Meeting my Blog Crush: Rosa Pomar

Meeting my Blog Crush: Rosa Pomar

Actually, I can tell you one thing we’re doing — right off the bat — is going to Retrosaria Rosa Pomar in Lisbon, a shop I’ve longed to visit for years and am proud to count as a Fringe Supply Co. stockist. I “met” Rosa on Instagram shortly after learning to knit, and wrote about her blog awhile back — a post a few of you cited when I asked for your favorites. The hat pattern of hers that I knitted in 2014 is still one of my all-time favorite knits. I knitted it Portuguese style, as taught to me by Brooke, and as much as I LOVED that, I somehow haven’t done it since — so I’m excited to relearn from Rosa and to finally get to see her beautiful shop and yarns and get to spend some quality time with her. Definitely check out these links and especially her Instagram feed @rosapomar.

*Which has probably already happened by the time this posts! 

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Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

I have so much to tell you (or show you) about my six days at Squam Art Workshops (aka art camp for grown-ups) that I’m breaking it into two parts! First, let’s talk about my classes. This year and last, I’ve taught a class called In the Company of Cables, which is ostensibly a class about how to knit cables but is really a class about getting comfortable with reading charts, tracking your progress, fixing mistakes, seeing the pattern in a way that often frees you from needing to keep referring to the chart, and so on. Which is good, because this year all but six of the people who signed up already knew how to knit cables! I’m always saying you should take classes from people you find interesting, even if you already know the thing they’re teaching, because there’s always something to be learned in amongst all the dialogue that happens in a knitting class. I say that, and then I freak out a little bit when people who already know everything I’m teaching take my class! So hopefully even the pros in the room picked up a good tip or two. I certainly enjoyed spending the day with both groups, and feel very honored that people would want to listen to me yammer on about something they already know. So thank you to everyone who signed up, beginners and lifelongers alike!

(Gravest apologies to the half of the cutie-pie sister duo I accidentally cut off in the only still photo I took of Friday’s group! Everyone is in the frame in the video version found in my Instagram highlight reel.)

In Friday’s class, we had an amazing demonstration of why gauge matters. For myriad reasons, I don’t ask my students to swatch for the hat that I teach, but they do have homework. They’re asked to cast on 90 sts and work the first few rows of the pattern before coming to class. Everyone uses the identical yarn, Osprey, and size US8 needles. Obviously, because everyone’s tension varies, everyone’s finished hat size will vary, and my hope is that everyone winds up with a hat that will fit someone they know. But I do state that if you know yourself to be a loose knitter, cast on 80 stitches instead, so your hat won’t be gigantic. Check out this photo:

Squam part 1: Gauge lessons

Am (@oystersandpurls) is on the right, and she cast on the prescribed 90 stitches. Am is a tighter knitter than me, so her hat is smaller than my pattern/samples. Brienne (@brienne_moody), on the left, is a loose knitter so she cast on only 80 stitches, and her hat is still bigger than my samples! Think about this for a second: the hat on the left has 10 fewer stitches and is significantly larger than the hat on the right, even though they were knitted in the same yarn on the same size needles. Fortunately, they both still fit: One is a slouchy beanie and the other is a fitted skullcap. But it was an incredibly vivid example of the difference gauge makes in the finished dimensions of a project — even a little hat.

(And how cute are they with their matching toffee Field Bags? I just noticed that.)

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PREVIOUSLY: Squam 2017 reflections and outfits

New Favorites: Thea on a roll

New Favorites: Thea Colman knitting patterns

The lovely and talented Thea Colman seems to have really hit her stride lately. Witness these three recently released patterns:

TOP: Brennivin is a gorgeous and cozy cardigan with a narrow shawl collar (pictured unfolded) and just a little bit of non-lacy lace patterning up around the shoulders

BOTTOM LEFT: Oban Sweater is the pullover version of her Oban hat, with such a simple but highly effective stitch combination — even more effective spread out across a sweater

BOTTOM RIGHT: Water is a Flint MI fundraiser in the form of a hat pattern — a fabulous cable hat at that. All proceeds are going to help kids affected by the water crisis in Flint, via an initiative led by an 11-year-old — just go read about it! And there’s also a campaign afoot to actually knit hats for these kids; more on that in Thea’s Ravelry group.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Sweatshirt sweaters

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New Favorites: Raffia

New Favorites: Raffia

Summer is coming, and I am totally into this collection of super-simple crochet patterns that Wool and the Gang has released for their new yarn, Ra-Ra Raffia. I have a big trip coming up this summer (tell you about it soon!) that I need a crushable hat for, which is basically a life-long wishlist item. I do not have a head for hats, so we’ve talked before about how if I could bring myself to crochet one, maybe I could actually get it to fit me right! This perfectly plain one makes me want to give it a try:

TOP: Joanne Hat looks so chic in black and a little like an upside-down planter in natural, but the latter might be more practical

BOTTOM: Paper Gangsta is a classic crocheted market bag that, once again, is making me want to make such a thing! (For knitted options, see: Market bags)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from the Scout collection

ScandinAndean earflap hat (2018 FO-10)

ScandinAndean earflap hat

The last of the four February hats was the one I was the most nervous about: the earflap hat for my 10-year-old niece. In addition to being the one where the fit could go really wrong — there being no ribbing to simply hug the head, and que sera from there up — I was making up the pattern and adding colorwork into the mix. So many opportunities for it to go wrong! Plus with my sister’s Første having taken two weeks to knit, I had two days to get this one done and blocked. No room for error. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully!

I was initially planning to use Purl Soho’s Top Down Ear Flap Hat pattern but was concerned it would be too thin, not warm enough — even with the little bit of stranded colorwork I planned to add — plus it would have taken longer at that gauge. So I decided to improvise a version of it at worsted gauge. A good yellow (as had been requested) is not super easy to come by, plus my niece is very crafty and I’ve passed on my love of yarn to her, so I decided I’d hit up my sweet friend Brooke of Sincere Sheep when I got to Stitches West, knowing she has a good naturally-dyed yellow in her palette, and I’ve been wanting to knit with her U.S. Cormo Worsted. Armed with the perfect skein, I swatched and measured and calculated. I’d be working at a gauge of 4.75 sts and 7 rows per inch, with a target size of 20″ circumference (92 sts) and 8″ depth (56 rounds).

At that point, there was nothing to do but knit — and hope it worked out. Rather than doing the top the way the Purl pattern has it, I split the crown stitches into 6 sections and increased every row thrice, then every-other row until I had 92 sts. (A total of 24 rounds for the crown.) On the first work-even round, I started the lice stitch — using leftover yarn from her mother’s cable hat — spacing them every fourth stitch (staggered) every third round. I wound up doing 9 stranded rounds, stopping a few rows shy of my intended depth. Then I took a good hard look at the stitch counts and ratios from the Purl pattern to determine how to divide up my sts for the ear flaps, which worked out to 20 sts for the back, 22 for each flap, and 28 for the front. Then I followed the decrease logic in the pattern, decreasing down to 3 sts instead of 4; worked 56 rows of I-cord; and did the tassels as per the pattern. And voilà: adorable.

I love how the ivory lice stitch breaks up the semi-solidness of the hand-dyed yarn, and totally love this yarn. As I was knitting the colorwork, I was feeling like Is it weird I’m using this Scandinavian lice stitch pattern on an Andean-inspired hat?, but I decided to just call it ScandinAndean and embrace how cute it is. Mashups for the win!

ScandinAndean earflap hat

So I’m very happy with how the four of them worked out: My sister and brother-in-law both got cable hats with a very similar motif played out a bit differently, at different scale. And the kids both wound up with earflap hats — my nephew’s squishy helmet and this darling cap for my niece. It warms my heart to know the four Floridians are somewhere in the Colorado Rockies right now, feeling toasty in their handknit hats.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Log Cabin Mitts No.6

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A hat to rival Gentian (2018 FO-8)

A hat to rival Gentian

I’m over here combing through my giant stack of Logalong prize contenders — tearing my hair out over how thrillingly hard you’ve made it! — and hope to have it all sorted, settled and written up in the next day or two. Meanwhile, an update on my February hats project: The latter two of the four are currently wending their way toward Florida, and not a moment too soon.

You guys, this beanie took me two weeks to knit. And I’m not talking about two weeks where I didn’t have much time for it and so it got scant attention. I’m talking about two weeks that included large amounts of stress knitting, two cross-country flights, seven hours in a surgical waiting room, etc etc etc. I’m talking about two intense weeks of knitting. A hat!

My plan had been quite simple: All I needed to do was knit one hat a week. Piece of cake, right? For the final two, I had it all mapped out. I’d knit the ribbing on my sister’s Første before boarding my flight to Stitches West, so I could sit down on the plane, pull out my cable chart, and focus on nothing but it for the full length of the flight. (I’ve knitted worsted-weight cable hats before; I know the lay of the land!) Then I’d get yarn for my niece’s hat at the show, and knit hers on my flight home. Worst case scenario, I might still have some crown shaping or tassels to do, between the two of them, and then they’d be on their merry way.

Well. I started the fisherman’s-rib brim a few nights before my flight, and knitted about an inch of the 4.5 to be done. A little more progress the next night. And the one after that. I boarded the plane thinking I was surely just a few rows shy of the chart — I could whip them out before we were even in the air. Mm, no. We were probably somewhere over the Grand Canyon by the time I got to start the chart, and when they said we were beginning our descent into Oakland, I was the one bellowing “Noooooo …” from aisle 12. I’d only managed to knit about 10 rounds.

Long story short: It eventually dawned on me that this hat is as much knitting as a sweater body. In addition to the 46-round brim (that alone being as much or more than the usual number of rounds for an entire worsted-weight hat), the body of the hat is 144 stitches — that’s a sweater, in my world — and the hat totals 101 rounds of knitting. And let’s not forget the knitting is fisherman’s rib followed by densely packed cables. Not to mention chainette yarn that requires you to be really deliberate about where you’re sticking your needle. Of course it took two weeks!

But hear me when I say that it was worth every minute it took. This thing is MAGNIFICENT, and especially in this luscious yarn. I wish you could paw it. I might not have savored the knitting the way I did with Gentian, but the finished result is at least as thrilling. A hat to marvel at and beam over, and I’m so happy it’s going to my sweet sister. I just hope it fits.

Tell you how my niece’s hat turned out once she’s seen it. ;)

Første pattern by Jessica Gore in Woolfolk Far / Like it at Ravelry

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Black and bluish mitts

World’s softest helmet (2018 FO-5)

World's softest helmet (2018 FO-5)

This hat for my nephew — No.2 in the so-called February Hats Project — was a total delight to knit. It’s the 1898 Hat, which was the last of the six patterns for the Fringe Hatalong Series a couple of years ago and which I never got to knit! I’d done the first four of them along with everyone, and then got derailed on the final two by all the usual year-end obligations in my world. (There’s a summary and links to all 6 fantastic patterns here.) So I was excited to finally get to do it, and it was even more fun than I expected. The pattern was designed for seamen — you can read all about it here — with double-thick earflaps, and the way it’s constructed is just so clever and polished. It’s amazing to watch it come together.

The yarn is Woolfolk Far, my first time knitting with it, and it’s almost alarmingly soft. It’s ultra fine merino in a chainette construction, and after all the sheepy rustic woolly yarns I’ve been knitting with it, I almost couldn’t hold onto it. Do you know what I mean? It’s like trying to knit a puff of air after all that. I knit with worsted-weight yarns pretty much always, and have a really good feel for my gauge, but had to go up a needle size with this after my initial pass at the brim was coming out TINY. But once I got that sorted out and my fingers grew used to it, it was a joy to knit, and made the softest squishiest hat you’ve ever seen, which is kind of funny since it looks like helmet.

My only mod here was to make it shallower to fit the lad’s head. Halfway through the crown decrease rounds, I went down one needle size as well as omitting the work-even rounds from there on up, for a more rapid decrease overall. It’s 19″ around and 7″ tall, and hopefully I’ve nailed it.

I’ll definitely be knitting this again (and again).

World's softest helmet (2018 FO-5)

PREVIOUSLY in Projects: Ebony and ivory mitts

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