There’s nothing like writing 3/4 of a post on the wrong form and losing it completely when you try to transfer it to the correct form to make you get to the point.  Yesterday I knitted and this is what I made:lilaccashmerecap.jpg                         mosscashmerecapearflaps.jpg  Both caps are knit from Karabella Supercashmere (moan, drool) and I was totally taken with the finished products.The lilac cap is 65 stitches cast on very loosely to size 5, 40 cm long circular needles.  It is intended to work for women receiving chemotherapy, so it is a little more snug than I’d make an outdoor cap; loss of hair does decrease your hat size a good bit.  Starting at the brim, join your stitches to knit in the round, making sure not to twist them, and knit about 2 inches in stockinette stitch.  On circular needles this means knit every stitch of each round.  I don’t use markers to mark the joining because I can see the yarn tail there.  After you have 2 inches of stockinette (give or take – don’t obsess about this), make one complete round of purl.  Then we start the spiraling purl ridge pattern. Row 1:  (Purl 2 knit 11) repeat this 5 times and you’ve finished the rowRow 2:  Knit 1, (purl 2 knit 11) 4 times, then purl 2 knit 10 and you’ve finished the row.Row 3:  Knit 2, (purl 2 knit 11) 4 times, then purl 2 knit 9Row 4:  Knit 3, (purl 2 knit 11) 4 times, then purl 2 knit 8and so on.  You get the idea:  each row you move your purl stitches over by 1 stitch, so that they spiral up the hat instead of stacking right on top of each other.  You are making 5 evenly spaced spirals.  After 16 rows, it’s time to start decreasing to form the crown of the hat.  You will need to decrease 5 stitches every round, evenly spaced.  You have many choices on how to do that.  You can switch back to stockinette and do your evenly spaced decreases, you can continue your spirals and take the decrease either before or after each spiral purl ridge, you can switch to reverse stockinette stitch and take the decreases by purling 2 together five evenly spaced times…just have fun with it.  I continued to spiral but widened my ridge to purl 3 and took the decreases in or close to the ridge:  lilaccashmerecapc.jpgOf course at some point you will need to switch to double-pointed needles.  When there are about 10 stitches left on your needles, cut your yarn leaving an 8-inch tail, thread it through the remaining stitches, and pull tight.  Weave in the crown and brim tails and you’re done.  If you’re giving this for a Christmas gift, don’t forget to include a little note about the washing instructions:  hand wash gently in cool water, dry flat.For the moss hat you need size 6 straight needles.  I used Takumi (Clover) bamboo, and the blunter tip didn’t split this loosely-spun, many-plied yarn very readily.  The hat is knit from the brim up.  Cast on 70 stitches and work a knit 2, purl 2 rib for about an inch.  Keep the ribbing loose – it’s not meant to cinch the hat to the head, but just to keep the edge flat.  After the ribbing, we’re going to use a double seed stitch.  For our number of stitches, it consists of a four-row pattern:Row 1:  (Knit 2, purl 2) repeat across the rowRow 2:  (Purl 2, knit 2) repeat across the rowRow 3:  (Purl 2, knit 2) repeat across the rowRow 4:  (Knit 2, purl 2) repeat across the rowYou are making little four-stitch blocks of knit stitches next to four-stitch blocks of purl stitches, but in blocks this small they look less geometric and more rounded and lacy. mosscashmerecapearflapsc.jpgJust ignore those earflaps for now, we’re not there yet.  After your 28 rows of double seed stitch, switch to seed stitch, doing (knit 1, purl 1) across every other row alternating with (purl 1, knit 1) across the inbetween rows.  You are also ready to start decreasing for the crown of the hat.  You make your decreases evenly spaced, in every other row.  I planned to decrease 10 stitches in every decrease row.  To keep in the seed stitch pattern, make your decreases in pairs:  Knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 2 together, purl 2 together, knit 1, purl 1…etc.  At some point you’ll need your double-pointed needles.  When you get to about 10 stitches left on the needles, cut your yarn leaving an 18 inch tail.  Thread the tail through the 10 stitches and pull tight.  Use the same tail to seam up the back of the hat.Now we’re ready for ear flaps.  Most ears sit slightly closer to the center back seam than to the center front of the hat.  Turn your hat inside out.  Your ear flaps are going to connect to the junction of the ribbing and body of the hat.  Starting 4 inches from the center back seam, pick up and knit eight stitches.  Knit these in stockinette stitch for 8 rows.  Remember your stockinette needs to face out toward the right side of the cap.  On the 9th row, knit 2 together across, leaving 4 stitches.  Turn and purl 2 together, leaving 2 stitches.  Turn, knit the last 2 stitches together, cut the yarn and pull through.  Now, get out your size H (8) crochet hook.  Putting it through the edge of your brim ribbing at the spot where the ribbing and earflap overlap, pull your yarn through and chain 1.  Work a single crochet stitch all the way around the earflap, connecting it at the end to the edge of the hat ribbing with a slip stitch, then cutting the yarnwith a 6-inch tail.  Create an ear flap on the other side of the hat, again starting 4 inches from the center back seam.  Weave in all the earflap tails and the center back tail and you’re done. These two hats required the following skills:  cast on, bind off, decrease by knitting or purling 2 stitches together, using circular needles and double points to knit in the round, knit and purl stitches, and basic finishing work.  Next time I’ll show you a very simple hat using all basic techniques.  Just because you use a sophisticated luxury yarn doesn’t mean your patterns have to be complicated. Peace!

Cashmere One

cashmere-fingerless-mitts.jpg

 Today’s name started out as “Cashmere I”, but I thought it looked too much like the word “I” and I didn’t want anyone to be mistaken that this was the first in a series of nauseatingly loving posts about cashmere.  I did not grow up with cashmere.  A military family with six children is not the place to get a taste for luxury.  I found cashmere as a 50 year old woman, shopping a tempting sale at my lys (local yarn store), the not-really-local Flying Fingers in New York.  They had Karabella Supercashmere in special Flying Fingers colours at half price!  Previously $50 a ball, the highest quality cashmere suddenly seemed within reach.  My yarn was delivered by the UPS angel and I had a religious experience.  Those chubby balls of yarn felt like baby cotton and the strands were so lush and plump that I couldn’t stop feeling them. 

Initially, I couldn’t bear to knit with the new yarn.  I stalked online store ads looking for more cashmere, and I began to stockpile it.  Finally, this fall, I felt like I had an idea worth working in cashmere.  I took out some of the moss green yarn and began to knit fingerless mitts.  I worked out a pattern of eyelet that snaked its way up the length of the mitt in an alluring curve, batching my yarnovers and k2t’s.  I tried them on to customize the decreases for my wrist and increases for the base of my hand and the thumb position.  These were going to be mine.  My first cashmere creation could not leave my possession.  It was a first in every way–first cashmere, first pair of fingerless mitts, first thing I’d intentionally knit for myself as an adult.  I know that last statistic is pathetic.  For two years I had been knitting for sale and knitting to give away, but none of my modern day knitting spree had been for me.  I kept a few things that couldn’t be sold (a contest winner, something so artsy there didn’t seem to be a market) but they weren’t initially intended to be mine.  Anyway, you can see them here, along with a nice shot of my belly and unmanicured hands.  Remind me to dress up a little and hold my stomach in for photos in the future.  cashmere-fingerless-mittsb.jpg

 Unfortunately, Tennessee weather has been its changeable best-highs ranging from 65 to 78 this week.  It will be colder in January and February and I’ll be able to wear my mitts for something other than display photos.

I am going to warn you now that making a derogatory comment about these mitts could lose you your comment privileges ’til hell freezes over or they transplant me a kinder heart.  Just saying.

You don’t have to wait for Flying Fingers to have a cashmere sale.  Other stores stock cashmere yarns, too.  One of them (www.littleknits.com) sent me an email about a sale yesterday morning and at 5:30 a.m. I was choosing colours of Debbie Bliss Cashmere.  I bought a bag (10 skeins) of black, a bag of amethyst (I am a purple freak) and some individual skeins of a light spring green and a delicate pale yellow.  Can’t wait for them to come.  You know I’ll be talking about it.

Now that I have enough cashmere stashed to part with some, I’m going to implement my “cashmere for the masses” plan.  All those trendy stores have their skinny little cashmere knits that don’t begin to give you the feel for the real thing.  I’m going to make nice thick caps and scarves in simple patterns, a lesson in fiber appreciation.  I might start with a moss green cap for me.

Well, I did it.  I talked about just one topic without too much digression.  I think that’s a good stopping point.  I’ve got a huge mug of coffee here and I’m ready to sip and knit.

Peace!