July 23, 2017

Nina's Hat | SITW Hat Series

This post is part of the Semester in the West Hat Series. Catch up on the latest hats and free patterns below. 

Kenzie | Collin | Amanda | Thomas | Maggie | Signe | Griffin | Willa | Elizabeth | Ysabel


The story behind Nina's Hat is deeper than just the hat. It is a tale of sincere friendship between two intensely curious and apologetically true-to-self individuals, if I do say so myself. In other words, a seastar-loving, birder extraordinaire, almost-dairy science major finds a tree-hugging, sustainable urban planning-obsessed, knitwear nerd walk in a bar. When they find each other, they run out immediately, because one thing they agree on is that almost every other place is more interesting than a bar. Okay, bad joke, but let me continue...



Nina is one of those overwhelmingly inspirational humans that one can only expect to run into a few times over a lifetime. Though I happened to be directly behind Nina when we were in line to get our Whitman ID cards on the first day of first year orientation waaayyy back in August 2014, we didn't actually interact enough for her to remember my name until we were in the same WFR course last January. And while I knew a little about her, our friendship didn't begin until she took Willa and me birding at Bennington Lake on our day off during the WFR course after all three of us found out we would be in Semester in the West together. While I continue to struggle to be interested in birding, I was mesmerized by her patience, ability to teach the bare-bones basic, and unapologetic enthusiasm for the muddy, rainy trudge around an oversized puddle in the dead of winter with few birds in sight. 


I could write and write and edit and rewrite many pages about Nina's awesomeness, but I'm afraid even that would fail to accurately portray her incessant curiosity for the natural world and unwavering embodiment of her true self 24/7 and highly impressive accomplishments. During our mini-photoshoot, I figured it would fit Nina's character if she pretended to be interested in the moss on the tree, but--what was I thinking--she didn't have feign interest in one of nature's underrated wonders! She's went off on a Watson year exploring the world under a lens of disease ecology last week, and I can't wait to keep up with all her adventures on her blog, Natural Selections.

Nina teaching me to spin with wool from her 4-H sheep last December!

Nina's creativity in her hat design rivals Thomas's Hat. Nina was quite active in 4-H in her youth and has a more developed appreciation for woolly fiber than I--that is, from raising the sheep to shearing, skirting, and spinning--but her interest stops when it's time for the knitting and design process. So, even considering a background of sorts in fiber arts, she requested "gills" on her hat--like the underside of a mushroom #duh--instead of knowing it's called ribbing, and proposed design ideas completely outside of the typical knitwear approach. But that is why I love this project so much! Fresh ideas, like combining sheep with lightning, have been energizing for me as a knitter to mix up techniques and keep things interesting. It also pushes me to experiment, such as adding mock-bobble (baaahble?) texture to the sheep, which I think adds quite a bit of pizzazz to the already-zany hat design. 

The specs: Yarn is Drops Karisma in Dark Olive, Dark Grey, Light Grey, Navy, and White. I used US 2 and US 7 needles. I started knitting the hat during our week in Mexico and finished it when we were in the Death Valley area.


And it appears the hat is getting some use--the easiest way to make my day! The pictures below are from her blog post, "Humans Who Love Birds Who Love Cacti," documenting some her ecology adventures in the Tuscon, Arizona area. 

   

Well, Nina, your life is just one adventure on top of another. I'm glad the hat I made you gets to join in the fun sometimes, too! 💖

Nina’s Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate. Recommended experience with three-color stranding color work.
Yarn: Drops Karisma in the following colorways: 0.3 skeins Dark Olive 47 (A), 0.1 skeins Dark Grey 53 (B), 0.3 skeins Light Grey 44 (C), 1 skein Navy 17 (D), 0.2 skeins White 19 (E)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult-sized head, approx. 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 7 (4.5 mm) circular (9 in/23 cm) and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

CO 120 sts with US 2 in A. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (4 cm).
Still with A, switch to US 7 and reduce to 90 sts (*k2, k2tog* across round).
Begin working Color Chart 1, repeating each row three time per round.

To work a mock-bobble (baaahble): knit five stitches into a single stitch. Knit the first stitch without slipping the loop on the left needle off, then slip needle into the back of the same stitch and knit a stitch, again without slipping left loop off. Then knit the third stitch into the front of the stitch, the fourth in the back, and the fifth in the front, finally slipping stitch off the left needle. 
During the next row, the five stitches created from the mock-bobble will be consolidated into a single stitch via knit five together (k5tog).


Once piece measures 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) or desired length or when you reach Row 35, continue onto to decreases as written in the chart and elaborated below. All decreases are worked with Navy (D).
Round 35: *k3, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 72 sts.
Rounds 36, 38, 40, & 42: k across round.
Round 37: *k2, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 54 sts.
Round 39: *k1, k2tog,* repeat * to * across round = 36 sts.
Round 41: k2tog across round = 18 sts.
Round 43: k2tog across round = 9 sts.

Color Chart 1

Text Box:   - Color A (Dark Olive)
  - Color B (Dark Grey)
  - Color C (Light Grey)
  - Color D (Navy)
  - Color E (White)
  - Bobble (k 5 sts into 1 st)
  - k5tog (combine 5 sts in 1 st)
  - k2tog (k 2 sts into 1 st)
***Note: Complete all mock-bobbles with Light Grey (C). Complete each k5tog with Light Grey (C), except for the first k5tog of each repetition of the color chart in Row 12 and every k5tog in Row 13, which are to be knitted in Navy (D). Complete each k2tog (the hat decreases) with Navy (D). 

Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!

Abbreviations:
CO – cast on
pm – place stitch marker
k – knit
p – purl
yo – yarn over
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
st(s) – stich(es)

You can get this pattern as a free PDF here. Find this pattern listed on Ravelry here.

Until next time,
Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

June 30, 2017

Ysabel's Hat | SITW Hat Series

This post is part of the Semester in the West Hat Series. Catch up on the latest hats and free patterns below.

Kenzie | Collin | Amanda | Thomas | Maggie | Signe | Griffin | Willa | Elizabeth


Aaaand I'm back with another Semester in the West hat (they're still coming!!) This hat was for Ysabel, our fine Food Manager! She requested an ocean-themed hat with rolling waves and a six-legged octopus (hexapus?) I knitted it the in early November of last year, as we drove two straight days from Big Bend National Park in Texas to Yuma, Arizona (a town near the "international four corners" of California and Arizona, USA, and Sonora and Baja California, Mexico).


Photos are from the last day of Semester in the West, at Whitman's Johnston Wilderness Campus in northeastern Oregon.


Ysabel’s Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate
Yarn: 1 skein Drops Lima Dark Blue 4305 (A), 0.2 skein Drops Lima Rust 0707 (B), 0.3 skein Drops Lima Red 3609 (C)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in stockinette stitch
Finished size: Fits adult head, approx. 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 3 (3.2 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) circular (9 in/23 cm) and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

CO 112 sts with US 3 in A. Connect in the round and pm. 

Work 3 rows seed stitch: 
Rows 1 and 3: *k1, p1, k1, p1* across round.
Row 2: *p1, k1, p1, k1* across around.

Work wave pattern with color chart 1. Repeat chart seven times per round.

Then work 3 more rows seed stitch, like above.

Switch to US 6 and k the row while simultaneously decreasing 16 sts evenly around round (*K5, k2tog*) = 96 sts.

Then work octopus (hexapus?!) pattern with color chart 2. Repeat chart three times per round.

After finishing the color chart, continue knitting with A until piece measures 7 in (18 cm) or desired length. Then work decreases:
Row 1: *K4, k2tog* across round = 80 sts.
Row 2 and all even rows: K across round.
Row 3: *K3, k2tog* across round = 64 sts.
Row 5: *K2, k2tog* across round = 48 sts.
Row 7: *K1, k2tog* across round = 32 sts.
Row 9: K2tog across round = 16 sts.
Row 11: K2tog across round = 8 sts.

Color Chart 1
Blue = Color A; Orange = Color B
Color Chart 2
Blue = Color A; Red = Color C
To finish, cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!

Abbreviations: 
kknit
ppurl
CO – cast on
dp – double-pointed knitting needles
pm – place stitch marker
k2togknit two sts together in the back loops
st(s)stich(es)

Download pattern as a free PDF here. Access the pattern on Ravelry here

See ya next month!

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

May 25, 2017

My own SITW Hat! | SITW Hat Series

This post is part of the Semester in the West Hat Series. Catch up on the latest hats and free patterns below.

Kenzie | Collin | Amanda | Thomas | Maggie | Signe | Griffin | Willa


My Semester in the West hat project began with the idea of making myself a hat on the trip for the sake of mixing wonderful, fleeting memories with a more tangible object. You know, a representative of the fun to last longer than the fun itself. Then, being a talented maker of mountains from molehills, I extended the service to the other Westies, too. Classic. Anyway, in the midst of making a bunch of custom-made hats for others, I wanted to make sure I knitted myself a hat while in the field (you know, the original idea). So, while in southern New Mexico, I interrupted the flow of knitting hats for others and hunkered down to treat myself.


One reason why I love this project so much is that the Westies have designed their own hats. Their fresh, original ideas, independent of knitting design norms, have been so energizing and exciting. However, when I sat down in the "backseat lounge" of the car to design my own hat, I was neither energized nor excited. Au contraire; I felt the pressure of proving my own aptitude for design. I spent several hours at the sketchbook, designing several other pieces before finally deciding on my hat pattern.

My knitting and designing nook, the backseat lounge of a Ford Explorer.
Initial challenges aside, I am pretty stoked on the end result. I knew from the start that I wanted to take advantage of all the colors of yarn to which I had access, with a focus on navy blue and also somehow incorporating a tree design. I was inspired by previous designs I'd seen--such as my Afmæli sweater, which I had nearly finished days before Semester in the West started--that reversed traditional roles of negative and positive space. In this reversal, the background is the most colorful. This partly distracts from the foreground, knitted in a single neutral color, but also adds overall depth and interest.


I knitted this hat from October 26-30 while in southern New Mexico, specifically in and around Deming and Carlsbad. The hat involves seven colors, a combination of Drops Karisma and Drops Lima, using US 6 and US 2 needles. I've included hat patterns for both this seven-color arrangement and a two-color arrangement, because I fully understand not wanting to endure the expense of purchasing seven skeins when they won't all be used in entirety.

From left: Griffin, Nina, Willa, Signe, Elizabeth, Ysabel, Maggie, Amanda
On the last day of the program, we took a group photo of most of the Westie hats that I made (sans Kenzie, Collin, Thomas, and Sarah). Evidently, there are a couple of sneak previews of hat patterns not yet published, but I wanted to express my gratitude for so many lovely Westies who were game to support my knitting habit with rad hat designs.


Elizabeth’s Hat Pattern

This hat pattern offers two color options – the seven-color version shown above, and a two-color version. There are separate color charts for each option.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Yarn: 7-color version: 0.5 skein Drops Karisma Navy Blue 17 (A), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Grey Blue 6235 (B), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Goldenrod 2923 (C), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Rust 0707m (D), 0.1 Drops Karisma Dark Brown Mix 56 (E), 0.1 skein Drops Lima Green 205m (F), 0.1 skein Drops Karisma Red 48 (G)
2-color version: 1 skein Drops Karisma Navy Blue 17 (A), 1 skein Drops Karisma Light Grey 44 (B)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult head, approx. 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) circular (9 in/23 cm) and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

For both color versions, CO 120 sts with US 2 in A. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 2 in (5 cm).

Switch to US 6 and work one more row with A, simultaneously decreasing 24 sts evenly around round (*K3, k2tog*) = 96 sts.

Continue onto desired color chart (see below), repeating chart six times for each round.

Work decreases, starting with round 35. Switch to dp needles when desired. Decreases are elaborated in written form below:

7-color version: (Color Chart 1)
Round 35: k1F, *k2togF, k2F, k2A, k2F* across round, ending with k1F = 84 sts.
Round 36: *k4F, k3A* across round (no change in st cnt).
Round 37: k1B, *k2togB, k2B, k1A, k2B* across round, ending with k1B = 72 sts.
Round 38: k4B, *k1A, k5B* across round, ending with k1B (no change in st cnt).
Round 39: With E, k1, *k2tog, k4* across round, ending with k1 = 60 sts.
Round 40: K across round with E (no change in st cnt).
Round 41: With E, k1, *k2tog, k3* across round, ending with k1 = 48 sts.
Rounds 42, 44, & 46: K across round with A (no change in st cnt).
Round 43: With A, k1, *k2tog, k2* across round, ending with k1 = 36 sts.
Round 45: With A, *k1, k2tog* across round = 24 sts.

After Round 46, 24 sts remain. Finish with Round 27:
Round 47: With A, *k2tog* across round = 12 sts.
Then see finishing instructions.

2-color version: (Color Chart 2)
Round 35: k1B, *k2togB, k2B, k2A, k2B* across round, ending with k1F = 84 sts.
Round 36: *k4B, k3A* across round (no change in st cnt).
Round 37: k1B, *k2togB, k2B, k1A, k2B* across round, ending with k1B = 72 sts.
Round 38: k4B, *k1A, k5B* across round, ending with k1B (no change in st cnt).
Round 39: With B, k1, *k2tog, k4* across round, ending with k1 = 60 sts.
Rounds 40, 42, 44, & 46: K across round with B (no change in st cnt).
Round 41: With B, k1, *k2tog, k3* across round, ending with k1 = 48 sts.
Round 43: With B, k1, *k2tog, k2* across round, ending with k1 = 36 sts.
Round 45: With B, *k1, k2tog* across round = 24 sts.

After Round 46, 24 sts remain. Finish with Round 27:
Round 47: With A, *k2tog* across round = 12 sts.
Then see finishing instructions.

Color Chart 1

Color Chart 2
To finish, cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Block if desired and enjoy!

Abbreviations:
k – knit
p – purl
CO – cast on
dp – double-pointed knitting needles
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
k1A – knit one st with color A
st cnt – stitch count
st(s) – stich(es)

You can find this pattern as a free PDF here. You can find this pattern on Ravelry here.

Until next time, 

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

April 11, 2017

Golden California Wall Hanging

When my grandmother died a couple summers ago, I inherited a lot of her sewing stuff. That's why my bedroom sometimes looks more like a sewing studio than a bedroom. Among the lovely fabrics, threads, buttons, beads, quilting accessories, sewing machine, and cabinet that was passed down, I also got a serger and an embroidery attachment to her Bernina sewing machine. I did not know how to use either, and so I resolved to learn how to use at least one of these tools over each of the subsequent summers until I knew how to use everything. And I was successful! In the summer of 2015, I took a three-day class to learn how to use the serger, and last summer, I pored over the embroidery attachment user manual to try to make sense of the contraption. 


Learning how to use the embroidery attachment was not the most intuitive thing. It doesn't help when the model is from 1999, depends on miniature floppy disks for embroidery pattern storage, and predates most relevant information about machine embroidery available on the internet. But I have literally thousands of spools of fancy embroidery thread in my room that won't be usable forever, so dammit, I need to learn to use these resources while they are available to me!


This wall hanging is my first substantial machine embroidery project. As such, it was a Christmas gift for my parents (thus "M & J") who tend to look past novice efforts of "loving hands at home" and enjoy homemade gifts. While these three pieces are not the very first things I embroidered, one peek at any of these close-ups conveys to any experienced embroiderer that I am still getting my bearings. While it seems machine embroidery should be fairly uncomplicated--just select the pattern, locate the thread colors, load up the fabric with a stabilizer, and #gaspedal until it's time to change threads--the degree of mechanization in this machine is still daunting. I feel like I am overseeing a power plant where I can't intervene until it's too late. Which means preventing fabric puckering is an art I have not yet figured out. 



Embroidery in action!

Another struggle is in the limitation of design options. There are about sixty designs that come into the machine, and I have about five mini floppy disks of designs my grandmother purchased, with the themes of "fruit still life," "magical kingdom," "furry monsters," "pets," "bugs," and "creatures of the rain forest and ocean." I recognize several of the patterns from embroidered bath towels, pillows, and skirts she made for my sister and me, but many of these are not super applicable to the designs I as a young adult might yearn for. I think there's also some software that I can use to design my own patterns (I even brought back my grandmother's computer loaded with Windows 1997 to use), but I haven't figured that out. I guess that's next summer's project.


After I made the first design, I struggled to find other nature-inspired designs that would fit thematically with a three-part wall hanging, but decided that a monarch butterfly and bluebirds could do the part. The wall hanging presents well as one piece because of the predominant use of complimentary shades of blue and orange in the embroidery and surrounding sashing and border.


For the back, I used one of Grandma's old stash fabrics of fireworks. The fabric has the texture and stiffness of cardboard, but it serves well for this function! I quilted in the ditches of the panels for pure functionality, no decorative quilting this time. 


Unlike the first wall hanging I gave to my parents for their 20th anniversary a few years ago, this wall hanging isn't folded and stored in a closet! It's hanging in my parents' bathroom :) So that's cool.

Until next time,

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth