Finished handspun hat

It did take a little bit longer than I expected, but this has been a busy time of the year... Christmas caroling, Christmas shopping and, well, Christmas generally have been getting in the way of spinning and knitting.

Here's mum modeling it beautifully - it suits her much more than it does me!

It did surprise me just how much material there is in the main part of the hat - like cardy sleeves, you don't appreciate the area you've got to knit until you see them opened out flat. I moved to circular needles once the increases started to pack the stitches very tightly onto the straight needles! As with all hats, though, once you start on the reductions, it all starts to move much more quickly.

I've learned a great new stitch with this hat. 'k1b' is sometimes 'knit one into the back of the stitch', but in this case it's 'knit one into stitch below'. *k1b p* produces a very chunky and surprisingly elastic rib. As I mentioned in a previous post, when you slip the stitch off the needle, you hold your breath for a second expecting a run to start, because you don't feel you've knitted into the stitch, but somehow it works.

This was also the first time I've had to p3tog - purl 3 stitches together! It produces the mother of all stitches, but very effectively reduces these massive ribs. The pattern doesn't say so, but on the row following p3tog reductions, I couldn't easily knit into the stitch below those large reducing stitches, and so I resorted to an ordinary knit into those particular ones. I don't know whether that was what the designer intended, but it seems to have worked well.

The size is just about perfect. For the required chunkiness, I plied the wool using Navajo method (3 ply) - for speed I just plied it straight off the spinning wheel using a drop-spindle.

Because the wool came from Mum's friend's sheep (again see earlier post), I used it 'neat'. It's very coarse, the resulting yarn is a bit harsh and hairy, and so the hat doesn't feel very soft. I do like the the fact that it's a beautiful colour undyed though (very dark brown, almost black), and so if using the same wool in future, I think I'd blend it with something similar in colour but softer, such as alpaca. I think I'd like to make another of these hats using pure alpaca.

First finished handspun project

This is what the pink fizz was for. I've been wanting to knit this anatomical pattern from Knitty for a long time, and never found the right wool. I'm not sure I've got it right here. The colour is perfect (more luck than judgement) but I don't think it's chunky enough. I thought it was quite chunky when I was plying it, but I guess that's just experience!

It was quick to knit. In my terms, that means just a couple of sessions. It was really interesting to knit too - all on double-pins, in the round and i-cord.

The pattern says that anatomy isn't always pretty, but I think this is quite beautiful!

(It's a womb in case you've not got it yet.)

More of the pink fizz

Lots of pictures, but no apologies because I'm dead chuffed with the way the cerise yarn is turning out. Now that I've plied a bobbin-full it's certainly the best yarn I've spun.

My rolags are getting neater all the time. The carded dyed-pink wool looks just like candy floss.

This particular wool was some that Alison gave us on the spinning weekend, so I don't know what type it is, but it's a joy to spin. It's fine and very crimpy, which means that without blending it, it makes a soft and very smooth yarn.

This is the first bobbin of 2-piled yarn - I'm so pleased with how neat it looks. And perfect in colour for the project I have in mind...

Hat progress (a race against the weather!)

I'm thinking this could well be finished before the winter's over!

It's taking longer than it would if I were just knitting it, because I'm spinning the wool at the same time as knitting it (100% black fleece - see earlier post). That keeps the work from becoming repetitive!

The picture above isn't very good, but I don't think that black wool comes out well on any photo! I'm close to starting the reductions now - I've done several long rows now of the 'fisherman's rib' - for this project I've had to learn how to 'knit into the row below'. It's quite scary slipping the stitch off, because you don't feel as if you've knit into it! But somehow it works, and produces a chunky rib, made chunkier by my Navajo-plied (3-ply) handspun. Another skein of the yarn is lying there, hot off the wheel, waiting to be washed and wound into a ball.

Pink fizz

What's this? Blackberry and apple pie in the making? No, it's some neutral-coloured fleece being dyed 'cerise'. (Along with bits of my kitchen and bathroom.) I have a very special project in mind - something I've wanted to knit for a long time but never found the right yarn. Spinning up my own seems to be very apt for the project.

It's interesting how the tips of the locks have taken the dye best, and the animal end remains much lighter. I'll start to spin this up when it's dried out a bit, and will also post some news of my hat (first handspun project) very shortly.