Crochet, knitting, astronomy & life in general.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm a Red Hat Society Wanna-be

by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

The Red Hat Society is a group that encourages women "to pursue fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment of lifelong dreams and fitness". Essentially, it's a big social club for women, but also a support network. It was started in 1997 by Sue Cooper, who was inspired by the above poem to give her friend a red hat, along with a copy of the poem. Her friend liked it so much, that Sue was inspired to repeat the gift with several of her friends, and before she knew it, it became a worldwide club. The red-hatters distinguish themselves by going out in public with red hats and purple dresses and having way too much fun.

I'm not old enough to join the Red Hat Society (you have to be 50 or over to join), but until then, I can wear a ridiculous red hat of my own in their honour. My first felted project was this Foxy Felted Cloche (Ravelry link) by glitteratti. Unfelted, of course, it was HUGE, but after a good scrub in the sink with alternating hot and cold water, it shrunk up nicely (and filled my drain with wool fuzz). The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, which felts up really well.

To bling it up, I crocheted and felted the flower from this Lion Brand pattern and attached it to the hat with a brooch I found in my jewelry collection. I also edged it with ribbon I bought at Mokuba on Queen Street West here in Toronto. It's a store devoted entirely to ribbons and trim. Amazing.

This hat, however, is a testament to how long it takes me to finish things. It only took me a day to do the actual knitting, but then it was a month before I got around to felting it, and at least another month before I sewed the flower and ribbon on. I'll probably do another felted project someday, but I have to work on motivating myself to do the finishing steps after the knitting is done!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Double-knit Potholders: Now Officially a Wedding Tradition

I recently returned from the Eastern Townships where some very awesome friends of mine got hitched. They did the deed in the most beautiful place on Earth, Baldwin Mills (I took some pictures last summer). I'm not joking. This is what I woke up to the day after the wedding:

The ceremony was beautiful (partly because I was asked to play violin at the last minute), the dinner was delicious (there was a whole roast lamb), the booze was plentiful (there was a bathtub of beer), and the party was incredibly fun. Those Baldwins sure do know how to get married. Anyway, as has become a tradition for me (see here, here, and here), I made the couple some double-knit potholders as a wedding present.

As usual, I tried to make the designs representative of the couple. The pixelated deer on the left is from the groom's now very successful game Sword & Sworcery. The mounted deer head on the right has become the couple's personal logo. They even used it on the wine bottles at the wedding.

If you feel like knitting Sword & Sworcery deer or Dead Deer potholders of your own, here are the charts for both designs (click for larger size):

Speaking of double-knitting, I've written a tutorial for making your own double-knit fabric over on the Happy Seamstress. You should check it out!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lemon skewers

I think it's become apparent that I am, indeed, a sock knitter. It was only a matter of time before I tried this fabled "magic-loop technique" for knitting socks toe-up, two at a time. And of course, I can never pass up a cleverly-constructed garment. So, when I saw the Skew pattern by Lana Holden from Knitty's Winter 2009 issue, I knew I was just going to have to knit it.

The construction is especially interesting because it's knit on a bias. This makes for a very cool-looking fabric, even more so when knit with a variegated yarn. I found, however, that this made modifying the sock to better fit my feet a bit more of a challenge, especially since I have wide feet, ankles and calves. In fact, I wanted to use up all of the yarn, so I made these mid-calf length, and figuring out the increases for the calves was super annoying. Even more annoying is the fact that they're still a little tight.

The yarn I used was Lion Brand's Sock-Ease, which I must admit I'm not entirely happy with. The colours are super fun, but it feels kind of scratchy, and even after a good washing, the socks are still a little itchy when I wear them. On the other hand, it does feel really sturdy.

I shouldn't sound like I totally don't like these socks though. The toe and heel construction totally baffled me at first, and I didn't really understand them until I was actually knitting them. It was one of those "just trust the pattern" instances. I had a wonderful Aha! moment when the heel magically folded into place. And the heel actually fits really well. It's nice and snug around the ankle where it might otherwise slip down my foot.

All in all, it's a very clever pattern that I'm glad I tried out, but that I probably won't work again.