Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Dangerous Living Hat & Scarf Set

This project plan began with a need: I needed a hat set that would go with a dark brown jacket of mine as well as a certain velvet coat I intend to make (I have the pattern and all materials for it). The velvet is printed with a subtle green and plum floral print on a dark brown background. (That may not sound very attractive, but it really is.) I thought plum would be the colour to go with, because it would also go with an olive velvet jacket I have. Besides, I've developed a real thing for plum in the last couple of years, and have so far acquired a sweater, a rain jacket, and a long-sleeved T-shirt in plum. Now I was going to have a plum hat and scarf.

I selected the pattern above for the project, which is Lórien, by Ann Kingstone, and figured I could whip up a matching glove pattern for it. I bought three skeins of mauve King Cole Merino Blend 4 ply in the bargain basement of Romni Wools in August 2015. Then I didn't get around to starting the project until January 2016. When I did, I made the hat, and decided I wanted a scarf rather than gloves to go with it. I thought I might have enough to finish the scarf, but I ran short. Uh oh. But perhaps I could get another skein from Romni Wools? I went down to Romni in February and discovered they had no skeins of that shade left and that, further, they weren't carrying the yarn any longer. Oh no. I turned to the internet, and checked Ravelry, with no luck. I found that it was possible to order more of the same yarn from two different places in England, but that neither company had the same dye lot.

You know how two different dye lots can be: they can be virtually identical, or they can look like two completely different colours. If I ordered a skein, it could work out well, or I could wind up with a completely different colour of yarn that I'd have to figure out how to use. It was risky, but on the other side of the equation, I had knitted two-thirds of that scarf in a complicated ruched pattern in a fingering weight. I held my breath, and placed the order. I bided my time until the day the skein arrived...

...And the dye lot was a perfect match to the one I had been using. And yes, the photo meme above is an excellent representation of how I reacted when my gamble paid off. Except that the cuteness factor was dialed down by an order of magnitude.

Here's the finished scarf and hat. I liked the Lórien pattern, but it did turn out to be a rather tricky and time-intensive project. It's easy to make a mistake, not notice it, and wind up having to rip out a couple of days' work. And again, this set was done in a fingering yarn. But ultimately I felt it was worth the work, as I was quite pleased with the set. Another issue that arose was that the instructions said that blocking was not recommended for this project, but the hat turned out to be quite unattractively close-fitting on me. It seemed better to risk blocking than to resign myself to a very unflattering hat that, realistically, I was too vain to wear. That risk paid off too, as blocking gave the hat the drape it needed, and it didn't seem to hurt the texture. I went ahead and blocked the scarf too. Given my high risk internet order and rebel blocking, I don't think anyone can say I don't live dangerously.

As you can see, the scarf is just the ruched pattern from the hat worked flat, and I crocheted around it to make the edge look more finished.

Though I bought this yarn last year, it was one of the two lots of new yarn that I bought in 2015 but didn't include in last year's stash calculations, which means it must count as new yarn this year. The leftover yarn from this project therefore counts a stash increase of +10 grams.

Autumn Flurries Turn to Spring Flowers Top

The plan for this project began to form when I saw a little less than 50 grams of blue Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo and perhaps 85 grams of some orange Berroco Pure Pima in my box of cotton yarns, and thought how pretty and fresh they looked together, especially when combined with some of the odds and ends of cream yarn that were also in the box. I began musing on what I could do with them and came up with the idea of a cream, blue, and orange summer top. I began to search Ravelry for sweater patterns that required three colours and DK weight yarns.

And this pattern, which is the Autumn Flurries pattern and a Drops design, was ultimately my choice. I decided that I would make it in a standard top length instead of this tunic length and that the snowflake pattern, which is rather wintry, would pass as a floral pattern when rendered in the orange Pima.

And here is the finished top, made in a size 38. I bought 300 grams of a cream-coloured cotton wool blend to use for the main colour, but for the life of me I can't remember which brand of yarn it is or find the skein band I thought I'd saved for the purpose of writing up the project. I'll have to get the name the next time I go to Romni Wools. This documentation snafu aside, the top turned out quite well and knitted up quickly with no problems and I am pleased with it. It'll look well with both the tan khaki and denim skirts and shorts I have in my wardrobe. I had just a small amount of each of the blue and orange yarns left, and some of the cream, and this project had resulted in a net stash decrease of -60 grams.