Sittin’ pretty, now that my little knitting slump is over. I’ve neglected the blog for a couple of weeks because, well, all I would have done is b*tch about the you-know-what scarf anyway. I had decided that dang it, I am going to get that thing done before summer, and more importantly, before the Knitting Olympics start, if it kills me. I was determined. I was diligent. I was excruciatingly bored.
I finally succumbed to the temptation for some immediate gratification (hereafter called IG). Anyone who has had a project that has morphed into something akin to punishment or work understands the glory, the satisfaction, the ahhhhh of an IG project. It’s like chocolate. Or wine. Or other less mentionable things. It might not get you any closer to your goal, but it does something to rejuvenate your spirit, thereby making it possible to continue rather than chuck everything into a closet to wait for the next decade.
So, my IG project was a little cutie called The Pillbox Hat from Hello Knitty. The fact that I had the yarn for this was due to yet another case of the color not being what I expected when I ordered from the internet. I had ordered the Cascade Magnum from Hello Knitty in Highland Green. On my screen, it looks like a mossy or sagey green. When it arrived, I discovered what I like to term Jungle Monkey Green. I don’t know why. It just reminds me of monkeys somehow. In the jungle. The problem was that the color was too perfect for the intended project: the Elf Cap from Handknit Holidays. It was going to be for my husband, who said, “You choose the color. Surprise me” (I know the picture shows it modeled on girls, but there’s a picture in the book that shows that can be equally fetching on men. Trust me. It’s a cool hat.). I know he loves blue, but I thought I’d get a nice green because a) he already has a blue hat and b) it was $2 cheaper to get the green from Hello Knitty. In retrospect, it seems really dumb to have not gotten blue because I’d save a whopping TWO DOLLARS, but at the time it made the idea of paying so much for one skein of yarn AND the two pairs of needles that I didn’t already have, a little easier to swallow.
So, done in green, this particular hat would have made my husband look like… an elf. It’s the exact color that you would imagine Santa’s elves would wear. That’s why it’s too perfect for this hat: my husband would prefer not to resemble an elf that closely. I don’t blame him. It’s one thing to dig on their style. It’s another thing to have little kids running up to you asking you if the presents are almost done yet.
Since I couldn’t use the yarn for the elf cap, it joined the rest of the stash to take up lots of room and to wait for another project. It’s a nice, bulky, soft, one-ply wool yarn, and I was determined to use it for something else rather than send it back (more stupidity – would rather keep the ugly monkey yarn than pay for return shipping), but it waited for a while, because I still didn’t love the color. On a whim one evening, I searched the internet for projects that might use this yarn, and… duh. Was pointed right back to Hello Knitty, where there are at least two hat patterns available in pdf format for $3 each. The Chunky Hat would be great because I had all the supplies at the ready, no further purchases required. But, I couldn’t see that hat in that color. I loved the Pillbox hat, but didn’t have the Cascade 220 to go with it. The nice thing about the Pillbox, though, would be that I could possibly tone down the monkiness of the Highland Green by mixing it with another color of worsted weight yarn.
Finally, my solution was to go to Michael’s and purchase Lion Brand Lion Suede in teal. Mostly because I didn’t want to make the 1/2 hour drive to the only yarn store in the vicinity that carries Cascade 220, only to possibly find out they didn’t have a suitable color anyway. I didn’t want to spend much more, so I cheaped out again.
Luckily, it was a good choice this time. The Lion Suede doesn’t, in my opinion, really resemble suede at all, but is more like a worsted weight chenille. It does give a nice touch of texture in random splotches on the hat, giving it just enough blue to transform the color from Jungle Monkey Green to… Swamp Witch Green. That doesn’t sound much better, but when I think “swamp witch,” I think seductive, mysterious mixes of dark waters. So there it is.
The great thing about this hat? It took a very short amount of time. I made it over the course of two evenings, and had it not been for the fact that I had to put it down repeatedly to do my Mommy job, I could have gotten it done in one. There’s the ahhhhh. IG. And it’s a really cute hat; I love the way it came out, and as my first hat, it will probably never be tossed out.
The unfortunate thing about this hat? Well, I love hats, but hats do not love me. It’s a proven fact, proven by the countless hats I have tried on and that have never looked quite right on me. This one is no exception. The model on the website? She looks adorable. Me? Not so much. I look like I’m wearing a lampshade. I do have to say that my son looks sweet in it, though. Will I learn my lesson and not make any more hats? Mmmm… not likely. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I am a hat girl that can’t wear hats, so it’s okay. I’ll wear it around the house on chilly days. I’ll make more adorable hats that will have the same around -the-house -only fate.
The bad thing about this hat? Well, about this pattern. Those k2tog and worse, k3tog decreases are a b*tch with a yarn this thick. My hands were seriously sore after all was said and done. My size #15 16″ circular Clover bamboo needles have gouge marks in them. I did discover a few tricks by the end, which I pass on to you:
1. I found it helpful to slip the three loops to be knitted together off of the size 15 needle and onto a size nine straight needle.
2. I don’t know if I can explain this properly, but I slipped the right needle into the three stitches purl-wise, which allowed me to then put my thumb through them knit-wise and kept it there to open them up, and that helped to be able to wedge the size 15 needle through them.
3. I twisted the two yarns together as tightly as I could before wrapping them around the needle.
4. I pushed really hard to get through those stitches.
5. If I split the yarn (and it’s easily split), I went ahead and finished the stitch and then rectified the split problem. There was almost no way to not split while doing a k3tog, even with the two yarns twisted together. As long as you fix it, I don’t think it hurts the yarn one bit.