April 15, 2015
While I was on vacation earlier this month, I finished a knitting project. Preparing to do an entry about it today, I thought to myself “seems like it’s been a very long time since I wrote about knitting here” so checked the archives, finding it had been way longer than I expected: a post about two scarves from March of 2013 was the most recent thing in the knitting category. I knew it had been a while, but that seemed too long to be right. I remembered putting something knitted in the Weetacon raffle last year; where was the entry about that? Did I just not tag it correctly to show in the knitting category? Took a look by date and nope, didn’t seem to be a tagging issue. I looked at Ravelry (where I hardly ever go anymore), and there was no sign of anything after the scarves there, either. I found my answer on Flickr, in a photo of one of the raffle tables, showing two hats I’d made flanking cross stitch from my friend Stacey. Ah ha! There was knitting after spring of 2013 and before now. Not much, but it’s something. I guess I was more stressed than I realized from all the stuff going on with my mom’s health around that time, because it’s not like me to not document.
Those two hats were just another two variations of the basic pattern I’d made lots of times before. For this latest hat, I did something I’d never done before: double knitting. I’ve made double layer hats before, sure, but those were made by knitting one hat top down and then another bottom up and just not binding off in between. For this hat, I’d knit the inside and the outside at the same time, from one cast on. Mr. Karen wanted a warm hat to wear while he’s sleeping in cold places, like in a tent during early season kayaking trips, but one without a bulk cuff like on the double layer hat I made him that he often wears when he’s in cold places but not sleeping. Double knitting seemed like a good way to accomplish that, so I poked around the web and found this double knit ski cap pattern, grabbed some leftover yarn from my stash, and got going. Since this hat was meant to be worn in the dark, in private, color selection was a lot less of a concern than usual.
I wasn’t sure how to swatch for double knitting, so cast on the number of stitches called for in the pattern and worked an inch or two, concentrating hard to work the inside and outside layers separately. It seemed to me the circumference was rather larger than desired for a snug fitting cap, so I ran some waste yarn in place of the needle and tried it on my head. It was way too big. I made Mr. Karen try it on his head with the same result. So I unraveled all that work and started again with a smaller number of stitches, telling myself it was good practice with this new to me technique to begin again.
After that, I worked on it in fits and starts. I’d first thought I’d finish by this past winter, maybe Christmas, but no. I thought I’d finished it at the end of January, when I took it to the quilting retreat to work on as a break from sewing.
I mean, I did finish it back in January, in that it was hat shaped, with the ends woven in and everything (two sets of them). The only problem was it wasn’t long enough, didn’t cover enough of Mr. K’s ears when he tried it on. So that meant I got to get experience in undoing double knitting; it’s twice the fun of regular frogging. I did some of that work on the plane during our February ski trip.
Finally, during this last ski trip, with kayaking season looming, I buckled down and finished it for real. I could have buckled down more, as I knit the last decreases and wove in the ends as Mr. K was driving me to the airport the day I left to come back to Michigan.
It’s not perfect; there are more than a couple places where I got mixed up and the layers are connected where they shouldn’t be, but for a first attempt at this technique, I’m pretty pleased. Mr. K tried it on at the airport, sitting in the truck in the loading and unloading area just before I grabbed my bags and went inside to fly away. It fit and he seemed to like it, so that’s all good. Soon enough we’ll see if it stays on his head when he’s sleeping. If it doesn’t, I’m not sure what we’ll do. A chin strap seems like one solution, but the strangulation potential would have to be examined first. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.