Out of the Ordinary, the story of a hat

My latest knitting project is out of the ordinary for me. I ventured into the land of felting which was a little nerve racking. Shrinking wool on purpose? Really?  How crazy is that?  It was quite the adventure knitting a hat big enough to fit a giant and then checking it every fifteen minutes or so whilst it felted in the washing machine.


I’m not really a hat person. I love them on my daughter but on me? Nah….I think I’ll pass. I will wear this finished hat only on Saturday mornings when I knit with my knitting buddies because, after all, it was a group project. We thought we would look pretty cute wearing VIVIAN hats embellished in our own taste. I think we may even plan a tea party…….eventually….when everyone has finished knitting and embellishing their hats.

I ordered the Raggedy Ribbon Kit from Ambrosia Cottage to embellish my hat. When it came I ran my fingers through the lovely silk ribbons that I had requested in a color scheme to complement my hat and I shook my head saying, “What have I gotten myself into?” I was over-the-top-intimidated and decided that I would hand this off to my mom because mothers are good like that – rescuing you when you have jumped into waters too deep.


My mother busied herself all week long watching and re-watching videos demonstrating how to make ribbon roses. She folded and unfolded the ribbons countless times until she thought she had figured it out and then she would sigh and start over again. She doesn’t realize how many times she sighed and I didn’t point it out to her but I kept thinking to myself that I was glad she had possession of the ribbons instead of me. I worked on my To Eyre shawl and it had its own fair share of sighs. It is no wonder the doggies napped throughout our crafting being lolled into sleepiness with our many sighs!

I’m not sure Mom was completely happy with her finished rose corsage but I sure was. Isn’t my VIVIAN quite lovely?

Master Knitting and Pattern Tweeking

Small things are just about all I have been able to focus on this last week.   Nothing too complex, nothing that requires deep concentration but tasks that a flu wracked body can handle.  Yesterday afternoon I spent time re-visiting the design software on my laptop called Intwined  so that I could make some long overdue revisions to the Guernsey Potato Peel Hat.  I made those revisions last night and uploaded it to Ravelry so the new PDF should go out to everyone who has downloaded the pattern in the past.


download now

This pattern is free on Ravelry so if you have a hankering to ‘color ‘with your stash yarn then you might give this simple project a try.  Other color possibilities are dancing  around in my head  so there just might be a Potato Peel post in the near future.


Today was another lazy day trying to knock this bug out of my system.  I pulled out the TKGA Master Knitting course that should have been finished last year, blew off the dust and was pleasantly surprised to find there were only two cable swatches and one color work swatch left to knit.  Of course, I still have half the questions to research, the final hat project and the final research paper before I’m done but if I put my hand to the plow I could easily have this finished this month.

Swatch #15 has given me a few problems.  This is the swatch to test whether you can follow directions p.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y and to see how you can clearly write the pattern for what you knit.  I won’t belabor you with details other than to state it is to be a cable of our own choosing with a couple repeats fitting within very specific measurements.  I first read the part about the repeat wrong and had a lovely little 4″ Saxon braid going until I re-read the directions.  The second attempt resulted in the cable portion being just a half-inch too long. I didn’t frog it but hung it on my project board.


I kept the same cable for the third go round but this time dropped a needle size.  So far it is looking pretty good and the reverse stockinette looks much crisper.


It’s a process, folks and is teaching me invaluable lessons!

I found this particular cable in Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting. As I thumbed through the initial historical section,  admiring several museum pieces, I was thrilled to see that the eleven Aran sweaters photographed are in the MUSEUM OF IRELAND in Dublin!  This will most certainly be added to our list of tourist attractions for our upcoming trip and I will read in careful detail Aran Knitting.

Knitting Sunrises in Colorado

Today is UFO Thursday and I am knitting more sunrises into my Colorado stocking cap. The hat is growing longer and longer as the sunrises have fewer stitches on each row. This makes me very happy because 2012 is drawing to a close so my deadline is quickly approaching!

This has probably been the project I most enjoyed this year. I have plans for another ‘Conceptual Knitting’ project in 2013. If you don’t know what conceptual knitting you ought to check out the Ravelry group.


Elf Knitting Revealed

Christmas is over and all elf knitting has been gifted and , I think, well received. It will be nice to pull out some projects I had set aside before the Christmas knitting and get back to them again. My mind has been a whirl of new ideas for the upcoming year. I will let them simmer in my brain over the next week and share them when the new year rings in.

My daughter looked beautiful in her Christmas hat today. She says I’m biased but I don’t agree with her. Some people are made to wear hats and some are not. She is one of the fortunate ones.


The pattern was one of Jane Richmond’s designs called Pasha. I used Sublime Cashmere DK and it was a dream to knit with, very soft. The neutral color she chose will work with just about any outfit.
Hubby got a new pair of socks for which he is always grateful. This man loves hand knit wool socks and what knitter can resist a request for socks instead of one for expensive gifts.

Now I must confess that I sorely missed the mark on these socks. I planned to knit the Classic Socks from Two at a Time Socks but got hopelessly tangled in the tails from said socks as I tried to knit them the Magic Loop way on one very long circular needle. Hats off to any knitter who is able to do this. If I ever meet you I will take you to Starbucks and treat you to some delicious concoction of your choice and sing you highest of praise. Me on the other hand? I failed miserably and pitched one of the socks and knit them one at a time on that long looped circular needle which actually broke before I was finished.

I also had a problem with the pattern. The smallest size would have been huge on my husband’s size twelve feet. I had to downsize the numbers by one repeat. I suppose I could have gone down to a size zero needle but really dislike using anything under 2.25mm.

My mother said she liked her beaded shawl. She likes sparkly things and I think it will sparkle along with her pretty blue eyes.

Do you have special knitting plans as you wind down 2012? I do. I’m going to work diligently on the Colorado Sunrise Hat and finish it up. The colors in the sunrise are different in the wintertime so I’ve new colors to add. I’m going to watch some of my Craftsy classes to inspire me all over again. One class has a cardigan project and one a lace shawl, both need finishing. And there is a photography class to finish watching with a final project that will take a year to complete.

What do you have going on this last week of the year?


Sitting Under an Aspen Tree Reading

I have a favorite place to sit and read in the Fall, it is under an aspen tree in a grove next to my house.  The leaves shimmer in the breeze and are golden in the sun against bright blue skies this time of year.  The temperature is perfect and I am still able to sit outside without a jacket.  I could easily nap under these trees but today I am enjoying words woven into a story that holds promise This afternoon, as I admired a fallen golden leaf on the ground, I discovered that I am not the first to enjoy this spot.  There was a rusted pencil sharpener lying amongst the golden leaves.

It is possible that this pencil sharpener is mine from a bygone day but it is more likely that it belonged to one of my girls.  They used to work on schoolwork under this tree when they were young, at least a decade ago.  It is easy to daydream on a day like today and let my thoughts drift back to pleasant memories of when we all lived together under one roof.

I just started Little Bee by Chris Cleave and can’t tell you much about it yet.  The publishers were very secretive about the plot saying they wanted the story to unfold in a magical way for you.  I’ll tell you more about it in a future Yarn Along.

I have finished a hat for my knitting buddy who is going through chemo therapy for breast cancer.  She shaved her head last weekend in preparation for the inevitable hair loss.  She said it is better to do this before you start seeing clumps of hair fall out.  Being a knitter, she is well stocked with warm hats but knew the bond of friendship we share would lead me to knit a special hat filled with well wishes.  She picked Shedir and I knit it with Rowan Calmer, a soft cotton yarn that will be easy on her head.  It is a pretty hat and I enjoyed knitting it although I will forewarn you that it is not one that you can just whip out in a hurry.

Joining Ginny and her reading buddies on a Yarn Along today and looking forward to seeing what books they are reading.

Yarn Along {The Moonstone}

Following Ginny this morning and all her bookworms on a YARN ALONG to talk about books and knitting, two of our favorite subjects……..

I must be in the mood for detective stories for I find myself finishing up one (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) and starting another, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. The story first appeared in 1868 as a thirty-two part serial, beginning on January 1 and ending August 8, in Dickens’s weekly magazine All the Year Round. Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens were friends. He is considered to be, alongside Edgar Allan Poe as the inventor of the modern detective story. I read The Woman in White a few years ago and enjoyed it so I am looking forward to burying myself in this book.

Meanwhile, little flowers (“peerie floors”) are growing from my needles as I continue to strand. This is a happy hat and makes me smile as I watch the little flowers dance around the circumference.

So…….. have you read any good books lately?

Fall 2011 Stashbuster

I noticed little snowflakes falling on my blog today and am wondering if this means we are officially into the Winter season.  If we are, then I better get a move on and finish my last two projects for the Fall 2011 Top Ten Stashbusters!  That being said, the more important reason to finish has nothing to do with the change of seasons but has more to do with the reward I get when I bind off that last project!  I’ve changed my mind on what the reward should be and that should not surprise you.

Number 8.  Jane Hat.

This is the second time I have knit this pattern.  Both hats have been knit with Patons Classic Wool yarn and each only used one skein of yarn.  I truly love this hat.  The ear ribbing is doubled so it keeps my ears extra warm.  The size is generous so the fit is great on my large noggin. It is is also deep enough to pull down low over my ears without skimping on top.  Jane is knit on larger needles (size 9) so it is a relatively quick project, mine took only a couple days to knit.  The coral color is cheeful and of course, it is a great STASH BUSTER.

The wig stand makes me smile.  I almost threw it away a few years ago along with its accompanying wig thinking it looked rather tacky.  I’m glad I didn’t because now it brings back memories of my grown daughters when they were first experimenting with make-up.  Their grandmother had given them her wig from the sixties for their dress-up box.  I chuckle even now as I remember some of the times they wore it.  I’m almost certain I know which daughter ‘dolled up’ this wig head because it seems like I have a picture of her somewhere in the same bright blue eye shadow and pink cheeks.  She looked rather clownish then just as this wig stand does this afternoon.  Such memories!

Just two more stashbusters to go until I get to reward myself with a present…..

In Want of a Pompom

The Aspen leaves are at their peak, Homecoming has come and gone across the USA along with the many elaborate pompoms that accompany it and my Wood Hollow Hat is in want of a pompom of a different kind.

Typically used for a decorative trim at the top of a hat, the end of a cord or on a child’s garment, these small puffy balls are made out of yarn. I have never made one but my purple Wood Hollow Hat is finished and laying in wait of one. I have been told that you can make a pompom by cutting two pieces of cardboard in identical circles the diameter you want your pompom to be. I think I would rather make my pompom using a commercially produced pompom maker. I know I must have one somewhere around here!

The Wood Hollow mittens are also finished and waiting for the temperatures to drop. I enjoyed Kirsten Kapur’s Wood Hollow pattern set and especially enjoyed knitting with this soft yarn, Berroco Ultra Alpaca! I have two skeins left and have found the perfect infinity scarf pattern to match this set.


The first Bambeanies hat, Quynn, is finished for my great-nephew. This was a FUN pattern using a very unique construction technique. I feel like I am on an adventure knitting these ‘bambeanies’ and am learning to think outside of the box. The Quynn in the book was knit with Noro which was gorgeous but since I’m on a quest to bust my stash this will have to do for now. Four more Bambeanies to go!



Guernsey Book Review and a Promised Pattern for YOU!

But my very favorite book on my summer reading list was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society………

And as you have heard over and over again, I loved it so much that I designed a colorful beanie to wear to remind me of the colorful characters in the book.  It is now available on Ravelry as a free pdf download (click here).

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows begins in 1946 with an exchange of letters between Juliet Ashton, a young writer with a new book about life in wartime London, and her publisher Sidney (and his sister Sophie).  I must admit, at first I was not sure I would be able to get through an entire book written in the form of ‘letters’ being exchanged back and forth between characters.  The breezy letters did begin to give me a glimpse of postwar life in England and the tremendous hardships they endured during and after WWII, something those of us in the United States barely felt in comparison.  But when an unexpected letter from a man in Guernsey opens up a whole different world to Juliet my whole world opened up as well and my curiosity was peaked.  She learns how the Guernsey islanders survived the German occupation by setting up a literary society as a result of enjoying a prohibited meal over a fat pig. A meal over a pig?

I could enlighten you but, well….you will just have piece together what happened during the occupation through the course of letters that Juliet receives and you will, no doubt, fall in love with the island’s colorful and courageous inhabitants.  I became ‘charmed and beguiled’  with the characters as I began to know them and truly was sad when the book ended.

No one can describe the book quite as well as Annie Barrows, the co-author.


Should you knit this hat and find any errors, please let me know.  I hope you enjoy the pattern!

My model was very reluctant to pose for me in the finished Guernsey Potato Peel Hat so I thought this last shot might appease her.  My Auburn nurse wants to send a message to all my readers, “WAR  EAGLE!”

Tantallon – A Fair Isle Beanie

When Tantallon was revealed on Needled, I knew I would be rummaging through my Alice Starmore stash to make a similar beanie.  My fingers have been longing to play with color schemes and knit a bit of fair isle and Tantallon was a likely candidate to do so.


KNIT with Hebridean stash yarn.  RESIST the overwhelming urge to place an order with Virtual Yarns purchasing the exact colors that Kate Davies used!

Incidentally, whenever I purchase a skein of Hebridean 2-ply I take the attached card, punch a hole on both ends, thread a few strands of the yarn onto it and put it on a keyring.  The color name is printed on the back of the card.

The colors I chose are pleasing to my eye and will work nicely with my favorite winter walking jacket.

Fulmar ~ Erica ~ Shearwater ~ Golden Plover ~ Machair

~ and~

Dale of Norway Heilo Natural

I modified the pattern by decreasing the number of pattern stitches from 200 to 170.  If I had knit the pattern as specified,  the beanie would have been enormous on my head.  My gauge was the one specified in the pattern so I’m perplexed as to why so many stitches were called for.  Actually, even my smaller size could use a bit of felting in the dryer to make it a wee bit snugger.


WEAVING in those dreaded ends that accompany frequent color changes is an arduous task.  The ‘smart’ knitter would do this as she knit instead of waiting until the beanie is complete as I have done.  If truth be told, I’m more anxious to see those colors changing and don’t take the time to weave in those tails as I progress.  Consequently, it took the better half of a morning to get these woven in.

I rolled the beanie in a towel to soak up excess moisture after its thirty minute Eucalen soak.  Then, I tossed in the dryer in hope of slight shrinkage.

I like the little i-cord loop on the top of the hat.

Tantallon is looking fuzzy as she dries but it will look better after it is completely dry.

I hope to get some outdoor shots soon but, when I do, I’m expecting Tantallon to look similar to this last photo, a slouchy beanie.