where’s waldo hat

Some projects are exquisitely satisfying. It doesn’t even matter if it is something as simple as a plain hat, the kind of thing that even a total beginner could produce without breaking a sweat, sometimes all these little things come together in a project that make me squeal with joy every time I think of it!

Case in point: the hat a friend of mine asked me to knit for her boyfriend a few weeks ago. When I asked what she had in mind, she said she wanted a “where’s waldo” style hat, in other words: simple, close-fitting, with a pom-pom. She came over to look at my yarn stash, chose the colours, and I was set to go.

Already the choice of colours had me pleased as punch. When we were standing in front of my collection of worsted weight yarns, we were both drawn to the exact same combination. I tried to show her other options, because I didn’t want to push my preference on her, but it was clear that she was just as in love with it as I was.

Afterwards, as I set off to knit, I had a clear image in my mind of how I wanted this hat to look. But instead of looking for a pattern, I decided to improvise based on another pattern I knew well. I thought that would work to create the result I wanted it, but I wasn’t sure. Aaaaah how satisfying when it did work out!

Finally, as I was close to finishing, I started biting my nails, wondering whether I had enough of the contrast colour left to do the ribbing and a pom-pom. I did have some similar yarn in back-up, but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Imagine my satisfaction when it turned out that the amount I had was just right for a nice ribbed band and a pom-pom of the perfect fullness! So not only did I have all I needed to complete the project, but I used up every last bit of my yarn. Perfect destashing!

And there you go, a simple project that just tickled all the right spots of my knitting brain. Utter satisfaction. :)

What tickles you when it comes to knitting? What in a project makes you grin to yourself secretly as you knit away? :)

Details on how I made the hat on Ravelry.

baby gift set: milo and the simple baby hat

Speaking of simple baby stuff and good old patterns, here are two patterns I keep going back to when I’m in need of gifts for new parents. (Excuse the terrible photos, these are really quite lovely in real life.)

I tend to knit Milo and Simple Baby Hat as a baby gift set. I’ve done three pairs so far and I have no intention of stopping any time soon. They both call for more or less the same yarn and gauge, and are equally simple to make. Moreover, they can serve as wonderful blank canvases to experiment with whatever you want – embroidery, colourwork, striping…

Finally, they are both extremely quick to make, and parents tell me they’re super practical. So, if you need a win-win solution for the next baby shower you’re invited to with a few days’ notice, I’d highly recommend these two!

finished object: little thorpe

This knit started in a fairly standard way: my friend’s 2-year-old son needed a good hat that would stay on. After combing through dozens of children’s hat patterns I went back to good old Thorpe – it is such a great shape for keeping warm and its top-down construction means it’s also very easy to modify the size.

However, I came to learn quickly that it is very difficult to imagine what a good size for a 2-year-old head is if you don’t have any 2-year-old heads nearby. I ploughed on through the pattern eyeballing the size, with the help of my mom, An Experienced Award-Winning Three-Time-Mother and Two-Time-Grandma. You’d think she’d know. We were quite happy with the outcome up until I tried to put it on my own head and found it to be too big even for me.

fran2

Luckily this hat has a top-down construction (you start from the crown of the head), so if you need to make it smaller, you just have to rip back a few increases, until you get to a more appropriate number of stitches and then re-do the rest. The most fiddly part anyway is the cast-on and increasing, so with that out of the way ripping and re-knitting is a breeze. The second version I knit ended up fitting the boy like a glove. I really cannot recommend the Thorpe pattern enough if you are aiming to make a hat with a perfect fit (especially if you have the recipient’s head nearby for trials)…

fran1

Stay tuned, folks, this issue of babies/kids and sizing is going to become a recurrent theme on this blog, let me tell you…

simple baby stuff

As I’ve struggled with my RSI, my knitting has been very on and off. With the emphasis on the off. But every once in a while I’d get hopeful again and give it a try. And in the process I discovered the key to not getting frustrated: simple baby stuff.

Simple baby stuff is usually knit in a smooth yarn so as to avoid scratchiness for the babies, but this has the added bonus of the yarn not giving much resistance for the RSIer. In a similar vein, a loose gauge is required: again, softness for babies, less tension for the knitter. Last but not least, baby stuff is tiny! This means that a project can be completed very quickly, giving your RSIer a quick sense of accomplishment even if they can’t work on it for long stretches of time.

Above is an example of the kind of simple baby stuff I’ve been knitting – a lovely pattern to knit up even if you don’t have a particular baby in mind at the moment of knitting. They’re very handy to keep around and quickly grab for a gift when an unexpected new baby shows up. Every baby needs a practical hat, and mothers love them. Pattern and yarn details on Ravelry.

elephant duo

This was not in my knitting plans at all. One day, I simply found myself picking up the gray and yellow yarn, thinking that they go well together, and from there onwards there was no stopping me. I guess that’s what photos of cute babies do to one.

The duo was initially meant to be a trio, including a pair of gray booties. But to my great distress I had discovered that my favourite bootie pattern has in the meantime been taken off Ravelry, which led to trying out another one and failing miserably several times. I kept ending up with two different-sized booties, no matter how many times I ripped and re-tried. Yes, baby knits are great because they involve few stitches and are thus quick. But the fact that they involve few stitches also means that a difference of 3 or 4 stitches in a row makes a huge difference in the size of the finished object. And thus I decided in the end that an elephant trio would be too matchy-matchy anyway and that no self-respecting baby boy would match more than two items of clothing like ever. And therefore it actually would have been totally silly to give him booties as well, right? Right.

The hat pattern is Gooseberry, which I love for its simple elegance and stretchy practicality. My only objection was the lack of specificity about the size. The pattern simply indicated it was a “baby size”, which in my book is anything between 0 and 12 months, and therefore not terribly helpful if you’re aiming for anything more specific than that and do not have the intended recipient on hand to estimate as you go along. As a result I ended up playing around with the numbers and hoping it fits. I’ll let you know when I find out.

The vest is Milo, which is just a godsend blank canvas for an adorable baby gift. There are so many lovely versions available to draw inspiration from, ranging from cables to colourwork to rainbow striping… I could spend hours just looking at all the different ideas on Ravelry and planning dozens of different Milos to knit up some day. The only thing I didn’t like about the colourwork here was that, done in merino yarn, it looks pixelated rather than with nice round edges. This led to people not always recognising what the pattern was supposed to be (“Such cute piglets!”, my mother exclaimed upon seeing it, for instance). But I still did not yet dare knit something wooly for new parents, the last thing they want to be doing is worrying if the wool is chafing their baby’s cheeks and the last thing I want to be doing is wondering if the baby drool is going to make the vest felt (let’s not even talk about handwashing, I dare not utter that word in their company… ;)

gray is all around me

I’m busy busy busy with my Xmas knitting, and I’m enjoying it too! This evening I decided to take a break from life to do things that refill my batteries instead, and used the time gained to photograph some of the things I have in progress (albeit in crappy artificial light). I was a bit surprised to discover that all of them contained at least a little bit of gray! It seems to be my colour of choice for knits this season! Here’s the proof…

You’ve already seen Millwater (which, in the meantime, has been finished). Then there’s another completely gray item.

And after that there’s all sorts of gray combos.

Medium gray and dark red.

Baby gray and baby yellow.

Dark grey and dark purple.

You’re getting detail shots only on purpose. All of these are gifts, so more to be revealed in a few weeks… But considering the amount of gits I’m knitting, this is going to be one busy blog after xmas day!

Have you noticed any patterns in your colour choices this season?

not all FOs are winners

This explosion of FO posts lately has been due primarily to the fact that I had accumulated a bunch of FOs throughout the last year but had not had an opportunity to take photos of them. But for this one in particular I had another reason: I’m simply not crazy about it. I’m even tempted to rip it. But then I keep thinking someone else might like it?

I decided to knit the Antelope Hat mainly because I loooooved the version by porsu. The colour, the combination with a cowl, the styling, I love it all! Her hat looks like a beautiful cakey thing!

But my version is just not doing it for me. The shape is weird (one isn’t quite sure as to how to wear it) and the texture is too busy (even though I really loved the pattern!). So I have no idea what to do with it. For now, I’m just trying to repeat the mantra: “Not all FOs are winners. And that’s ok.”

p.s. More on the orange thingie soon! ;)