I have officially finished my Christmas knitting, and well before Thanksgiving, too! I feel like I deserve a medal. That medal might be for “Most Realistic Expectations,” though — I could never have done it this fast if I hadn’t been aiming low, making hats for my male family members (which take less than a week each) and a scarf for my mom (which took 2 or 3 weeks). This here is a Koolhaas Hat for my dad, modeled by my very patient boyfriend. It is knit from Caron Simply Soft, because my dad is allergic to wool, and I’ve found Caron to be one of the softest, least objectionable acrylic yarns around. The pattern is wildly popular on Ravelry, with over 3800 projects — in fact, it’s the most popular hat on Ravelry if you don’t count Calorimetry, which is really more of a headband. This baffled me a little at first, since it’s not an easy hat by any means — there are an awful lot of pain-in-the-butt rounds where you have to use a cable needle every four stitches — but I figure its popularity must be due to the fact that it’s one of the few truly gender-neutral patterns that is still complicated enough to be giftworthy. The problem with male hats, as I discovered this holiday season, is that they’re either too plain to make very good gifts &/or to be worth knitting at all (depending on how well you can tolerate boring knitting), or they’re trying to pass off cables as “manly,” which only really works if you’re knitting for a J Crew model. But the Koolhaas hat really can be worn by a man or a woman equally well, and its intricacy shows the kind of care we’d like our knitted gifts to show. So I figure what’s going on across the knitting world is exactly what went on in my head: “okay, so this hat will be a pain in the butt, but it will look good and since it’s a hat it will be over soon.”
How cute is this picture? My one gripe with this otherwise exceptionally well-written pattern is that it doesn’t provide a stockinette gauge measurement. The gauge is only given in the lattice pattern, which is only charted in the round, so the only real way to check your gauge is just to start knitting the hat and pray, and check your gauge once you’ve knitted the whole bottom band and once through the lattice chart — aka, once you’re like 1/4 of the way through the hat. It helps that the stitch pattern makes the hat pretty stretchy, though, so when your gauge is off and you decide “fuck it, I’m gonna keep knitting,” your hat comes out pretty okay anyway. Ask me how I know. 😉
So yeah, in the absence of a gauge swatch, knitting this hat was a giant leap of faith. My dad has a pretty enormous head, and the pattern was only written in one size for men and one size for women (both of which have the same diameter; the only difference is depth), so I decided to go ahead and cast on an extra 8 stitches to do one extra repeat of the lattice pattern, figuring that my dad’s freakishly large head would need the accomodation. My first clue that my gauge was significantly off was when I got to the recommended measurement for the ribbing only about 80% through the recommended number of rounds for the ribbing, and when I had knit enough of the lattice pattern to check I got pretty worried. But I soldiered on, and ended up knitting the hat the number of rounds recommended for women rather than for men, because my row gauge was so much bigger than the pattern’s. And it’s come out just fine; the lattice is stretchy enough that even I can wear it with my normal-lady-sized head and it doesn’t feel too big, but it’s clearly got enough room for my dad’s head. (Pat’s head is slightly smaller than my dad’s, fyi.)
In other news, I have made two new knitting friends in the past two weeks! The first was “Fishnet,” of My Cup of Tea. She posted to a Cornell alumni board on Ravelry looking for a Cornell alum in Orange County who knits, and I raised my virtual hand. I’m probably the only other one of those in these parts, so I was happy to meet her. We went out for lunch, which was lovely, and it sounds like she’ll be coming to my knitting circle on Thursday to meet other academically-minded knitters. The other knitting friend is one who I “made” in the active sense of the word — I took my friend Katherine on a trip to Yarn Lady in Laguna Hills on Saturday to buy her very first yarn & needles. She was impressed by the friendliness of the people there and their willingness to provide help, so I’m hopeful that she’ll be joining the fold. We’ll be teaching her on Thursday, but I think I’m going to step back and have one of the knitters I taught last fall do the teaching. For one thing, I think someone closer to the beginner experience might actually be a better teacher — and for another thing, I’d like to give these new knitters the opportunity to experience the joy of teaching the craft!
Another crafty thing I’ve been up to that I keep forgetting to share with you is a beading project I did a few weeks ago. When I went to Michael’s to get supplies for my Halloween costume, I noticed that they were having a big sale on beads, and I got seduced by some pretty jasper. So I made these:
Beading is basically a tertiary hobby of mine — I’m inspired to make something maybe once or twice a year — but I’m beyond pleased with how this set came out. All of those stones are jasper; it just naturally comes in that range of greens, purples, and browns that I love so much and that matches so much of my wardrobe. And I’m also pretty pleased with my choice of spacers; I couldn’t decide between the smaller smoother ones or the larger knobbly ones, so I bought some of both and think that the combination is much better than either would have been on its own. Swoon!
Next time on Doublepointed: Some socks get resurrected, and I begin a quixotic quest to knit an enormous blanket before what passes for winter here in southern California comes to an end!