Monday, January 20, 2014

Wear All The Wool

We've had some pretty cold days here on the prairies this winter, which has made me want to knit all things and wear all the wool.  But it's ok. I'm a knitter. I'm expected to wear all the wool. Or, at least, I assume I am.

Last spring, my friend Sally sent me some beautiful hand spun yarn. I had over 300yds of DK weight loveliness to use, but no idea what to use it on. I didn't want to waste it on something not worthy of hand spun so it waited, tucked away in the drawer, until such time as I found a pattern that I deemed to be the right one.

Of course I found a pattern I loved right when I was in the middle of holiday crafting, but I was good. I waited until after Christmas to even wind my wool so I wouldn't be tempted to cast on.

On December 28th, as the beginnings of a blizzard swirled outside the window, I hunkered down, cozy and warm inside and cast on my Knotted Pine hat. The instructions say to use a tubular cast on, which would have been grand, except I could not, for the life of me, get it right. I would get about 80 stitches in and completely mess it up. I tried. Oh how I tried. I restarted six times. Then I gave up. I realized I could keep restarting and never get my hat actually started or I could cast on with a different method and actually have a new hat sometime within this lifetime. Five minutes after making the decision I was well on my way.

I really enjoyed the pattern with its unique construction; it utilizes short rows on the ribbed band so it doesn't bunch up at the back and is knit straight up then the crown is shaped with a few quick stitches after it has been grafted together. There is also enough going on in the pattern that there's no chance of losing interest before it's finished!

Once I'd completed the hat I realized two things. A) I had no mittens to match and B) I had plenty of yarn left over. Hmmmmm. What's a knitter to do? As the temperatures plummeted to a forecast of almost -50C with the windchill I cast on using Ann Budd's basic mitten pattern. I used a contrast cuff as I wasn't sure how far my yarn would stretch and knit the mitten using a half twist stockinette stitch and a column of honeycomb stitch to mimic the Knotted Pine hat. I'm still debating if I should knit liners for the mittens for extra warmth. I'm thinking something in alpaca or an alpaca blend would be soft and toasty warm.

After casting off my mittens I still had yarn left over, and alas, how is one to wear all the wool if one does not own a matching cowl? I'm all about cowls this year it would seem. (Last year was small triangular shawls. What can I say? I'm fickle.)

I knew my yarn wouldn't be enough for an entire cowl, but I wanted to showcase it somehow, so simple striping wouldn't suffice. I also wanted to have it match the hat and mitts in pattern as well as yarn. I cast on, and started knitting. I used Tincanknits Oats (that I'd knit for N for Christmas) as inspiration - I liked the simplicity of how it had just a small section of garter stitch running up the front rather than an all over pattern and once again used half twist stockinette and honeycombs to tie it all together.

I'm really pleased with how my set turned out. It's cozy and warm not to mention kind of fun that I actually match when I'm wearing all the wool!

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