FO: Tweed Hat for Knit Aid

This past spring I really enjoyed getting into charity knitting.



Pattern: Improvised. My project page is here.
Size: Adult, approximately 22″ diameter
Yarn: Regia 6-fädig Tweed (discontinued) DK weight, 70% wool / 25% nylon-polyamide / 5% rayon-viscose, in colorway 70; I used about 1 skein, approximately 50 grams, 136 yards/ 124.4 meters
Needles: Size 7 (4.50mm) circular and DPNs
Modifications: n/a

Started: April 24, 2017
Finished: May 10, 2017

I started this hat right after finishing the neckwarmer I made last April, and I worked on it at the first Knit Collective meeting.



I finished it while overlooking the Statue of Liberty, which felt somehow fitting and symbolic for a gesture of solidarity and love for refugees.



I kept within Knit Aid‘s requirements of dark, gender-neutral colors, but I thought it would be nice to use a soft, luxurious-feeling washable tweed. I had originally bought this yarn with the intent to make either slippers or gloves as a gift, so I knew it was squishy and nice against the skin.



The pattern was improvised after working out the gauge and trying it on a few times to figure out where to start the decreases. I worked the crown in quadrants, which gave it a neat, tidy fit.



I recently saw Ai Weiwei’s incredibly moving documentary Human Flow at a screening in Manhattan (trailer below). It was such a heartbreaking, profoundly emotional film that showed the refugee camps and the spirit of the people living in them at the scope and scale of crisis it truly is.



I already felt strongly that I wanted to do something to help, but after seeing the stories and experiences shared in the film, I am more committed than ever to bringing some warmth and love to people’s lives. I donated this hat in May, and I hope that it has found an owner who it is warming and protecting by now, or that it will soon. And I especially hope that whoever owns this hat will feel the love and concern that went into every stitch.

Chrysanthemums

Every year around mid-October when I catch the first briskness in the air and realize autumn is properly settling in, I get a hankering to knit like mad. I am super behind on knit-blogging (literally – there are multiple, elaborate sweaters I have finished but haven’t photographed yet!) but I will be working through the catch-up pile soon. Meanwhile, as I finished a pair of socks and had some size 1 needles free, I decided there was no time like the present to have another crack at colorwork


As I started working on the Chrysanthemums mittens from Knitty, it occurred to me that chrysanthemums are the birth flower for November, so these would make an excellent birthday present to myself (November 1).



In the first pass I made the background of the main section yellow and the chrysanthemums this purplish fuchsia, but it looked drab and I really disliked how much the strands in the back showed through with the tension issues I was having. I also realized that if my intent is to (ultimately) have these mittens go with a Selbu Modern beret as planned, they wouldn’t coordinate well in reversed colors.



Much better.

I ripped back to the cuff but decided to keep the picot trim and wrist section with a yellow background for contrast. I’m much happier with the color combination now and excited to see how these come out!

FO: Neckwarmer for Knit Aid

It’s funny how the universe puts things in your path right when you are looking for them. I’m not sure what prompted me to search for a knitting group on the day I did, but it happened I found a wonderful one that was just about to have its first meetup. The Knit Collective is a new New York-based group that partners with established non-profits to donated hand-knitted items to those in need.



Pattern: based on Knit Aid’s Snood. My project page is here.
Size: A tube approximately 9 inches high and 23 inches in circumference
Yarn: Classic Elite Alaska (discontinued) super bulky weight, 50% wool / 50% alpaca, in 1581 Tree Grove; I used every bit of 2 skeins, approximately 100 grams, 50 yards/ 46 meters
Needles: Size 17 (12.75mm) straights
Modifications: Worked with a provisional cast-on and grafted the finished seam, slipped edge stitches, reduced width (discussed below)

Started: April 23, 2017
Finished: April 24, 2017

The first project is working with Knit Aid, an organization based out of the UK that is bringing hand-knit hats, gloves, neckwarmers, blankets, hot water bottle covers, and other warming items to refugees in camps. When I read about the conditions in these camps and imagine people in already tenuous and frightening situations shivering through the night in below-freezing temperatures, my heart can’t take it anymore.

A hand-knit item is a small gesture, but an important thing. Taking the bitter edge off the cold so a person can sleep is huge for anyone, but I hope it gives extra comfort to those most in need to know other people in the world care about them and are trying to make their lives a little better.



I had some squishy wool and alpaca super bulky yarn in my stash that I bought years ago to make a boyfriend a hat. I was delighted it fit the criteria for fiber content and was suitably dark and gender-neutral to comply with Knit Aid’s requests.

Though I based my neckwarmer, which for some reason they call a “snood,” on their pattern, I decided to use a provisional cast-on to eliminate a bulky seam at the back of the neck. Working with size 17 needles, I joked, was like knitting prop comedy, and I was amazed at how quickly it took off.



So quickly, in fact, that I had zero qualms about frogging the whole thing and starting over when my first version was too tall (chin to chest) and too tight, due to having slightly thicker yarn than the pattern called for and a bit less of it than would have been ideal.



As lovely as Classic Elite Alaska is, I am mystified about why it was put up in measly 25 yard skeins. Most of the hats I saw (only after buying 2 skeins per color) used at least 3. I reduced the amount of stitches and ended up with a neckwarmer that is still snug, but can comfortably slide over my gigantic head. I expect it will be huge on a normal-sized woman or child.



I slipped the edge stitches to give a braided look that should be soft where it touches the skin. I grafted the last row to the cast-on edge to make a fairly seamless tube, which will be comfortable if worn lying down.



I was initially concerned that the snugness looked like a Victorian collar (also, please forgive the frowny and poorly-lit modeled shots – I was running late and rushing). Not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s not as unisex as I’d envisioned.



When tucked into my hoodie, though, it just became a super warm base layer that could be pulled up to cover the lower face or over most of the head and neck if needed.



Knit Aid encourages you to write a message on their cards to include with your items, to communicate good wishes and let refugees know that people all over the world are thinking about them, praying for them, and putting their hands and hearts into this little gesture. (Of course, it is also important to contact your representatives and work at these issues on all fronts). As I knit, I thought about the person who would receive this neckwarmer, and I hoped with all my heart it would give comfort, warmth, and love to someone who needs it.

I am so happy to have found a group of like-minded, truly lovely knitters in the city, and I’m excited about upcoming plans for fundraisers and more knitting meetups.

Finish-itis??

I have long been afflicted with startitis, the condition common to knitters who enthusiastically cast on new projects left and right, but let them languish over time. I’m delighted to find the tide may be changing for me.



This weekend I worked up an inexplicable head of steam and finished the project I’d been knitting, then eyed my overflowing basket of nearly-completed projects and popped the sleeves on a sweater that had been chilling since oh, 2012 or so. I recently found a truly satisfying needle for weaving in ends, so I dug around and found several other projects that only wanted for a few minutes’ finishing.



I’ve got a bit of washing and blocking and photographing to do, but there are quite a few more finished projects on their way soon. I hope this bout of finish-itis is the first of many, or the start of a chronic trend.

FO: Toe-Up Gentleman’s Socks

As Easter approaches, April seems as good a time as any to finally post the wintry Christmas gifts I gave my family this past year, right?

Back in 2010, I knit my father a pair of socks for Christmas in this beautiful green and brown variegated yarn (you can see the yarn here, but alas, I have not photographed the socks yet). He loved them, and he frequently told me how much they meant to him, but he kept them pristinely folded in his sock drawer unworn because he “didn’t want to mess them up.” I always said, “I made them for you to use,” then reminded him how much I love knitting, should they ever need replacing.

This winter, on one of those particularly bitter cold and damp days, my father was outdoors and no matter what he did, couldn’t get his feet warm. He and my brother stopped home for lunch and he looked in his sock drawer, dismayed, hoping maybe he would find another warm pair he could layer in his boots. As he tells it, his eyes went to the handknit socks and he heard my voice echoing, “I made them for you to use!” He slipped them on and said his feet were properly warm for the first time in decades. “They are absolutely the answer,” he said enthusiastically when he called me that night, “I can’t believe I waited so many years to realize it!”



Pattern: based on Gentleman’s Sock with Lozenge Pattern by Nancy Bush, published in Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns (ebook here). My project page is here.
Size: Men’s size 10 (US) approximately (made to measure)
Yarn: Regia 4-fädig Color, fingering weight, 75% wool / 25% nylon, in 535; I used every last inch of 2 skeins, 100 grams, 460 yards/ 420.6 meters, plus I tipped the ribbing with a few rounds of Knit Picks Stroll Solids, fingering weight, 75% merino / 25% nylon in Fawn.
Needles: Size 1 (2.25 mm) DPNs (Susan Bates Silvalume)
Modifications: Converted to toe-up with a short-row heel, changed the ribbing to simple 1×1 rib.

Started: January 1, 2017
Finished: February 13, 2017



A few days later, after wearing his handknit socks outside every day with delight, my father called to ask how he should wash them, and I talked him through it. He said now that they were his new “secret weapon” in keeping his feet warm, he didn’t want to risk running them through the wash. “The only downside,” he said cheerfully, “is that I have no idea what I’ll wear while they dry.” I immediately ducked into my stash and pulled out this great dark green Regia superwash, wrapped it, and presented it to him on Christmas as A Second Pair of Socks, Some Assembly Required.



I wanted to knit his second pair in a slightly finer gauge, now that I was sure of the measurements and that he’d actually wear them, but I hadn’t brought needles or the pattern with me. I had a pair of socks that I’d been keeping at my parents’ house for months as my “away” project, and as I finished them next to the Christmas tree, I realized I could cast on for my father’s second pair right then. I figured I would get the toe started and consult the pattern when I got home, but I came down with the first of several terrible colds I’ve had this year (with bonus bronchitis!) and while I malingered at my parents’ house, decided to improvise the pattern by looking at photos of finished socks on Ravelry.



By the time I got home, I’d knit through the heel and worked out how to keep the pattern continuous around the ankle, so I decided (with apologies to the genius Nancy Bush) that I’d just wing it, and my socks would be knit in my “house style,” which I know fits incredibly comfortably. I knit the leg of the sock as long as I could before I started running low on yarn, then started the ribbing. I was dismayed to run out of yarn sooner than I expected, so I tipped the ribbing in a bit of light brown Merino superwash from my stash. My father likes that detail as a design choice and noticed that the Merino is slightly softer than the Regia wool, so it’s extra cushy where it touches his shin.



My father loves these socks and has raved about how they are even warmer than the first pair I knit him. Beyond the tighter gauge, he also noted that the diamond pattern traps little pockets of air around his feet inside his boots, so they are both breathable and extra warm. He likes the color and style so much that he said he’d wear them with work or dress shoes the next time it gets super cold in the winter.

I’m so happy he loves his socks so much – he was telling everyone at our St. Patrick’s Day party how great they were. I’m also delighted he has discovered the joys of custom-sized handknit socks, as I have quite a few more colors of yarn with his name on them. He also promises we’ll take some modeled shots soon.