Pretty bobble beret (2019 FO-3)

April Hat bobble beret (free pattern)

Right after I posted about that pair of bobble berets to which I found myself unexpectedly drawn, I realized I had the yarn for one of them right under my nose. The April Hat (a free pattern) is designed by my friend Courtney Kelley for their Germantown worsted, and I had an almost full skein of it left over, in natural, after my mini Sólbein used so little. So I cast on immediately. And quickly understood that while a good useful stockinette project like my vest-in-progress is the equivalent of a good long walk (with hopefully some scenery along the way), and I love a good long walk, I was desperately in need of an experience more like a gymnastics floor routine — lots of action and fluttery doodads. And this hat nailed it.

The brim is an easily memorized lace pattern that was fun right out of the gate. The floral bits on the body of the hat are a combination of puff stitch and bobbles. I’ve knitted bobbles before but had no idea what I was in for with puff stitch — the puff-stitch rounds were almost comically slow for me, although I did get faster each time. Like anything new in life, it’s awkward until you get used to it, but it’s one of those fabrics where you just can’t wait to get to the next repeat because it’s so fun watching it develop.

April Hat bobble beret (free pattern)

I’m rarely one to swatch for hats, especially one I don’t expect to wear myself. Having knitted Courtney’s patterns before, I know that she’s a looser knitter than me, plus the dimensions are a little on the small side and I didn’t want it to come out even smaller. So I threw caution to the wind and went up from the recommended needles to a size US8 for the whole thing (same as I had used on the Sólbein), brim included. After blocking, it clocks in at pretty much exactly the pattern dimensions. And I’m excited to send it off to another of my little nieces, who I feel certain will love it.

The only point of debate for me is the pompom. I imagine she’ll like it, and it is definitely a cake topper to go with all this icing, but I love the way the crown comes together and regret that the pompom covers that up. So as I’m wont to do, I’ve tied it to the inside with a bow, so it can be easily removed by the recipient.

April Hat bobble beret (free pattern)

Here it is on Ravelry if you’re inclined to fave it! ;)

It’s the end of May and this is the third thing I’ve finished this year, all three knitted for others. But my vest is SO CLOSE — coming soon.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Cabled husband hat

Cabled husband hat (2019 FO-2)

Cabled Dad Hat knitting in progress with cat

While I debate with myself about which yarn I want to use for the shawl-collar vest idea and which pattern (and stash yarn) for a wrap, I’ve knitted a hat for my beloved. On Christmas day, we had turkey enchiladas with our close family-friends, the elder of which was wearing a hat Bob took one look at and flashed me a face that said “please!” After some investigation, it was established that my pal Jo had knitted it from Alexis Winslow’s pattern called Cabled Dad Hat. And it seemed like a perfect use for some of the leftover yarn from Bob’s sweater vest, so that’s what’s kept my hands busy on recent nights.

If you’ve seen previous years’ posts about hats for Bob, you may recall he likes a skullcap — won’t wear a beanie that comes down over his ears — but we’d agreed he needed one that could at least fold down over them when needed. To arrive at this outcome, and following Jo’s lead, I began the decreases at 6″ instead of 7″, which for me meant 5 repeats of the chart. (If I make it again, I might stop at 5″.) And then I also shortened the crown portion by speeding up the increases and knitting fewer total rows, which I did simply by decreasing on every round starting with crown row 13.

As usual with hats, I didn’t swatch, and it’s a tiny bit big so we’ll make an effort to shrink it just a touch. But overall, we’re both very happy with it — it’s a great pattern that was obviously more fun to knit than his usual stockinette-everything requests, and it’s nice to see some texture on him.

Cabled Dad Hat free knitting pattern by Alexis Winslow

I realized while finishing this up the other night that, as much as I’ve enjoyed knitting for him and my as-yet unspecified niece, it’s officially been too long since I knitted anything for myself. Time to solve for one or the other of those aforementioned cast-ons!

(Drawstring project bag and Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Sunny little Sólbein cardigan

Sunny little Sólbein cardigan (2019 FO-1)

I know, right? It’s so cute. This is my first finish of the year — my miniaturized version of the Sólbein Cardigan from the #fringeandfriendssteekalong. The palette was inspired by Mary Jane’s pre-steekalong remarks about the inspiration for this motif having been the idea of fractured daylight falling across the surface of the sweater, which made me want to do it in a sunny yellow combo. And you’ll recall I decided to knit it at worsted gauge and let it come out child-sized, in the hopes that it would fit one of my little nieces. (Details on how I scaled it down — including yarns, needles and gauge — are all here.)

The only changes I made were to leave off the colorwork at the hem and cuffs, and to do the button bands in garter stitch (on US6) instead of ribbing. I had used an incredibly soft merino for the middle yellow and felt it was not going to have enough heft as a ribbed button band. Garter has that added density, and I think in this case it also contributes to the little-girl looks of it. The bone buttons came from Fringe Supply Co., and the ribbon (a gift) came from Fancy Tiger Crafts.

Sunny little Sólbein cardigan

It’s not my very best work, if I’m honest. You can see my colorwork is a little bit bunchy, especially in the 3-color rows, and this was my first time sewing ribbon onto a button band — despite having sworn I would how many times? My whipstitching is, um, inelegant (although I kind of like that about it) and the act of lashing the ribbon onto the knitted fabric caused the bands to lengthen a bit. It’s all fine — it’s full of love! — and the imperfections just make it less precious. I’m definitely not worried about anyone wearing it and messing it up!

I just hope they can wear it. I opted not to do any math ahead of time and just let fate determine the outcome, and it came out smaller than I’d imagined. I was secretly hoping it would fit either the 11- or 8 year-old in the group and be handed down from there. But in the end, I’m concerned it may be a hair too small for the youngest, two 5-year-olds. After finishing, it clocks in at about a 24″ circumference at the chest, 11″ sleeves, and 15″ from shoulder to hem. Which is sort of a 4-5 range?

Time to send it off and see! With fingers firmly crossed.

Happy weekend, everyone—

IN UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the new MDK Field Guide No. 10: Downtown in the shop this morning, patterns by Isabell Kraemer, along with a fresh batch of Bury Me totes, the waxed plum Field Bag and lots more …

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Highlights and random winners


Bob’s deluxe sweater vest (2018 FO-26)

Bob's deluxe sweater vest (2018 FO-26)

I finished knitting Bob’s sweater vest in plenty of time for him to wear it out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, and the man could not be happier! Nor could I, honestly — this vest turned out so much better than I imagined. And that’s due to two things: a highly detailed pattern paired with some very nice yarn.

You may recall I had bought a skein of this at Stitches West last winter, and Bob basically picked it off my shelf one day and said “I want a sweater out of this.” It’s Plucky Knitter’s Yakpaca in “Pinstripe” — a 50/50 blend of yak and alpaca — and there’s no way he would wear a full sweater in such warm fibers, so thankfully what he wanted was a vest. And after poking around a bit, we settled on Churchmouse’s His Vest pattern.

My gauge was slightly bigger than the pattern gauge (I knitted the yarn on US6 needles at 4.75 sts/inch) and for such a straightforward garment, it would have been super simple to just wing it. But there were so many subtleties to how the pattern is written — very fine attention to the armhole shaping, shoulder seam placement, neck treatment — that I wanted to try to use the pattern. Since all my numbers were different, that got to be a bit of a headache (and I wound up not doing their tidy little neck selvage trick) but I’m glad I did it, and if I were to make this again, I would knit it precisely to the pattern.

Apart from the slight difference in gauge, the only change I made was to tweak the length — we wanted it to hit right at the front pockets of his jeans — and raised the neck, which meant going my own way on that whole part.

It’s a really lovely, simple garment, and a perfect case of how much yarn choice can matter. The fabric this yarn creates is so soft and elegant that I had this hanging on the door to my room for about 24 hours and I just kept staring at it having that “wow, I made that” feeling, even though it’s such a simple thing! It just looks so luxurious.

It was 70 degrees on New Year’s Eve and he wore it anyway, looking perfectly dapper. Sorry I didn’t get a photo!

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Indigo mitts

Indigo mitts (2018 FO-25)

Indigo mitts (2018 FO-25)

There are 410 finished pairs of Log Cabin Mitts logged in Ravelry at this moment, and only 7 of them are mine! There were the originals, the heather grey, the ebony and ivory, the toffee, the black-and-bluish, the mountain mist and now these, at long last. These are knitted in Pioneer from Verb (natural and indigo), one of my all-time favorite yarns, and have been awaiting their thumbs since March or April only because of the indigo dye. As much as I love it, indigo does get on your fingers when you work with it. It washes right off, of course, and sets when you block it. But it means it’s not a project you can toss in your tote to finish on a flight or whatever. Anyway, they were totally worth the wait, in their lovely indigo asymmetry.

The way we all feel about sweater season is how I also feel about fingerless mitts season. My hands are just happier when clad in wool, and these are really my favorite of allllll the mitts. I’ve been wearing the toffee pair nonstop since it cooled off, and there’s just something magical about the way the garter ridges of the log cabin patterning makes them mold just so to your hands.

Of the 7 pair I’ve finished, I’ve given away 2 and have an eighth in progress, with no doubt more to follow. I mentioned before that this collection of mitts feels like some kind of deeply personal art project I can’t explain. But I’m so happy to be back to it!

If you haven’t tried it yet, the free pattern is right here.

Indigo mitts (2018 FO-25)

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Blue Bellows cardigan

Blue Bellows at long last

Blue Bellows at long last

Meanwhile, I’ve finished my warmest sweater to-date, lol, my second edition of Michele Wang’s Bellows cardigan. I was SO RIGHT back in February when I shelved this: My November self could not have been happier to get to finish a sweater exactly as the corresponding weather for it arrived. I mean, how often does that happen? When I put it away, I had seamed the shoulders, knitted the button band, and left myself some notes for record-keeping purposes. So all I had to do on Sunday evening, with the first overnight freeze upon us, was seam the sides and sleeves and sew down the pockets. And well, in theory, sew on the buttons, but I haven’t identified the right ones yet. This will definitely qualify as a coat here in Nashville for most of the season, and I still expect to wear it mostly on my couch on cold, drafty nights since the color is so weirdly difficult to pair with anything.* But I wore it to work on Monday with my natural wide-legs and black tee — the only outfit I’ve come up with so far — and it was cozy both indoors and out.

(Please pardon the grainy-splotchy photos, they were taken in the gloomiest light imaginable and brightened to within an inch of their lives. The yarn does not really look like that top photo — it’s the best I can do!)

My original charcoal Bellows (now my mom’s) was knitted at slightly finer than pattern gauge and scaled for a little more fitted fit. This one is slightly chunkier than pattern gauge, and while I made it the same length as before, it is both bigger and thicker. There’s just more of it, so I’m extra glad I kept it to this length, 16″ from cast-on to underarm bind-off. (Slightly shorter than the pattern; the model must be 7′ tall.) For this one, I mostly followed the third size but I think they’re basically size 2 sleeves with a size 3 sleeve cap to fit the armhole. I made the same mods as before: no cables in the ribbing, only three repeats of the cable chart. But I made two other significant changes for this one:

Blue Bellows at long last

1) I added pockets. There’s not really an ideal way to do it with this stitch pattern, so it’s slightly awkward but worth the trade-off. I have pockets! All I did when knitting the fronts was to knit the first chart repeat once, then 4 rows of ribbing between the two slip-stitch borders for the pocket edging. The pocket lining is 16 rows of reverse stockinette then the first 4 rows of the second chart repeat, so the ribbing on the pocket overlays the bottom 4 rows of the second cable, which makes it look a bit truncated. But pockets tend to hang open a little bit, giving you a glimpse of the cable inside the pocket, which I think optically balances it out a little bit. I’m not sure anyone would ever be aware of it if I didn’t point it out — they look more natural than I thought they would.

2) I wanted the button band to be a bit narrower on this one, but conversely wanted the shawl collar to be a little more voluminous than the original. With the difference in gauge I was really winging it on that adjustment. I removed 4 four full rows of ribbing, making the band a total of 8 rows rather than 12, and worked some extra short rows for the shawl shaping — 13 on the first short-row sequence, 11 on the second, according to my notes. (I no longer know how that compares to what’s in the pattern.) With the narrower band, I worked 3-st buttonholes, for slightly smaller buttons, so now I need to find the right buttons.

Ultimately, this thing is a beautiful beast, being extremely warm and also taking up an entire cubby in my little closet, so we’ll see whether it winds up getting worn enough to earn its keep. But for now, with the temperature having not escaped the 30s yesterday, I really am happy to have it! I love this classically woolly yarn and think it made for a powerhouse sweater, but there’s no question my original yarn choice (Balance held double) made for a more regionally appropriate version.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts
Town Bag from Fringe Supply Co. (I don’t have to hide it anymore!)

*For everyone who keeps telling me it’s not a hard color to wear, please try to understand that you really can’t know — unless you’ve seen this yarn in real life — and take my word for it? I can’t even get a photo to reflect the actual purpley-dusty-tourquoiseness of it, much less demonstrate how it really does not go with denim like you’d assume it would.

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PREVIOUSLY in 2018 FOs: Hozkwoz Hat

Marlisle, you’re fun (2018 FO-23)

Marlisle, you're fun (2018 FO-23)

Oh look, I finished up my Hozkwoz Hat (from Anna Maltz’s amazing book Marlisle) quicker than I thought I would! So cross that one off the list. Although I have to say, overall it took me a whole lot longer than I imagined. This was sort of slow going for me (cast on during the Fringe Marlisle Knitalong). The marlisle sections are far enough apart that I never needed to figure out how to hold yarns for this, so I just dropped one strand when I got to the solid sections, then picked it back up again. I tried to be super cautious about the length of my float, but there are spots where it’s a hair short and slightly pinching the ivory tower of stitches, but I do not care in the least — its lovely and warm and clever as could be.

This hat is knitted top-down, which means the crown can serve as your gauge swatch. My measurements were confusing, though — the X measurement is bigger than stated in the pattern, while measuring my garter suggested I was more or less on track. No matter, though, since it’s top-down: I figured I could just forge ahead and if it was proving to be on the large side, I could always decrease some stitches before working the ribbing. But there was no need to. All is well!

This is Sincere Sheep’s Covet (CA Rambouillet/alpaca/silk) in natural, and my mini skeins of Kelbourne Woolens’ Scout (100% wool) weren’t quite enough to do the job, so I subbed in some blackish tweed from my leftovers bin for the last inch or two. Were this solid-colored stockinette, you’d no doubt be able to tell I switched yarns, but in this context it’s perfectly invisible. And I knitted the whole thing on a US9 needle, including the ribbing.

I’ve seen a lot of amazing variations with this hat, but the gorgeous tonal one at the top in this photo has me thinking along those lines for another …

Hozwkoz Hat in Sincere Sheep Covet and Kelbourne Woolens Scout
Drawstring bag, blocking board and Lykke needles at Fringe Supply Co.

(The sweater is L.L. Bean.)

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The dickey I didn’t know I needed