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!

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!!

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!!

March 30, 2017

Afmæli Sweater | 4th Annual Summer Sweater

Now that spring is in the air and winter is finally over, I've got a sweater to share! I am quite stoked to share one of my favorite projects ever. Introducing Afmæli, my fourth annual summer sweater!

Just like last year, I've had to wait quite a while to share the knitterly focus of last summer. Perhaps the tradition has turned into knitting sweaters in the summer and waiting for the spring equinox to share them! I hope not. 

I'll spare loquacious details and excuses, but yes, I did actually knit this sweater last July and August. Ever since I saw the free pattern on Ravelry by Ístex, an Icelandic lopi yarn company, I dreamed of knitting this sweater as my magnum opus of my teen knitting career. While not technically challenging, the indulgent color work shattered my $40 per sweater budget. I also had a hard time justifying so much wasted yarn and half-used skeins from this project.

Luckily, by the time I was ready to purchase materials for the project, I was also preparing for my colorful Semester in the West hat project. I decided to kill purchase two birds with one stone by buying the same yarn for the hats and this sweater. In a way it was really three birds, because all the yarn was on sale, too! I bought DROPS Lima yarn for Afmæli, a wool-alpaca blend, and DROPS Karisma Superwash, a superwash wool, for the SITW hats. While the two yarns aren't identical by fiber, they are still the same color intensity and gauge; I can vouch that my fellow Westies couldn't tell the difference! Needles used are US 4 and US 7.

I knitted everything but the yoke while inhabiting the backseat of a car during a family road trip to the northern Rockies. I'm still keeping up my backcountry and seat-of-a-moving-vehicle niche knitting! This sweater was knitted in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, and California--four American states and two Canadian provinces! Of course, the pattern designed is from Iceland, I bought the yarn from a Norwegian company, and the actual yarn was made in Peru. A global sweater indeed!

As far as modifications, I changed the neckline because I am not a fan of turtlenecks (also I didn't have enough yarn). I decided to try a new technique and do an i-cord bind-off. As a result, the neck hole is barely sufficient to get my head through. And that was after reknitting the i-cord as loosely as I could! If I ever knit this sweater again, I'll probably cut out one or two of the last rows to limit possibilities of choking or having the sweater stuck on me for eternity.

All in all, I love everything about this sweater--knitting it up, wearing it proudly, and the rainbow color scheme, however abstract. It's also scrumptiously warm.

Now to plan for the 5th annual summer sweater...

Happy Crafting!!

Find this project on Ravelry

February 10, 2017

Willa'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

It's time for another Semester in the West hat pattern! And perfect timing too--this winter has been one for the books. Class was cancelled yesterday due to a freezing rain storm that coated everything with an inch of ice. Walla Walla has also faced sub-zero temperatures and two straight months of snow on the ground; meanwhile, California has had drought-shattering rains and a bursting snowpack in the mountains. These photos were taken on top of Bennington Lake in Walla Walla, the first time I've seen it completely frozen over!! Brrrr.

Cold and wintry as it might be right now, I knitted Willa's hat in the dry sunshine of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. While I was normally able to whip out a Westie hat within a week after it was designed, Willa's hat took me a lot longer, sucking up nearly the entirety of October, from Comb Ridge, Utah to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM. It wasn't the design as much as the timing -- we had transitioned from the frigid skies of Montana and South Dakota to the arid Colorado Plateau desert, and suddenly my inclination to work with wool was gone. Additionally, during our time in Arizona, I suffered a rough ankle sprain that drained my creative energy to do more than I had to for a few weeks -- four whole months later, I'm finally starting to return to running, (that is, once the snow finally melts).

Fortunately, Willa was very understanding of the longer-than-usual timeline and was plenty excited when her adorable "not crazy" squirrels and acorns design was finished and ready to wear. Though it's hard to tell from the photos, I ran out of purple yarn halfway through the decreases on the top of the hat and, left with no other option, I finished the decreases with a bit of yellow and then a bit of black, creating a bullseye motif on the top that Willa wants me to say is "totally intentional." Why not add a bit of pizzazz when you can get away with it?! 

I used US 2 and US 6 needles, and the yarn is Drops Karisma in Dark Purple, Light Grey, and Dark Grey, and Drops Lima in Goldenrod. Next time, I would replace the dark grey with a color with more contrast against the purple, or use a lighter shade of purple. My backcountry yarn stash wasn't perfectly accoutered for this task, but at least it gets the idea across!

Willa’s Hat Pattern
Difficulty: Intermediate, recommend experience in stranded colorwork
Yarn: 1 skein/50 g Drops Karisma in Dark Purple 76 (A) 0.25 skeins Drops Karisma in Light Grey 44 (B), 0.1 skeins Drops Karisma in Dark Mustard 52 (C), 0.1 skein Drops Karisma in Dark Grey 53* (D)
Alternative with Drops Lima (same yardage): A - Dark Purple 4377, B - Light Grey 9010, C - Goldenrod 2923, D - Brown 5610
*Black on dark purple doesn't show up well, as depicted in the sample photo. For better contrast, substitute black with a chestnut/acorn brown. 
Gauge: 21 sts and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 in St st
Finished Size: Fits most adult-sized heads, 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) length
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) dp and 9 in (23 cm) circular needles
Other Materials Needed: ruler, yarn needle, stitch marker

CO 112 sts with US 2 and A. Connect in the round and pm to mark start and end of round. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (4 cm).

Switch to US 6, still with A, and decrease 14 sts evenly around round (*k6, k2tog* across) = 98 sts. This is row 1 of color chart. Continue working color chart, repeating chart seven time for each round.

Purple = Color A; Grey = Color B; Yellow = Color C, Black = Color D
[ / ] = K2tog; [X] = No Stitch
Continue with decreases, starting with round 33. Switch to dp needles when desired. Decreases are elaborated in written form below: 

Round 33: *k2tog A, k5D,* repeat * to * across round = 84 sts.
Round 34: k2A, *k3D, k3A,* repeat * to *, ending with k3D, k1A.
Round 35: *k2tog A, k1A, k1D, k2A,* repeat * to * = 70 sts.
Rounds 36, 38, 40, 42, & 44: K across round with A.
Round 37: *k2tog A, k3A,* repeat * to * across round = 58 sts.
Round 39: *k2tog A, k2A,* repeat * to * across round = 42 sts.
Round 41: *k2tog A, k1A* repeat * to * across round = 28 sts.
Round 43: k2tog A across round = 14 sts.
Round 45: k2tog A across round = 7 sts.

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!

k - knit
p - purl
CO - cast on
pm - place marker
k2tog - k two sts together in the back loops
k1A - k one st with color A
dp - douple-pointed needles
st(s) - stitch(es)
St st - stockinette stitch

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

Stay warm,
Happy Crafting!!

January 29, 2017

Women's March Pussy Hat

Last Saturday was the Women's March in Washington, D.C., as well as hundreds of accompanying sister marches marches around the nation and world. I attended the march in Walla Walla, WA. Though a small town of 31,000 in a conservative area, 2,500 people came to march, which is the largest protest in Walla Walla's history

One of the most exciting parts of this  event was the associated "craftivism" by the Pussyhat Project to hand knit pink pussy hats to wear in solidarity. (Later, patterns to crochet and sew hats also came out.) I would never miss out on such a knitterly opportunity, and I happened to have a skein of pink yarn leftover from my Semester in the West hat project. So the night before, I knitted one up real quick. 

During the march, I was blown away by the number of pink hats in the crowd. Different yarns, gauges, and types of fabric abounded, nearly as diverse as the people who participated. It was awesome.

I knitted the hat in the round instead of following the official pattern. I used DROPS Karisma Superwash in Dark Pink 13 with size 4 needles for the brim, size 6 for the body. It felt weird to not shape the hat at the top, but the little ears are very cute. I grafted the top together, which was slow but it worked! Also, one skein/50 g is not quiiiite enough yarn for a full hat, but that was all I had, so it's just a little short. 

This post is all about the selfies and phone-typed post. I'm computer-less for the moment but I'll have lots of posts to share once that status changes in a little bit! 

In the time being, stay warm, dry, and keep up the craftivism. The world needs it. 

Happy Crafting!!