I could totally knit that…

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Ever since I started knitting more regularly, my relationship with store-bought knits has taken a nosedive. We were already having some communication issues, namely their refusal to be loose in areas I need them to be loose and tight in areas I need them to be tight. Now that I have more in my knitting repertoire beyond stockinette and garter stitches, we are no longer on speaking terms.  Whenever I see knits on display, my smug response is, “I could totally knit that.” Mass-produced sweaters seem more flimsy and poorly made. Plus, they’re cold and impersonal. Why buy something I can make myself? I could totally knit a warm, colorful and durable sweater that has the distinction of being made with love. Yes, I could totally knit that and do it better.

This attitude, however, does have a down side.

The truth is, though I have the ability, I don’t necessarily have the time. Now that the weather is colder and V and Little A are forced to venture out hatless or mittenless while awaiting prophesized knits, my DIY, anti-consumerist, mother-earthing ethos is starting to look like stubborn idiocy and misguided cruelty.

I have been promising V a hat for weeks. He walks a good mile from the bus stop to work in the chilly morning hours. But, with my current piles of grading, I have only been able to knit a few rows or inches a night. I had bragged that I could finish this brier toque in two days. Caught up by my over-confidence, he even assured his bus driver, a sweet maternal older lady who pays attention to these things, that he will be warmly dressed soon. And yet, each morning, when she pulls up and he comes running up into the warm belly of the bus, she asks, “When is this hat going to be ready?”

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There’s nothing like the mild disapproval of a bus driver to spur on your knitting. All I can say is that this hat is going to get done. Even if it kills me a little.

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The other day V asked about mittens, but I told him that he was going to have to wait. There’s a queue. My fingers are freezing.

Fiber: Nest Fiber Club, “Fernweh” October 2014 (organic polwarth), worsted spun 2-ply.

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.