Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here's another variation of the 11th hour hat, this time with an i-cord loop and garter earflaps and ties. I'm getting a lot of mileage out of my new favorite hat formula -- each of my kids' winter hats this year will be some variation on the theme, and I've just heard of another baby to be born in late winter/early spring who will get one as well. I still haven't cast on for Piper's hat, and I'm a little stuck because I accidentally bought wool instead of cotton for her. My bil claims a wool allergy, and there's really no polite way of finding out whether he simply remembers a scratchy sweater made of cheap wool or whether even the softest merino would give him hives -- however politic I try to be, I'm sure I'll come across as a wool-fiend in total denial of the mere possibility of a wool allergy. Which, I suppose, I am. Sort of. I'm willing to accept that a very small number of unfortunate souls have a true allergy to wool, and that a fair number of people with sensitive skin will experience contact dermatitis after touching any coarse fiber, including some wools, but I admit I smiled broadly when I read Elizabeth Zimmerman's approach to wool allergies in Knitting Without Tears. As it turns out, a quick google search corroborated my hunch and clued me in to the existence of an International Wool Secretariat. It sounds almost Machiavellian, but it's apparently just a trade/research organization. Well. However I may feel, I'm not going to take a chance on making an innocent (and, can I say, breathtakingly gorgeous) baby suffer. So even though the Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino is very soft indeed, I think I'd better use a plant fiber for the new niece, just in case.

dinner tonight: Orrechiette with Italian sausage, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, green beans vinaigrette, and fresh figs

Friday, September 07, 2007

When the Blue Sky yarn I'd ordered for a couple of baby hats was swiped off my porch, I panicked. My beautiful new niece Piper, being family, wouldn't mind if her welcoming gift were delayed, but young Master Roan might take it amiss if I showed up empty-handed at our first meeting. This was an emergency of the highest order, and I felt justified in removing my credit card from the basement rafters, where I'd stashed it only weeks before as part of my living-within-my-means/debt-reduction plan.

Happy in the thought of a guilt-free trip to the yarn shop, and with dreams of Malabrigo dancing in my head, I herded the kids into the car and buckled myself in. When the car declined to start, refused even to try, I at first thought that the Universe had turned against me, and in a big way. First, a stolen package, now a dead battery -- whatever next? But as it happens, the Universe had my best interests at heart all along. Driven to desperate measures, I found some very nice brown and tan merino in my closet, leftover from a pair of socks I knit for a long-ago exchange. The yarn was from Knit Picks and I remembered that the KP website had a pattern using this very yarn for an "11th Hour Hat*" available as a free download.

I don't need a pattern for a simple watch-cap, but I recalled that something about the bottom band of the hat had intrigued me. It's a long narrow band of garter stitch with the stitches picked up along the long edge. I could knit it with alternating bands of brown and tan, and they'd appear as vertical colored stripes -- brilliant! I also planned to top the hat with a couple of knitted acorns, dangling from i-cord. Alas, the acorns didn't work out; when I asked some friends to guess what they were, they said 'ice-cream cone' and 'I have no idea.' I used Nikki Epstein's pattern, and I think if I'd shortened the bottom part and used more acorn-y colors, they would have worked. Lesson learned -- small knitted shapes are more a suggestion than an accurate representation of 3-dimensional objects, and, as such, require realistic colors to be effective.

This left the classic pom-pom top, and I have to say I didn't relish the thought of making one. I'd never made a proper pom-pom, and I was sure it would be both tedious and difficult. It was tedious, but not at all difficult. As you can see, I did not trim it into anything like a perfect sphere, but I think it turned out pretty cute. I have some dark green merino that I might whip up into a little pointed elf's hat tonight, but I think I'll rope one of the kids into making the pom-pom!

* the original post had a link to the pattern, but the pattern is no longer available on the KP website. Sorry!

dinner tonight: Spaghetti with tomato, garlic, and basil sauce; plum cake for dessert