Here are two hats from my hand-dyed worsted weight Brown Sheep yarn for A Loose Knit Group's February project. The hat on the top is the Fishtail Hat by Gail Bable from the Knitter's Pattern-a-Day Calendar. I used size 8 needles and 80 sts. The pattern repeat is 10 sts and 8 rounds. I decided to decrease the crown more slowly than the pattern recommended so I left out an 8 round repeat to compensate for the extra length. It looks more like a child sized hat instead of an adult sized hat (that it was supposed to be). To make one for myself, I would use 90 sts and work 5 eight round repeats and then decrease the crown in the same manner. I could try to use size 9 needles, but I like the how the stitches look with the size 8 needles.
The bottom hat is the Touch of Whimsy hat. It took a long time to knit the bottom piece even though it was just back and forth over 30 sts. This hat turned out to be on the large side, maybe I should have gone down a needle size. I enjoy seeing how the same yarn can look so differently in two different hat patterns. I am glad to have two hats completed for my favorite knit-a-long.
Hats are our selected project for A Loose Knit Group for February. It turned out that I did not have enough of my hand-dyed yarn to knit the vest I started last week. The vest is 23" long and I only had enough yarn for 22.5 inches and that did not included the front and armhole edgings. I decided I would be cutting it too close and that I have enough handspun Icelandic Chloe to knit the vest. I could not bear the thought of possibly running out of yarn, so I started knitting a hat. This hat is called A Touch of Whimsy Hat by Rebecca Mercer and is in the 2008 Pattern-A-Day calendar. Here is a link to the pattern through her blog. It is a unique design knitted sideways then grafted together. The crown is then picked up along the slipped stitch edge and knitted like a regular hat. I have never made a hat like this before and I enjoy knitting it with my hand-dyed yarn.
I recently decided to start this vest with the yarn I dyed at the Springwater Dye Day I attended last month. My beaded cuff turned out be too big and my other attempts were unsuccessful. I somehow managed to misplace my Sun & Moon sock as I was ready to start the second one. I wanted to begin a new project and this vest fit the bill. I am using the Basic Cardigan Vest pattern from Knitting Pure & Simple. The pattern uses k2, p2 ribbing for the bottom and garter stitch for the other edges. I have decided to go with seed stitch as I am not fond of garter stitch. Ribbing for the bottom probably would have been better but the seed stitch will match and is working well enough. I am switch skeins of yarn every two rows to help with the pooling, though I'm not sure it is really helping. This fun, quick to knit project is just what I need right now.
I went to Springwater Fiber Workshop to participate in their Dye Day. We learned about dyeing yarn as we volunteered to dye yarn for the shop. We even had the option of purchasing some of our dyed yarns. I purchased my 3 skeins of Lamb's Pride dyed in Sea Breeze and Lilac which should be enough to knit a vest. Our instructor, Sue Wroton, showed us helpful techniques and answered all of our questions. She stacked three skeins on top of each other and dyed them together. I used to lay three skeins out and try to color each of them the same way. Sue's way is much easier and the skeins match better, too. I enjoyed talking with the other fiber artists in the class. There were knitters, spinners, and weavers making some beautiful yarns. It was a delightful day of dyeing fun.
I have completed my first hand-spun hand-dyed toe-up sock. It went better than my first attempt where I used size 0 dpns, 72 sts, and it took up too much yarn. I think about overdyeing the pair of socks when I am finished knitting them, but this sock turned out nicer than I expected. I started with size 0 Addi Bamboo dpns with the toe and then switched to 2.5 mm Addi Turbo circular needles once I had 60 sts. This hand-spun yarn is thicker than commercial sock yarns and my gauge is 7.5 sts per inch instead of 8 sts per inch. I used a 2.0 mm Addi Turbo circular needle for the heel. I weighed the yarn carefully as I went along and hope to get a similar second sock. This Polwarth yarn is soft and springy and I know these will be very comfortable socks.
Some of my sock projects were not going as planned, so I returned to this sock project. The yarn is Polwarth that I spun and then dyed following the ideas in Yarns to Dye For. My second dyeing attempt turned out better, at least this yarn is interesting to knit and I do love to knit with my handspun yarn. I reworked this project for a toe-up sock as I want to be sure I will not run out of yarn. I have about 3.5 oz, but it goes from fingering weight to light dk weight. For this toe-up, I casted on 4 sts and worked in stockinette for 8 rows then picked up sts around the strip of fabric. I saw this technique in an Interweave Knits pattern. Instead of M1 increases, I used K1FB increases, every other round, to 60 sts on 2.0 mm Addi Bamboo dpns. I then switched to 2.5 mm Addi 40" Turbo needles. I will return to 2.0 mm needles for the short-row heel. So far, so good, and I am looking forward to wearing some handspun socks.
I've completed my hand-dyed socks. I followed the instructions in Yarns to Dye For with Louet Gems Pearl yarn from Lanas de Libelula. I used blueberry, strawberry, lilac & spring green Country Classic dyes. I ran out of yarn and ended up dyeing some more yarn with the leftover blueberry dye for the toes. I knitted them with my Celtic Swan size 0 dpns and 72 sts. It's not quite the look I was going for but I liked the challenge of dyeing a self-striping yarn. I took a dyeing class taught by Cheryl Potter of Cherry Tree Hill Farm at Stitches eight or so years ago. I enjoyed learning about her approach to dyeing and how some of her colorways came to be. We also dyed a skein of sport weight yarn for socks. I have wanted to get back to dyeing for a long time and this project was a fun experiment.
I finished the first of my hand-dyed self-striping socks. The second sock will have a slightly shorter cuff as I only have 40 grams of yarn left and the first sock weighs 45 grams. Oh well, not too big of a deal. This example certainly makes toe-up socks more appealing! I like the toe on a cuff-down sock the best. The short-row toe up sock can distort the yarn pattern for self-striping yarns enough to bother me. The figure-8 cast-on toe ups have increases that look like holes when I wear them and are a bit pointy. I like Anna Zilboorg's technique for socks which is similar to her top-down mitten technique the best for toe up socks. I specifically made this sock cuff shorter than my usual sock cuff to ensure that I would have enough yarn. I guess I didn't make it quite short enough, plus I look at the few yards of yarn I wasted so I could start the sock with a lilac stripe. I'm learning more from my sock dyeing than I could have ever imagined and I enjoy have socks that are uniquely my own.
I've made some progress on my hand-dyed self-striping socks, having gotten past the heel on the first sock. I like how these Celtic Swan needles are forged and have all these ridges to keep the stitches on the needle. I have been know to pull the wrong needle when I switch to the next needle. Instead of pulling out the empty needle, I pull out one holding sts and it comes out quite easily, but not with these needles! I ended up ripping out and re-skeining and washing my first hand-dyed self-striping sock, which was also hand-spun. I thought I spun a fingering weight, but it turned out to be a bit thicker and I was using up way too much for the first sock. These will be toe-up socks so I can more easily monitor how much yarn I have.