I ran into my friend Kate on Main Street in Rockland today. “Only you would wear a wool hat on a nice summer day,” she said. Yes, I am proud to be quirky that way. No matter the weather, it’s layers of knitwear for me. Anyway, it may not have been obvious, but it’s actually an ice cream hat. That makes it warm weather wear, right?
Perhaps the two things that inspire me most in the world are hats and painfully adorable things that make you go squeeee. I don’t typically jump up and down with excitement, but I’m squeeing on the inside when I see things like pastel rainbows, baby animals, and highly decorated cupcakes.
I’ve gone on a dessert kick before when I decided to make miniature dessert sculptures out of polymer clay a few years back. I made donut earrings, ice cream cone necklaces and cookie pins. I mashed together my loves of kittens and desserts and made a kitten head ice cream cone necklace. I even sculpted a 3-inch tall layered wedding cake with sunflowers and purple icing pearls.
And lately, dessert is on my mind again. I’ve been knitting ice cream themed hats like a madwoman. It started with a mint green and chocolate brown yarn that simply called to me for non-dessert-related reasons, and proceeded with the absent-minded knitting of a hat. I didn’t intend for it to be a mint chocolate chip ice cream hat. I think it decided that for itself. Have you ever met an author who claims the characters speak for themselves? It’s like that, except a hat.
The ice cream hats are knit in Malabrigo Worsted and Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine, two gorgeous and well-matched yarns that I can only describe as buttery-soft, which seems appropriate. I needed a huge palette to knit all the flavors, so I’ve stocked up on all the colors (not quite all of them, but I wish) and set them up in my living room. It feels like being back in art school, sitting in my apartment with colored pencils and little cups of ink and paint brushes sprawled across my oversized coffee table. I usually kneeled on the floor and worked at the coffee table because I needed so much table space for all the colors.
So far I’ve achieved a neapolitan hat, a mint chocolate chip hat, a peanut butter cup hat, a rainbow sprinkles hat, a pumpkin spice hat, a cotton candy hat, and a hat that simply can’t decide whether it’s a candy cane hat or a strawberry cheesecake hat. Pistachio and Rainbow Sherbert have been teasing me while I’ve been distracted with other knitting projects for the last few days. I think I’d like to write, design, illustrate, and self-publish a book of ice cream hat patterns. I think I’d like to drive around hunting for photo backdrops that match every hat. It remains to be seen whether I’ll see all that through, so stay tuned.
I am grateful to all the folks I encounter at the yarn shop who either share my excitement about this silly project or humor me warmly. How lucky am I to work with a bunch of knitting enthusiasts every day? During Stitch ‘n’ Spin last Thursday, Kelly told me a story the other day that made my heart swell with pride and joy. She encountered a random stranger who was in a knitting rut, so she whipped out her phone and shared my recent Instagram post about the ice cream hats. The knitting rut was resolved immediately with daydreams about strawberry shortcake! Who doesn’t love desserts?!
It is possible to be a pretty competent knitter without understanding how to read your knitting, but knitting may be an entirely more frustrating experience than it has to be! If you know how to look at your knitting and determine whether the stitch you’re working into is a knit, a purl, a yarn-over, a knit-two-together or a make-one, you will be much less likely to make mistakes, and you will be able to easily “memorize” patterns. In reality, you don’t have to memorize anything or even mark your place in the pattern if you understand how stitches are constructed and can determine what stitch to make next based on those you see below.
Tip 1: Notice that when you knit a stitch, you’re actually altering the stitch below the new one you’re creating.
Here is your left needle at the beginning of a new row. The knit stitches are highlighted in yellow, and the purl stitches are highlighted in pink. The grey stitches on the needle are still indeterminate stitches. They will become knits or purls as you’re knitting the next row!
Now you’re halfway through the row. You decided that the indeterminate stitches from the photo above would become knit stitches, so I’ve highlighted the knit stitches and those that are about to become knit stitches in yellow.
Tip 2: Notice that knitting and purling are exactly the same thing, worked in reverse. Thus, a knit is a purl if you turn the fabric over, and vise versa.
This is the same swatch as above, flipped over. Again, knit stitches are highlighted in yellow and purl stitches are highlighted in pink.
Tip 3: Knitting means pulling the working yarn from back to front; purling means pulling the working yarn form front to back.
This is a knit stitch that you just popped off of your right needle. See how the yarn comes through the stitch below from the back to the front?
And this is a purl stitch that you just popped off of your left needle. (It’s actually the exact same stitch as in the previous photo, flipped over.) See how the yarn comes through the stitch from the front to the back?
Tip 4: If you’re working into a knit stitch, you will see a V shape below the loop you’re working into. If you’re working into a purl stitch, you will see a horizontal bump below the loop you’re working into.
You’ve introduced some purls alternating with knits in the previous row, and you’re knitting every stitch in the current row. I highlighted two rows this time: the current row and the previous row. The yellow stitches on the left needle aren’t knits yet, but they’re about to become knits. Notice how you’re about to work into a knit, then a purl, then a knit, then a purl…
Tip 5: The purl bump is actually the top of the stitch.
Now, you want to count how many rows you’ve completed in order to figure out whether you’re on a straight knitting row or a knit, purl row. You should pull the fabric taut because knit and purl stitches distort each other. Notice that there are two knit rows between the rows with the purl bumps, and also two knit rows above the previous row with the purl bumps. That means you’re ready to work a knit, purl row.
Yes I know. The mention of color? From me? The person you can hardly ever see without at least one article of black clothing?
It’s true. I do have a bit of a soft spot for colors now and then. If you follow our Instagram account you may have seen a photo or two of some brightly colored skeins I picked out amongst our orders from our beloved On The Round— shockers, to be sure! Not only do I peek into the Bright and Colorful camp some of the time, but I also have quite the fascination when it comes to finding eye catching color work shawls! I may enjoy sticking to my knit-and-felted dolls, but I’m starting to build a pattern collection of these beauties. Here’s what I found this week!
I think we have some Malabrigo Sock that would work up nicely with The Dreamcatcher Pattern !
I could see the Raindrop Shawl working up nicely in Chickadee, or maybe even some Painted Desert for sure!