Well here’s something I haven’t done in a while: blogged. I mean a real blog. Not a pattern blog, or a crochet-along blog, or even a tutorial blog. I mean a real blog where I write and talk about the yarn life.
The yarn life. Chuckle.
So we finished the Stardust Melodies Crochet Along this month. Wow! That was intense. Really, it was a lot. When it was finally done I sort of collapsed into a ball of nothing for a couple weeks. I’m just now dragging myself out of the funk I’ve been in and am getting back to real life. However, I haven’t been unproductive in that time. Since the crochet along finished I’ve had my mind one thing: knitting. I know!!! I know!! I can’t believe it either. I’m dallying with the dark arts. But it turns out I love the dark side. Their promised cookies are delicious.
Learning to knit was a long, long, long-term project for me. I believe the first time I tried was over a decade ago. My mother attempted to teach me. She taught me to crochet and I picked that right up. Why shouldn’t she teach me to knit?
I couldn’t get it. And I couldn’t persuade myself to push through the learning curve because, well, I could just crochet instead and still get the same yarny fix.
I’ve tried over and over and over since then. I’ve tried books. I’ve tried YouTube. I’ve had friends show me. Nothing seemed to work. Then one day early this year something clicked (pun totally intended) and I started making the stitches without needing to contort my arms and needles into almost irreversible places. Click. Click. Click. The needles were going and going and my knitting was growing and growing. But I didn’t really make anything. Then came Stardust Melodies and knitting got side-tabled.
Proof from January:
Towards the end of the crochet along I found myself in desperate need of some procrastination and in possession of a box of stunning yarn from Stylecraft. Having just agreed to be a Stylecraft Blogstar, they’d sent me a big box of all kinds of their new yarns. It was finally time. I grabbed out a ball that I couldn’t resist (which is still top secret and you’ll have to wait until next month to see what I made with it) and my needles and I sat down to try a quick swatch. I had to re-watch some YouTube tutorials to make sure I was wrapping the yarn correctly, but it worked. Somehow those skills that took me years to acquire hadn’t been lost in my several-month knitting hiatus.
A friend recommended verypink.com tutorials and I found myself always checking for a Very Pink video first (and usually finding one). The tutorials are clear and concise and incredibly helpful, and just about every beginner subject you could want is covered. The best part of all of this though – I think it was easier to learn to knit because I already know how to crochet well. Really! I already have a feel for the yarn in my hands. I already know how to read crochet patterns so was able to easily pick up on knitting patterns. Even the charts were a breeze because I already have a handle on how crochet charts and symbols work. Yes, all of it is different from crochet, but I had a very long leg up because of my existing crochet knowledge. So if you’ve thought about learning to knit but are worried, don’t be! If you already crochet you’re actually way ahead of the game.
The first thing I made was a scarf, which you will have to wait to see until that yarn is officially available.
The next thing I made was a hat. I used Stylecraft Tweedy yarn in Thistle. This yarn was actually the first that I ravenously grabbed out of the big box o’yarn and immediately dug in a crochet hook. It’s an acrylic and cotton blend, and it’s not only gorgeous but it works up like a dream. I’ve got another little something going with it in another colorway – stay tuned. I was expecting splitting because of the roving type yarn being blended with the strand of cotton – I had zero issue with splitting. I was expecting it would be difficult to rip stitches out as roving type yarns tend to be nightmares for this – I had zero problem frogging my work, both crochet and knitting (yes, I ripped out a fair few in my beginner’s knitting journey). It was lovely to work with. So lovely, I picked up the second half of the ball and started on another hat almost immediately after completing the first one. I didn’t have quite enough for two hats, so the second one is shorter and not slouchy. Point of story: this yarn is fantastic.
I. Love. This. Hat. It’s perfect. Very very simple, so an easy beginner make, but also quite classic so I’ll be happy to wear it everywhere. It’s the perfect basic hat for showing off pretty yarn.
Those colors! I can’t get enough of them. I think I’ll make more in the other colorways.
I didn’t have any thistle to match the name of the colorway so we’ll have to settle on this pretty desert sage. I wish you could smell it. It’s amazing and picked fresh from our garden. The previous occupants left a well established plant. Thank you previous occupants. However, I do have a picture of some thistle from a recent camping trip. It was abundant up in the mountains.
My two hats side by side are very different! I did forget to mention that I used smaller hooks the second time around. The giant hat happens to fit my giant head very well.
So, after making myself a hat, and making a spare hat that has yet to find a home, the next move was – quite obviously – to make Mr. Plum a hat! This turned out to be significantly more difficult. How can a man with so little fashion sense be so picky? I actually took him yarn shopping to pick out hat yarn. Now, Mr. Plum has spent a fair amount of time in the yarn aisles for someone who doesn’t knit or crochet or use yarn for anything other than bribing his significant other. Unfortunately, even with the prospect of getting a lovingly-crafted, handmade, special, custom, perfect-for-him hat, he had little patience for yarn shopping. Can you imagine? After pulling out lots of skeins and putting them right back, we settled on some really attractive Patons Kroy Socks FX in Cadet Colors (because he swears wool doesn’t bother him and I guess we’ll just have to see) and some Caron Simply Soft Camo in Renegade Camo because camo is always in when you’re Mr. Plum. I haven’t touched the camo yarn except to tuck it into the corner of the shelf. But I was pretty excited about the sock yarn. It’s a gorgeous mix of black, blue, and grey strands spun together. It feels like sock yarn feels, just okay, but I’m not the one wearing it so I won’t worry too much. He swore he would wear it.
Ok, so, yarn was done. Hooray! Next it was time to choose a pattern. He wanted a fitted beanie, not slouchy. I wanted something not boring. He wanted something not fancy. Big sigh.
Eventually I found the perfect pattern. It was the night before we were to go camping in the gorgeous Pecos Mountains of New Mexico. I reviewed the pattern and jotted notes on all the new techniques I’d need to know to make this very special hat.
When we got to the camp site, we set everything up and I settled in to start on the perfect mountain hat for my mountain man. It did not go well. Somehow in my notes I mixed up M1R (make one right) and M1L (make one left). I made some knit-two-togethers where I should have slip-slip-knitted. I chose metal needles and my work was a terrible, loose mess. I lost about 4 hours of work. But that’s the learning process, right? You just have to accept it and move on.
When we came home I reviewed some YouTube tutorials and found what I was doing wrong. I started over from scratch on some bamboo circular needles. It went great. The photos… not so great. You’ll just have to trust me that there are little mountains in there hidden in all the color and that they’re somewhat easier to make out in person.
This could probably use some blocking.
Actually, it went really well until the end. My decrease rounds looked terrible and I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong so I improvised with what I’d learned from finishing the previous hats. It’s a little slouchier than I think he was hoping, but he’ll wear it. Oh, he’ll wear it ALL THROUGH WINTER. He’ll wear it out. Because he loves me.
It didn’t stop there.
Since my hat escapades I’ve been waking up with hat ideas. Oh dear. Oh dear. Polly, stop!! You’re not ready to jump into this. You don’t know enough about knitting yet!
I really don’t. But that didn’t stop me. So, next up was a hat of my own design. It went pretty well up until the decrease rounds. I’m a bit stuck on how to wrap this baby up. I keep playing with it. I even put in a lifeline so that I could try different ways of finishing and rip them out as necessary. This will probably never come to fruition, but it was still exciting to make the attempt.
The yarn I used for this half-hat is Stylecraft Batik Elements, a NEW line of their Batik yarn in some really amazing shades, and I just checked they are definitely available now! Does this count as variegated? I’m not sure. There’s a lot going on color-wise in each skein, but when they’re worked up you get this beautiful, earthy look – I guess that’s why they’re named after elements, huh? The one pictured is Iron which is mostly reds with some rusty, grey, purple, and pink bits. The other colorways are also gorgeous. So gorgeous, I’m actually having a hard time committing to using them. They’re just too pretty! They deserve the perfect pattern.
Now I’m off to visit those same mountains again this week. It’s nice and cool up there, and it’s sweet relief from the desert heat and the humidity of monsoon season that doesn’t seem to want to end. Of course I’m taking more knitting AND crochet. There’s nothing quite like sitting by the creek with yarn and your hook/needles.
Have a lovely, yarny week! I’ll be back on Saturday, hopefully, relaxed and ready to jump back into my routine.