Sunday, January 15, 2017

Baa-Ble Hat and Slip Slidding Along the Trail with Simcha

I'm late to the party but better late than never!  This is the Baa-ble hat that has become an iconic pattern for the online knitting community.  It's been many many years since I last saw a pattern that captured the hearts of so many knitters.  The last time that I recall this happening was in 2009 with the still and ever popular bakkus scarf, a pattern that I attribute to single handedly spawning a whole industry shift to the humble bumble garter stitch after knitters saw how amazing hand painted yarns looked in this stitch.  If you recall prior to the bakkus most shawls were knit in a lace pattern on a stockinette background.

But back to the Baa-ble hat! This is a very fun design with easy color work that works up quickly in a worsted yarn. Whether you are an experienced knitter or a novice with color work this is a pattern that you will enjoy knitting.  And with the cute sheep ringing the hat it will appeal to all age groups.

Many knitters have found this hat knits up very large and as I have a smallish noggin I decided to follow the downsize modifications recommended by Susan B. Anderson.  Except and only that I knit my hat brim differently.  Because not only it is important to me how a hat fits but also how it looks on.  I'm shallow that way.

If you live in an ultra cold environs you probably won't want to make my modification.  Unless you too care how your hat looks on. What I am referring to is the extra bulk that a hat brim adds that can be less than flattering when worn. Or maybe it's just not flattering on me.  In any event my modification for a less bulky hat brim is as follows:
Knit hat brim in a twisted double rib (i.e. k tbl, k tbl, p,p) for 1.5 inches or desired length and then knit the same length in plain stockinette instead of more ribbing.  You are now set up to begin following the regular pattern instructions.
This modification allows you to have a hat brim to keep your ears cozy without the additional bulk from a double layer of ribbing.  And I love love love how mine came out!

Particulars:  Baa-ble Hat (Ravelry download only), designed by Donna Smith and the official pattern for Shetland Wool Week (2015); US 7 and 8 needles; my yarn came in a kit purchased from Dyed in the Wool Yarn Co (worsted weight); 1 skein Thunder (50g); Cranky Crock (50g) bonehead (50g) and black (25g).  I followed the downsized instructions here as graciously provided by the amazing and very popular blogger Donna B. Anderson, with the addition of my hat brim modification as discussed above.  I also completed all the charted decreases as I wanted a bit of a slouch to my hat. This is a wonderful pattern and super fun hat to wear!  FYI the official pattern for Shetland Wool Week (2016) is the Crofthoose Hat (as of yet still a free pattern) by Ella Gordon (blogs as Textile Maker).

Other color work projects I have blogged include: Osbury Rock (scarf) and Hebe (hat) both of which are very wearable pieces and favorites of mine.

Incidentally I knit the Gaucho Vest that I am wearing in these pictures.  I am quite possibly the only person who ever knit this pattern which is a shame because it has been an amazing wardrobe piece (so easy to dress up or down) and I wear it all the time!

Slip Sliding Along the Trail with Simcha

I often talk about my hikes with Simcha but I rarely take you along with us.  So for a change here's a few pictures from a cold, wet and muddy day. In other words a perfect day for wearing a warm woolly Baa-ble Hat!

The sunrises in Topanga, California are gorgeous in the winter months when the air is clear from all the wind and rain. The sun rises over the city of Los Angeles and looks different every morning as sometimes the city buildings are standing tall in the distance and other times obscured by a layer of fog and clouds.

Even though we live relatively close to the city we are in a very rural environment and the hiking is beautiful.  But you have to know where you are going because the trails are extremely muddy during the winter and Simcha and I have discovered that only too often!

But sometimes it's good for the soul to hike in the mud and just get down and dirty and frankly just can't be avoided. Simcha and I have been on trails where my shoes have been so heavily caked in mud that my feet practical come out of my shoes with each step.  When that happens I just clump clump along until I come to a rock where I can scrape some off some of the mud.  Other times the trail can be so slick with mud I just hope that I don't skid off the trail and land splat on my butt.

Simcha on the other hand is never troubled by the mud. That is until he hears the word bath.

Until next time be well and love well and get out and experience this wonderful wet winter season!  Perhaps in your own Baa-ble Hat.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Good Vibes at the Beach

It's a new day, a new year, and after a distressing year of world news it's time for some good vibrations at the beach! This is my new Good Vibes Shawl and consequently my favorite shawl because for whatever reason whatever I just finish I love the best. Which might explain why I have drawers full of shawls that don't get the love they deserve.

Although this year we are having a real "winter" complete with cold days and rainy weather and I've dipped into the woolly woolens stash more than I can ever remember.   I may look like a walking ball of yarn but at my age I don't care.  I can go outside and feel no pain, no chill, and no discomfort because I am accessorized with woolen socks, hat, cowl, mittens, and shawl and for good measure I even have a felted purse to hug for warmth.  These are good days to be a knitter.

That being said these pictures are taken at our place in San Clemente, California which is farther south than Topanga and right on the water so it has a much more temperate climate.  And in San Clemente even on a cold day all you need is a cozy shawl.  But still.  I'm amazed when I see some young people wearing shorts and a T-shirt cuz it is still, you know, cold.

The Good Vibes shawl is designed by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne and knit in Chelsea Luxe singles.  "Singles" are skeins of yarn that are unplied and surprisingly durable.  Or as durable as any somewhat delicate yarn can be.  I bought the yarn online and my first reaction on seeing it was disappointment because I had been expecting "skinny singles" as opposed to merely "singles."  They are quite different.  The "singles" are much puffier and fluffier than the "skinny singles."  But I've decided there's a lot to be said for puffy and fluffy yarn because this knit into a super soft and cozy shawl. So while I misread the yarn description in point of fact this was the perfect yarn for this project.

Caveat Emptor.  As is true for all merino yarns this yarn will not hold a block.  When wet it may stretch into humongous proportions but give it time and like the special effects in Honey I Shrunk the Kids it will shrink into shockingly small dimensions.  What I recommend is that if you are knitting with merino wool (which I love to do) and particularly the singles you should plan on using at least 600 to 800 yrds if you want a decent sized shawl that doesn't need a tedious reblocking every time you want to wear it.

I found this pattern very fun to knit and I absolutely love the finished shawl.  I did run out of the grey yarn and had to order a second skein and I did skip one of the blue wedges due to yardage concerns although ironically I would have had enough of the blue to knit all 6 wedges.  I actually only needed the additional grey skein for the bind off and I considered substituting another yarn from stash.  But for this particular shawl I felt it would look best with the bind off in the matching yarn.  The good news is that now I have almost a whole skein of the grey to make something else!

Particulars:  Good Vibes designed by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne (aka: Ittybittyknits and writes the blog NCL Knits); US 6 needles; 1.1 skeins of Chelsea Luxe singles (400 yrds 100% merino) colorway London Rain and 1 skein Chelsea Luxe Singles (400 yrds 100% merino) colorway London Sky. A similar yarn found in many LYS is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light.  Even though I technically had sufficient yarn for this project, as discussed above, I had yardage concerns so I skipped blue wedge No. 5 and jumped right to wedge No. 6.  As it turned out I had sufficient yarn in the blue to have completed all the wedges.  But, even having skipped wedge 5, I still needed to dip into a second skein of the grey.   Post blocking (shrunken/relaxed measurement) 64" x 16."

To see projects using similar yarn see my Doodler Shawl (using skinny singles) and Crashing Waves shawlette (using singles).

Simcha and the Beach

Every year between Christmas and New Year we spend at the beach in San Clemente, California.  And we never take Simcha.  It just works out better for both parties that we take separate vacations.  And before you feel too sorry for him know that he's staying at the Topanga Pet Resort where he always has a fabulous time.  But in case you are feeling sorry for him I thought I would share this picture so that you see he's still getting out and enjoying a quintessential "Southern California" lifestyle. Including morning jogs on the beach in Malibu (that occasionally devolve into chasing after the rich and famous seagulls).

On the topic of living a Southern California lifestyle here's a list of my favorite music videos shot on (or around) local beaches with a SoCal vibe:

Lana Del Rey ~ West Coast
The Neighborhool ~ Sweater Weather
Katie Perry ~ Teenage Dream
Dirty Heads ~ My Sweet Summer
Keith Urban ~ Long Hot Summer

Until next time be well and love well and may 2017 be a wonderful year and a time of repair, unity, and much needed good vibes in this world.