DECLARATION: This post features yarny goodness and fiddling about with some pointy sticks. Anyone with an allergy to knitting related blog posts should step away from their browsing device immediately (no, no, don’t look back, the knitting vibe will get you!) Please be assured that normal sewing service will be resumed shortly.
Okey dokey, for those hardy crafters who are still with me … are you sitting comforably? That, you see, is a vital reason why knitting is important to me. It’s no secret I like to make all kinds of stuff, and my primary passion is sewing. However, sewing does have limitations and it requires and awful lot of kit and kaboodle on hand. In the evenings, especially in the winter months, I like to snuggle up on the couch with my bloke, drink tea, watch DVD box sets and knit. I really love having a project I can just pick up and do rather than have to wrestle with patterns, tracing paper, pins, scissors and fabric. I love knitting all kinds of things but hats are a particular favourite … they take little yarn so you can use something really luxurious and they’re quick and easy.
Without further ado, let me introduce to you a most marvellous pattern for a knitted hat.
This gorgeous concotion is a Wurm Hat designed by Katharina Nopp, and you can download it for free on Ravelry. It is a very simple knit with just knit and purl rows to make the bubbly concertina effect, and a double thickness brim edging which is knitted in as you go. It’s knitted in the round so there is almost no seaming to do at the end. Result.
Two years ago I made my very first version of this pattern in a beautiful apple green cashmerino yarn for Michelle’s Christmas present. Michelle is a keen allotment owner, and a warm and cosy hat for those cold mornings working seemed the perfect gift. And it was! Not only did Michelle LOVE the hat, but she wore it all the time … in the car, at the allotment, driving the girls to school … in the chilly months you would never see her without it. That is, until last autumn. It was early one morning in October that I received the text message, “I can’t find my green hat :-(”
Numerous searches ensued of cars, vans, cloakrooms, drawers, sheds and any possible place the missing green hat could be lurking. But from sunlit windowsills to cobwebbed dusted greenhouses, the hat was not to be found. Days passed, and with no new leads I decided on a radical course of action … I would simply make a new green hat. I printed the pattern out again and went off in search of wool. Four shops later and a whole day at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace and I still couldn’t find a single ball of green wool in the right colour. Seriously? I turned to the infallible internet for a solution, trawling wool shops, searching all my regular online haunts, ransacking eBay, even pleading with friends and fellow knitters, but to no avail. In the end I caved in and decided I would just have to pick a different colour – something new. After a stressful hour in John Lewis with my bloke, during which I held up, ball by ball, every single shade of Rowan wool produced (for those of you who don’t know … that’s a wholelot of wool) while my poor bloke’s eyes glazed over as he repeatedly mumbled, “Yeah babe, that’s nice too …” . In the end I plumped for a luscious purple in pure new wool and a spicy orange tweed mix of merino and silk.
Speed knitting ensued, as I knew I had only a few weeks to get the hats finished before Michelle’s birthday. Sadly, although I am a speed sewer – the knitting – not so much. I did just finish the purple version on time but the orange one was a week late to the party. Luckily, Michelle didn’t mind my knitting tardiness and was delighted with her new hats! Here she is modelling the purple version (thanks to Evie who did the all important stick waving throughout our photoshoot).
Then, something strange happened. Just a few days after the two new hats were settling into their new home, the green one suddenly appeared! Who knows where it had been and what adventures it had been through. (It certainly looks like it has been through a lot.) Although considerably flattened and well worn in comparison to its two new Wurm companions, and despite it now being a little on the large and baggy side … Michelle still loves it the best! That’s the other thing about knitting … it’s slow and steady and it take perseverance, but in every stitch of that hat there is knitted in a little dollop of love.
Now to the magic … how many of you who knit actually block the stuff you make? I have to admit, I used to think life was too short, but now I have come round to the magic of blocking, and just like sewing, it’s worth spending that little extra time to really show off your work. It also gives a perfect finish that you tend to see in RTW knitted garments. So what’s it about? Blocking is primarily reserved for wool or wool blends … for these fibres have a memory. Crazy non?, but true. Blocking sets your stitches. Using either steam or by letting the garment get wet and then dry into shape, you create a permanent memory in the fibres. Let’s see it in action!
This is one of my favourite TV knits … Brooklyn Tweed’s Guernsey Wrap. It’s got just enough pattern to keep it interesting but is still possible to knit with confidence while you’re watching Breaking Bad. In fact almost all of this scarf was knitted to that particular box set (go Jesse!). I should point out to fans of more exotic DV box sets that subtitled films are not particularly suitable for TV knitting. Ask me how I know? Let’s just say there was a painful experience of a cable cardigan and several episodes of the Killing … neither ended well.
The two pictures on the left show the scarf before blocking. It’s kinda lumpy looking and see how the rib section pulls the width of the scarf in to make it look wibbly along the edge? My stitches don’t look terribly even and it’s because they’re not. However, by the magic of blocking I can make it perfect. I rinsed the scarf gently in a wool conditioner, rolled it gently between two towels to get rid of excess water and then laid it out to pin in place. Two things to note on that point. Firstly, for this scarf (which is really long) rather than using individual pins down the length I used blocking wires – long semi rigid wires that you thread into the edge stitches and then pin to give you a really smooth and perfect edge to the garter stitch. Secondly, if you live in a really titchy house like ours you might have trouble finding somewhere long enough to pin this bad boy out! The only bit of the house with enough length was my bloke’s side of the bed and safe to say he was not too impressed on day 2 of the process when he found himself having to do gymnastics to get into bed without putting his feet on the still blocking scarf (oops). Ah well, to get perfect looking stuff, sacrifices must be made.
Anyway *fanfare* here’s the finished scarf. Perfect for winter chills or a passing polar vortex. Crazy winter weather? Another reason that knitting rocks.
Lastly, a ginormous thank you to Michelle who didn’t twig that when I asked her if I could do a photoshoot of the hats that I meant with her in them! and also to Kim, who let us use her new garden and plied us with tea and lovely homemade cake all afternoon.