Tuesday, August 26, 2008

5-hour Hat and Gaiter

Many thanks to Suzanne for being a patient model.

Copyright information below the pattern.

This hat and gaiter pattern is a quick and warm knit perfect for beginners or for those (like me) who need a quick and fast project. Knitting took 5 hours total. The hat is made for a 22-23" head. I can pull it firmly down over my ears and it fits great. I don't have tall hair, though. If you have tall hair you may want to increase the total length before decreasing or use the gaiter as a headband. If you have short and fine hair, or no hair like our Styrofoam model below, the gaiter will just look silly as a headband.

A conversation with a friend about reminded me that garter stitch is wider than stockinette and that one needs to increase/decrease appropriately to keep garter from flipping. I used this tip on both the hat and gaiter. On the hat I wanted the garter stitch portion to be wider since it goes around the wider part of the head. I knew that I wanted the band to be wide and cozy around my ears but I wanted the crown to be snug. Decreasing on the first row of stockinette would normally cause flipping up, but I trusted that the taller garter stitch band would counteract stockinette's pull and my big head would keep the rest in place. I was right! No flip here.

I used the same principle on the gaiter to induce flipping. I wanted the top part of the gaiter to flip up over my lower face when I needed it, but to flip down out of the way when I didn't. The garter stitch section here is one ridge shorter, plus I steam blocked half of the garter band in the flipped position so it would be more likely to fold down in front while still remaining upright on the back of the neck.

The explanation of the pattern is now officially longer than the patterns themselves. Onward!


This has not been test knitted by anyone other than me. I have done my best to find and correct all errors. If you find any discrepancies, I apologize. Any questions can be directed to dyeabolicalyarns at gmail dot com.

Yarn: Both the hat and gaiter can be made from one 8-oz. skein of Dyeabolical Unspun 2-ply roving/yarn (more info here)with plenty left over for a longer crown, longer gaiter, a giant pom-pom, ear flaps, ties, wristwarmers or just to keep on your desk to reach over and smoosh every so often.

Gauge: 9 stitches = 4", post steam blocking

Needle size: I used US 11 double points. I am a notoriously loose knitter. You may find it easier to get gauge on US 13.


Using knitted cast on, cast on 40 stitches on a size 11 dpn

Row 1, 3, 5, 7: Knit
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8: Purl
Rows 9: [k2tog, k8] around--36 stitches remain
Row 10-26: Knit
Row 27: [k2tog, k2] around--27 stitches remain
Row 28: knit
Row 28: [k2tog, k1] around--18 stitches remain
Row 29: Knit
Row 30: [k2tog] around--9 stitches remain
Row 31: k2tog around to last stitch, knit last stitch

Break yarn, weave through remaining stitches and pull tight. Weave in ends. Steam block to finish.


C/O 44 stiches on size 11
Row 1, 3, 5: Knit
Row 2, 4, 6: Purl
Row 7: *K2tog, K9* around--40 stitches
Row 8-18: Knit
Row 19: *Pfb, K9* around--44 stitches
Row 20, 22, 24: Knit
Row 21, 23: Purl
Row 25: Cast off

Weave in ends. Steam block to finish.

© Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008. All rights reserved. 5-hour Hat and Gaiter pattern may only be used for personal and non-profit use only. You may use this pattern to create items for personal use, a gift or as a charity item donation. Please do not redistribute this pattern without the link and copyright information intact. Contact via email for permission to distribute a printed version of this pattern in your store.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It Is Too Easy Being Green

  • I had a dream last night where I went to bed in St. Louis in August and woke up somewhere cold and snowy. I looked out the window and big fat snowflakes were falling outside the window. I woke up a little panicked because I haven't knit anything useful in case we ever have an actual winter, except for 2 pairs of fingerless mitts, a scarf that is so short it won't wrap around once and a pair of socks. I hope this dream doesn't foretell the coming winter. August has been so mild that it makes me think this winter will be hella cold. We also recieved some news today that makes me think that we might be spending part of our winter in a snowy climate. Better stop those socks and get knitting on some hats. HA! Stop knitting socks? Who am I kidding? My head may freeze but at least my feet will be warm.
  • It has been a green kind of couple of weeks around here.
  • Deborah gave me this MARDI GRAS sock yarn from Tofutsies. She also gave me a Gibralter in Lemon, which isn't green but is delicious.
Ravelry picMy new favorite candy

  • I dyed my first cellulose fiber. It went really well. The picture doesn't do it justice. It is lemon/lime green with avacado and grass greens mixed through. This bamboo/cotton blend is so soft and has a great sheen. Did I mention organic, too? I'm dyeing more up tomorrow, as well as test skeins of bamboo/silk, 100% silk and seacell/silk. Yum! Many thanks to some great friends for the push to try these out.
Bamboo/Cotton test skeins
  • I cast on for a sock in a new sock yarn. Many of my customers have been asking for a nylon reinforced sock yarn. Ask and ye shall receive. 80% superwash wool/20% nylon, almost 400 yards, great twist, good sheen and slightly thicker than fingering. Think the weight of Jitterbug. It isn't quite fingering, but not quite sport either. I'll have several colors up later this week. In the meantime I'm knitting this socks for a generous friend. I improvised the pattern, but I can write it down if anyone would like it:

  • I have a new colorway to debut with the next batch of yarn, inspired by the Joker! GREEN, purple, red and white
Of course, you can't have the Joker without Batman, who isn't green at all:
Batman, Dark Knight and Joker

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lily Chin

This is another long post, I'm afraid. I tried to put it in chunks for easy reading. I added pictures for those of you who read blogs just for the pictures. Not that I ever do that. Nope, never. *ahem* Moving on.

On Friday Lily gave a talk about what to look for in yarn. A lot of what Lily discussed are things I already knew from working at the shop. It was interesting nonetheless. Everyone knows it is important to swatch for most projects. Not everyone knows that you are supposed to wash your swatch. Even fewer realize that hanging your swatch will give you a more accurate swatch measurement. This is doubly true if you are working with heavy slippery fibers such as bamboo and soy. I think many knitters in the audience realized that what Lily was saying was something our own Lenora has been trying to tell us for some time.

Warning: Digression in to fiber theory ahead

Lily also discussed the properties of yarns. Again, I knew a lot of this from working in the shop and from my own research, but it is almost always worthwhile to hear information presented in a new way. Lily did confirm what I already suspected about superwash merino. The superwash process of stripping scales from wool contributes to the growth of merino garments, especially when agitated. Merino fibers are short to begin with. If there are no scales on the fiber to grab to itself, then it is easier for the fibers to move past each other and elongate. There are no scales to 'lock' the fiber in place.

I think the same must be true for why superwash merino fuzzes up in the washer and dryer. There are no scales to lock the short fibers down. The agitation of the machine makes it easier for all of those short ends to work themselves out and fluff up, especially in the dryer which is just a big hair dryer if you think about it. The fluffing up doesn't bother me if I know what to expect to begin with, especially on socks. Superwash will grow when it hits water. In the washer some of those short fiber ends may work loose. The dryer will agitate more short ends out while fluffing and straighten them much in the same way blow drying your hair would do. I hope that makes sense.

I have always thought the fluffing and pilling was just the way superwash merino is. It is what it is as we're fond of saying, but I know bothers many people. Maybe it is time we stop thinking of superwash wool as being machine washable and start thinking about it being non-feltable? If you machine wash and tumble dry a superwash wool object it will not look the same as it did going in to the wash. To me it can be part of the finishing process, just as you would wash a garment purchased at the store. A brand new t-shirt will never look the same coming out of the washer as it did going in. The same with a machine washed wool. If that final 'fuzz' finish bothers, then handwashing your superwash garment is the way to go. Some may ask why use superwash if you have to hand wash anyway? If the garment goes in to the machine by mistake it will emerge still usable unlike a feltable wool*.

[EDIT TO CLARIFY: In the picture below the bottom swatch is not garter stitch. It is garter and a stockinette lace pattern, which is why it is curling. The wear and fade are what you want to be looking at.]

What does superwash really mean?

Digression Over...for now

I enjoyed Friday's lecture and also enjoyed trying to figure out the stitch pattern for her dress. It was darling, as was all of her outfits.
Lily Chin

I doubt anyone who met me would ever call me fashion forward or even fashion conscious. It may surprise everyone I know that as a child I used to fantasize about designing fashion. I also wanted to be a teacher, brick layer, banker and florist, but that's beside the point. I never dreamed of wearing fashions. Instead my imagination had me sitting behind a drawing board and sewing machine making fashions for others. I have long since recognized that I do not posses the patience, skills or eye to make that childhood fantasy a reality. Since then, my inspiration for designing has atrophied. It is there and I occasionally have a twinge but I never get up and do anything about it.

Enter Lily Chin. Lily gave two related lectures on Saturday. One was called Design Inspiration and the other called Interpreting Fashion Trends. I am inspired. I found myself putting down the needles and picking up the notebook. She gave some good resources for knitwear designers to anticipate trends. Unfortunately, most of the fashion forecast publications for knitwear--such as Collezioni Trends--are very expensive. Like $80 an issue expensive. Luckily this is the age of the internet and googling 'fashion forecast' will get you many sites that provide similar information at little or no charge.

Here is where I apologize for the crappy pictures. They looked darling on my camera screen, but the low light and shaky hand means a bad picture full size. Lily showed us many of her own pieces that were translated from trends. What I found especially interesting was her 'inspiration' pieces. I am obsessed with the sweater on the left. Lily is wearing her own pattern, Grecian Plaits. Can you figure out what the inspiration for the sweater on the left was? This is why I love Lily Chin. Who else would be inspired by the bathroom rug and turn it in to a comfy sweater? I doubt I would make this color and I would probably change some of the elements, but I loved parts of this so much that I ordered the issue of Knitters I thought it was in. Alas, it was the wrong issue. Anyone have any idea which issue this is in?

This is where Lily really shines as a teacher. I was missing one tiny and crucial step to making flawless short rows. It was worth the cost of the class for the 10 seconds worth of instruction that revealed that one crucial step I was missing. The rest of this great class was bonus. I walked away with a lot of ideas on how to use short rows and even more design ideas. Now I just need time to knit!

I enjoyed getting to know her a little bit as a person instead of as a media personality. We have a bit in common, including work experience, both living in one bedroom apartments and vice of choice. Of course, even our similarities had great big differences. She started work at 13 in a factory and I started at 12 at a sno-cone stand; I live in a hovel in St. Louis and she lives in Manhattan; She still enjoys her vice and I miss mine terribly. Still, I enjoyed making a personal connections, especially to a knitter and crocheter I have long admired for her fearlessness. After class I help Lily pack up and take her luggage out. She discovered that her flight had been canceled. I never heard if she made it home easily or not. Hopefully she did!

*Cascade is coming out with a new yarn that I am excited to try. It is not a chemically treated superwash but the dense tight twist allows it to be machine washable without fuzzing or shrinking. I played with a machine washed sample, but I can't wait to get my hands on a ball and try it out for myself.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


All week long I have sat down to write about the great time I had attending Lily Chin's workshop last weekend. Every time I sit down I find myself going off on a rant about some of my fellow workshop attendees. I thought I could be mature and just not mention it at all. Obviously not. My writer's block seems to have jammed up over one or two instances that I keep running in to at every group event I attend. Let me just mention them so I can move on with my life.

Individually I like most of the people I have met from the hosting group. Most are customers, some are co-workers and many are friends. Despite the many personal and professional connections I have with this group and the cordial atmosphere of the knitting community in general, I keep running in to some attitudes that I find challenging.

Some of the attitudes are personality flaws of select members, such as cornering me in front of a group and treating me like a lowly and stupid shop clerk instead of a person. I don't know that I want to spend a lot of time with any person, much less several people, who expect me to be personally accountable for every decision made by the business I work for*. I can hardly blame group dynamics for that kind of attitude. Like I said, personality flaw.

Other attitudes seem to stem from small group dynamics and group culture. Frankly, there is a group subset who seem to resent newcomers. I must emphasize that this attitude comes form a minority of members, but they are just loud enough that it makes it uncomfortable to be around. One instance was so overt that it left me with a feeling I had been singled out personally. Was I? Perhaps.

The group does a lot of good things. Historically they haven't had a lot of events that interested me, but lately they having more events that perk my interest. Lily Chin and their announcement that they were going to knit out at the Strange Folk Festival*** were huge signals to that change. The discounts at yarn shops alone are enough to more than pay for the dues. I have felt welcome by many members of the group and I have a lot I can contribute, but frankly, we got off to a rocky start when I tried to join several years ago. As far as I know only 3 or 4 people in the entire group ever knew about that and I believe the problem has since been resolved. Quite a few members of the leadership committee asked me to consider joining again in the future. When they announced Lily Chin would becoming, I joined believing what is past is past. Maybe not?

I remain bewildered, but now that this is out of my system perhaps I can move on. Upcoming posts: Lily Chin and Batman/Joker.

*I was going to leave Knitorious at the end of this month to spend more time dyeing and possibly try for a few freelance writing gigs. I changed my mind for several reasons, not the least of which is I enjoy being able to reliably buy groceries each week instead of the up-down roller coaster that is freelance writing. Plus, I can't write fast enough to make good money at it. I've been writing this post for over an hour and I'm only on the third paragraph. [Edit to add: Final time to write this post? 2 hours. Make that 2.5. Crap. I'm gonna be late for work.]

**It isn't personal. I really value my at home privacy. Email me all you want. I will help you within reason simply because you are a fellow knitter. Just don't call me after 8 if we're not that kind of friend or stop by my house uninvited, okay? That isn't an unreasonable request.

***The group has since pulled from Strange Folk.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

PSA: Wear a mask while mixing dyes

Every powdered dye I have worked with has a warning on it to use a mask while mixing dyes to avoid inhaling the dye powder. It disturbs me that I have been seeing and hearing a few dye tutorials imply that the most basic and standard of safety precautions are overblown for the hobby dyer. These catalog and website tutorials, as well as a few podcasts, imply it is safe for the hobby dyer to mix dyes without a mask as long as they close the dye containers quickly and wipe up any liquid spills before they dry and turn back to powder. The theory is that if the dye containers are not open for very long that dye cannot get airborne and enter your lungs.

I cannot speak to how dangerous minute amounts of dye powder can be if you did breath it in, but I can certainly show you how well the 'close the container' advice works on keeping dye particles contained.

I lined up my jars I mix dyes in:
Perparing to dye

I measured the dyes above the jars and closed the container quickly. Between each jar I rinsed my measuring spoon to dissolve any dye powder clinging to the spoon. There was only one small wet spill to wipe up underneath one of the jars. I wiped that spot only and then took this picture. To the naked eye it would appear that all my dye is contained in the jars:
Dye added

I finished mixing the dye and moved the jars aside. Then I took my spray bottle of soapy water and wetted the area I was working on. If any dye particles did make it airborne, the water should turn them in to liquid dye and make them easier to see.

As you can see, dye particles made it airborne despite following the advice to be careful and close dye jars quickly.

My advice to new dyers is to always wear a mask while mixing dyes. I give the same advice to those mixing with food-grade dyes, too. Regardless of the chemical toxicity of the dyes, inhaling any powder can irritate your lungs. Have you ever had a coughing fit after accidentally breathing in dry Kool-Aid powder? Same principle, except instead of food grade dyes you are dealing with chemical dyes. Many are as safe as food-grade dyes, many are not. Some greens, for instance, are made with copper. Do yourself a favor and wear a mask if you are going to dye. An ounce of prevention and all that.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lily Chin

Lily Chin is awesome in a way that has nothing to do with knitting. She's pretty awesome at knitting and crocheting, too. More after tomorrow's short row class.

Lily Chin

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Public Transportation

I wish I could confidently say I will never have to take the Metro train, public bus, Greyhound or ever leave my house again, but that would be a lie. I have too many places I want to go and a 10-year old Korean car with intermittent electrical problems means chances are I will be taking public transportation some of the time.

I took the bus and train regularly for about 10 years. My only complaint about the train was that it smells on hot days and they didn't clean their windows regularly. I have a lot of olfactory related complaints about the bus, too, but a bigger problem when I rode regularly were the passengers. There was always one guy on every bus that could make it miserable for the other passengers. There probably still is. My consolation is that now that I am older, bigger and perfected my "I am going to kick your ass" look, the horny drunk guys leave me alone.

I was pretty put off by my first Greyhound bus trip, which was drama-heavy with rancid-chicken man, being appointed the messenger of hope on a dark stormy night, a possible kidnapping, recently released prisoners trying to be sneaky about their crack intake and a bus coming in while we were on our way out that had a recently deceased, believed to be murdered body on it. According to the person who told me about it, it was mentioned on the news once and never again. My second Greyhound trip--I never lose faith--sort of redeemed itself by limiting the reek of humanity to a few close talkers in need of antibiotics, a toothbrush and a shower. There was one eye popping moment when, upon departure, I looked out the window to watch luggage being loaded up with pretty floral luggage and boxes of human blood. I took a picture. Blog fodder is blog fodder.

The rest of my second bus trip was uneventful. Scott was a little traumatized during unloading when he couldn't find me but did find an entire busload of cargo labeled "fresh meat". Welcome to St. Louis. Next time I'm traveling with a tazer. The personal size even comes with an attractive and purple handle. That's how you know it's meant for women. It also comes in neutral, ahem, I mean manly colored handles.

Don't worry. I'm not buying a tazer. I'm not limiting what little public travel I do. I will avoid it when I can, but that's pretty typical of, um, everyone. The only thing that will change is that I will be even more nervous for those in my life who remain oblivious to people sizing them up for a mugging. I won't change what areas I go in to. For the most part I already stay out of areas where I would be easy pickins. I will be more wary about 'safe' areas I frequent. So should you. Random crime is on the rise. Just don't be chicken little about it. Be wary, be cautious, don't be an asshole.

So far I have been pretty good about knowing when I am being sized up for a mugging and taking steps to avoid it so far. Once I saw a guy sizing me up in the middle of the night outside Webster University library. It was late, I was tired, I had a deadline and I was Not In The Mood. I just wanted to finish my cigarette in peace. I ignored him for a minute, but I listened to the gnawing in my gut and picked up the phone and pulled up the public safety number. When the guy finally plucked up his nerve and ran at me I pressed 'send' and loudly said, "I'm already on the phone with the police". My would-be mugger couldn't change his trajectory fast enough and stumbled off the curb. It shook me that my instincts were right. It also made me shake with laughter that I startled a would-be bad guy.

I don't pretend random acts of bullshit don't shake me. Muggings probably shake me more than they should while random acts of beheading don't shake me enough. Mugging seems real like it can jump out at you at any second and threaten that sphere of safety you have built in your mind. But random acts of murder? Being stabbed by your seat mate for no reason? It doesn't seem real. It is like the bogeyman . It is horrific and makes me want to hide under my bed. My heart aches for the victim, the family and the witnesses, but I can't wrap my mind around it being real. All I can do is believe is that this kind of tragedy is random, isolated and rare.

Onward I travel, what little local and long-distance traveling I do, keeping my cell phone in my pocket, dangling something pokey in my fist (like keys), keeping my eyes open and trusting my gut.