Well, my top hat, Marlene, was really cooking along when I realized I was going to run out of yarn. I checked the projects on Ravelry, and saw that the other Size Large Marlene used 135 yards of yarn. One hank of Cascade Magnum is 123 yards. Both sizes were listed as taking one hank.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. For some reason it affected me on a deeper level. Before the yarn crisis, this was the first Cooperative Press pattern I was enjoying wholeheartedly, without tedious stitches or numerous errors.
Besides this, the only yarn store that had my Cobalt Heather Magnum in stock had offered free shipping two weeks ago and 20% off any one item last week.
I had been religiously checking my gauge, hoping it wouldn't expand. It usually narrows, which wouldn't have been a problem in this project. I stayed consistent at 11 stitches to 4". (Theressa doesn't give row gauges, which may be part of the problem.)
I had used two different needle sizes in my gauge swatch to see what they would turn out like after washing. I chose the bigger needle size because the gauge was exact, but the hat was looking big even on my fat head, so I ripped back to the flat top and reknit using the smaller needle (12 stitches to 4").
I guess I should have ripped it all out and reknit, because I ended mere inches short of having enough yarn, even after using a tighter bind-off than usual.
So I ripped down to the last increase, then used the larger needles again. I knit only one round instead of two before binding off. I bound off in rib so the stitches would sit atop the last round instead of behind it and thus lengthen my knitting. I had less than a yard of yarn left, but I managed to avoid buying more yarn!
To block, I set an empty 32-oz yogurt container upside down on top of a shallow bowl (also turned upside down). I placed an 8 1/2" diameter plate inside the top of the hat and set the hat on the tower to dry. I stretched out the brim to make the most of the last two rows.
Doesn't it look fantastic?
Universal Yarn just came out with this lovely collection of idiosyncratic wraps, Contrarian Shawls.
Amy Gunderson's cover shawl, Southwest Suns, is crocheted in a yarn I have yet to sample: Good Earth. Besides sharing a name with the Minnesota restaurant where I first had dinner with my now-husband, this yarn attracts me for another reason. I have liked everything else in the Fibra Natura line, and I admire their tendency toward natural, organic fibers (although I notice the organic yarns have been discontinued).
This shawl is contrarian because of its construction: the motifs are worked first, then the border around them, then the shawl body upward, decreasing to form a semicircle. Also the pale stripes are not equally spaced throughout the semicircle, but perfectly balance the motifs at the lower edge.
Holly Priestly's contribution to the booklet is the rollicking Sailor Stripe, with which she claims to have engaged in a few arm-wrestling matches (as if the skipper was proving its contrarianism).
The red triangle is worked first, with a rippling lace detail. Stitches are then picked up along one side of it and worked on the bias with red stripes for flair.
I love this piece. It has an interesting construction and a fun, effortless look.
The last shawl I'd like to showcase is the Forest Floor Stole. I don't normally feature my own designs in my reviews, but this one is special. It works up quickly in dreamy Llamalini and it's extremely enjoyable to watch the leaves pile up. The swinging shape of the heap of leaves is the perfect foil to the plain stockinette end, which you can make as short or as long as you like. I love the way it knits, the way it looks, and the way it wears.
There are eight other designs in this collection, each with its own little quirks. Much as I would like to spotlight them, I need the space to talk about the patterns themselves. Lovingly tech edited by Amy Gunderson, they are in an easily readable three-column format with both charts and written instructions provided for lace patterns.
Shane Baskin of Blackbox Studios contributes her usual proficient photography, with both wrapped and extended images of each shawl modeled by Emma Claris in attractive, natural poses.
This is a unique collection and I'm pleased to be a part of it. Buy the individual patterns or the entire eBook from the Universal Yarn website, Craftsy, or Ravelry.
Hat Couture by Theressa Silver, photography by Aedan Studio Photography, pub. Cooperative Press, 2013
At last! A collection of hats that would fit my large head! Maybe that's not sufficient reason to review a book, but that was what tipped the scales for me, and that's what I told Elizabeth at Cooperative Press, who, as it turns out, is also "of the 24 inch head persuasion."
But I digress. These hats are not only available in large and small sizes, they are incredibly stylish. Named after famous female icons (mostly from the movies), there are pillbox hats, slouchy berets, cloches, and more. A baker's dozen in all. Most make use of either the basic flat top or basic round top detailed in the Tools and Techniques section, which also covers yarn (stiff and "sticky" preferable to super-soft and drapey for these structured hats), sizing (loud cheers), blocking, buckram inserts, embellishments, and stretching. That's a lot of material fit into two pages of pleasant reading.
Then come the designs, each with a short introduction describing the personality it was named for. Entertaining quotes from such notables as Margaret Atwood, Frank Sinatra, and George Bernard Shaw pop up throughout and add to the fun.
I haven't worked any of the patterns yet, but the cover hat, "Marlene," will be first. My son walked in the room when I was reading about it and announced, "I would wear that!" Get in line, buster.
Some of the designs, like "Grace," are pure decoration and must be secured to the head somehow. I don't really understand hatpins, but I guess if I needed to use them I'd figure them out. And if any hat would tempt me to use them, it would be "Bette."
Patterns are clearly laid out and all the yarn used is currently available. I could wish for the yarn to be identified by weight or ball band gauge, but this is a rare luxury and the yarns are all major brands which are easy to find.
Hats are clearly photographed from many angles, and the models (Brandi Shea Frederick, Natalie Olson, and Shannon Schott) outdid themselves embodying the characters suggested by Theressa's hats. If you can't decide whether to commit to the book, check out Theressa's Choose Your Own Hat-venture Mystery Knit-A-Long (which comes with a coupon for $2 off the complete book).
I recommend this book for anyone interested in learning by doing, hat fanatics, and those who want to knit for stylish but large-headed people. Also good for fans of the mid-20th century fashion, movies, and celebrities that inspired this collection. I'm looking forward to getting started!
Disclosure: Cooperative Press provided this copy of Hat Couture to Kangath for review purposes. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Cooperative Press or Theressa Silver.
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