Love, Thy Name is Double-Points

Category: Featured Patterns

When I first came to work at the store almost two years ago, all I could knit was a garter stitch rectangle. I didn’t know how to increase or decrease, I could barely manage a purl, and the mere concept of knitting in the round baffled me. I would learn all of these things– and many more– over time, and found my confidence. Until a few months ago, however, there was still one area of the store I would glimpse at in terror:  the double pointed needles.  

After trudging through those few unsuccessful, unfinished projects to get the hang of them, I can now say that double pointed needles are my absolute favorite type to use, and I’m even more in love with using them to knit dolls. 

Need 6″ US 7s? I’ve got you covered. Maybe a little TOO covered.

I think I can safely say I have more projects started on double points that I need to finish than on any other needles. Here are a few that I’ve been able to finish!

If you’ve been reading since October (or maybe you’re a new reader that’s gone back through the archives) you may remember that for a while I was making little felted pumpkins out of Quince&Co. Lark and Osprey for Halloween decorations! These were my second finished double pointed projects, and I’m still thrilled with them. 

What was the first finished project you ask? Well, a little felted Bluebird of Happiness of course! It was a wonderful little project I could finish in a few hours, and on top of that I also got to learn how to wrap-and-turn. This little guy was made out of Quince&Co. Chickadee. See what I did there? I amuse myself. 

 

My most recent completed dolls were slightly modified versions of the Mushroom Sprite pattern. (Which are seriously super cute and you should make them.) The first one I made was out of Bartlett, and it truly was the best choice to get that rough, rustic feel I was going for. Not to mention, it smells wonderful!

His little brother, made of Malabrigo Rasta and Caracol (only one skein of each!!!), was requested by my fiancé. His name is Bindle. There was so much left over, I might have to make another one for myself!

 

Baa-Ble Hat Knitting and Felting Misadventures

Category: Featured Patterns

The Baa-Ble Hat has been on my mind for nearly a year and a half now – ever since it was released for free as the official Shetland Wool Week pattern of 2015. It’s been on the collective mind of the knitting world too, and in my estimation has achieved the status of an all-time knitting favorite. What knitter could resist those darling little sheep dancing around her head? Oh my. Frankly, I can’t explain why I’ve waited so very long to dive in and knit one.

I’ve been on a roll cranking out shop samples of late, taking up a new one just as soon as I’ve finished a last. I think of hats as weekend projects. On particularly insane days like yesterday, hats are one-sitting projects. Yes, I got home early due to the crumby winter weather, sat down, and knit for 10 straight hours, completing my second Baa-Ble hat in one sitting. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sometime last week, Jennifer and I decided that Plymouth Homestead would be the perfect yarn for our shop’s official Baa-Ble Hat sample. It’s a 100% wool yarn with a cozy, home-spun look in an aran weight, just what the Baa-Ble Hat pattern calls for. I thought the grassy green and pale blue looked like a bright summer day, and what could be more joyful than a bright summer day on your head?

I grabbed my US 6 and US 7 needles (as per the pattern) and went to town. I spent two days on the hat. I could tell it looked quite large right off the bat, but went right ahead and finished it, a little skeptical, but hoping it would make a nice slouchy hat. It didn’t make a nice slouchy hat. It engulfed my entire head. The brim wouldn’t even stay folded because it was so loose and floppy. It was like a tea pot cozy, except for your head. A head cozy. It’s nice to have a cozy head, but nobody wants a head cozy.

The only research I’d done before I began was perusing the thousands of examples posted on Ravelry. Having seen SO MANY successful Baa-Ble Hats, I felt confident. I suppose I ought to have looked more closely at the gauge provided… I am embarrassed to say that I did not even look; I assumed a standard gauge of 4–4.5 stitches per inch on an aran weight yarn, but I was supposed to be getting a VERY TIGHT gauge of 5.5 stitches per inch. Now that I have delved into the blogosphere in search of answers (after making two Baa-Ble Hats), I have discovered that most people modified the pattern. C’est la vie.

But being the problem-solver that I am, I took the head cozy situation as an opportunity to try my hand at felting. Somehow I always thought that hand-felting would be easy. Given the precautions that people take to avoid felting, I suppose I thought that it might happen practically by accident. I began by running hot water at full blast directly onto my hat while scrubbing it against itself with my hands. Rather than resulting in a shrunken hat, this resulted in a comically enlarged head cozy, possibly large enough to be worn as a sweater if it weren’t closed at the top. I laughed at myself while Googling “how to felt by hand”.

These are the tools you want for hand-felting.

Baa-Ble Hat #1, Post-felting

Thanks to Christine Olea for her article on knitty.com, I realized that I could hardly have been more wrong about hand felting. I collected a bucket, a clean plunger and some dish soap. I placed the bucket in the bath tub, tossed the hat in, squeezed a bit of soap on top, then used the tap in the bath tub to fill the bucket about half-way with hot water. Then I plunged… and plunged and plunged and plunged until my arms hurt like crazy. For some time, I wasn’t convinced it would ever work. I checked the hat periodically and found that, exactly as Christine had warned me, it took about as long as a washing machine would take to felt my hat. If you ever feel bad about the lack of exercise that knitting encourages, I heartily recommend hand felting. Do it every day and I imagine you’ll look like a body builder in no time.

Baa-ble Hat #2, using US 5 Needles

I’m happy to report that my felted hat is a near-perfect fit for my head! But I didn’t want a felted hat for the shop, so I knit my second Baa-Ble Hat with the copious leftover yarn entirely on US 5 needles. US 5 needles are pretty small for an aran weight yarn. My second hat turned out still a bit on the large side, but wearable. This one will be living at Over the Rainbow Yarn. Come try it on for yourself. You might find that you want to go all the way down to a US 4 needle or else use alterations suggested by Susan B. Anderson and others. But it’s a nice pattern nonetheless. I promise. Boy, do I love those adorable little sheep.

 

The Pussyhat Project

Category: Featured Patterns

The Pussyhat Project has generated a lot of requests for pink yarn this past month. A few customers have wandered over to the pink yarn and checked out quietly; a few have broached the subject with some trepidation, a little reluctant to say the word; and a few have out-and-out announced that they’re participating in the Pussyhat Project. 

I’m intrigued by the way the word has spread, much like the Messy Bun Hat pattern, through social media outlets into every corner of the internet. It would seem the Pussyhat pattern has dropped out of the Top 20 Patterns on Ravelry at this moment, but it remained there for weeks on end! Many knitters and non-knitters alike told me about it independently.

The Pussyhat Project has been planned in connection with the Women’s March on Washington scheduled to take place on January 21st, the day after the presidential inauguration. The mission of the march is the defense of human rights, the declaration that women’s right are human rights, and by extension: the rights of all marginalized people are human rights. I recommend clicking the link above and reading their mission statement.

Their extremely ambitious goal is to place a hand-knit pink cat-eared hat on the head of every person who participates in the march – making a collective visual statement and making the hat a symbol of women’s rights. They suggest several ways that knitters and non-knitters can join the movement (below). Knit a hat, wear a hat at the event, wear a hat elsewhere, mail a hat, or distribute hats.

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In my own humble opinion, I’m impressed by the efforts women are making by planning the Women’s March in the first place, but I’m also seriously proud of my fellow knitters for raising the profile of knitting. My life may revolve around knitting, but I know that us knitters are a minority. Usually we don’t announce ourselves as knitters in public among non-knitters. We just quietly enjoy our favorite hobby, either alone or in small knitting circles. We passionately value our craft and pour our hearts into it, but I hear knitters bemoan the lack of appreciation for knitting on a regular basis.

I’m also impressed by the sheer fittingness of it. The fact is: knitting is typically thought of as a “woman’s craft” with sort of fuddy-duddy implications. It’s associated with grannies whiling away their days making stuffy old sweaters that no one wants to wear or impractical lace tablecloths. So, not only is the Pussyhat Project reclaiming the word “pussy” from its derogatory meaning, it’s reclaiming the craft of knitting from its outdated associations. Knitters today aren’t what people think. We’re proud and creative and immersed in the technology, trends and politics of today.

If you want to learn more about Krista Suh, the Los Angeles woman + knitter who came up with the Pussyhat Project idea, there’s an interview here on hellogiggles.com. She talks about the feedback she’s gotten and how the project has grown in such a short time.

On Instagram, #pussyhatproject  has already garnered 2,020 posts.

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On Facebook, the Pussyhat Project page currently has 4463 followers. Updates related to the Project, the Women’s March, interviews, photographs and knitting news are posted regularly.

On Ravelry, the Pussyhat Project group has 1352 members and 1618+ people have created project pages to share photos of their pussyhats. Numerous people have invented variations on the pattern to add some fancy details or accommodate different yarn weights. Crocheters on Ravelry have come up with their own versions of the pattern. It’s an incredibly beginner-friendly pattern, too! The gist of it? Knit a rectangle, fold it in half and sew up the sides. When placed on a head, the corners naturally form a cat ear shape!

In short: should you choose to knit a Pussyhat, you’re joining a movement that stands for women’s rights, you’re raising the profile of knitters and crocheters, and you’re becoming a part of a lively social media community.

Learn more: https://www.pussyhatproject.com/

Get the pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pussyhat-project