Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Brick Sidewalk Beanie from fibre space--Day 4

Close to the finish line...

The dpn’s are in use, which means—as my horsey friend often puts it—“we are heading for the barn!”

The brick sidewalk that gives this beanie its name fades off into the crown like a road veering off into the sunset. It’s a great aesthetic touch, just as clever as the whole pattern. Sure, the headband could be an ordinary ribbing, but I’m so pleased that it isn’t. I’ve knit hats that looked great but didn’t feel or function well. This one sure feels like it will be as pleasant to wear as it has been to knit. It has just the right amount of elasticity and slouch—comfy but not sloppy, snug but not strangling. Perfect.

I could use a dose of perfection. My week has been crazy-stuffed with tasks, but I’ve tried not to let my knitting time pay the price. Like exercise, I need a daily dose of the peace knitting gives me. The anchor creating something—even though I create with words all day long—gives to my spirit. I suspect you’re the same way. 

I’m just a nicer, calmer, better person when I knit.  Aren’t you?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Brick Sidewalk Beanie from fibre space--Day 3

The Delight of Decreasing

There’s always a burst of energy for me when I reach those magic words “begin decrease” on a hat. 

It means I’m racing toward the finish line of my project. It means the rows will get shorter and shorter from here on in. As a knitter continually haunted by the growing rows of top-down shawls, “begin decrease” is the chocolate cake of pattern directions. Dessert course! Most delicious!

Not that any of the middle section of this hat has been at all tedious. Rather, it’s been peaceful, engaging, and productive at a pleasant speed. Everything I look for in a knitting project. I only have to look down for a small portion of each row, and it just plain feels wonderful to knit.

My only complaint with hats is that unlike socks, you can’t really try them on unfinished. Sure, you can slip the in-progress hat on your head, but it won’t give you a true taste of what the thing will look like on your noggin when blocked and finished. Considering how ridiculous I look in most knitted hats, this represents a sizable risk for me. I’ve loved knitting it, but will I love wearing it?

Then again, that’s not really a problem, is it? Because you and I both know that if I don’t fancy how it looks on me, it won't take long to find a head it fits perfectly. Granted, if this were a large, complicated shawl, I might balk at gifting it.  But a hat? It’s just the right size to release with pleasure to someone else.

Having said all that, I really like how it feels and hope I do like how it fits.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Brick Sidewalk Beanie from fibre space--Day 2

What’s better than a hand-knit hat?

I’ll tell you—it’s a hat knitting pattern that is clever enough to escape boredom, yet simple enough to allow easy memorization.

In this case, done and done. There’s enough basic stockinette to make this a thing of ease. Still, the line of “bricks” that adorn the brim and a “sidewalk” up the rest of the hat keep things from feeling monotonous. The brick motif is easily memorized. Especially for meeting or TV knitting, I love not having to whip out a pattern or fear annoying my companions with clicks of my row counter.

I wish the camera captured the color better...
And then there’s the fiber. This yarn from Neighborhood Fiber Co. is nothing short of splendid.  There’s something about a really good wool, isn’t there? Nothing else has the spring between your fingers, the clarity of stitches, or the ability to hold such lush colors. Even before this blog, I was—and am—a yarn snob. Whatever I work with has to feel luscious between my fingers. It’s too much a part of the process for me to slog through something that doesn’t offer the tactile pleasure I seem to need from knitting.  

I once met delightfully outrageous knit designer Steven Be at a yarn show in Chicago.  He was clad in a sweater famously knit from a Willie Nelson eight-track tape.  Fascinating, impressive even, but totally unappealing to me.  Plarn—yarn made from shreds of plastic bags—never calls to me, either. I understand the functionality, I support re-purposing, but those things are not why I knit. 

Well, I suppose it’s yarn functionality isn’t a value for me. Item functionality is another matter. I think mittens are functional and I enjoy knitting them. Granted shawls—my personal favorite—are mostly decorative, but when some restaurant’s air conditioning is making your teeth chatter, they feel mighty functional to me.

All this is to say that while I’m sure I (or someone I love) will use the hat, it’s most important to me that I’m enjoying knitting it. I enjoy knitting this, and for that I’m endlessly thankful to fibre space.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brick Sidewalk Beanie from fibre space--Day 1


For this DestiKNITion, we’re going to tackle the project first, and then feature the store and adventures.

Project first? Why’d I switch things up like that? 

It’s because fibre space, our DC yarn shop, is in the middle of a location change. It didn’t make much sense to give you all the information in the midst of their move, so we’re going to give them some time to settle in and introduce you to the shop and its neighborhood afterward.

So, on to our project.

I love hats. I’m not especially fond of wearing them—they always do terrible things to my hair—but I do love to knit them. Their short, sweet, and stylish, less complicated than socks or mittens, but just as fun to have around.  In a town like Chicago, a good warm hat is a marvelous thing.  One that recalls a fun adventure is just that much more marvelous.

The Brick Sidewalk Beanie launches with something a step up from ordinary ribbing. The fisherman’s rib, with its alterations of knit/purl rectangles between ktbl rows does indeed give you the feeling of a brick sidewalk—especially in the reddish brown color of Neighborhood Fibre Co. superwash marino yarn I’ve chosen. 

This texture detail will continue up just one portion of the full hat, but circles all the way around the brim.

This yarn represents the first time I used my new swift and ball winder—purchases from Stitches Midwest. I loved being able to make my own ball without endless hours balancing a hank on my knees or imposing upon my husband to hold his hands up.  I’ve wanted to own one for years, and was delighted to finally make the purchase.

Who knows? Maybe this will become the first hat I love to wear.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Done!

It turned out beautifully!  

As always, I was nervous about the bind-off--you need just the right amount of elasticity for something like this--but I'm pleased with the results.  It gives the appearance of cozy while still maintaining a nice,  fluffy light weight.  


Thanks, Lucky Ewe Yarn, and Maverick Fiber Company for a clever and chic knitting experience!

Next up, a return visit to our nation's capitol to check out a great DC-area yarn shop.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Day 5

Deja blue...

Back to brilliant blue! The final burst of color means I’m in the last two sections of this cowl.  In a clever detail, the K2TOG of the first smaller stripe gets swapped out for SSK so that the slant goes the other direction. This, to me, is the brilliant thing about knitting—there are endless variations built from just simple stitches. Color and texture give us an infinite playground to make all kinds of beauty.

And I could use a playground this week. I’m swamped with work, which means I spend way to many of my waking hours staring at (or making) words on a screen. The tactile soothing of knitting always has been my favorite antidote to work stress. I think it is why so many writers and knitters. We need something physical, something without words, to cleanse our mental palates. Nothing does that like knitting for me.

Just one more color change—back to the silver-grey—and this lovely piece from Lucky Ewe Yarn will be done. I can hardly wait.

PS: If you’re a reader/writer and a knitter, click on over to my Facebook page, where we’ve been having a bit of fun with shawls and book covers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Day 4

An ode to stockinette...


It doesn’t get enough respect, does it? Stockinette is the foundation of most knitting, second only to garter—only if you ask non-knitters what knitting looks like, they’ll point to the stockinette of their sweater rather than any garter stitch item. If the word “knitting” had a visual definition, it’d be stockinette (even though most non-knitters have never heard the term).

Twelve rounds of stockinette may sound boring—it is over 2,600 repetitions of the very same stitch, after all—but it’s not. Given the right circumstances, it can be downright soothing. The long meeting I had this week is a new group to me, the one where I requested to bring my knitting if they wanted me to join. Three hours in one hotel conference chair is a challenge for this middle-aged gal, even with interesting presentations. 

I smiled when one of the other members of the group asked “Got your knitting?” as I walked into the room. “Absolutely,” I smiled back.  He wasn’t challenging, he was curious. And, as I sat in the group actively participating, offering comments and barely even looking down as I stitched, I think he got it.

I was indeed grateful for the occupation of simple stockinette during that session. I could focus. I could pay close attention, my mind not wandering the way it tends to. I could enjoy the long stretch of time that might have taxed me otherwise. And, when the meeting was over, I had accomplished the twelve rounds of soothing, simple stockinette that offer counterpoint to the bright and bold blue that comes next.

If only life’s soothing seasons and bold seasons alternated each other with such order and enjoyment.