Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The tale of a hat: Newhaven (FO)

I'm a hat knitter and a hat wearer. I'm wearing one now - sitting at our dining table, typing on my lap top - sitting inside. It's a bit chilly, and I'm going out again in a short while, so I decided just to keep my hat on when I got in. 

I seem to come from hat wearing stock. My dad used to wear tweed flat caps in the 1970s and 1980s when I was growing up, and my brother wears something on his head most days, usually one of the scrap hats I have made for him.

To go back to the story: I wear hats a lot in the winter, and over the last few years I have made quite a lot of hats for other people. My own hat stash was wearing fairly thin. I have a green, striped scrap hat - the original prototype and starting point for my scrap hat recipe (but the tassle fell off last year) - and a lovely red hat, knitted in a soft red yarn (Rowan Kid Classic) using a pattern from a dim and distant Rowan magazine.  If it's cold I wear them both. 

Some time last winter I decided that I need to augment my hat collection. I wanted a blue hat to work with all of the blues in my wardrobe. I put it down on my shopping list for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and came home with a skein of completely on-message Wollmeise DK and a copy of Ysolda Teague's Newhaven hat pattern. Tick and tick. 

I also snagged a skein of Ysolda's kitten soft yarn, Blend No. 1 which I bought at the same time as the pattern. Naughty, but very nice. 

Obviously, as the grey yarn wasn't on my shopping list, I wound that first, and then used that to make my first Newhaven hat. The hat has short rows and charts and texture, but before you know it you are at the top and trying to work out how to turn the thing inside out for the 3 needle bind-off. 

Once I figured that out, I put it on my head and I haven't really looked back. It's my new favourite. I can't remember if I have washed or blocked it yet (why bother?!). 

I was wearing the hat the other morning when I saw Ysolda herself, having her morning coffee. I waved and pointed at my hat, and she waved back and gave me a thumbs up. Then she wrote about it on her blog. Ah. Light and love and things to cheer us up. Happy knitmas one and all. 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

2016: a retrospective

2016 has been a challenging year. 

Brexit and Trump mean it will have a lasting political impact on the world, but there are other things too. Smaller things about my own life which have been difficult and challenging and which will have ongoing and long-term effects. And, just like Brexit and Trump, these things are also changes that I do not want, that I do not support, and which I have done my best to resist. 

It seems - sadly - that I will have to learn to live with them. To work round them and to rethink my future. 

To get back to the other challenges for 2016, I set myself several crafty objectives earlier in the year, and it's time to take stock. 

1. Tame the stashes 
I did a good job of reducing the yarn stash, and knitting from stash a wee bit (tank top or two, plus a few other accessories), and then bought a sweater's worth of lovely yarn from Skein Queen to make myself a jumper, and two skeins of yarn for hats. 

I did sort the fabric stash, and move a few things around and get rid of some fabric I thought I would never use. But, that didn't shrink it much, and then I found I needed to order some more for a project or two that I had planned, so I don't think I am any further forward. 

2. Use the stash!
Knitting: I made a cowl for myself, a tank top for the bean, another scarf for myself, and a lovely hat. I used the stash to remake a hat for my brother, and knit a Christmas hat for my daughter. I made a slightly too big pair of socks that ended up going to my dad. My needles are currently clacking away on a pair of fingerless mitts for my brother's girlfriend. 

Newhaven Hat by Ysolda Teague
knitted in Ysolda's Blend No 1 

wee scrap hat (own design)
modelled by little bean

scrap hat revisited - own design
I made this for my brother using some frogged yarn from an old scrap hat of his, which was disintegrating from use/wear and washing. 

Sewing: I have made myself two jersey skirts suitable for work, three very small raglan tees for a friend, two pairs of school leggings and a nightdress for the jelly bean. I also made a few upcycled projects using fabric recovered from old t-shirts.

3 x recess raglan tee (See Kate Sew)
made with upcycled fabrics; the fire-engine motif was rescued from a toddler t-shirt and attached using bondaweb

4 x upcycled dusters or polishing cloths. Made from old t-shirts

3. Make some things to fill gaps in my wardrobe: 
I made a cowl, a navy jersey skirt, a lovely raspberry coloured scarf, and a grey hat. It is so satisfying to make things that fit right in to the palette and styles that I wear everyday, and which immediately go into rotation. I also made a gorgeous multi-coloured skirt which didn't really fit into my careful plans, but has been a useful me-made addition nevertheless. 

 Bias stripe scarf (Purl Soho)
Knit with some lovely but anonymous raspberry sock yarn from the stash, and striped with some odds and ends

4. Finish the UFOs
There has been progress here. My WIP pile has reduced significantly. I think I just have one long-range UFO in my knitting bag, which I am eyeing up as a Christmas gift. My sewing UFO pile ebbs and flows, but I think it has reduced in size a little. 

5. Continue to work on mending. 

There has been a lot of mending this year. I have darned, sewn, embellished, and ironed-on patches. I even managed to do some of that with friends. 

I haven't blogged much.  But I have been stitching. And I made myself some things. I might not have achieved everything I planned, but I can happily tick quite a few things off the list. Hurrah for that.