Sunday, 8 May 2016

What to knit for your boy

My boy is off at University for most of the year studying (hard???) to become a medical engineer. (Actually I think he is really majoring in drone construction, social dorm living, light partying and online computer gaming).... Boys will be boys...

His university campus is in Victoria's second largest city, Geelong. Geelong is lovely sprawling town on the edge of a bay - the gateway to the famous Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road - with a country town feel but still all the humming bustle of a big city. There's only one draw back (apart from the up to 5 hour journey by public transport to come home for a visit). It's cold in winter. No, not snow kind of cold, more biting winds straight off the Antarctic.

This gives me a valid excuse to knit all the hats for him. He definitely wears them and appreciates them, both as the edge to an outfit and as a way to keep his ears warm. I love knitting for an appreciative audience - though I may have got a little carried away this year so far.

So it's perhaps not surprising that I began my knitter's year of 2016 by casting on a hat on New Year's Eve and finishing it up on New Year's Day. So I got bored. It’s holidays after all and a I needed a small diversion. That’s what a hat is, isn’t it? I can almost knit one in day.
This was a little bit of subtle geekery for the boy (He's a massive Dr Who fan) but it’s a tiny bit of a failure.
Oh, its nothing to do with the knitting or the sizing. It’s lovely even colorwork and fits nicely. (I may just have blocked it by wearing a wet beanie on my head). I just didn’t choose two shades of grey that have enough contrast for the pattern to show up. Also I am using recycled yarn and there are some stains in the yarn on the crown which didn’t wash out… They almost look deliberate though…

This is a really nice pattern (Thanks Amy!). Well written and easy to follow.
Pattern: INSULATE! hat  by Amy van de Laar  - a free pattern.
Needles: My absolute favourite antique Aero jumper length 4mm dpns
Yarn: Blue grey Machinewash 8 ply from the Lifeline Op shop and leftover Bendigo Woollen Mills Stella in Shell.
It's a real pity those Daleks aren't sufficiently visible

I still had the hat bug in my system though. It clearly wasn't going to be a quick fix this time. It was about this stage, I hunted down a hat group on Ravelry and decided 16 hats in 2016 was certainly a doable and admirable goal.

I was feeling some colourwork next.. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while may have noticed the odd fox related thing sneaks onto my needles / hook every so often. Foxes are a sort of obsession of mine. I love how you can evoke a fox with just a stylised shape and colour. This particular pattern has long been in my queue. I swear I didn't actually set out to knit this specifically for the boy, but he begged exceedingly nicely when it was finished...

Pattern: Fox Hat by Eline Oftedal
Needles: 3 mm antique Aero jumper length dpns
Yarn: Cleckheaton Country 8 Ply in a fox-like colour, Moda Vera Pure Wool 8ply in gunmetal grey and Panda Machinewash 8 ply Crepe in cream

This flew off the needles (slowly). It only took a week but the three colour rounds of colour work were tediously slow. I’m slightly meticulous about exactly where to carry the yarn on the back to get the best effect on the front and this means concentration, constant untangling of yarn and slow rounds.

As this is knitted at a very small gauge for DK there were a lot of stitches (144 per round). I am really pleased with the result (But I won’t knit this one again - the colour work would get tedious in quantity). The boy tells me it is soooo warm and snugly.

I photographed this by sneaking into the boy cave, catching the boy in his natural environment in front of a a computer, plonked the hat on his head and told him to ignore me as I randomly photographed the back of his head. In hindsight this may have been the moment I lost this hat to his clutches...

The next hat off my needles for the boy was a re-knit of the INSULATE! hat - Exterminate! 2.0.

Yes, I know I’ve made one of these already this already this year. But the contrast between the two greys I used is not strong enough to really see the Daleks. And it’s too much of a watch cap fit to please the boy. He likes slouchy beanies. I needed to make another one.

This ended up being the first cast on for Village Hopelessly Over-committed Cast On Month (VHOCCOM12016) on February 1st. I still want to use the Bendigo Woollen Mills Stellar but as the main colour this time. And after running several potential colour combinations past the boy we have tweedy reddish brown Daleks (Slightly rusty - I think these are the old school Daleks that were conspiring against Winston Churchill in World war II - he called them ‘Ironsides’ - ep 3 season 5 - Victory of the Daleks).
I made some modification to the pattern for this version. I did eight rows double rib instead of six as the longer slouch the boy wanted needed a firmer longer band to maintain adequate head connection. I did fifteen rows of plain stockinette in the MC (grey) before starting the colourwork to extend the hat for some slouchiness and changed the shaping from Slip 2 K PSSO to Slip 1 K2tog PSSO.
Pattern: INSULATE! hat  by Amy van de Laar - a free pattern.
Needles: My absolute favourite antique Aero jumper length 4mm dpns
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Stella 8 ply  in Shell and reddish brown tweed upcycled  from the Lifeline Op shop.
Once again we have photographed the boy wearing a hat in his natural environment - rebuilding a quadcopter drone on my kitchen table after a particularly nasty encounter with the neighbour's fence...

The boy also got the 11th hat off my needles this year as a request. I had previously knitted Father Cables from this yarn (You'll get the see that one in another post). Whilst the boy doesn’t like that particular hat enough to snaffle it - the cables are too elaborate for his taste -  he loves the softness and feel of the yarn. So he wanted something suitably masculine made out of this yarn… He also is the person who pointed me towards this particular yarn in an op shop scrounging expedition orginally so he deserved something made out of it.

We decided on Antler by tincanknits. I’ve had this one printed out for ages now waiting for the just the right occasion. Looks like the marriage of this yarn and pattern was set to be it. So I cast on early in the week and did a few rows of rib and then a few more another day. Then on Saturday whilst manning my stall at a car boot sale (and making a perfectly respectable $8.40 profit after stall cost! - I was selling essentially trash rather than treasure) I finished the rib and worked up about three repeats of the pattern. It was quite a talking point. It still surprises me the reactions you get when you knit in the round on dpns in public. You get elderly people remembering their sock knitting years when everyone knew how to knit a sock and turn a heel. You get bafflement about how do you work with all those extra needles. You get safety admonishments about using all those sharp pointy things and accidentally taking out your own eye whilst cabling…

And then I came home and promptly ripped it all back to the rib. I hadn’t changed needle size from the 4 mm used for the band to 5 mm as the pattern suggested as my 5mm dpns are only 20 cm long and I find them a little short to work with comfortably and stitches like to commit suicide by jumping off the end of the needles. So I tend to avoid them if I can. But I needed to up the needle size to accommodate the pull-in of the cables. So I came home and started the patterning again on 5 mm. By the end of Saturday I was back to five completed repeats. The pattern calls for eight repeats for the small size but I did nine as suggested for the large size as the boy likes a really deep slouch to his hats. This was not promising straight off the needles… Long thin and weird looking. I love what blocking does to this yarn. It makes it bloom and soften till it feels like cashmere. Gorgeous hat in the end.
Pattern: Antler Hat by tincanknits - a free pattern
Needles: 4 mm antique Aero jumper length dpns and 5 mm dpns
Yarn: Cleckheaton Nature Merino 8ply in gray
The boy and I shared a lovely photographic road trip last time he was home around some abandoned refuse from the heavy industry in our area taking photos of this hat. Photo credits for the pictures of the flat hat to @larkinsmark (on instagram).