Monday, December 18, 2006

Progress on PW CYO, and the Hat Saga

Dear Blog-

So I told you about how I started the Scheherazade shawl (hereafter known as SS), and then realized that it wasn't knitting suitable for evenings in front of the tv. So I relegated it to daytime knitting, and started on the other project I had been lusting after - the Philosopher's Wool Colour Your Own in Ocean Spray. It was a long road to starting this project. This yarn is processed in such a way that the lanolin is left in as much as possible. Unfortunately, along with a million other things, I'm allergic to lanolin. The instant it is anywhere near me (not even on my skin) my face starts itching, I start coughing, my mouth itches - not good things. And so I have to wash out the lanolin. This requires a sink full of hot water, a bit of Dawn (recommended method of Eugene of PW) and for me a face mask and gloves, the exhaust fan howling away and the windows open. Then I have to leave the house while it all soaks, come back and drain the sink, rinse the yarn, and hot water with Dawn again until the yarn rinses clean, each time leaving the house.Scrub the sink when I am finished, before putting any plates, etc in there to wash. Next I have to hang the yarn outside to dry, which means that it can't be a windy day or it will get the pollens on that I am also allergic to. In other words, the whole process becomes a big PITA, and I can only wash 2 skeins at a time this way. So about a month ago I had a brainstorm, and asked the woman in our guild who sponsors PW to come here every 2 years for a workshop, if she would be kind enough to wash my yarns for me so that I could start my CYO. Many thanks to Connie Mallette, I soon had nicely washed yarns that as soon as I got them home were twirled up into balls and ready to go.

So about a week ago I cast on for the cuff of the first sleeve, was knitting away on my 12" circ, and soon found that after enough of the fabric had come away from the needle it was going to make a HUGE cuff, something that wouldn't even serve a cuff purpose.

I ripped it all out and cast on 40 sts. This works much, much better, tho I suspect I could have done well with perhaps 35 sts. But not enough to really worry about, as the original 52 st cast-on was. I worked a couple of the cuff stripes, and then put it away in my growing obsession with Argosy and working slowly through the first SS chart. Saturday morning I was working away on the SS and wanted a small break from it but didn't really want to stop knitting. I picked up the abandoned cuff of the CYO and decided I would finish the cuff so that re-knit was no longer hanging over my head. It went pretty fast, so I decided that maybe I would just work the first section of the fair isle in the sleeve. Next thing I knew I was hooked, and spent the rest of the day hanging out in my t-shirt and sweats, knitting the CYO sleeve right up until I had to put it down to get ready for my husband's work Holiday party. I finished half the first chart on Saturday, and the second half of the chart yesterday, while helping DH at a very busy farmer's market, chatting to various knitters who stopped to see what I was doing, and talking to people about my felted bowls. When we got home from the market and I finished my lunch, I plunked myself on the couch and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the CYO. Here you can see my two day's worth of progress. I have about another half inch to knit before I work the top band and finish off the first sleeve. Their method, I find, is relatively easy work, with minimal puckering if I remind myself to relax and stay loose. And it is a heck of a lot of fun to do! Here is my sleeve so far...

I am loving this project, and suspect it will go faster than I had originally thought. It will be hard to work on anything else in the meantime.

My Hat Saga is this - at the Farmer's market where we have our booth, I also sell my felted bowls, as you may remember. I don't understand it myself, but it isn't unusual for people to pick them up and assume they are hats. They are far too small to be hats, and they are sitting on their bottoms like, um, well, like bowls. But it made me think about the possibility of making felted hats to sell. I wanted something shaped like a pillbox hat, with straight sides and a flat crown. After asking on a couple of the knitting lists, I found out that this hat shape is also called a kufi. So I googled around and found two patterns to take a look at. I wanted to get an idea of how others had approached the design, so I could then get an idea of what I did and didn't want to do. In particular, I looked at these two patterns -the Keppie by Pamela Grossman, and the Easy Head Hugger Hat by Danny Ouellette. While I really like the Keppie, I decided that working the crown in that method would mean too much process for a hat that was only going to end up felted in the end. So I bought the EHHH pattern, and made this one out of Aruacania Magallanes. Loved the colors, hated the yarn, it was very splitty, very, very loosely spun in some areas and painfully tight in others. Here is the hat I made with that pattern...

Ok, so, very nice for what it is, but a far too complicated method of coming up with that shape, if I want to felt the finished product and then sell it at what non-knitters think is a reasonable price. But it gave me a jumping off point for how to make this all happen. My husband wanted a hat made in the following colorway, and I started with his hat as my experiment, after measuring the EHHH to get an idea of dimensions and proportions, and then taking a guesstimate (I know, I know) at how much the Kureyon would felt...

This is made in big pie-shaped wedges that you attach to each other, every other row. You see me finished with the bottom half of the 4th wedge, ready to start the point that shapes the crown area. The method of construction is good, but it made a very large and kind of shapeless hat. I am also not happy with what would have been the bottom edge - the wedges didn't meld evenly and so the bottom edge is uneven where it changes from one wedge to another. It is now a bowl...

Next I measured that and compared it to the proportions of the EHHH, then adjusted both my method of construction, as well as the st count. And came up with this...

This makes a perfect average woman's hat. My friend Jen has been wearing it very happily for about 2 weeks now, and I had to pry it off of her head in order to take this picture... I have a largish head for a woman, so I will want mine slightly bigger, so that it maintains the straight sides when it is worn, as it does on Jen's head. Then my husband's hat will be just a pinch larger still. I am working on my pattern pages, and this pattern will be available by the end of the week, so check back.

The funny part of this story is how Jen got to have the hat. She has been having a hard year, and as I mentioned, our book group Holiday party was at my house two weeks ago. As everyone was leaving, Jen, an apparent hat freak, noticed my hat hanging by the door and fell in love with it. Next thing I knew, my tongue - without consulting my brain - offered Jen the hat. She loves it and tells me that she wears it everywhere. And I think it maybe put a bit of a smile in her heart at a time when things could be a whole lot better for her. And it just looks great on her!

Well, Blog, I have survived my trip to the PO this morning to mail packages to my sisters, although the door did try to bite my hand off when I was walking in, fully laden. (My first worry being that this was going to ruin me for knitting for a couple of days. It is finally calming down to look like a big ugly scrape, nothing worse.) But thank God for those automated postal machines, eh?

Off to launder, fold, wash dishes, and KNIT!


Blogger T said...

Well, the felted hat turned out to be seriously All That. But the non-felted one would be SO happy at my home... :-)

Actually, my comment is about the PO. Why, oh, why do they have the doors that a) PULL when you're trying to enter with armsful of packages and/or b) weigh half a ton and have enough suction to protect the BioDome?

11:39 PM  
Blogger The Speckled Hen said...

I have that same pattern and found that while I liked the total look I didn't like the uneveness of the felting in Noro or the rim edge. Would you share how you got yours to look a lot much better?

Thanks Marie

7:11 AM  
Blogger KarenK said...

Brilliant idea, and very informative notes on your process of design and construction! Good work.

11:31 AM  

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