gone down a needle size. In any case, it’s lovely — and how great does it look on Rebekka, who I had the pleasure of meeting while in Nashville.
I picked up the yarn for Bob’s Fort upon my arrival in Indianapolis, and despite spending three late nights surrounded by knitters, I only managed to cast on one sleeve and knit a few rounds of ribbing. But between a pleasant evening knitting outdoors with Nashville friends and the flight from Nashville to Las Vegas, I finally started making some progress on a sleeve. Unfortunately, I made it a little too small so I’m sizing up the second one and making sure it’s right before redoing the first. I was brain-dead enough to welcome the stockinette on the return trip, but I have to say, the increases and that rib detail running up the inside of the sleeve are just enough to keep it from being too monotonous. (Don’t forget to keep an eye on the #knittingforhimalong tag in Instagram — projects are just getting started.)
Of course, a little bit of yarn also followed me home from Indianapolis. It was a yarn trade show, after all. There’s a little retail event on the first night of the show, where I bought the two skeins of Cestari cotton-wool sock yarn (for $5!) and the denim-blue skein of Swans Island’s new American-made rambouillet-alpaca. Then during the course of the show, I was given the hot pinky bulky from Made in America Yarns; the two skeins of chunky, undyed, Italian-spun, Tibetan yak down from mYak (the most delicious shade of brown nature ever thought up); and the new Knightsbridge from The Fibre Company in a sagey brown-grey. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the previews of the pattern collection Kelbourne did for this yarn — releasing in a couple of weeks (and you’ll definitely be hearing about it here) — but it is magnificent, and the yarn itself came as such a surprise to me. It’s baby llama, merino and silk, and feels so marshmallowy soft in the skein I would never have believed it would offer any kind of stitch definition. But the patterns are all manner of textured and cabled goodness, and the yarn pulls it off magnificently. I can’t wait to knit with it, and the same goes for that yak.
It’s raining bobble patterns. I had fun knitting the nupp rows on my Trillium (which I am THIS CLOSE to finishing) and between the last two months of sweater knitting and all the talk around here of smaller projects for the warmer months, I’m eager for hats. So much the better if they’re bobble hats, and this week the universe presented a few options:
Diode by Erica Smith is the restrained entry in the field. Relatively tiny sport-weight bobbles create an overall texture, and I love the doubled brim. York Bobble Toque* by Tara-Lynn Morrison is characteristically chunky but also written for aran weight — above is the chunky version pictured on her way-too-cool daughter. And last but far from least is Anna Maltz’s Archipelago. which I’ve been waiting for ever since she posted it on Instagram and was begged by many to write the pattern. Like everything Anna is involved with, it looks like a ton of fun.
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*pattern sent to me by the designer
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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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