Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hat Brims: Sewn Hem

I work a lot of ribbed brims with hats because they are most stretch and accommodating to different sizes, but that's not the only way to start the bottom of a hat. A sewn (or otherwise attached) brim is a good option for a hat that needs to keep someone really warm. There are several different ways to make one. I will cover a sewn brim, knit together brim with provisional cast on, knit together brim without provisional cast on, and picot brim. For all of these hats I am using worsted weight yarn and size US 7 needles, but you can use any combination of yarn and needles you like.

Sewn Brim
To make a brim that you will sew together later, simply cast on, leaving a long tail, and knit for however long you want your brim to be. For an adult sized hat, I'd suggest 2" or so. Once it's long enough, purl 1 row.

Now knit the hat as usual and with whatever pattern you've chosen, measuring length from the purl row, not the cast on row. The rolling is normal because it's all stockinette.

Once you're finished, turn the hat inside out. Fold the brim back, making sure the fold is on the purl row. Use the long tail to sew the hem to the hat. I like to go through the front v only, and then one reverse stockinette bump from the other side of the hat. They make their own little v once you get them both on the needle. I go through every other one, sometimes every third one if I'm using a smaller yarn.

Bottom stitch on needle is front v of cast on, top stitch is purl bump from body of hat
When you finish, your hat looks like this! The purl ridge forms the bottom hem of the hat, and it's double thick below the colorwork.

Variation: Knit Together Brim with Provisional Cast On
This brim will look exactly like the sewn brim, without requiring any sewing. Instead, cast on using a provisional method (I like either the crochet provisional cast on or the invisible provisional cast on.)

Once you've cast on provisionally, knit 2" and keep track of how many rows you knit, purl 1 row, then knit the same number of rows as before the purl row.

Place the provisional cast on onto a needle (doesn't have to be the same size, mine is a US 6) and fold it up inside the hat so that wrong sides are together.

Knit one stitch from the working needle and one stitch from the provisional cast on needle together. Continue doing this all the way around, sealing the brim.

Due to the way I picked up the cast on stitches, I am ktbl because the left leg is in front
The hem, fully attached
Now work the hat as usual, measuring from the purl row, which will be at the bottom of the hem.

Variation: Knit Together Brim without Provisional Cast On
This brim is similar to the previous brim, with one important distinction. Just cast on as usual. Knit 2" and keep track of how many rows you knit, purl 1 row, then knit the same number of rows as before the purl row.

Tuck the end of the hat up so that the wrong sides are together, and find the first stitch you cast on. Insert your left needle tip into that stitch and knit 2 together. Again, I like to only pick up the loop that will be on the outside, as I find it neater and more comfortable on the forehead.

The cast on is a little curled up, just uncurl and look for the long cast on loop
Find the second stitch and pick it up with the left needle, then knit 2 together again. Continue doing this all the way around, sealing the brim.

Now work the hat as usual, measuring from the purl row, which will be at the bottom of the hem.

Variation: Picot Brim
You can work this with either a provisional cast on or without. You can even just sew it up after you finish the hat, so any of the methods listed above work! In this case, I did not use a provisional cast on even though I probably should have because black is difficult to see when picking up stitches. I usually make these smaller than the sewn or knit together brims, you can change the number of rows knit to whatever you like. Knit 4 rows. Work one row of (yo, k2tog) around. Knit 4 rows.

See the eyelet circles?
Fold the brim with wrong sides together and knit one stitch from working brim with one stitch from cast on. Work the hat as usual, measuring from the yarn over holes.

Voila! Several different ways to get that sewn hem look.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I am a Machine

I am a machine! Or at least, I own one. I bought a very basic knitting machine.

I have successfully knit several swatches and this lovely hat. You can see it being knit above, and modeled on the ever patient Chatham below.

I also knit the back of a vest. Unfortunately, I misread my swatch information and used the wrong size plate, so the vest is...rather too long. I'm pretty sure I could wear it as a dress. A dress with gigantic arm holes. Since I don't think I can pull off the sideboob showing dress vest look (can anyone?), I'm going to rip it all out and try again.

Before I do, though, I needed better weights. My machine came with a cast on comb, the black thing at the bottom of the hat hem and s hooks/rubber bands to hold the edge stitches on. I kinda hate that method, and didn't want to wait to order expensive claw weights for the machine. Instead, I broke out the scrap fabric bag and visited the gun section of Wal-Mart. I was carded to make sure I was over 16 too. Yeah. I turned 25 like a week ago.

Oh yeah. Gonna help me knit.

First, I weighed out about 4 oz of BBs. Be careful, they bounce!

BBs and Bumbles, obviously related.
I cut out a piece of fabric about 4 x 5 inches. I wasn't too careful about being straight, I didn't even iron the fabric. I did make sure to put right sides facing, at least. Then I sewed down one side and across the bottom. To reinforce it, I turned around and went back over it. If you use heavy duty thread, that might not be necessary.

Turn it right side out and put the BBs in. I recommend a funnel. Chatham said he always used a spoon, but that sounded like it would take forever.

I cut a second strip of fabric, about an inch wide and a little longer than the opening of the bag. I folded it in half and sewed them together. I wasn't very careful about staying near the edge and I didn't turn it so there weren't raw edges. Because I wasn't turning it, I used a decorative stitch, but it's not particularly important either way.

Finally, I folded down the edge of the bag and placed the handle inside it. Then I sewed it shut.

And voila!

A weight that can hang. I had some drapery hook things (I'm not sure why, I don't even know what they're actually called, why did I buy them??) and thought they'd work pretty well for now. This is hung on the completed vest, so there's no weight on the bottom. If there were, that little dimple under the hooks wouldn't exist.

The last step was to make a few more. I even made one in a more horizontal shape. That was...interesting, to say the least. I cut it too small, which resulted in BBs escaping the first couple tries at sewing the handle in and the bag shut. I eventually sewed half of it shut before I added the BBs, so I only had to wrestle with one side.

So there you have it! Homemade claw weights. I feel ready to take on short rows now, and hopefully I'll have a lovely pair of slippers to show for it in the near future.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lizarding Along

I've worked on a few more hats. They both turned out the size I expected and was aiming for. This has left me a little mystified as to what happened with the duck hat, and I'm considering trying again to experiment. First, I made a hat with squirrels on it. I also did a contrast color seed stitch brim and a little icord at the top to make it look like an acorn. I think it turned out amazing, and I will have to revisit the pattern soon.

Then, I picked out a pattern with penguins. I was worried about how big the chart would be, so I did a less traditional brim. It has a little picot brim, and the colorwork begins before I even finished it. It worked out really well, and I love the way the brim flares just a little.

The final thing I've been working on isn't a hat. It will eventually be a project bag, but right now it's just an unfinished stockinette square with a pair of legs duplicate stitched on. The rest of the dragon's body will be joining it eventually, but duplicate stitch takes quite a bit longer than stranded colorwork.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tap Dancing Lizard?

A coupe evenings ago, after going out for dinner with Chatham and his parents, I stopped by the used bookstore just to see if they had any new knitting books. While I was looking, I saw a book called The Tap Dancing Lizard. I thought maybe it had been shelved in the wrong area, so I pulled out out to see better.

It was decidedly not in the wrong section, and as soon as I saw the cover I was in love. It says it's for "Adventurous Knitters" and that pretty well describes me. Plus, I mean c'mon, tap dancing! So I flipped through it and realized just how goofy some of the pictures in it were. I think my favorite is the "Bicycat" sweater. It's so bad it's good, right?

In with the goofy cat motifs (some of which I actually like, but I'll never admit it in person) are some really awesome ones. Inspired, I decided to make a project bag out of at least one of the charts. Of course, I don't have any of the colors I'd prefer, so I decided to do some swatches with the yarn I intend to use, if not the color. I picked out a cool chart of a chameleon, and cast on a hat.

I think it's super adorable, but it was smaller than I expected. It will maybe fit a 6-12 month old. Glad I swatched, I decided to make another swatch hat. I wanted the hat to be bigger, so I cast on more stitches and used the same brand of yarn, just different colors. This time I let Chatham pick out the colors and the chart. I cast on the number of stitches I thought would get me a kid/teen sized hat.

Yeah, that hat? That's on Chatham's head. He has stolen it, and apparently really likes it. I'm a little stuck on what to do, though. Same brand, same needles, same techniques, different gauges. Now I'm left not having any idea how big the chart for this bag is going to turn out. At this point, I'm tempted to just start the darn thing.