Sunday, January 4, 2015

Twist and Shout

We've had over a week of very chilly weather - freezing every night, even light snow in the eastern mountains. We've been firing up the second wood-burning stove to help heat the house. Luckily, we don't have to use the Big Stove too often but when we do it heats half the downstairs and most of the upstairs to almost 80°. 

Needless to say it's perfect knitting weather.

So last week I finished knitting a hat. Finally. It turned out really nice the second time around, not so much the first time.

As a result, I learned several things while knitting this hat: MAKE A GAUGE SWATCH FIRST. Basic info for any knitter or crocheter. I didn't. It was after all "just a hat". Well, this hat knitted on the suggested needle size would probably have fit a basketball-sized head. I should know, I have a football-shaped head (really, no kidding) so I wear biggish hats; if it fits me it will fit just about anyone. The size I knitted seemed to be an XXXL.

The pattern instructions has a suggested needle size but also reads, "or size needed for accurate gauge". Pshaw, most of my hat patterns say that and my finished hats usually turn out just fine. Well, okay, most of the time they fit.

I had a strong urge to hide this huge unwearable hat in my closet and not deal with it anymore but the Madelinetosh yarn was too special to languish so I took a deep breath and started reknitting Hat No. 2 directly from Hat No. 1. I switched out my US 7 knitting needles, went down 3 needles sizes, and started reknitting with size US 4. (Psst, I still didn't make a gauge swatch I just crossed my fingers and started knitting again.)

Long strip is the beginning of Hat No. 2.

It took me two days to make Hat No. 1 so I figured it would go quicker the second time around.


For some reason it took twice as long to complete. I think it has to do with the second thing I learned: BEWARE OF OVER-TWISTED YARN. It happened every once in a while but I never paid it much mind. I thought it was the yarn's fault not something I was doing. It turns out I've been creating over-twisted yarn. I learned that my mistake was in knitting from the center-pull end instead of the end from the outside of the yarn cake. And, yes, it probably didn't help that I was knitting the already over-twisted yarn twice.

So this is what I had to do. Every 20 stitches or so I had to stop knitting, dangle the work, and let the yarn untwist itself. Yes. Crazy. I know.

The Man lending a helping hand.

The third thing I learned was how lucky we are to live in a time when you can learn anything from the comfort of your own home. I'm more of a visual learner when it comes to knitting and I've found and You-Tube videos to be valuable resources. You know, when you read the instructions over and over and still say, "Huh? What?"

Don't believe me? Here's an example, "Decrease 5. Slip 3 sts with yarn in back. *Pass 2nd st on right needle over the 1st (center st). Slip the center st back to left needle and pass the 2nd st on left needle over it. Slip the center st back to right needle again and rep from * once more. Pick up yarn and knit center st tbl." Lucky me, I found a video tutorial on You-Tube to do this decrease.

Long strip is all that's left of Hat No. 1 (note the yarn twist).

Despite all my misadventures knitting the Oak Trail Hat*, it turned out beautifully.

Sandee wearing her perfect hat.

I've already started knitting another hat called Barley.  Not sure if it's my imagination but it seems a little small . . . .

*Hats off to Alana Dakos, of Never Not Knitting, for the ingenious construction and beautifully designed Oak Trail Hat (Botanical Knits). All errors in knitting this amazing hat are mine alone.