Woolly genes

Like any knitter, I’m often being asked who taught me to knit and how old was I when I learnt and what was my first garment knitted and so on. So I thought I’d have a bit of fun and share some photos of me as a nipper sporting some of my mum’s handknits!

babby woolly 1

I’m not sure how old I am here, but I was young. If you ask Aran who’s in this photo, he’ll tell you it’s him. Actually, nearly all of my baby photos are Aran, apparently..

stripey jumper

Variegated yarns are not a new invention… and whatever happened to Rocket ice lollies?

hippy child

You got it… I’m a child of the Seventies! And now it’s my brother looking like his nephew.

woolly babby

OK, there’s no real woollyness in this shot but it’s worth sharing for it’s cuteness, no?

And to answer some more of those questions? Yep, my mum taught me to knit when I was 3, and my first garment for myself was a jumper that I made aged 9. The woolly genes were passed on, and I’m rather pleased about that.

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Thank you for blogging with us Woolly.

Woolly designed the wonderful Stripey Beanie especially for p/hop last year. It’s a great pattern in toddler to adult sizes and you can also play spot the difference between young Woolly and Aran. You can read more from Woollywormhead and see her fab patterns here.

The blog-a-long has now finished but you can read all the guest blog posts here.

Don’t get you can follow us on twitter @msf_phop and join in the fun in our friendly Ravelry group.

Snowflake Hat and Mitts for all the family!

This pattern came out of Knit Camp!  I was teaching Fair Isle, so was in that mind set, my stall was opposite the p/hop stall in the Marketplace, and I wanted to try J&S’s new chunky wool which had its first outing in Stirling.  I had known of MSF’s work for a long time and it seemed obvious to use the yarn to make a pattern for p/hop!

I must admit that I like to use every yard of yarn – call me thrifty or mean, I don’t mind which.  By working the hat with one colour as the main colour and the mitts with the other colour, I used the vast majority of both 100 g balls.  In fact I have put 2 balls of the main colour for the set as I only had about a metre left!

Because the yarn is a chunky, it knits up very quickly.  We get a lot of wind up here in Orkney so hats need to pull right down over the ears both for warmth and to make sure they stay on your head.  And mitts need to be long in the cuff to protect the wrists and tuck into coat sleeves.

If you are new to colour work, the Fair Isle section on the hat is over before you have had time to be frightened, and the intarsia star on the mitts takes minutes.  And if colour work is not for you, the pattern works up just as well in one colour, or in stripes…

The ‘pleat’ edging the crown is something I have used many times.  It takes longer to write than to do, and once you have started, you will find it is straightforward.  It is a device you can export to other patterns too!  And topping off  with a bit of i-cord makes life a bit more interesting.  Again, though, if you don’t like it, leave it off and just draw the yarn through the remaining stitches.

So Happy Birthday p’hop.  I hope people like my ‘present’, donate lots and enjoy making and wearing the hat and mitts!

PS  These things would make wonderful Christmas pressies for adults or children – green and white or red and white…  And they really do knit up very quickly….

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Thank you very much Liz for your patterns and your blog post.

You can read more from Liz here.

We’ve extended the blog-a-long to Friday 12th November. If you would like to join in (the more the merrier) details of how to take part are here.

You can get all the blog-a-long updates by following p/hop on twitter and in the p/hop Ravelry group.

DIY Hat Blocking

At least one Artemis Adornments knitter is attempting a world land speed record for hat knitting in 2010. While this is mostly driven by a near obsessive and somewhat illogical desire to try out new techniques – and hats are so good for that – it’s productive too. You get a lot of rather pretty garment in not a lot of time.

The best hats all need blocking, it makes all the difference between a bunched up crumple of a thing and a professional looking shape and size. Wet blocking is best, as we all have found.

This is what we do:

1. Soak the finished hat in warm water, with a squirt of added something. There is proper stuff for this, but we use a favourite coconut flavoured hair conditioner or a drop of gentle hand soap. You don’t need much. Doddle the hat gently in the fragrant water and leave it for a few minutes, while you make a cup of tea or let the cat in.

2. Squeeze gently against the side of the basin and drain out the water.

3. Gather a couple of biggish towels and lay out your hat, in roughly its shape, on the floor. You will need it to be the floor for the next bit. Unless you like standing on tables. Cover with more towels.

4. Stand on your hat sandwich, and gently tramp. This squeezes the water out of the hat and into the towels. Do it until the towels are wet. You might turn the towels over and around and do it again using dry parts. It won’t take long.

Then the blocking part. A hat block is something solid you use to sit inside the wet hat so that while it dries, it takes up the correct shape and size. Milliners’ blocks tend to be either glorious antique shop items  (oh yes, we do keep looking) or made of squeaky polyester wig-head stuff. So this is what we do.

That knitted beret?

- a plate. The hat in the picture above is a Meret, pattern by Woolly Wormhead and was blocked on a 10″ dinner plate.

The size of the plate is pretty critical. It needs to be big enough to pull out the fabric, and not too big that it stretches the brim. 10″ is about right for an adult female beret, but a child’s would need maybe 8″ or even 6″, a saucer for a baby hat. You may well have a suitable selection in your own kitchen cupboard, but it’s worth scouring charity shops for a variety of sizes.

Gently shape the hat across the back of the plate, and pull in the brim to make an even circle on the upper surface. Put the whole thing somewhere to dry away from direct heat, resting the plate side on something to raise it up, like a tin of beans.

Your boyfriend beanie?

A small football or child’s beach ball, resting on a tower of bean tins, and tucked well into the end. If you haven’t got a football, a blown up balloon will do the same job, but obviously won’t last much beyond the first beanie. Or the first boyfriend.

The trick is to have something to shape out the slouch part, while at the same time allowing the ribbing to cling softly together. You really don’t want your ribbing to stretch, especially while it’s wet. Squeeze the ribbing together while wet, with the ball inside the end.

This one’s another free pattern – the Ribbed Beanie from Woolly Wormhead, knit extra long, for more trendy boyfriend slouch.

See how the end is wider than the ribbing? Phoar.


The chullo or felted hat block !

(We love this one.)

Over the summer, whilst redecorating one fine diy photographic studio and gallery, we sat over a tea break idly gazing at the small pile of paint tins collecting by the bins. Recycling opportunity there, we thought. Hmmm. And would you believe, the average 2.5L paint tin is 19 inches, 48cms round? You would?

Marvellous. 19″ is probably what you need to fit a snug hat on an average small-sized woman’s head. And if need be, you can pad out the width with a few layers of bubble wrap and some parcel tape.

So this is what we’ve been using to block our Chunky Chullos (pattern coming soon)

.. and our experimental and as yet unpublished felt brim hats:

The black duct tape is to tighten the heavy felt as it dries. The surface is going to be needle felted with a garland of floofy peony shapes. Not for the faint hearted, but we do like a challenge. This next one’s my current favourite, with the paint tin an unpadded 19″ – it’s 6″ across – for a snug fit around the brim.

Ladies and gentlemen we present to you – the toque block!

Pattern for the mitred toque will be available from Maria at Black Dog Fibre Studio soon.

Collect up your empty paint tins, hatters everywhere!

Happy Birthday p/hop. Have fun! We love you all.

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Thank you Artemis Adornments for your top tips.

If you’re feeling inspired to knit a hat you can find all the p/hop hat patterns here.

We’ve extended the blog-a-long to the end of next week (Friday 12th November). If you would like to join in (the more the merrier) details of how to take part are here.

You can get all the blog-a-long updates by following p/hop on twitter and in the p/hop Ravelry group.