Toque Cute

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This was an incredibly fast knit (for me). Inspired by SouleMama’s recent post “27 hours to a hat,” I wanted to see how quickly I could knit a hat up too. I was definitely in the mood for instant gratification. This is probably closer to a 35 hour hat, and it did involve staying up past 2 am both nights, but it was totally worth it. Is it possible to be wired from too much knitting? Even after staying up late, I had to read Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel MaddAddam to ease me into asleep.

The details:

Yarn: Handspun worsted 2-ply sport/DK weight Finn from Hello Yarn in “Winter Storage.” Fractally spun. Details about how I spun this yarn linked here.

Pattern: Brier Toque by Cecily Glowik MacDonald from the book, Weekend Hats: 25 Knitted Caps, Berets, Cloches and More, edited by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.

Gauge: 22 stitches per four inch swatch.

Modifications: Since my gauge was different from the pattern (the knit would have been too stiff otherwise in my opinion), I cast on 110 stitches using US 2 needles for the ribbed brim then switched to US 5 for the rest of the hat. Knitted 8 inches and then proceeded to decrease.  During the decrease sections, I alternated between decrease row and one knit row, but towards the final four rows, I decreased every rows.

As you can see in the fractally-spun yarn, the larger bands of colors (most notable in the pink and green sections) are from the large length-wise section I spun across the top. And the smaller stripes are from the four smaller length-wise sections.

While I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought about spinning Finn because of the slight compression that made it sometimes a bit difficult to draft, I can say without a doubt that I loved working with it. This Finn is silky and soft  enough to be worn next to the skin. I still have quite a bit of yarn left and I will be making some fingerless mitts to go with this toque.

These photos were taken at Old Oaks Ranch and Fiber Center, one of our stops on the Hill Country Yarn Crawl. Little A was a good sport to pose in the 85+ degree weather with a toque but, of course, had to inject a bit of attitude at the end.

Fractal Spinning

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I finally got to spin some Hello Yarn fiber in Finn, and I thought I’d take advantage of the lovely colorway “Winter Storage” to play with fractal spinning. For this sample, I divided the combed top in half lengthwise. I took one of the halves and spun it directly across the top to preserve the color changes of the entire sequence. I took the other half and divided it lengthwise into four strips, and I spun each strip beginning at the same end.  I then plied to create a 2-ply yarn. The result is a simple combination of striping in which one of the plies moves through the color sequence of the combed top only once and the other ply cycles through the entire color sequence of the length of the combed top four times.

The first photo on the left is at the half-way point. I’ve already spun up one of the halves of my combed top. The other four mini bumps are the four sections that I created from the other half. I like to wrap them up this way so that I can be sure to start from the same end.

This is a simple description of fractal spinning, a method developed by Janel Laidman in Spin-Off (Summer 2007). Alexandra Tinsley also has a great description here in Knitty though I have to admit to being initially confused by its thoroughness.

I haven’t decided what I think about Finn. This is the first time I’ve spun it, and though it drafted fairly easily there was a bit of tension at times. I think it may be because Finn felts very easily and if the fiber gets compressed at all, it can resist that smooth glide between the fingers that some folks describe as “buttery.”  But, the knitted swatch was so lovely with a faint halo and spring in its texture. I think that I’m going to knit a hat like Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s “Brier Toque” to preserve the fun color variations.  Besides, I’m Canadian, and any chance I get to use the word “toque”– I’ll take.