Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lots o' Knitting

The first order of business with that hank of yarn is winding it into usable balls. I have a really nifty yarn winder that I bought when I got my knitting machine, a very simple LK 150 Knitter. So it takes no time at all to have these neat, draw-from-the-middle balls wound. It would have been nice to keep it continuous, but that would have made a ball twice as big, and the winder is not capable of that.

Behind the two intriguing balls of wound yarn is some "Lopi," an Icelandic yarn that
is also 100% wool, which I thought to use
as an accent colour.

Then comes "swatching," or knitting up a sample on the needles you guess might be the right size. Most bought yarn comes with needle size suggested, but this home-spun yarn has no labels, so make your best guess. The first try is the bottom one on smaller needles, size U.S. 9. That seemed to produce a pretty stiff knitted fabric, so then I tried the larger wooden needles, size U.S. 11 in the upper swatch. That sample felt better, so I went with the bigger

I also took a guage reading off that swatch, approximately how many stitches to the inch. Then it's a simple matter to measure the circumference of your head to decide how many stitches to cast on. I guess my guage was not accurate because here's the first version of the hat: quite enormous!

Knitting without a pattern usually means unraveling at some point, and that was certainly what was called for here. So back to the beginning again.

From the big "hat" above I was able to get a more accurate guage, and cast on a more fitting amount of stitches. So by 10 a.m. on Wednesday I had begun again. I just used the variation in colour that was inherent in the yarn and came up with this lovely striped toque. It was finished by 3:30 that afternoon.

I'm delighted with this one of a kind hat. The blue yarn matches exactly the Goretex shell jacket that I bought for the hiking holiday in Chile.

On either side are the two neckwarmers that I knit the past weekend. The one on the right is my favorite, from the yarn I bought at Walmart on Saturday when I realized I'd run out of knitting before we got home. It's a very soft yarn, and I think the varigated colour in the yarn provided a really nice pattern in colour.

Because I wasn't sure how much yarn I needed for the neckwarmer, I bought two balls, and now have enough to make a matching headband. I'll be just all set with headwear for our holiday!

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