Posts Tagged ‘hat’

27
Feb

Why You Should be a Knitting Needle Snob

Posted under Knitting, Product Reviews, Techniques No Comments

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/swamps42/maplewoolfarm.com/wp-content/themes/brown-stitch/wp-lightboxJS/wp-lightboxJS.php on line 40

It’s all just sticks and string, so why hunt down the ‘best’ needles? Why not just use what’s most readily available? Or those vintage needles you came across? People have been knitting for hundreds of years on all sorts of things. Some of my favorite traditional knits are the Andean chullos traditionally knit on hook ended needles made of baling wire. And I’ve personally knit on toothpicks, paperclips, large dowels, and even porcupine spines! If any old stick will work, why pay more for those needles? It’s the yarn that goes into the finished piece, so isn’t the yarn the only thing you should be splurging on?

NOPE. Your needles and pattern are just as important and very much worth spending a few extra bucks to have quality because it will very much show in your finished object, even if those needles aren’t going to be a permanent part of the project, they’re just as important as the yarn. Good needles can make a bad knitter’s work look better and a great knitter’s work look horrible, just by being good or bad needles!

I’m currently working on designing a new hat using a stitch I’ve created. It’s a lovely hat and I’m sure you’ll all want to knit it when it’s released. The first hat was knit from a ball of variegated bulky weight yarn, a long on color yarn that when used with such a stitch count creates beautiful stripes. I do love the stripes, but it makes it a bit harder to appreciate the detail of the new decrease and how well it works in ribbing. As such, I purchased a new ball of yarn, the same exact brand, but in a solid color.

The first multicolor hat was knit on a set of double pointed needles and I had a bit of trouble with stitches popping right off the ends of the needles until I hit the crown decreases. It was just too many stitches for the needles. When I was out in the snow picking up the solid colored ball of yarn, I also grabbed a set of 16″ circulars in the same size. Of course I had to get a different brand as no big box shop carries the brand double point I’d been using.

The second I got home, I cast on for the new solid color hat. I’d like it done and photographed as soon as possible so I can share the pattern with you all. When I got into the knitting a ways, I stopped. Something didn’t look right at all. I compared the in-progress hat to my completed one. YEP. Something’s horribly wrong. The stitches are all correct and the new color has much better stitch definition than the multicolored yarn,  but the new needles ruined it! I was over halfway through the body of the hat section too, so it’s a bit sad to rip out. That’s probably an hour and a half of work.

Here’s a close up of the first hat’s stitches. This bit is plain k1p1 ribbing.

Multicolor hat stitches

It’s beautiful, right? The stitches are even, uniform and straight. Now, here’s the same exact pattern and size hat knit in the same brand of 100% acrylic yarn one day later by the same knitter on different needles. Neither piece has been blocked.

solid hat stitches

 

Can you see the differences? The blue one looks horrible. The stitches are crooked with the left leg dominant. It’s wider and sticks up from the fabric more than the right one. Some stitches are more squat, some are taller, and some are just plain wonky.

The needle change also affected gauge in addition to the shape of individual stitches. The multicolor hat has 9 ribs in 4 inches where as the blue one has 8 ribs in 4 inches.

Gauge of multicolor ribbed hat

Gauge of solid ribbed hat

Changing needle brands means redoing your gauge swatch. Changing brands of knitting needles, particularly if that includes a change of knitting needle material, requires redoing your swatch. While only one rib, two stitches, in four inches doesn’t seem like much, in bulky yarn over enough stitches for an adult sized hat, that equates to adding about two and a half inches to the circumference of the hat. That’s huge!

Ribbed Hat difference with ruler

I know the ruler here only shows one and a quarter inches difference, but you’ve got to multiply that by two since there’s two layers under that ruler. Even if it were only an inch off though, that’d surely be enough for a strong wind to carry your hat away while out walking the dog on a brisk winter day.

What are the things that matter about a pair of needles? Generally the tips and the material. How sharp are the needles? How smooth are they? Do the cables have good flex yet aren’t too soft if they’re circulars? Here’s the needles I used for these hats.

Sharps versus Clover

 

The taper on the tip is nearly identical between these needles which is why I was willing to give the cheap and most importantly immediately available ones a chance. The metal ones have a slightly sharper tip, but almost imperceptibly so. The big failure here is that the bamboo needles are a little sticky. Not sticky like they were covered in toddler hand goo, but more in that the yarn doesn’t slide freely down the needle. You’ve got to stop and readjust the knitting to move more stitches to the top. The stitches don’t slide over the join from the cable and back up over the needle well either.

So, what are these needles of win and doom that are making and breaking such a hat? Surely one cost four or five times what the other did, right? Not at all actually. At regular prices one is $8.99USD and the other is $11.50USD with the $11.50 ones being the better ones. Of course given that the cheap ones are from a big box shop though, you could use a 40% off coupon on them which is exactly what I did as it was the only thing I was buying at that shop. That drops them down to $5.40 which means the better needles still are less than twice the cost of the bad ones! Here they are, the hat-ruining Clover bamboo needles and the wonderful but harder-to-come-by HiyaHiya Sharps made of stainless steel.

Clover and Sharps

So what are your favorite brands? What needles will you avoid at all costs? Do you have any problems with allergies to knitting needle materials? I adore the Addi needles, but I have trouble with the nickel in them. I’ve tried their brass line as well, but the smell drives me bonkers!

Lastly, keep in mind that yarn can vary in thickness even within the same brand and weight, so when changing between colors, you might want to redo your gauge swatch too, even if you’re using the same needles. Multicolor acrylics are notoriously thinner than their solid counterparts. If anyone knows why this is, I’d love to know!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
09
Mar

Ravellenic Hat and Mittens Set

Posted under Knitting No Comments

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/swamps42/maplewoolfarm.com/wp-content/themes/brown-stitch/wp-lightboxJS/wp-lightboxJS.php on line 40

Something about the idea of a handmade, matched hat and mittens set just grabbed me when I was first learning to knit in 2010. I found some absolutely crazy rainbow stretchy yarn and started experimenting. After a dozen or so restarts, I finally designed a simple hat that fit well using it. I bought some solid black yarn and set it aside as well so I’d be able to make some matching mittens. I certainly wasn’t a good enough knitter to make the mittens yet, much less to do them without a pattern.

While tidying up my office space nearly four years later during the Ravellenic Games, I came upon the hat, still with unwoven loose ends, the black ball of yarn, and the remnant ball of rainbow stretchy yarn. I needed to knit some mittens for my Mittens Moguls medal, so I figured, why not? I whipped up these cute mittens in no time.

Then, I decided I didn’t actually like the hat made using just the rainbow yarn. I carefully picked out the cast on edge, unraveled the hat just enough to remove the brim, and then reknit the rolled brim using the remainder of the solid black yarn.

I love it! It’s just perfect and exactly what I envisioned so long ago when I was planning out my first matched hat and mittens set.

Feeling ready to make your own hat and mitten sets? Leisure Arts has a great book out called Snow Day Sets to Knit. It’s an ebook you can download and start knitting from right away. All the patterns call for worsted weight yarns like Red Heart Super Saver or Cascade 220, so they’re perfect for the beginner to make with easy to find yarn. Best of all? All the patterns are written for both working flat on two needles and seaming at the end OR working in the round on four double-pointed needles. Even if you’ve never worked in the round before, you CAN make your first hat and mittens set with this book! Like this featured set!

And as an added bonus for my readers? How about 15% off the purchase of your Leisure Arts order? Just use this code, ART15,  and save 15% off your entire order from Leisure Arts! Hurry as this discount offer ends March 30, 2014!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
09
Jan

My Bitty Hat and a Surprise Mini Knit!

Posted under Holidays and Celebrations, Knitting, Life, Miniatures No Comments

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/swamps42/maplewoolfarm.com/wp-content/themes/brown-stitch/wp-lightboxJS/wp-lightboxJS.php on line 40

I’ve always loved miniatures since I was a little girl. I had the most incredible dollhouse, and though it was never finished I didn’t care. I spent hours upon hours making little clay food, weaving bitty rugs, and of course making up fantastic stories about the lives of the bear, bunny, and kitty dolls that lived in my dollhouse and the various other character dolls who lived in unseen homes on the horizon of Dollhouse World. Here’s me with that glorious house just after I got it for Christmas in 1989.

Xmas1989

Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated and a little obsessed with all things miniature, particularly 1:12 scale.

Since I learned to knit and crochet, I knew I wanted to make miniatures. Of course minis are significantly harder and I failed over and over as a beginner to make successful minis. I’ve finally gotten down to the scale I want though and have even dared to dream smaller now! Check out this hat I made last summer:

I made this hat from a Buttercup Miniatures pattern. I did modify the stranded section of the hat to make it look more like my childhood winter cap. I worked on 6/0 (.75mm) knitting needles and used a single strand of 6 strand DMC embroidery floss as my yarn. DMC floss makes great miniature knitting yarn and the color selection is nearly unlimited and highly affordable! Someday, I’d love to order some of Buttercup Miniatures super fine knitting needles. My smallest are only 6/0 needles (.75mm). I’d love to try out their .38mm, .55mm, and.60mm size double-pointed knitting needles and fine ‘yarns’ just to see how much smaller I can really go.

My big goal for 2014 is to publish one new pay-per-download pattern per month so I’ll have income to pay for things like utilities once my home is built and I have a place to live and work again! For January’s new pattern, think small! I’m working on something which would be right at home in a little girl’s dollhouse, tucked into bed with her barbie, or snuck into the corner of a whatnot shelf for us adult collectors. Of course  I know most of you don’t want to work quite as small as I enjoy working, so this pattern is being designed with fingering weight yarn in mind. Of course your finished project would still be flat out adorable in a DK or worsted weight yarn. Made in a thicker yarn, this knit would still be a great accessory item for a 18″ American Girl doll. Keep an eye out! This upcoming pattern is only the first in a series of at least four new miniature knit patterns! Additionally, this pattern will be published in two versions, one worked in the round, and one worked flat!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WordPress database error: [Column 'referer' cannot be null]
INSERT INTO `wp_h8au5a_power_stats_visits` (`date`, `time`, `ip`, `country`, `device`, `referer`, `browser`, `browser_version`, `is_search_engine`, `user_agent`, `is_bot`, `os`) VALUES ('2018-10-22', '2018-10-22 01:16:30', '54.224.247.42', 'US', 'desktop', NULL, NULL, '', '', 'CCBot/2.0 (https://commoncrawl.org/faq/)', '', '')