Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

It's pretty quiet tonight in Windanseaville....Slugbug Mary and Witchy Anna are down the hill trick-or-treating with John, Hippy Fiona is doing homework, the dogs are hoping somebody will drop some candy, and I am getting ready to go in and watch my new Elizabeth Zimmerman DVD.

I'm knitting away on a February Baby Sweater from Knitter's Almanac. It's kicking my butt - I don't know what it is about some projects; it's not particularly complicated, but for some reason I've had to tink back rows two and four of the gull pattern in both repetitions I've knitted so far. I must say that the garter stitch yoke is very pretty, though. I forget how beautfully simple garter stitch can be.

We hardly ever get trick-or-treaters on my street; I think the houses are too far apart and the street is too dark. I am ready just in case, though: I have a basket of candy and the costume nobody else wanted to wear this year. Good thing I don't embarrass easy, huh?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tweedy Tam

Alrighty then, here's the Tweedy Tam, ready for the internet (and if it's not, please let me know!).

Here's what I did. I made two versions - one for an adult that measures about 19 inches in circumference at the band, and one for kids that started at 15 inches (so, for a toddler or so) but that I blocked to fit a child's medium (8 - 10). Pictured here is how I would wear it (and how I placed it on Mary's head!) but you can see how Anna rocks it here.

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed, one ball
Needles: 1 16" circular and one set of DPNs in a size to give you a gauge of 5 sts/inch in stockinette. For me, this is a size 4 with this yarn, but caution! I'm a loose knitter (and I mean that in the best sense!).


CO 72 (96) sts on the circular needle (you'll switch to the DPNs during the decreases) and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist. Place marker to indicate beginning of round.


Knit 1 inch of k1p1 ribbing.

Increase Round

*k2,m1; repeat from * to end of round. I used the backward-loop m1. At the end, you should have 108 (144) sts. If you used another multiple of six, you'll have half again as many as you started out with, which you can check using math (plus you can tell your kids that they really will use algebra in real life!):

Let x = number of cast-on sts
Let y = number of sts after the increase round

y = x + (x/2)


Knit every round until piece measures 2.5 (3) inches from increase round. This isn't an exact science; if you want more slouch, knit a little further!

Prepare for Decreases

You must now divide your sts into six segments to create the pattern of holes and decreases.

*K18 (24), place marker; repeat from * to end.

Remember y? If you used some other number besides 72 or 96 to begin with, you'll have to bust out the math skills again, but this is more 3rd-grade-level math rather than middle school level.

y/6 = number of sts between each marker.


Round 1: *yo, ssk, knit to last two sts before marker, k2tog; repeat from * to end. You have decreased 6 sts.

Round 2: knit to end of round.

Regardless of how many sts you started with, repeat these two rounds until you have 3 sts between each marker, switching to DPNs when needed.


*k1, k2tog all the way around. You should have 12 sts total.
*k all sts all the way around
*k2tog; repeat from * to end, removing all markers as you go except for the one that marks the beginning of the round. You should have 6 sts left.
*k2tog all the way around, removing the last marker. You should have 3 sts left.

Topping it Off

At this point, you have a choice. You could've stopped at 6 sts, broken the yarn, drawn the yarn through the sts and fastened off.

But since we've got those 3 live sts on a DPN, let's make a little i-cord.

*k3, slide the three knit sts to the other side of the same needle without turning work, and knit them again. Here's a tutorial if you need it. Repeat from * until i-cord is as long as you want it. You can leave it like a little tail or you can put a knot in it; just break your yarn, thread it through the live sts with a needle, and then weave it in to fasten.


You can block your tam or not, depending on how you feel. I blocked the smaller tam so it would fit my 9-year-old, despite the fact that it was knit at the toddler gauge.

To block, fit the tam over a plate. I used a dinner plate on the small hat to make it larger. Steam with an iron, or spritz with a squirt bottle, or whatever method you prefer to get it wet, and then let it dry on the plate. The steam iron is quick and I'm impatient, so there you go - just be careful to use only the steam and not burn your knitting!

Copyright 2007 Lydia McNeil - You may not use this pattern for profit or reproduce it for profit; you may use it to knit hats for yourself, for others, or most certainly for charity, but not to sell.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Tam

Told you I'd start another know I'm into instant gratification. Armed with the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, I decided to knit a tam out of some Rowan Felted Tweed in the Sigh colorway I had in the stash.

The look of the yarn-over holes was inspired by the Noro hat here, (which I really like and intend to make sometime soon) although my holes were just k2tog, yo, ssk. The top is finished off with a little i-cord knot on three stitches. I'm into the body of a smaller one now and will try to write up a quick how-to when that's done.

In the meantime, the weather finally broke here and there were even a few drops falling today! My in-laws were allowed to go back to their place this morning - miracle of miracles, all the buildings including the house, barn, sheds, and whatnot, were still standing. The return was bittersweet, as the surrounding land is a moonscape with many of the neighbors' houses gone and John's uncle's place up the road among them. We're still thankful things weren't worse, although reading about the injured at the UCSD Burn Center is heartbreaking and scary.

The rest of the day will be spent knitting and watching a little TV, and rejoicing in the overcast sky.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Times of Crisis

With the destruction wrought by the fires, the urge to create overwhelms.

Scones. Brownies. Large pots of tortilla soup, beef stew, spaghetti sauce.

Two hats.

It's hot and our eyes burn. We're glued to the news and the computer, looking at maps of the burn areas and the evacuations. My in-laws were evacuated and are waiting it out at Steele Canyon High School; at first they wanted to stay there because the news was fresher and they wanted to stay near their place in Deerhorn Valley, but now the roads are closed. They'll be okay, but we won't know for sure about their place for a while.

The good news is some of our friends have been allowed back to their neighborhoods; the bad news is how many we don't know about - and whether they still have homes.

The kids are playing games and cousin Elizabeth is here - a forced vacation from school for the rest of the week. John is staying home and working remotely. His sister is here with us, down from Seattle to help with the evacuation of one of the nursing homes she works with.

Isn't it sad we have to wait for a disaster to take a break? I for one am off to start another hat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Distractions

Can it really be that my baby is a senior? We just came back from a New England college trip, checking out potential schools.

We SoCalifornians were so looking forward to real fall weather. I mean, when do we really get to bust out the fine knitwear otherwise? Plus it was the perfect excuse to go shopping.

We bought cords and sweaters, and boots! We packed rain gear and scarves! We nearly died of the 80+ degree Indian summer!

But Fiona got to look at Emerson again (loved it); and Sarah Lawrence (no comment); Bennington (liked it); Williams (liked it); and RISD (really really loved it). And it was all so beautiful...look at the photo left, taken at Bennington College. We just don't have green like that here.

And while Fiona looked at schools, I ate my way across New England...The lobster! The pizza! The clam chowder! Ah.

On our last couple of days there, we visited Salem, where I saw a yarn store but didn't even go in! Can you believe it? My thumb/pinky/elbow problems combined with the heat were just not conducive to yarn shopping.