Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Grim Reaper Baby Hat

This is the first pattern I publish on the web, and the first I have ever written in English. If you have any problem with it, please contact me at knittingthroughthenight (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll help you as best I can.

Size: 9 – 18 months (I'll add an adult version as soon as I finished test knitting it. Thanks Adrienne for the idea!)
Yarn: Sport weight (300m (330 yards) / 100 g) in white (approx. 15 g) and black (approx. 30 g).
Needles: 3.5 mm or size needed to obtain gauge. I recommend a circular needle or dpns, since picking up stitches around the knitted skull is next to impossible using straight needles.
Gauge: 24 sts and 32 rows = 10 cm (4”) in stocking stitch.
24 sts and 48 rows = 10 cm (4”) in garter stitch.

The skull is worked in stocking st. CO 14 sts and follow chart. Black parts are worked in intarsia (although I used another method, see below). When chart is finished, turn back the hem to form the teeth and fasten with invisible sts. (If you don’t like sewing, you can instead pick up sts from the CO edge and knit them together with the working sts on the fifth row after the turning row.)

With black yarn, CO 5 sts, knit up 73 sts around scull sides and top, CO 5 sts => 83 sts. Work back and forth in garter st. On the first row, increase 12 sts evenly spaced => 95 sts. Knit 28 garter ridges.
The hat shall now reach almost as close to the face as you want it to be. Try it on – you may want to increase or decrease the number of garter ridges.
Next row: * K8, k2tog, repeat from *, k5. Knit two more garter ridges.

Cut yarn, but do not BO.
With white yarn, work an I-cord bind-off. To minimize color blending, begin from the left side. With black yarn, CO 3 sts. Work I-cord for 22 cm (9”) or desired length for ties.
Starting at the front, pick up 30 sts along right lower edge and simultaneously work an I-cord BO. Do not cut yarn. Work 4 cm (1.5”) of I-cord.
Starting at the back, pick up 30 sts along left lower edge and simultaneously work an I-cord BO. Continue the I-cord for another 22 cm (9”) or desired length for ties. Cut yarn and pull through the sts.
Weave in loose ends.



Easiest worked on dpns:

CO 3 sts. * K3. Do not turn. Slide sts to other end of needle and repeat from *.

On straight needles:

CO 3 sts. * K3. Do not turn. Slip the 3 sts back to left needle. Repeat from *.

I-cord bind-off

CO 3 sts. K2, ssk the last cast-on st with one of the sts to cast off. Slip the 3 sts on the right needle back to left needle. Repeat from * until only the 3 I-cord sts remain. Break yarn and pull through all 3 sts.

My weird patch technique

I do not recommend this technique for anything other than experimental work (like trying to achieve the perfect form for an eye-socket) but in such cases it can be really useful.

Work in the main color (MC) a row or two beyond the lowest part of the intended contrast-colored (CC) area. Let the sts rest on the needle. With another needle, pick up the base sts in CC through the knitted sts. Cut yarn, leaving enough to work the entire area and pull the yarn through the knitting to the front. Continue working a “patch” in CC, attached to the MC knitting only in those picked up sts. When the patch has the correct size and shape (I had to rip it several times), leave the CC sts on the needle and work in MC until the MC knitting has reached the top of the patch. Work each CC stitch with the corresponding MC stitch (k2tog). If needed, sew the sides of the patch to the MC knitting with a few invisible stitches.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A slight case of Hubris

A short recap of my life with Hubris (mostly the baby blanket):

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made great plans. Other people may take their vitamins and do yoga exercises, I planned knitting projects. Since I didn't think that I would like knitting baby clothes (oh! has life proven me wrong!), I planned for not one, but three baby blankets: one soft and cozy, one modular and one grand, double-knitted in my own design. Then reality happened.

The soft and cozy one was finished a good week before my daughter was born. The modular blanket was never even started (but one day...) and the grand one - well, I finished the pattern in December 2006 and started knitting on New Year's Eve (that's about how fun holidays get when you're breastfeeding) and then kept on knitting bravely for 81 rows. 81 rows of double-sided stockinette. 2 * 199 stitches every row. Every stitch charted. By February I really deserved a tiny little break. And then it was late September.

My daughter will be one year old on November 16. I am determined to have the blanket finished by then. This means at least 8 rows a day. 8*199*2 stitches a day. Every day. All charted. If I am not crazy already, I sure will be by mid-November. You now see why I named this baby blanket Hubris?

However, this insane project is starting to grow on me. Not only literary (it's getting ENORMOUS) but it makes me feel like I'm nine years old again, immensely happy and proud of my uneven stitches and my sheer capacity to make something out of (almost) nothing. It has surely taken me by surprise; I had expected this project to make me feel proud, or ambitious or maybe a bit smug - but happy?

I feel solidly happy and content while knitting this, and that is an earth-shattering event for me. You see, while others may discuss whether they are process- or result-oriented knitters, I have always placed myself in the crowd of dream-oriented knitters. Actually, I'm not that sure that we are a crowd. I'm not even sure that there are any others out there.

Dream-oriented knitters do not knit the garment you can see on their needles. In fact, it may well be that they don't even see what's on their needles, and if they do they don't like it. They gaze with glazed eyes into a future only they can see, a future abundant with pretty, pretty things that are fun to knit and that will fit perfectly. The real knit, the one on their needles, is never half as real to them as their dreamed knitting. In fact, the real knitting is quite disturbing, since it has the habit of never becoming as wonderful as the dream of it. Still, the urge to drag these wonderful ideas into a shabbier reality never ceases.

The best thing about being a dream-oriented knitter is that you don't have any concept of your limitations. The worst thing about being a dream-oriented knitter is that you don't have any concept of your limitations. We don't use time plans, even though deadlines may be necessary. And even though we never are quite content with what we are currently knitting, we are never completely struck down either. We know, after all, that the next project will be The Best One Ever.

Right now, it turns out that I'm really knitting The Best Project Ever. Uneven as the stitches may be, twisted as the cast-on may be, knitting this makes me feel happy and cozy. (And warm! With 33% completed it reaches my knees. Around 90% I expect my family will have to dig me out.)