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No matter how many times I do it, I'm always amazed by the magic that is turning the heel. It might even be my favourite part of knitting a sock.

A blue sock in progress, with a newly turned heel, on a striped navy and white background

Not to be a nudge, but the Crossing Trails Hat pattern is still on sale for 20% off and still raising funds for the Cancer Research Institute. Thanks to you, we'll be donating more than $50 already. With almost a month to go, do you think we can hit $100?

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Michael has had this patriotic Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn sitting on his windowsill for... well, for a while. He'd thought he might learn how to crochet, but that didn't really happen, so on Sunday while we were watching the football games I made a new washcloth, using my own Scrubbing Nubbles pattern (which is free on Ravelry, if you want to make a washcloth too). Now his living room is a little bit neater.

A red, white, and blue washcloth.

And so's his closet, because he gave me some other yarn that's been languishing for probably a decade - two skeins each of yellow and white Baby Ull (at least, that's what I remember it being - the ball bands are long gone) and four balls of Baby Cashmerino in navy blue. I happily brought this home and re-wound it on the ball winder, since it had all been wrapped up around cardboard tubes.

Unfortunately the Baby Ull had quite a few broken strands on the outside of each ball, but I was able to salvage most of it. I didn't see any signs of bugs anywhere, so the damage is probably quite old, and I'm not going to worry about it. The Cashmerino is totally fine! I'm considering using it all together to make something like the Barndom shawl. Of course, that's just a thought, and thoughts change as time passes... who knows what this might become!

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Some time ago I started designing a pair of flip-top mittens to match the Moorefield Hat. Instead of knitting the glove first and then picking up stitches along the back of my hand for the mitten top, as I've done for all the Fleeps I've made, the plan for these was to knit the mittens first, including a strand of waste yarn across the palm, so that the colourwork could continue uninterrupted on the back of the hand. Once the mittens were done, I'd pull out the waste yarn and have flippy-open mitten tops, and I'd pick up stitches to knit the inside gloves.

I got as far as knitting the whole mitten, with the thumb stitches held for later, and pulled out the waste yarn to work on the inner gloves, and... well... there were some issues.

A partially knit mitten in four colours.

First, the whole thing isn't wide enough to accommodate a glove underneath - or, for that matter, my fingers - at least not if I want to have room to wiggle them around. Second, and relatedly, the thumb opening isn't big enough or high enough. Third, the opening for the mitten top is about five rows too low... and fourth, I'm not at all sure that I have enough of the white yarn left over to make a pair of mittens the way I've got it charted out. (Fifth, unimportantly, I really don't like that braided bind-off. I won't try that again.)

So I've ripped back to the cuff, which fits just fine, and I'm going to try again to make flip-top gloves - fingerless this time, I think - that match the Moorefield Hat. It'll have to be bigger all around, for sure. Maybe just going up a needle size would be enough... it will be an adventure, either way!

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Crossing Trails is a two-colour stranded hat with stylized trails weaving their way down a mountain. There are glades for those who like to ski or snowboard through the trees, and smooth trails for people (like me) who prefer to take the easier way downhill. The corrugated ribbing at the brim represents the perfect corduroy of a freshly groomed mountain.

KnittingPirate wearing the Crossing Trails Hat

Check out the Crossing Trails Hat pattern page on Ravelry or click the button to purchase the pattern:

~~~~~~~~ IMPORTANT NOTICE ~~~~~~~~
To remember those we’ve lost, and to honour those who are dealing with the disease in whatever form, this pattern will be discounted to $3.99 through January 2, 2019, and ALL PROCEEDS will be donated to the Cancer Research Institute. I will post a picture of the donation receipt.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Top view of the Crossing Trails hat

YOU WILL NEED
16" circular needle (optional, but recommended) and a set of five double-point needles, size US 6 (4mm) or the size needed to get gauge for your particular yarn, a stitch marker for the beginning of the round, plus a darning needle to weave in ends. You may also wish to use stitch markers to indicate the five sections of the hat.

YARN and GAUGE
The hat is knit with two contrasting colours of worsted weight yarn, plus a small amount of sport weight yarn if you wish to include a facing. The sample hat was made in Cascade 220 in shades of light and dark gray, using approximately half a skein of each colour, and the facing with approximately 60 yards of Patricia Roberts Lambswool No. 2 in dark gray, all on US 6 (4mm) needles at 23 stitches/4 inches, and fits a 21.5” head with a little bit of ease. Omitting the facing will make a looser hat.

Side view of the Crossing Trails hat on a cork head

Important Copyright Information: The Crossing Trails Hat knitting pattern is © 2018 Knitting Pirate. You may not sell or otherwise distribute copies of this pattern, but you may absolutely sell the hats you make with appropriate credit given for the design. If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do with this pattern, please feel free to contact me.

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(Read to the bottom for a look at my newest hat pattern, coming out tomorrow! I'm so excited!)

Yesterday I went to the Maryland Alpaca and Fleece show with a carful of friends. It was considerably smaller than May's Sheep and Wool, and also quite a bit colder and windier. I was more than a little tempted to buy a woven blanket and wear it under my coat!

Children hold alpacas in a line, while one is brought forward for judging.

Instead, I bought this skein of DK weight yarn from Shirsty Cat Designs. It's so variegated that I'm not sure what colour to call out; the colourway is "Alstroemeria" and it's got some greens and golds, both dark and light blue, and some eggplant purple in it. The skein is so different from one side to the other that I had to take two pictures of it for my Ravelry stash.

A skein of variegated DK weight yarn.

Now the question is, of course, what do I make with it? I'm leaning towards a floppy hat with a slipped-stitch pattern that will help minimize - or perfectly highlight - the beautiful variations of colour in this yarn. It worked for the yarn I used to make the Acres Wild hat, and I'd like to try something similar.

A skein of variegated DK weight yarn.

It was so cold and windy that I got to wear my newest hat, which is super warm thanks to a triple layer of wool over my ears. Here's a sneak peek at it:

Me wearing my new Crossing Trails hat

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I've been working on a new sock pattern. Here's a sneak peek (kinda-sorta):

The start of a blue sock, showing a ribbed cuff and the beginning of a wavy stitch pattern.

Neat, eh? It's a twisted stitch pattern that gently waves its way down the leg and foot of the sock. I really like it; I think it works well with the tonal blues of this yarn.

Over the weekend I got down to the toe, and tried it on before grafting, and... hm. It's way too tight. The stitch pattern looks terribly stretched out. I know that twisted stitches can pull the fabric in, but it shouldn't have been this much. So I measured my gauge on the stockinette sole of the sock, and came up with ten stitches per inch.

Ten? I usually get somewhere between 9 and 9.5 with "standard" sock yarn on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. Well, that would explain it; that's nearly half an inch difference over my 8.5" circumference foot.

A little bit of math, and I've concluded that I need to restart these socks over ~70 stitches, rather than 63. I have a couple of choices! The obvious one would be to add another seven stitch repeat, but another option would be to add another stitch to the stockinette rib, for an eight stitch pattern repeat and a total of 72 stitches.

Some less obvious options would be to change up the stitch pattern to make it a little more design-y™ - maybe offset the waves, have them split at the heel flap and go down the gusset, that sort of thing.

I'm annoyed, but that's part of the fun of designing, right? Trying stuff, figuring out what works and what doesn't, ripping back, trying again, and making it better the next time.

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About eight years ago I knit a hat for a friend's baby, and this week I found out that it's been passed along to the newest member of the friendsgroup. What a wonderful feeling to know that things I've knit are being worn, kept for the next kid, and being worn again!

And what an absolutely adorable model:

A baby sits on his father's lap, wearing a beige tunic and a bright red hand-knit hat with a pointy top.

The pattern is Gnome Baby by Hannah Mason, and it's available as a free download on Ravelry. I knit this one with the suggested Cascade Fixation yarn in a very bright red, with a small border of the same yarn in the "Tequila Sunrise" colourway. While it wasn't my favourite yarn to knit with, I'm pleased that it's held up so well! Hopefully it will grace the heads of many more babies to come.

A baby wearing a bright red pointy hat smiles at the camera.

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In early spring, Michael told me that he'd lost the hat I made him some years ago, and one of his Fleeps as well. (For new readers, these are flip-top mittens. It's just more fun to call them fleeps.) But he had another hat, so that was all right, and it was getting to be too warm for gloves anyway. Earlier this month we took a road trip to Boston MA and Providence RI, and of course we stopped at some yarn shops, including Newbury Yarns, where he found a ball of the right yarn in the right colour to knit his own replacement Fleep. And then something horrible happened: the hat he'd knit snuck into the washing machine.

So now he needed a new hat AND a new glove, and he was prepared to knit them both himself. I happened to have a ball of Cascade 220 (superwash, this time) hanging out in my stash, and offered it to him if he wanted to make a hat that would survive accidental washings. Or intentional washings, for that matter.

I also offered to give him a headstart on the hat, because he was going to knit the Fleep first. He knew he could knit the hat without my help or advice, but a glove is a little more complicated. So on Saturday, he got started on his glove and I cast on for a hat. I knit the ribbing, and I kept going, and by Sunday evening... well...

Michael knits while wearing his new floppy hat.

He'd gotten up to the part where he'll knit the individual fingers for his glove, and I'd finished his hat. (To be fair, I did a lot of knitting while he was doing other things, like chopping up a thousand peppers for the relish we made.) Good thing I finished the hat, too, because when I dropped him off at the train station this morning it was only just above freezing. Autumn has finally arrived, even if the trees haven't really started to turn colours yet.

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I've been considering the idea of matching my sock patterns with cocktails for a while, and the first one in a new series is finally knit! These are the Boulevardier Socks, knit in Tess' Designer Yarns Super Socks & Baby in a rich shade of amber. I bought this yarn an embarrassingly long time ago and am pleased to have finally knit it up! As soon as I've translated my scribbled notes into something that can be shared, I'll be publishing the pattern on Ravelry.

A pair of amber socks

My usual sock knitting tends to be the sort of plain thing that I can carry around with me and knit without too much concentration, but semi-solid or tonal yarn is kind of boring for just stockinette socks, or even plain ribbing. So I've got three of these twisted stitch socks charted out and in my queue, and I'm excited about knitting them all up - and about mixing the perfect matching cocktail for each of them.

Why a Boulevardier for this pair? Well, for starters, they're delicious. Secondly, their colour matches these socks perfectly! But thirdly, and most importantly, they're often served with a twist... and these socks have little left and right twists all up and down the ribbed stitch pattern. These twists, or two-stitch cables, are super easy to work but give a lot of visual and textural interest to the fabric. I hope you enjoy knitting them as much as I did!

An amber drink in a cocktail glass with a twist of orange peel sits on a wooden table.

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"World of Wool Custom Blend" was too boring for a project name, so I was going to pick something more descriptive and fun. Every time I look at these colours combed together, all I can think is "Unicorn Spit"... so I guess that's what it is. Not too dignified, but certainly descriptive!

Combed fiber in a variety of greens and blues, with a streak of pink.

Since I haven't done a project this ambitious before, I thought it might be a good idea to be deliberate and careful about how I proceed. So I pulled off about half an ounce of fibre from the big bag and spun it into singles, then made a two-ply and a three-ply (actually chain-ply, but close enough) yarn to test. I even kept little samples of each step along the way, wrapped around an index card and taped on the back so it doesn't fall off.

Reference card with information about the fibre written on it and sample yarn wrapped around it.

Then I washed my tiny skeins the same way I'll eventually wash the full-size ones: by soaking them for fifteen minutes in lukewarm water with a bit of wool wash, draining and squishing the excess water away, wrapping them in a towel and thwacking them a few times on the side of the tub, and finally draping them over a drying rack. This resulted in 22 yards of 16 WPI (wraps per inch) two-ply, and 13 yards of 12 WPI three-ply yarn.

The three-ply is so much rounder and even, and at this point even without knitting a sample, I was already leaning towards choosing it. But being careful and deliberate requires swatching!

Samples of two-ply and three-ply yarn, spun from the same singles.

Once the yarn was dry, I knit small squares of it. First I tried the three-ply on size 6 (4 mm) needles, but that seemed a little stiff. I knit a row of k2, yo as a separator and tried again on size 7 (4.5 mm) needles, and that felt much better. Then I knit the two-ply on size 4 needles. It was quite nice but thinner than I want the eventual sweater to be, so I started playing around with cable crossings just to see what it would look like. The answer was "really good, actually," but it's still not the yarn I'm imagining for my sweater.

Knit samples and leftover bits of yarn.

Overall, I am absolutely thrilled with the dusty teal colour of the yarn and swatches. The different greens and blues all heather together beautifully, and the pink acts to mute the saturation but still pops out just enough to give it some real interest. It's exactly what I wanted it to look like when I chose the eight different colours that went into the blend.

It's not just the colour that I'm excited about, it's also that the feel of the swatch is perfect. It's smooth but not too soft; I don't think it will be itchy, but it should wear well and not turn into a felted pilly mess too quickly.

With the sampling and swatching done... it's time to start spinning for real!

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