Monday, November 26, 2007

Two FOs: red hats and purple scarf

I thought I'd knit my mum red hat and purple scarf for her 60th birthday (a reference to this poem). I chose my yarn and patterns, and planned to complete the projects during my trip to the USA.

But knitting doesn't always go to plan.

For the red hat, I planned fair-isle, mixing some red 4ply soft with opal uni in a chocolate brown. I designed a chart, cast on at Gatwick airport and, as the plane made its way to the other side of the Atlantic, got about half way through. But as we landed, I decided I didn't like colour combination in fair-isle, and frogged the lot (the brown yarn and chart pattern became these mittens). Stranded in DC with limited internet and a whole ocean away from my pattern book collection (not to mention needles), I was a bit stuck for what to do. I had a 3.25mm circular with me to make the scarf, so did a gauge swatch with the yarn held double, trying out the cable pattern I could do from memory (I'd just used it in this sock).

red hat side

It worked pretty well, and the double-held soft yarn made for a lovely warm and squishy hat. I'm particularly proud of the the in-pattern crown decreases. I don't know if I could write out the pattern, as the whole project was pretty free-form, but I'll maybe have a go if I have time before Christmas.

red hat - crown

This half of the project completed, I cast-on for a lace scarf. Swallowtail in a soysilk laceweight which I planned to dye purple once knitted-up. I worked out how to add pattern repeats to make it big enough, and got most of the way through. But the p5tog's in the boarder were my undoing. I mis-placed one (knitting lace while gossiping...) so frogged a few rows back to re-do them. But the p5tog's acted as a knot, and I literally had to rip it apart, cutting the yarn to bits. As I did this, a load more unravelled in a way I couldn't possible pick back up (and I'm pretty good at using a crochet hook to re-knit a few rows down). More ripping. So much that I lost more yarn than I could spare - I wasn't going to have enough left to re-knit the ripped bit and finish the thing.

Bye bye soy-swallowtail. You can see a picture here. It is the only thing I've knitted that has actually ended up in the bin.

By then I'd got to California, so visited Artfibers in San Francisco hoping to find something special enough to make a replacement with. What a shop! They have the most beautiful, unusual yarn. They also have mini-skeins you can knit with to see if you like it and try out stitch patterns. There are examples of swatches and pictures of finished pieces hanging up all over the place for inspiration. It has a really relaxed and friendly environment too, yet also extremely professional (photos here and here). As soon as I cast on with their Alfabeto, I knew it was perfect - so warm and silky, yet also very light. It has a very dark purple base, almost an oily black, with bits of blue, pink and red shot through (I couldn't get a photo which did it justice). It's 76% silk, 19% mohair, 5% wool - gorgeous stuff.

seafoam bunched

As a variegated yarn, I decided I'd go for a relatively simple garter-stitch based seafoam stitch, which also gives it a nice drape. It took a bus trip from San Francisco to LA, the plane from LAX to JFK and several commutes to and from work once I was home to finish, but I got it done in time for the birthday itself. I'm really pleased with it, though I think the credit goes largely to Artfibers for such delicious yarn.

seafoam hanging

So, neither piece was quite what I was planning, and all improvised on the road. But I was pretty pleased with it in the end.

20 comments:

Veronique said...

Wow, that was quick birthday knitting! I love that color, and, oh, Artfibers is just wonderful, isn't it?
The computer case is lovely too!

Jesse said...

Beautiful hat!

Oiyi said...

Awesome hat! I love the trees on the hat with berries on it.

Clare said...

Beautiful! The hat is fantastic, and the colour of your shawl yarn...wow. You will have one very happy mum, I am sure!

Lolly said...

Everything turned out so beautifully! I missed ArtFibers when I was in SF last year - I do want to go back and visit... your endorsement helps! Love te cables on the hat too ;)

glittrgirl said...

What a lcky mum to get such fabulous gifts!

The_Add_Knitter said...

Oh WOW the hat is incredible!

Jaki said...

Artfibers is inspirational isn't it - and for those of us overseas, their service is amazing, too. But as for that hat of yours - well, I know you want a life, but PLEASE have a go at writing the pattern up for those of us who are less talented than you!

Rima said...

Beautiful!

peaknits said...

What a trip - I love the hat - it is wonderful. i'm going to go say a little prayer you work up the pattern some day:)

Lace-lovin' Librarian - Diane said...

Beautiful! Would you like to adopt me? I'll be 60 in four years!

Roobeedoo said...

Ooooooooooooooooh! Lovethem both! Pleeeease share the hat pattern!

Amy said...

I'd be pleased too, they're gorgeous!

cosette said...

that hat is GREAT! and i would be proud of those top decreases too. i love it when my memory serves me well.

Lara said...

ooooh - I love the shawl. The colour of the yarn is beautiful and I love the laptop case. Such great presents!

gleek said...

i so love artfibers! what a lovely shop. the people there are so helpful too :) i adore the hat! you might have to write up a pattern for that.. hint.

it was great meeting you in NYC! wish it could have been a longer one, but that's life with an 8 month old :)

KNITSABELLA said...

Ooooh thank you so much for mentioning Artfibers! Sounds like a knitters paradise. I'll be moving out to NoCal in a few weeks, so I'm keeping my ears open for LYSs.

And the color of that shawl yarn... gorgeous. I fear that if I made something with it, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to give it away!

Philippa said...

As someone who probably knits about half as much as they could due to finding themselves in the wrong house with the right needles or far from the internet with only pages 1 and 3 of a pattern, I am so impressed! The hat is *lovely*. Inspirational as usual :)

carolyn says said...

both turned out beautifully!

I fell in love with ArtFibers when we were there last Autumn, unfortunately they only had one skein of some really gorgeus Manos del Uruguay I wanted and that made me sad. I cured my sorrow with mexican food though and then I was okay.

escort said...

The guy is absolutely fair, and there is no suspicion.