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Picking a colour scheme for an open-concept house is difficult, and even more difficult when one tries to take into account the furniture, rugs, and artwork from previous houses. But things are starting to come together. We've painted underneath the chair rail in the dining room a deep teal, and the living room has always had quite a bit of burgundy. So when we went looking for yarn for our new couch blanket, it was good luck that we found this "Barcelona" yarn by Loops and Threads that shades from burgundy to teal and back again. I looked up the yarn on Ravelry and found this project, which instantly became the inspiration for my own blanket.

A large ball of red and teal "Barcelona" yarn. The brand is Loops and Threads.

I did a test swatch, figured out my gauge, did some math so that my squares would come out to actually be a square twelve inches, and started knitting. The machine makes it go amazingly fast, and before long I had nine squares finished. You can see some of that matching burgundy in the rug - yes, the machine currently *is* set up in the middle of my living room, because why not.

I began to get worried that I wouldn't have enough yarn; each ball was producing four squares, and I was pretty sure that I'd need thirty squares plus a border. I ordered more yarn, making use of the always-available 40% off coupons at the artsy-crafts store, figuring that I could always return any unused yarn once the blanket is done.

Nine blanket squares hanging from a bulky knitting machine.

At five by five squares Michael and I tried it on for size (in other words, snuggled up under it on the couch) but decided that it really did need to be six by five, so I put a final row on. I worked many of the ends in as I went along, and the rest will get worked into the border or woven in later. Here it is, still borderless, spread out on a full-size futon for scale:

A 6x5 blanket in striped squares of red and teal is displayed on a fullsize futon.

The edges of each square, being stockinette, are obnoxiously curly. I wanted to find a border that would look good with the blanket and also minimize that curl as much as possible. So I knit a test piece with two squares and tried at least half a dozen different edges and borders on it, feeling more and more like Goldilocks with each one: "This one is too wavy. This one is too short. This one is too curled up on the wrong side of the work."

I tried a crochet border, which did work to flatten the edges, but decided not to go with it for the picky reason of wanting to do the whole project on the machine. I tried a pie crust border, a worm edging, a spiraling edge, and finally a half-cable border that totally does the trick.

The corner of a blanket square swatch showing a cabled edging.

This test piece will go into the wash with the rest of my laundry to give me an idea of how the whole blanket will feel after being washed. It's supposedly a machine-washable and -dryable acrylic, so I'm pretty confident that it will come out just fine, but better to find out on my test swatch than on the real thing.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Makes a Blanket.

Whooooboy, February really threw me for a loop - a phrase which, now that I've typed it, looks as if it's just a wrong way to assemble a group of words. What does that even mean? In this case, it means that the whole month went wrong. :/ I missed a few days of work to take care of family business and another for a snow day, and spent the rest of the (short) month working late to make up the hours. Now we're into a new month and a new pay period, so I get to have afternoons and evenings again!

I did manage to finish knitting my new red and white hat. I put a lining in, but I'm afraid that I didn't make it tall enough. Unlike the other colourwork hats I've done, this lining was meant to have a full inner hat for extra-extra warmth. Blocking probably won't be enough; I know I'm going to have to rip back and add more length... which is why the hat has just been sitting in my bag, ignored, for the past two weeks.

The lining colour is pretty excellent, though.

A blue lining peeks out from inside a red and white fair isle hat.

Michael and I got the chance to visit my grandma for her birthday, which was a real treat for everyone. She still wears my first real knitting project! It's a basketweave scarf that I made for her birthday in 2005. The thing I remember most about it was how much trouble I had just counting to four, over and over again. I'm just a little better about reading my knitting now. For years, my only picture of the scarf was an in-progress scan, because I didn't have a camera when I made it. Now that I do, I was able to get a proper picture of it. Since it's Red Heart, it looks exactly the same as the day it came off the needles.

A teal and tan scarf with a basketweave texture, artfully arranged on a beige carpet.

I'll make a separate post about my adventures with the knitting machine. I've been working on a new couch-blanket, but there's enough to write about that it deserves a post of its own.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Gets Back To It.

My friend Dawn (hi Dawn!) had a knitting machine that was taking up too much space in her spare room, and I thought it might be a fun thing to try with my brother and his kids, who learned to knit last year. I handed it off to my brother, who took it home, cleaned it up and got it mostly running smoothly. It needed some parts, which I ordered; the machine came back to my house and Michael and I set it up. The most crucial part was a new sponge bar.

A new sponge bar compared to an old flattened one.

With that installed and one bent needle replaced, we set the machine up on the coffee table and looked through the instruction manual. It's... not very detailed. We had to look up some YouTube videos and other instructions.

The knitting machine on my coffee table, with my laptop behind it. The user manual is displayed on the laptop screen.

It took a few tries with casting on and playing with the tension to get it working well...

The carriage and needle bed.

But with some good ol' Red Heart yarn, we figured it out! (I think.)

The beginning of a swatch on the knitting machine, with the cast-on comb and weight hanging from the bottom.

A tension swatch in dark teal yarn.

There will definitely be more to come.

Closeup of the knitting machine's carriage.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Tries Something New.

Not that stranded colourwork is particularly difficult, but I feel like I'm done with the "hard part": I finished the outside of my new hat yesterday, and now it's time to unzip the provisional cast-on and knit the "easy part" otherwise known as the stockinette lining. It's almost a shame to cover this up, isn't it? But if I don't, not only will the hat be too big but it will also be less warm than I want. I have a sportweight yarn in a beautiful blue-green that will make a striking contrast.

Red and white stranded colourwork as seen from the inside. Star/snowflake shapes are on the bottom, and a series of dashes and dots on the top.

My original thought had been to make an overstuffed pompom for the top of the hat, but now that I'm looking at this nifty star formed by the decreases, I'm not so sure. Maybe I'll sew a button to the inside so that it can be detachable. What do you think - pompom, or no?

(I think I might have to try it, just to see how it looks.)

The top of a red and white hat. The stitches and colours form a star shape.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Knits the Outside of a Hat.

At this point I really don't need more hats, but I've been having so much fun knitting them that I started a new one anyway. This one will have a snowy theme, and Michael helped me chart it out so I'm doubly excited to knit it.

Burgundy and white balls of yarn, with a circular needle that has the beginnings of a new hat.

Like the other hats, I'm knitting this in Cascade 220 with a 220 Sport lining, but unlike the other hats I've started with a provisional cast-on. It's something I've never done before, but my mom (who, by the way, has test-knit both the Crossing Trails and Hollis Hills hats) suggested it as a way to avoid the annoyance of having the lining curl up into the work while you're trying to knit.

The funny thing about that is that the provisional cast-on is even more in the way, as the chain is fairly loose... oops? Have I done it wrong?

Closeup of the start of a hat, with the provisional cast-on curling around.

I looked up several variations and decided to try the one where you crochet directly onto the needle and go from there, rather than attempt to pick up the stitches from a long chain. Once I had all the stitches I needed on my needle, I chained a few more before cutting the yarn and pulling it through the last chain. That will make it easy to "unzip" when it's time to knit the lining.

My goal is to have this hat knit and the pattern written up for publication before it starts warming up too much. I'd love to wear it on one of our snowboarding trips this winter!

(On that note, I keep seeing these gorgeous - and expensive - Dale of Norway sweaters in the ski shops. I might just have to knit one for myself. And then there are the doubleknit hats, another technique I haven't yet tried... and the cowls... so many ideas, so little time!)

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Starts Something New.

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2019 was to release more knitting patterns, and I'm happy to share the first one of the year with you! Please extend a warm welcome to the Hollis Hills Hat.

For the past twenty years or so, my aunt and uncle have hosted Thanksgiving as an annual family reunion. Two dozen (or more) of us descend on their house from all over the country, starting our celebration on Wednesday evening and keeping it going straight through the weekend. Since New York can be cold in November, I wore one of my warmest hats to Thanksgiving dinner last year – and my aunt admired it to the point of putting it on her own head and running off to look at herself in the mirror. I asked her (not too subtly) what colour her winter coat was, and then sent her this hat as a surprise bit of thanksgiving.

Check out the Hollis Hills Hat in Ravelry's pattern library, or click the button to add it to your cart there:

Hollis Hills Hat, modeled

The hat is knit with two contrasting colours of worsted weight yarn, plus a small amount of sport weight yarn for the facing. I knit this purple hat with Cascade 220, using approximately half a skein of each colour, and approximately 70 yards of Cascade 220 Sport Superwash for the facing.

The pattern includes charts for two sizes and has an optional facing, which is knit in a lighter-weight yarn on the same size needles. Omitting the facing will result in a looser hat.

Hollis Hills Hat

The beet-red facing feels like a fun surprise, hiding away underneath the more subtle purples.

Hollis Hills Hat, with the brim turned up to show the lining

Half a skein of the 220 sport was enough for a lining that's more than three inches tall, so there's a triple-thickness of wool to keep the cold off one's ears.

Hollis Hills Hat, inside-out

I hope you enjoy knitting this hat as much as I did!

Important Copyright Information: The Hollis Hills Hat knitting pattern is © 2019 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.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate is Pleased to Present.

I started a new hat with the DK-weight yarn that I bought in November at the MD Alpaca and Fleece event. It's "Just DK" from Shirsty Cat Designs, and it's quite soft and pleasant to knit with. The slipped-stitch cable pattern that I chose is subtle because the yarn is so variegated, but still shows up nicely.

A cable pattern begins to emerge from the ribbed brim of a hat in variegated autumn colours.

The colours of the yarn remind me of the woods in autumn, after most of the leaves have fallen and everything has turned to subtle dark shades. That made me think of the "Fall" section of John Denver's "Season Suite":

Reflections in the water like shadows in my mind
Speak to me of passing days and nights and passing time
The falling leaves are whispering winter's on it's way
I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday

I think I'll call this one the "Passing Days" hat.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Slouches.

Over on the Ravelry forums I read something about knitting stranded colourwork with a light tension so that the stitches wouldn't pucker or pull, and something about that must have stuck with me. Even though I've knit several stranded hats that came out just fine, I started this purple one with a mindset of staying loose... and uh. Yeah.

Pirate wearing a purple hat that's far too large.

I revised the pattern a little and knit a second hat at my usual tension, and that one came out just fine. The original could be worn as a slouchy hat, but the double thickness makes it harder to get it to flop over properly. It's too big for Michael, too. It's too big for *everyone*.

Pirate and Michael wearing almost-matching Hollis Hills Hats.

The important thing, though, is that this hat is a gift for my aunt, who admired my Crossing Trails hat at Thanksgiving with so much enthusiasm that I felt compelled to surprise her with something of her own. The pattern is almost ready to share! Keep an eye out for it later this month.

Wouldn't this picture make a perfect album cover? And if you look closely, you can see that he's working on a colourwork project of his own...

Pirate wearing the smaller Hollis Hills Hat, with Michael making bunny ears behind it.

I'm not sure how it started, but I mentioned something about brioche stitch. "What's that?" he asked, and I pulled up some pictures. Then we watched a couple of YouTube videos about how to do the two-colour brioche stitch and the appropriate cast-on for it. Before too long we were heading out to a yarn store, where he bought some Cascade Eco+ in a solid dark and spattered light blue, and between Christmas and New Year's he's knit nearly two feet of scarf. (It's grown quite a bit since I took the picture.)

A dark and light blue brioche scarf in progress.

I'm really pleased he's taken up this hobby. It's fun to share with him! This is only his fifth project and I'm not at all ashamed to say that he's a way better knitter than I was, when I was on my fifth project. That's all kinds of awesome.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate's Gauge is Off.

Five and a half years ago, I bought this green Austermann Step yarn at The Mannings (which, sadly, closed a few years ago. Ah well.) It's going to make be my next traveling sock, perfect for hauling around with me to work on while waiting for mechanics and flying across the country. As a winterholiday gift, I got a set of Addi FlexiFlips, and thought that this would be a great time to test them out. I've heard both good and bad things about them, and I've been curious to see if I'll love or hate them.

I already had several inches of sock knitted on my trusty old DPNs, which meant that I'd be working from them onto the new FlexiFlips.

The very beginning of a subtly striped green sock on the needles, with a mostly unknit ball of yarn.

But when I went to make the first stitch, something seemed off. The new needle seemed subtly thicker. Maybe it was just my imagination? I got my gauge ruler.

It wasn't my imagination.

I almost always knit socks on US 1 (2.25mm) Susan Bates DPNs, which I buy at Joann in a multi-pack of sock-sized DPNs for a small amount of money. (They're $10, but then everything at Joann is at least 40% off.) So I'd asked for the FlexiFlips in size 1 as well... without realizing that while Addi do sell a size 2.25mm set of FlexiFlips, their size 1 is actually 2.5mm.

Well, heck. Everyone else calls a 2.5mm needle a US size 1½, not a 1. And Addi's other needle sizes match up with the usual US to mm conversions. Harrumph!

I guess I'll just keep going on the DPNs, because even a .25mm difference in needle size can make an obvious difference in gauge, but... do I spend the money for a set of 2.25mm FlexiFlips, when I'm not even sure I'll like knitting with them? Do I try a different sock on these 2.5mm ones first, despite my concern that they'll be too loose? Do I write to Addi and complain about their non-conventional sizing? How disappointing.

The "obvious" solution, I guess, is to hang onto them and spin some more sock yarn, which tends to come out a little thicker than the commercial yarn (at least it does when I spin it) so that I can finally try these.

Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate Tries Flexi-Flips.

Back in May, I started a pair of toe-up socks using some chain-plied merino yarn that I'd spun up about five years ago. I had eight ounces but I wasn't sure how far it would go, so I wound it into two cakes and started knitting. As the sock grew up my leg, it looked like I'd be able to make knee-highs - and since the yarn was on the thicker side, that seemed like a really good idea. These were gonna be some warm socks.

I worked in calf increases through a series of trying on the sock, measuring, adding more stitches, and taking careful notes so that I could duplicate it for the second sock.

Despite some inconsistency in my spinning (I do feel like I've gotten better since then!) and some nervousness towards the end of the second sock when I was playing yarn chicken (I won!) I am super pleased with the way these came out.

A striped pair of handspun, handknit knee socks with calf shaping.

So now I've got a pair of fraternal twin stripy socks with Cat Bordhi's Sweet Tomato heel (which I learned from this YouTube video). Here's their project page on Ravelry, with some notes that may or may not be useful to you if you're curious about the calf increases.

And then, of course, I had the fun of trying to take pictures of my own legs and feet from an angle that showed off the socks but didn't look super awkward! Eventually I accomplished it after discovering that my phone's camera will take a picture if I shout "cheese" at it. It should be easier next time, as I got a remote control for the camera as a winterholiday gift!

I also got a lighting kit with those inside-out umbrellas for properly illuminating my subjects, and I'm hoping to get the chance to try that out soon. It's been so dreary and gray, I've had trouble getting good photos - but this should solve that problem nicely.

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Comments Comments Off on In Which the Pirate is Exceedingly Pleased.