Archive for the “winterlude hat (tm)” Category

This, my friends, is what is known as a Very Silly Picture. This is me, dancing like a fool, at Winterlude this past February. Friend Patrick, who is a very good photographer indeed, took the shot while I was being ridiculous in the park for the amusement of those around me. Fortunately, more people were looking at the ice sculptures than at me, or I might have been photographed whilst blushing bright red.

The great part about this picture, at least for the purposes of this blog, is that I am covered in handknits. The Winterlude Hat(tm), the Stripey Striped Scarf, the Fleeps... and, though you can't see them, I believe I was wearing handknit socks at the time. And the picture wasn't taken to show off any of those things. No, it's just a candid shot of me, wearing lots of things I knit myself. And one thing I spun and then knit, which shows up surprisingly well in pictures even if the contrast is a little dim in person.

I'd like to have enough handknit (or crocheted) stuff that all my friends' photo albums have pictures of me wearing stuff I made myself. It would also count if I learned to sew and was photographed wearing clothing I'd sewn. That's next on the list - once the craft room is set up, I'll have a place for the sewing machine and can re-familiarize myself with its ways. I have a simple skirt in my wardrobe that I'd love to be able to duplicate. After that, who knows where my skills might branch out?

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there - eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl - we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays "Thunder" colourway. Understated blues and grays... if you've been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven't, now you know!) I have no idea when I'm going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I'd gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren't exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I'm thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people's hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it's cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn't want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I'd make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I'd make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I'd make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I'm squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there's another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they're getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael's new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he's going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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Aubrey M. Tinyfierce lost her fight with FIP yesterday. In the end, her fierce was just too tiny for a disease which is inevitably fatal. To say that we'll miss her terribly is an understatement. At least for now, her picture will stay in the banner of my Etsy shop, which should be opening for business in the next couple of months. If I can't do it to support her any more, I can still do it in her memory - and to build up a fund for Floyd T. Underfoot, should he happen to get sick. Right now we're grateful that he's healthy as a horse, sleek and energetic.

Friend Stef came over yesterday to keep me company and help distract me from thinking about Aubrey too much. I showed her the Winterlude Hat (tm) which I'd blocked over a perfectly-sized ceramic bowl1, and she fell in love with its awesomeness. Then, because she has more sewing experience than I do, she helped me pin the fleece lining for the hat. It went much more smoothly for having an extra pair of hands involved. We had a good time chatting about craftsy things while I began sewing it up. I'm so close to being done with it and I can't wait to try it out when I get to Canada in a week and a half.

While I've got the sewing box out, I need to sew the magnet-snaps into Michael's Fleeps. And on the subject of projects which are really, really close to completion, I'm within a few stripes of the toe on the second Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey Jaywalker. I've been working on it here and there while I wait for things like car maintenance and allergy shots. The other day I pulled it out to knit a few stripes and was actually surprised to discover that it's almost finished!

I didn't get much done on the blanket this past weekend, but I plan to work a couple of hexagons in tonight. And soon, if I'm feeling tired of crochet and want to get back to knitting, I can start on the pink and purple sweaters for the twin niecelets.

1. Which shall be my hat-blocking bowl forevermore, when it's not serving its usual role as a fruit dish.

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Last weekend I took a break from everything else and knit up a Winterlude Hat (tm) from this archived Alpaca Earflaps pattern. I used just over half of the yarn that I spun during the Tour de Fleece from a sampler of Jacob roving that I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival back in May. I've been enviously eyeing the fair isle hats with earflaps at Winterlude for years now, and then refusing to buy something that I could knit myself. Well, now I've made one to keep my head and ears warm when I visit my sister the Ninja for Winterlude in February!

I'd been concerned that the two darker colours were a little too close in value for the colourwork to show up well, and knitting the middle section of the hat as the pattern was written proved me right. So I changed colours a little bit for the top of the hat and the earflaps, but I wasn't going to go back and reknit the middle part. It's easier to see the colour changes at a distance; looking at the hat close-up makes the swirls disappear. I may embroider around the swirls in that section so they stand out more, or I may just leave them as-is.

Oh, and the coolest thing! The best thing ever about this hat! I learned a new skill! The pattern called for a crocheted edging, and I've never crocheted anything before. So after I watched a couple of instructional videos, I picked up my now-trusty hook and set to. It took a couple of tries to get the hang of it but the finished edging is neat and quite pleasing. I wouldn't say I'm anything like "a crocheter" just yet, but I've definitely leveled up in the fibre arts skills. How awesome is that?

Other than swapping the colours around a little, I made another couple of changes to the pattern. Some comments and reviews had complained that the earflaps came out to be too far back on the hat, so instead of knitting the earflaps first as the pattern was written, I knit the body of the hat first and picked up stitches along the edge in exactly the right spot for them, measuring against my head and then counting stitches to make sure they were even. I followed the earflap chart upside-down, and reversed it for the second earflap so that the hat would be perfectly symmetrical. Also, instead of knitting i-cord for the ties, I'm going to make a braid of the three yarn colours. And instead of doing the double crochet edging, I used single crochet because I thought it looked better.

So the hat is done - well, the knitting part of it, anyway - and I am happy with it! It needs a good strong blocking to even out the fair isle and stretch it a little bigger before I line it with polar fleece. The lining will have three purposes: one, to make the brim stop rolling so badly. The pattern was written without any ribbing at the brim, and as a result is curling up. Cute, but not what I want. Two, to make it a warmer hat. If there was ever such a thing as a too-warm hat for me, this hat is going to be it. And three, the fleece will keep the slightly itchy wool off my forehead.

Knitting with yarn that I spun myself is a wonderful thing. It's a mostly even two-ply - there are some thick underspun blobs, and a few thinner sections, but overall it's great yarn, and the slight inconsistency will only make this particular project look better. There's something really satisfying about having taken a project from fluff to finished product.

The only problem I'm having now is, what do I block the hat over? I haven't got any balloons. Maybe it would be easier to buy a packet of balloons than to try to find something else that's round enough.

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