Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays (and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays...)

We seem to have come to some sort of a weather impasse here in New England. It has rained, or been significantly overcast, or in some way not been sunny and bright for so long I have forgotten the last shiny day.
(I love the Carpenters. Wanna make something of it? Also Barry Mannilow, in that kitschy, cozy, reminiscent sort of way...)

Anyway, I recently finished up a kind of last minute deadline project and needed a little something to ease me back into my regular work flow. I reached into my basket of single-skeins and pulled out color. Sunny, bright color. Noro color.Noro is so my guilty pleasure. It's the one thing that can send me to the registers with 6 or more bags of discontinued colors just because, like Everest to Mallory, "'s there".

I present the end product of my "wishing-away-the-rain" knitting project, complete with free pattern to create the same should you so choose, providing you adhere to the rather lengthy but really important copyright information you'll find under the pattern. It was fun, fast, and simple. Enjoy!

Melissa’s Cloud-Chasing Rainy Month Hat
copyright 2009 Melissa Morgan-Oakes - see below for more information on copyright

1 ball Noro Silk Garden Lite color 2047
US 6 and 7, 16” circular needles or size needed to obtain gauge.
US 7 dpn, or one size larger than that needed to obtain gauge.
Pompom maker, 1 5/8” or pompom method of choice.
Seaming needle
Gauge- 19 sts/4 inches in K3, P1 rib with smaller needle
Abbreviations -
Sl2KP: Slip two stitches together knitwise, knit one, pass 2 slipped stitches over the just-knit stitch. This creates a centered double decrease – you’re eliminating 2 stitches each time you work this decrease, and the center stitch ‘pops’ to the front of your work.
K: knit
P: purl
K2tog: knit two stitches together

With smaller needle cast on 88 stitches. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist. Work in K3, P1 rib for 8 rounds. Change to larger size needle and begin working in stitch pattern as follows:

Round 1-3: *knit 3, purl 1. Repeat from * to end of the round.
Round 4: *K1, K into the stitch 3 rows below, K1, P1. Repeat from * to end of the round.

Work in stitch pattern until hat measures 6” (or desired length - usually the measurement of your hand from the heel to the tip of your middle finger - or to put it another way, from the base of your carpals to the tip of your longest distal phalanges) from cast on edge. Now you will work the following rounds, decreasing for the top of your hat. Change to double pointed needles when you can no longer comfortably work the stitches on the 16" circular.

Round 1: *K3, P1, Sl2KP, P1. Repeat from * to end of round [66 stitches remain.]
Rounds 2&3: *Knit 3, P1, K1, P1. Repeat from * to end of round.
Round 4: *Sl2KP, P1, K1, P1. Repeat from * to end of round. [44 sts]
Rounds 5&6: *K1,P1. Repeat from * to end of round.
Round 7: *K1, P1, K2tog. Repeat from * to end of round. [33 sts]
Round 8: *K1, P1, K1. Repeat from * to end of round.
Round 9:*K2tog, K1. Repeat from * to end of round. [22 sts]
Round 10: *K2tog. Repeat from * to end of round. [11 sts]

Cut yarn leaving a 6” tail. Thread yarn onto a seaming needle and run through all stitches. Pull snugly, take yarn to inside and run yarn ends in.

Make pompom if desired, and if there’s enough yarn left. I used a Clover Pompom Maker, 1 5/8”. Tie pompom using alternate yarn or strong thread. (I used a 6” scrap of a strong, plied sock yarn that was handy – the Silk Garden Lite is not strong enough as a single ply to tie it’s own pompom securely). Use pompom tie to attach pompom to top of hat with a strong knot. Run in all yarn ends.

Apply hat to head regardless of current temperatures, and stand in front of mirror often. The colors of the hat will inspire hope that someday, yes, the sun will return to New England. If nothing else, I am now prepared for fall and winter. Maybe that's when the sun is coming back?

Boring but really important part:
Copyright 2009 Melissa Morgan-Oakes. All rights reserved. This pattern may not be sold or used for any purpose other than personal use by the individual knitter without written permission of the author (that'd be me). In other words, please don't steal this and tell the world it's yours, or make 500 hats to sell at your local winter craft fair thereby becoming independently wealthy. You may print it for your own use. You may even give a copy of it to friends as long as this long and conversational little copyright explanation is included. You can even use it to knit for charity, like Warm Woolies.
This pattern is also available for download as a pdf from Ravelry
download now

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lucky Winners

There were lots of Ravelers in this contest. For the first time all of our winners have Ravelry accounts. Is anyone else totally blown away by how fast Ravelry has become as ubiquitous as yarn in the fiber world?

I give you the winners:

Kelly (knit4joy) said...

What a fascinating road to take, beekeeper. Such a honey of a job! The chicks are sweet and so cute, hopefully, many will become layers and will life a long and happy life.

The chicks are adorable! Some of them will grow up to be layers, that's for certain. The rest are boys, and there's only so many roosters a girl can have on ten small acres with only 25 or so hens. We'll keep 2-3 of the boys for breeding back to the girls. The rest will become part of our food web. I know this can be hard for some people to (for lack of a better word) digest. It's very important to us to know where our food comes from as much as possible. By raising these 'as hatched' or 'straight run' chicks - that means girls and boys - we're taking responsibility for all of the chicks hatched on our behalf. Many hatcheries offer pullets, which are girls. That means they have to set about twice the number of eggs as there are orders for chicks, because about half will NOT be pullets - they'll be cockerels (boys). What happens to the boys? This way, I know what happens to them, and it feels right to me. It's not for everyone, I know!

Kim (tarheelfan) said...

Would love a copy of your book and yummy yarn. I haven't done 2 at a time yet, but working my way to it as I just learned magic loop recently.

Then, Kim, this is a great book for you! Make sure you check out, if you haven't already, the 2-at-a-Time group on Ravelry. It's an awesome way to get help if you have questions, or share finished projects.

Paulette (fuzzy-slipper, who's also a homeschooler, and we all know how near and dear that is to my heart AND apparently makes some quite lovely jewelery as well!) said...

Well, you'll be happy to know that since I apparently don't travel in your circles often enough I hadn't heard of Valley Yarns before, so you weren't preaching entirely to the choir. I mostly am a "reclaimer" and a Knitpicks fan, but I loved their website and their variety. Thanks for the info.

Living as close to Webs as I do I sometimes forget that there are people out there who may not have heard of them. Their Valley Yarns are lovely. I'll add the caveat that I teach at Webs and have designed for them in the past, but trust me on this - I don't recommend yarn I don't like. I won't bash it, but I also won't mention it. This is yarn I can happily mention, recommend and stand behind!

Rosie (canadianknitter) said...

I am terribly impressed by your daughter becoming a beekeeper. Does her interest stem from the depleted bee population?

There were a few bee questions in the comments, so I'll share some answers here. Girl (who's 21 now) showed interest in bees from the time she was about 13. She's allergic to a lot of things, and we were more than a wee bit paranoid, and more than a wee bit broke (we have four kids, she's the youngest. The groceries alone...), so we delayed "the bee thing" in case she changed her mind and in the hope of better times. She did not change her mind. She studied and spent hours hounding innocent beekeepers at any public event she found them at, and many more hours begging her equally innocent mother. Bees, she said, would make my garden huge. They would make us honey. I only use about 10 pounds of honey a year. It seemed like a big investment for a meager ten pounds. Then a few years ago she became very concerned when she read an article in American Bee Journal about bees in crisis. She shared the article with me, and I became convinced that an "if not now, when?" mentality was what we needed. Small producers like we hope to be could be essential if bee numbers continue to diminish. All of a sudden keeping bees means more than just honey to us. It meant a positive step in preserving humanities access to food. Pollinators play a much bigger role in producing our food than most of us know. A family member (Cousin Gail) very generously offered to give Meg (that's Girl's real name) some of her father's (Uncle George's) bee things. It took us some more time to get established in our new home; getting our gardens in, taking out a lot of trees to make enough dappled sunlight for bees and direct sunlight for gardens to feed them properly. Finally this winter we were able to place our order from Warm Colors Apiary for a nuc, or nucleus colony of bees. I doubt that Dan Conlon the owner of Warm Colors remembers, but my daughter has, I believe, chewed his ear off with endless questions at our local fair on more than one occasion over the years. (He and any other beekeeper who wasn't moving. And some that were. But she's fast and slippery and could keep up with them when they tried to escape.)
And yes, Cheryl, my kid is totally cool. The bees are just the beginning. When she was quite young she said she wanted to learn sign language after meeting and spending time with an older girl who was deaf. We put her off on that one, too. Homeschooled through high school, when she began college the first class she registered for was American Sign Language. She came home from the first day of the first class and said, at 18 years of age, "I know what I want to do with my life." She's got a passion for ASL and the Deaf community that never ceases to move me. Once Girl sets her mind to something, there's no stopping her.
There were some chicken questions and comments too - yes, the post office delivers the chicks. They leave their 'home' as soon as they're fluffy and dry. Chicks absorb the remaining yolk into their body just before hatching, and their abdomen closes over it. They can live off the contents of that yolk sac for up to three days. The baby chicks make it from where they hatch to my door in about 36 hours. The postmaster gives us a ring and we fly down to meet them fresh off the truck. Swknits asked if the chicks were any particular breed - they're a mixed bag from an truly wonderful place called Sand Hill Preservation Center. We order assortments because they're a fun way for us to experience lots of different breeds. These chickens are mostly Red Sussex, Cuckoo Marans, Buff Cochins, and Rhode Island Reds. There's also some very fun things in this batch, like Blue Jersey Giants, Blue Laced Gold Wyandottes, Black Australorps and the "original chicken", Black Dorkings. To learn more about chicken breeds, check out Feathersite, an amazing compendium of chicken information. It is my firm belief that everyone should, if they can, have chickens in their backyard. Or in their chicken house. And with that, I give you pre-adolescent poultry at their finest. Gawky, lanky, half grown feathers and all.The butts are still fuzzy.
This is a guinea fowl. They eat ticks. I hate ticks. More on that another time.
Delightful little chick that I believe is a Dorking.
A Rhode Island Red

Another Rhode Island Red. I've had "RIR's" before, but from a commercial hatchery. There birds are nothing like commercial birds. They're super calm, and more true to their original breed than I've seen before.A smattering of baby cuteness.
More smattering.

And the finale - a Blue Jersey Giant, a Buff Cochin and the capper - a wee little Ameraucana pullet. I think she looks more like a chipmunk than a chicken. When this little girl grows up, she'll lay blue eggs. I have seven of them. The Ameraucanas did not come from Sand Hill - we got them at a poultry swap in New Hampshire. After a week in quarantine they're in with "the big birds" now, and settling in beautifully.
Knitting someday soon. I promise. Well, unless bees or chickens or the garden catch my eye and I forget to knit...

Friday, June 12, 2009

I think this calls for a celebration...

I revel in my job as a yarn enabler. I consider it my highest duty, really. A few days ago the new Valley Yarns catalog arrived on my doorstep. Or, rather, in my mail box. Valley Yarns is Webs' own line of "quality yarns at affordable prices". I have not been shy about relating my love of their yarns here and on Ravelry. Because I am not at Webs all the time I miss out on hearing some newsy bits. As a result I was happily surprised to discover that Webs is now offering new "grab bags" - not just their close-out grab bags, but a new idea where a knitter can buy a selection of one skein each of various Valley Yarns in their preferred color family. It's an excellent way to try out new yarns. This excited me. I personally remember grab bags as a kid and always delighted in them. It was just pure fun; opening the bag and poking around inside, seeing what I'd gotten for my investment. With these yarn grab bags you just can't go wrong. One skein of these yarns will, as a rule, generally be enough to knit at least a hat. The tons of patterns and books available for "One-Skein Wonders" abound. It's pretty easy to find something to make while you acquaint yourself with the yarn.

But then Kathy sprung this one on me. Webs' volume discounts will now apply to books as well as regularly priced yarn! Let's say you order yarn and books totaling $60. You'd get 20% off of your total order. Order $120, and get 25% off your order. Add in the ease of on-line ordering and getting all your items together - books and yarn (and, if you need them, needles and notions too - although these don't count toward your discount amount, why not go in for one-stop shopping?) all in the same package!

This announcement made me feel a little flush with yarny joy. Overcome, I made a decision to do another give-away! I will give away one skein of sock yarn (enough for a full pair of socks) and one signed (and personalized if you so desire!) copy of that book of mine to four random commenters on this blog. This contest will end, and names will be drawn on Saturday June 20th. All comments made through midnight of Friday June 19 will be entered in this give-away. One comment per person please! Duplicate comments will be disqualified.

And now, because I am flush with the new life around here, including my own (but more on that later), I give you food for your weekend: Chick-A-Bees!

This one is my favorite, I must say. After bugging us for 9 years (NINE, the poor deprived child) Girl is now a beekeeper, and has the sting on her neck to prove it.
I think a celebration is really required. Share in it with me and leave your comment by midnight on Friday June 19th!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I will be signing books and demonstrating Two-at-a-Time Sock knitting (and trying not to buy stuff or come home with more chickens...) this Sunday, June 14th at Achille Agway in Keene, NH from 9am-2pm.

Stop by and say hi if you're in the area - get a book signed, buy some handmade soap, or honey products, or take home a chicken or two!

See you there!
(No. I am not bringing fuzzwuzzits. They're just eye candy!)