August 19, 2016

A Simple Hat Pattern and a Very Good Cause

The Georgia Fiber Fest is upon us once again (Sept. 8-10), and this year we are welcoming the SSK Yarners podcast to the event.  These lovely ladies have graciously volunteered to do a podcast about the festival, and we are very appreciative!

But the best part about the presence of SSK at the show is that they are directly connected to the STAND DOWN group, which provides volunteer aid to homeless veterans.  The ladies of SSK will be bringing a donation box to the show and will be collecting handmade (knit or crochet) hats that will be sent on to this organization. I couldn't be more on board with this!

So, folks, in case you'd like to donate, as I know all crafters are happy to do, I thought I would share my super simple hat pattern.  I like to work up hats for charities in a wool/acrylic blend so that they are machine washable and don't require much in the way of care.  I'm giving you two different sizes because you may also want to make hats for children's charities at some point.  Winter is, believe it or not, on the horizon.

Simple Hat Pattern:

Yarn: 82 g worsted weight for an adult hat; about 75 g for a child's hat
Needles: US 8 (5 mm) circular (about 24")
Gauge:  18 sts x 24 rows = 4" stocking st
Sizing:  Elementary aged child (Adult)

Using a long-tail cast-on method, CO 88 (96) sts. Join and work in a 2 x 2 or 1 x 1 rib for 4 inches.  Knit the next 4 inches (24 rows).

Rnd1: *K6, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 2 and all even rnds through Rnd 12: Knit.
Rnd 3: *K5, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 5: *K4, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 7: *K3, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 9: *K2, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 11: *K1, K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.
Rnd 13: *K2tog; repeat from * across rnd.

Cut yarn, leaving a 6" tail.  Weave through live sts. Remove sts from needles and draw sts closed. Secure yarn tail on inside of hat and weave in any remaining ends.

You could knit this in your sleep, I'll bet. I hope that you will get on the bandwagon and knit up a hat for someone less fortunate this year, even if you just knit it and hand it to someone on the street as you pass them by.  I'm sure it would be appreciated.

June 24, 2016

So much knitting, so little progress

The unfortunate thing about succumbing to the desperate urge to cast on for a large number of projects at once, no matter how good the intentions, is that, ultimately, it seems like no progress is being made on anything.  Right now, I have a baby blanket (Bounce), a pair of knee socks (Sockmatician's Toe-Ups), a pair of cable-y socks (Paragon Socks) that have only the cuff done so there's no point in sharing a pic of that, a cardigan (Hitofude), a cape and a vest for the book, and a lace scarf on the needles.  If I'm going to be totally honest, there's also the Pi Shawl that I cast on about 16 months ago that languishes in the car and the Two Hearts sweater that has been languishing for slightly longer. The only projects that I have finished in the last 4 months or so are two consecutive pair of All About That Curve, both of which I cast on and knit feverishly because I got bored with the million other WIPs, and a much-modified version of the Amiga cardigan for the Shinybees Rav group. To say that I have created a situation of overwhelming stagnation is an understatement.  Really, I've backed myself into a stressful corner, as nearly all of the projects on the needles have looming deadlines.

So here's how it's going.  Bounce is suddenly at the forefront, as I was misinformed and the baby it is intended for will be arriving at least a month sooner than I thought. I am committed to working one full 12-row repeat a day.  I only have 18 more gradient repeats to go.

The Toe-Ups are probably not going to get finished before the KAL that they are a part of ends.  So, let me just give my final impression of this new pattern here because my insane choice to knit wool knee socks when the temperatures are in the upper 90s-low 100s every day in no way reflects the pattern. I do want to show off the amazingly invisible increases that I am working on the legs.

Overall, I think that if you are a toe-up sock knitter, this is a great pattern.  I'm neither a toe-up fan nor am I a single-sock knitter.  This pattern is clearly written for both.  I just don't like the fit of a toe-up sock through the heel and ankle, and the thrill of finishing is somewhat diminished for me when working a sock in reverse.  Finishing the leg is more like "Sigh. Finally. Well that was anticlimactic." Finishing the toe is a downright thrill. The super cool thing about this pattern is that, if you own an iPad, the math is automatically calculated for you.  I don't know many knitters who love doing the math on their own, so this is definitely a plus.

The only difficulty I had was with the gusset instructions, which weren't particularly clear to me, and I had to rip back and re-do.  I did post some more detailed instructions on my Rav project page for anyone who knits this pattern two-at-a-time.  Otherwise, it's a good pattern.

Hitofude is like the blanket in the regard that I am trying to knit one repeat per day.  So far, I'm up to 8 repeats and only have 6 to go.  I am enjoying this pattern now that I have it memorized and it is working up quickly, which is a plus because the blanket is not.  This fingering weight Silk Sheep flies through my hands, whereas the DK wool in the blanket, though incredibly soft and squishy, does not, and it also makes my arthritic hands and wrists hurt to work a heavy fabric on large needles.  I think I have also re-activated my golfer's elbow thanks to this blanket project.

And I can't show you anything else because it's top secret book knitting. We've been exploring our publishing options recently, so I've had less time for knitting on these items than usual.  Also, my life this week has been in a total chaotic shambles, for most of which I blame the appocolyptically hot and dry weather and Chester, the stupid donkey who won't stay in his pasture despite barbed wire and electric fence.

Alright, well, I have livestock to feed and chores to do before I can get back to feeling like a human knitting machine.  Have a great weekend!

June 14, 2016

In Reverse

I think that we would all agree that I'm a pretty prolific knitter of things. And, I'm not going to lie, when it comes to knitting socks, I am a sock addict. You will find me with at least one, sometimes two or three, pair of socks on the needles.  If I don't have 20 other WIPs going at the same time, I can whip out a pair in about a week (unless they are for my husband).  But, I'm a top-down gal, and having only done one pair of socks from the toe up, and granted, the fact that I had to re-knit that pair 7 times until my husband was completely satisfied with the fit may be coloring my viewpoint, but I can honestly say that top-down is the only way my brain likes to work a sock because in reverse, the math doesn't make much sense to me.  And although I totally know how to work 2-at-a-time, toe-up, I pointedly choose not to do it.

Until now.

So let me rewind and explain.  There's a British video podcast that I thoroughly enjoy watching now that I've just recently discovered the video podcast scene.  The podcaster is Nathan Taylor, who is also Sockmatician on Ravelry and a plethera of social media, and although we do differ on some of our views, I have found a kindred spirit in the love of musical theatre, advancing correct grammatical form (does that sound as "English teacher" to you as it does in my head?), and sock knitting.  Only, here's the thing: he knits socks toe-up.  Recently, he wrote a sock pattern that is so awesomely and mathematically ingenious that I feel like it would be a disservice to sock knitting if I didn't at least try it.  I mean, when someone figures out how to create a pattern that allows you to input your base measurements and then automatically generates ALL of the numbers to custom-fit your foot as you knit (you have to have an iPad for that automatic part--sorry Windows users) ... well I appreciate a man who does the math for me, don't you? Not going to lie. That's one of the perks of being married to an engineer.

Now, I also have this new yarn base, Traveler, and I have been dying (no pun intended) to use it for a pair of socks.  Yesterday, I cast on for the Sockmatician's Toe-Ups. The pattern is great and the math is done for me, but ... it's backward.  My brain is really struggling with working the part of the toe first that I always so look forward to working last.  It's like the week before last when I gave everyone desert before dinner.  The kids were so befuddled by homemade pound cake (with homegrown, sliced peaches drizzled in blackberry sauce and topped with whipped cream) that they didn't know if they should eat it or it just look at it.  There were questions, like "What are we supposed to do with this?" and "Where's dinner?" and "What kind of witchery is this?" That's how I am feeling about working socks backward, especially since the toes, based on my experience, seem to be very narrow.

The amount of brain activity that it has taken for me to repeat two increase rows would astound you.  However, for as much as I have struggled with this, I really think that this sock pattern deserves a proper test because, if you can't knit it 2-at-a-time, it's not worth knitting.  Of course, the important thing is that my Guitar God colorway looks fabulous!

I will, as the Sockmatician says, "crack on" with this toe-up madness and we'll just see how it goes.

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