Monday, April 6, 2020
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Help for beginner knitters, Take Heart!

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Even the most experienced crafters have bad craft days and/or the supposedly easy project that drives us bonkers. I just finished a hat that is an excellent example of the myriads of goofs that can befall experienced fiber artists. I hope it will encourage new knitters and crocheters to continue working with fiber arts despite any setbacks they may encounter. (Being able to laugh at oneself – or at least at all the weird problems one faces – is very so useful!)

I designed a hat for my friend Andy. First, I got his head measurements. (For new knitters or designers, use the measures from (1) around the broadest part of the head – generally right above the eyebrows, and (2) from the bottom of one earlobe, over the top of the head and down to the bottom earlobe.) Andy, I discovered, has a big head, but I’m used to making hats and caps for those of us with large skulls (it’s a family thing).

I decided I would:

  • knit a wool cap slightly oversized and then full it by hand;
  • incorporate the knit/purl pattern used in “Labyrinth Duo” by Roxanne Woods in the 2008 Winter edition of Knitters (pp. 82-83) (also available at Ravelry);
  • use a sport-weight 100% extra beautiful merino yarn (Trendsetter’s “Merino VI Batik”) I picked up as a closeout (great price);
  • overdye the yarn a solid blue (Andy’s requested color) as I fulled it; and, for some unknown reason …
  • do this during a triple-digit heat wave.

Here are two pics of the hat before I started the dye bath. The hat came out the way I planned, and (so I thought), the fulling process would put it in the perfect final shape.

Hah! what’s the saying about “the best-laid plans …” ???

First: The blasted hat refused to the full or felt – despite my agitating it in the pot on the stove and, later, moving it between bowls of ice water and boiling water to shock it.

Second: I turned off the stove and left the annoying hat in the dye bath before all the dye had been absorbed. I discovered the mottled color (not seen in this picture) after the water-cooled, and I pulled out the hat.

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Third: As shown by the picture at the right, the dratted hat stretched to an enormous size. By the way, the hat in this picture is almost DRY.

Disgusted and muttering about grossly mislabeled yarns, I tossed it into the garbage. Thor pulled it out figuring (hoping?) I’d feel better about it in the morning.

The next morning I tossed it into the machine to wash with a load of bed linens. After adding soap and selecting the water temperature (hot), I walked away and sipped my morning cup of French Roast. Whether it felted or not – I no longer cared.

Here’s how the hat looked when I pulled it from the wash.

It not only fits Andy’s head perfectly, but he likes the slightly mottled color!

If it hadn’t felted, I might have had to try my hand at yarnbombing. If I could find a statue of a horse, and this hat in its pre-shrunk size would probably have fit over its head.

Any ideas from the fiber blogging world why the 100% extra fine merino wouldn’t full or felt (something I’ve done many times) until I tossed it into the washing machine?! All thoughts and suggestions welcome! Tacef blog for knitters

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