I wanted to write a little about the other, perhaps more important side of self-care that is not being covered in glossy magazine articles about trendy coffee bars and fancy spa retreats, and the kind of self-care that is accessible to people like me in […]
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There are occasions when I feel a bit (as Scarf Lady would say) ‘knit stuck’. In case you do not know who Scarf Lady is, this is she. My future (or maybe present) self. I just need that top knot.
Because I do not have a top knot, nor a full and warm head of hair, I needed a new hat. I decided that the best way to get over my current knit stuck predicament was to not overthink, over-plan or overcomplicate my knitting with my own ideas, but to take a back seat with the design process and just enjoy the expertise of one of the most consistently brilliant designers I know of. It was time to knit another Woolly Wormhead hat. I’d actually not long finished Lamitra and it was still fresh in my mind just how well thought out and constructed that knit was, and I simply wanted back in to that happy knitting place.
So, I somehow started with choosing the yarns and the idea to make my little boy a hat. I don’t know why I started with the yarn, but I ended up choosing some handspun and a sizeable remnant of grey yarn from a past project. I knit a swatch to begin with, and using the gauge obtained from that sample square I picked a Woolly Wormhead pattern using the Ravelry pattern database search tools with the gauge as the guiding factor. Misura it was. Of the sizes given, one seemed about right for Darwin’s head circumference, but I was a little worried about the length, given that he has that short, little squat and round head that three-year olds are blessed with. I asked in the Woolly Wormhead support forums if there was a way to shorten the hat whilst keeping all of the design elements, and there was. The forums are a perfect pattern support system, and with the advice duly taken I was ready and confident to begin.
For the toddler hat I started with a 55st cast on and kept the garter stitch brim to the depth given in the pattern. I had thought about shortening it to match the shorter proportions of the hat, but decided that the extra warmth and stability would be beneficial as well as making the most of the colour changes in the handspun.
As with the Lamitra hat, I found that once I had knit the first section it was easy to carry on knitting without having to refer back to the pattern, as the sideways knit hat is knitted in repeating wedge-shaped segments. These clever sections flow continuously as you knit due to the clever use of short rows. You just keep knitting these until the hat fits around the head (and it’s so very simple to keep trying the knitting on to see if you need another segment or two, that there’s absolutely no guesswork needed for fit if your row gauge isn’t quite right).
The knitting was an absolute joy, and the project flew from the needles. The combination of the clever construction and using yarn I’d spun myself made for such a cheery project that as soon as I cast off I wished I’d cast on a bigger size and made a hat for myself. I eyed my leftover yarn. Could there possibly be enough to make myself a matching hat? This time I cast on 67sts and rocketed through an adult-sized copy in two evenings. Matching adult and toddler rainbow hats? Yes. This is so very much what I knit for.
The handspun yarn that I used was a chain plied heavy-fingering weight that I had spun from one of Shunklies’ combed merino tops in the colourway ‘Babyface‘. Oddly, I don’t seem to have taken any photos of the finished yarn, but do have a photo of the spun singles in progress:
I spun this yarn by picking out all of the individual colours from the blended top and spinning them back in as close to a colour progression as I could. There’s some marling due to the inexact separation of the fibres, but I think the extra work gave a nice yarn. Being my first chain plied yarn it was a bit inconsistent, but such a comfortable yarn when knit up that the extra lumpy bumpiness of the garter stitch only serves to give greater contrast to the sleek grey-blue Fyberspates Vivacious yarn. Technically, these two yarns aren’t particularly well paired, but a happy accident in slightly mis-matched weights means that I love them together.
When I bought the fibre I had a hat (or hats) in mind for the eventual spin, as I also purchased two ready-made fluffy pompoms to add to any finished project(s).
It almost felt wrong to cover up the spectrum of colours that adorn the clever crown shaping at the top of the two hats, but my toddler has very definite ideas about what makes a good winter hat, and that’s a bobble hat… and a bobble hat simply isn’t a bobble hat without a giant bobble. I did get a picture of that divine crown shaping and play of colour before the pompom was attached, however, because it’s a joy to behold.
I’m soon to embark on a family visit and can be an anxious traveller, so a pattern with a repeatable set of clear instructions is exactly the ticket to take my mind off of any worries and occupy my hands, so I will have a look through my Woolly Wormhead patterns to see what my next hat pattern might be. Hat season is well and truly here.
The third single-focus, deep-dive technique book by the Arnall-Culliford team is about to land with knitters in the form of a new eBook about …Helical Knitting, and the project promises to be pretty exciting. Following soon behind the release of the new Something To Knit […]
The last few weeks have ben a bit of a whirlwind here at Castle Codd. I’ve steadily been busy making things to bring us into the new season, which is one of my favourite of the year, and is now always brought in with a colourful celebration of my little boy’s birthday.
We celebrated with family as Darwin turned three. Three whole years we’ve been together as a family now, and the well-recieved wisdom that the days are long but the years are brief feels so very real. I turn 40 in December, and time sometimes feels as if it moves away from me faster than I feel happy for, especially when I feel I have lost a year to illness now, and I can’t help reflect on all of the missed opportunities and experiences that has taken not only from me, but my family as well. But I have better health news recently that gives me hope and renewed positivity that this is not it for me. I hope, on Darwin’s 4th birthday, to feel better than I did on his 3rd.
But we had a great celebration of our little guy turning three, and gathering three years of experience, opinions and imagination to his character. As is (by my own making) customary, I decorated Darwin’s cake. We spoke a little about his favourite characters and I presented him a few options, and he decided on Grand Master Glitch from The Go Jetters. I am sure if I had asked him the following week he would as likely have said something else, but it was a great cake to make.
Among his gifts, Darwin received a camera of his very own, which will hopefully mean that he can document the world as HE sees it, and it will allow Russell and I to see a small glimpse of the world around him through his own lens, and to feel for the things he finds important. Of course, the very first thing he did was to take a photograph of his food.
In case you were wondering what those chocolate fingers are, they are the occasional character ‘Stick’ from Darwin’s favourite Hey Duggee cartoon, home of Darwin’s beloved Betty, the five-legged purple octopus. They were enjoyed by Darwin, and as a few people drew my attention to after the fact, at least one big, famous kid:
So reading left to right, that’s… stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick sticky sticky stick stick. (One for parents of a certain age there) https://t.co/XHJvNybh48
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) September 17, 2018
Decorating Darwin’s birthday cake was one of the few ‘traditions’ I consciously started when Darwin was born. My nan always made and decorated a cake of my choosing when I was small, and Russell’s mum had a big book of children’s cakes that Russell was allowed to choose from when he was small, and so it just felt like something I wanted to do for our little boy, also. None of the cakes I have made have been grand or elegant, but I hope the memories will be ones that he will keep with him as he grows and I will keep on decorating for as long as he is happy for me to do so.
Once the birthday celebrations had calmed down, I took to a bit more knitting. The cooler weather brings the welcome comfort of hats. I find hats my most important items of knitwear at the moment. Not only do they hide a bad hair day when I only need to make a five minute walk to the nursery and back, but I increasingly find them a source of comfort and almost protection when I am feeling unwell and the problems with my illness show on my face and hair, as they often do in sore and broken skin and past bouts of hair loss. I keep my hair short to try and mitigate the latter somewhat, now, but that then leads to a colder head… Also cured, lovingly and most comfortably by a hat.
My first hat of the season was Lamitra by Woolly Wormhead. Slightly slouchy and very forgiving when you feel like you’d like to have the buffer of hair around you but don’t actually have much.
I actually have SO MANY hats that knitting more would seem strange, except that though I must have about 20, I tend to stick to the same one or two. The rest are stored in the wardrobe. I am thinking of washing and freshening them up and then selling them each for a nominal amount to buy Christmas meals for women and children in Women’s refuges this winter. In past years, the charity Refuge have run a page whereby you can purchase one or more Christmas dinners. I was not in the refuge system over Christmas. I stayed between Spring and Autumn, and was present during Eid celebrations at the refuge. Local charities and businesses were kind, and made an inclusive celebration for all residents, but the bulk of the support and small kindnesses offered came from donations straight to Refuge, and I think it’s something I’d like to do this year. Even one meal would make a difference to someone, and I really don’t need so many hats (especialIy as I am making myself new ones…)
The autumnal colours in the Lamitra I’ve knitted were perfect as the season began to change, and reminded me of the past papercraft project Darwin and I worked on together. The leaves in the picture above are the few left over from the tissue paper watercolour sheets that Darwin and I worked on some weeks ago. The rest have finally been made into a simple wreath to hang at our front door.
The leaves we created were simply glued onto a pre-made wreath form, using a hot glue gun, overlapping so that after the first leaf was glued on the next was made to overlap with the bottom (stalk end) of the first leaf being covered with the top of the next leaf.
The wreath form is a 30cm rattan twisted burlywood wreath form that I found on eBay for £2.70 and was the perfect size for the number of leaves that we had created in one of our toddler craft afternoons last month.
I’ve never really decorated for autumn, beyond the celebrations of Darwin’s birthday, though the richness of colour and ease of weather make it one of my favourite times of year, so this year I am celebrating with the warmth of family and in gratitude for love and friendship, and this is a little touch to welcome home my family any day, plus any visitors that call by in the shortening days.
Wishing to comfort to all that read this. I’ll be back with a few more exciting projects very soon.