Tag Archives: knitting

My First Fair Isle Hat


I’ve flirted with Fair Isle, and other kinds of stranded colorwork knitting, for over a year now.  I’ve taken stranded colorwork classes through Craftsy.  I’ve swatched like a man obsessed.  I’ve drooled over colorwork charts.   I’ve held two strands in my left hand and also one strand in each hand as I’ve knit.  I’ve knit color work mittens with easy patterns and chunky yarn.

But I’ve never fully committed to a colorwork project quite the way I committed to the hat you see above.

The pattern comes from Mary Jane Mucklestone and is the basis of the Fair Isle vest pattern for her Craftsy class “The Fair Isle Vest: Stranded and Steeked.”  I bought the yarn — Cascade 220 Sport — last year but didn’t do anything with the fiber or the pattern until last week, when I decided to cast on for a swatch hat.

Using a size 3 16-inch circular needle, I cast-on 116 stitches in the gray and knit two inches of K1P1 ribbing.  The pattern is a 16-stitch repeat, so I increased 12 stitches evenly around the circumference on a size 5 16-inch circular needle until I had 128 stitches, enough for 8 repeats each round.

As I knit, I held the background color in my right hand and the pattern color in my left hand.  I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Continental knitter, but I found that knitting colorwork with both strands in my left hand involved too much twisting of the stitches and tangling of the yarn.  In another Craftsy class I took, Amy Detjen encourages students to knit stranded colorwork two-handed to keep things tidy and tangle-free, and I must admit she was right.  Even though it was very awkward for me to throw the yarn — and to figure out how to hold the yarn — with my right hand, I eventually learned what was right for my manner of knitting and I was soon throwing as quickly and efficiently as I was picking.

The pattern is 38 rows tall, which for the hat’s purposes involved only one full repeat before I started the crown shaping.  This put my hat at 7 inches (2 for the ribbing and 5 for the pattern repeat).  I really enjoyed how the black and the neon green yarn played off each other, so I did a simple peerie of alternating black and green stitches for the crown.

The biggest challenge for me with this hat was to keep my floats of yarn loose so the facing fabric didn’t pucker.  The two-handed yarn holding style really helped me with that, and in the picture below, you can see the floats inside the hat look nice and relaxed after washing and blocking.


I also learned that a few of my color choices (I adapted the colors from Mary Jane’s pattern to fit my own tastes) were a bit too dark to show contrasts very well, especially the taupe and the blue, so parts of my hat lack the visual pop of other parts.  Part of the learning curve, that’s for sure!  I’ll know better for next time.  I am still very pleased with the end result, though.

And speaking of next time, I’d say it’s time to cast on another stranded colorwork hat and get even better at it.  Why don’t you pick up your needles and start (or continue working on) a project with me?

Happy knitting, dear reader!



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Hurricane Hat

Another hat complete!  Ah, the Hurricane Hat.  This one only took a day-and-a-half to knit, and what a fun pattern.  As the rows piled on, I felt transfixed by the spiral as it inched upward.  A really fun, relatively easy hat to knit.

I wasn’t too sure about the color going in.  The yarn is taupe mixed with white, and I was afraid it would be too dark.  My first instinct was to find some yarn with pink, brown, and white mixed, to match my mother-in-law’s winter coat.  In digging through my yarn stash, I came upon the taupe-and-white yarn, and 2/3 is not a bad ratio, so I ran with it.  The end result is not as dark as I feared it might be, and I think she’ll like it.

Methinks I’ll have to knit one up for myself.  After I finish the hat I started for my other sister-in-law.  More details to come on that soon!

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Home Study

We had the home study yesterday.  All my stress and angst really was for naught, and I’m embarrassed I had my tantrum post on Monday.  (I toyed with the idea of deleting it, but realized emotions are part of the journey, for better or worse.  So it stays.)

The actual tour of the home was pretty quick.  The social worker asked about the fire extinguisher and smoke detectors, as we expected, and about where we would house prescription drugs.  She called our living room beautiful, our hardwood floors gorgeous, and smiled when she saw the child’s room.  She didn’t really say too much, but her non-verbal cues were very positive and she wrote some notes down.

During the course of our conversation, which mostly consisted of her reading a list of things she’s required to read in these situations, we came to find out we can, indeed, be borrowed by surrounding counties, so that’s good.  We also found out she will have the home study report written by next Wednesday, and we will likely be fully licensed by early January.  It’s good to know some basic timelines, after so much mystery.  Progress is being made.

One of my colleagues at work and his wife went through foster training at the same we did.  The social worker told us they received their license Monday and by Tuesday had a ten-year-old placed with them.  Their home study was just around Thanksgiving, so perhaps that’s a sign of things to come for us.  But either way, I’m very excited for them and need to be in touch, so they know they have us as a support system if they need one.

On a side note, no comment was made about the blanket I knitted for the baby.  Regardless, it was there on the crib, ready for her when she arrives.

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Hurry Up and Wait. Some More. Again.

Last night, I finished the baby’s blanket.  The ends are all weaved in, it’s been washed, it’s folded in her crib.  The blanket is ready for the baby, and for the social worker to see it.

The social worker was supposed to see it today.  She was supposed to conduct a home inspection.  We were finally making progress, after such a snail’s pace since September.  Yet, just when I thought we could really make it to the next step, we now have to wait even longer.  The social worker called to reschedule the appointment due to the weather.  As far as I know, the appointment has been moved to this Thursday.

I don’t know for sure, though.  Not that I don’t want to know, but just that I’m so disappointed.  I had allowed myself to actually get excited about the home inspection because it means we’re moving along, but I now see that was not wise on my end.  I stopped intellectualizing the process and started feeling the process.  Of course, I understand the cancellation.  Many schools were closed today (mine included) and travel conditions were surely treacherous in many places.  Yes, yes.  I know that.


Perhaps this wouldn’t be so frustrating if the social worker we have were more communicative, were in touch more often, even if just to say she doesn’t have any new information.  Perhaps I want to know someone is out there with us, that we’re not just dangling by ourselves, in the dark, not having any information to work from.  I can’t help thinking other people are luckier, other people have an advocate.  I don’t feel we have an advocate, just someone putting in her time, but not her heart.

I don’t want to feel that way.  Especially when I finally allowed myself to feel the process.  Now I’m back to intellectualizing everything.  I’ll believe forward motion when I see it.

Until then, I can look at that blanket folded in the crib.  And wait.  And wonder.  But not feel.

Annika's Blanket Finished

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The 13th Row

I’m very nearly finished with the baby blanket.  That’s quite an accomplishment for me, since I’m notorious for starting blankets and abandoning them.  Perhaps my motivation has never been as urgent, or as personal, as what drives me now, so my quick progress in this instance requires noting what has come before to appreciate what currently is.  Thank you for that indulgence.

According the pattern, I am to knit twelve rows of basket weave, then commence the top edge of garter stitch.  I reached that milestone last night, yet couldn’t start the garter edging.  My instincts told me to knit a thirteenth row.  I’ve always considered thirteen a lucky number for me, and my birthday is September 13.  Also, this is the twelfth month, and perhaps my subconscious is telling me our new little one will come to us in January.  I’m not sure.  Either way, I’m heeding the voice of my instincts and will knit a thirteen row.

That blanket will be finished and on display in the crib when the social worker comes to do the house inspection on Monday.  So be it.

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Halfway There!

Halfway Done

In just over a week, I’ve managed to make some really good progress on the  baby blanket.  It’s now officially halfway done.

Maybe I’m just being overly (pre-maturely?) sentimental about what the blanket symbolizes and the tiny human it will keep warm soon, but each stitch is a conversation I’m having with her, is a prayer sent up to keep her as safe as possible, is a mental message-in-a-bottle of how much she’s already loved.  So much about her is a mystery right now, but that blanket is something concrete, something real I can touch and hold and grow.  It’s something that can help her know me better until we actually meet.

The colors in the blanket have this interesting retro vibe to them, a 1970s vibe with the deep purple.  I love purple, deep purple especially, but in combination with the blues and yellows and oranges, a definitely retro vibe comes out.  That’s okay with me, since I was born in the 1970s and maybe that’s a primal, subconscious way of bringing some of my childhood into my baby’s.

We have a final home inspection on December 13th.  We will know more then about when we can expect to meet our new baby, whoever she is and wherever she comes from.

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