Alunissage (alunissage) wrote,

[knitting] Pinwheel berets, part 2

(singsong) My new year’s resolution is to finish what I sta...

Not really. I gave up on that long ago. Still, I do feel rather sheepish having just one part of a projected 4 up, even if my only interested audience is myself. Talk about an overactive guilt complex. I want to catch up to hat 2 in this one, so these cuts will be quite long.

So once I’d knitted enough to make a circle I needed to join the end to the beginning. As you might imagine, I no more knew how to bind off than I did to purl, and I had no idea at that time that one might use a yarn needle to sew a seam. However, I was in that blissful stage of ignorance so great I didn’t realize I was missing something and just went ahead and did it anyway and came up with an acceptable solution.

I exaggerate slightly when I say I didn’t know how to bind off. I had the basic idea; what I didn’t realize was that one usually knits a stitch before binding it off; I thought one just pulled each live stitch over the next, without knitting. The reason this isn’t the usual way, I think, is because it usually makes things very tight and puckered; pulling the stitches over each other takes a little extra yarn. While I don’t remember the specifics, I’m reasonably sure that it worked in this case because the live stitches were all fairly big from having been slipped. And I worked from the center outwards, so even though the the first couple of stitches hadn’t been slipped they could be loosened because the working yarn was right there.

But how to sew Pac-Man’s mouth shut? (Maybe not the best choice of words.) The sum total of my knitting equipment: one ball of Wool-Ease (not used here); one pair size 5s, the remainder of the hat yarn (originally purchased for a crochet attempt) crochet hook, procured for same. Well. I went through some trial and error, the details of which are no longer with me, and on my sixth attempt produced a quite neat, snug, and surprisingly inconspicuous seam. Between the ridges and the coloring of the yarn it’s actually nearly invisible until you look for it. What I did was pull the open stitches through the first row after the cast-on, then bind them off with the crochet hook.

I was still working on this process when I went to visit my friend C who got me into this whole thing. She was a bit surprised and enlightened me on the nature of binding off, though she found my solution acceptable as I recall. I also used some yarn end (from the cast-on, presumably) to tighten up the center of the circle, though I cannot recall now how I did that. Possibly I borrowed a needle from C. It looked better on an earlier attempt than in the final, but such is life.

So now I had to make ribbing for hat 1. This meant I had to learn how to purl, as well as get a smaller needle and perhaps more yarn. Some time elapsed here, maybe a month, in which I bought a couple of knitting books (Vogue Knitting, on C’s recommendation, and Hand Knitting Techniques from Threads) and started on the round part of hat 2. That December, my folks came up my way and then we drove south to Cambria, the little coastal town with the nice yarn shop where I bought this hat’s yarn. I bought a bunch of yarn for my first sweater (a future entry, undoubtedly), including a second ball of Canadiana so I’d be sure to have enough for the ribbing. Mom gave me a set of plastic circular 4s (purple, typical of her) and I figured out how many stitches to pick up (something which has escaped my mind since then, somehow) and I started on ribbing. Twisted on the right side (that is, k1-b, p1 forever) because that’s how Mom’s were done. I remember getting messed up when I missed a k or p and not being able to figure out what went wrong...that’s the sort of thing that really makes this seem long ago, even more so than the casting on 30 slipknots. The above correction occurred while sitting at a seaside restaurant with my mom and godmother watching a dolphin (?) migration, while I was bent to my knitting, by the way.

As I wrapped it up, I started having misgivings about the size. To encourage it to become smaller I did a bind-off from the Vogue book of pulling one stitch over two all over. At the end, which was also the beginning (a circle has no end, saith Arkady) I used the yarn needle Mom had also provided to do the bindoff equivalent of Kitchener stitch and make it appear seamless. Not bad for my first project, no? (Incidentally, to this day I hate binding off and would always rather graft. Maybe because of this.)

Alas, the misgivings about the size were founded. The hat fits well enough, but it’s rather poofy. So I don’t wear it much. I’m still very fond of it, acrylic and all.

After all that, can I squeeze in hat 2? Well, it doesn’t need nearly the detail. Or if it does I’ve forgotten most of it anyway.

In the time between sewing up the circle of the first hat and starting on its ribbing I decided to try a second hat. I’d wondered why it was garter stitch, not being overly fond of the ridges. Well, this time I would try stockinette! And I would turn at the proper rate, one stitch per two rows.

Stockinette back-and-forth requires purling. I hadn’t bought any books yet but I knew the basic idea of purl: a stitch which looks on the back like knit looks on the front. So I experimented and found a way to produce this. However, I fell into a normal beginners’ trap: purling “upside down”, that is, bringing the yarn up under the needle instead of over it. It’s more intuitive, but it produces a backwards, twisted stitch. Unsurprisingly, I also recovered from this in the usual way, by knitting into the backs of the stitches on the knit rows, to straighten them all out. No harm done, but of course I later had to learn how to purl correctly, and I seem to have blocked out that process. I certainly didn’t get it from the VK illustrations -- no criticism of them, it’s just a hard thing to illustrate.

Actually, to make that make sense I should add something. I’d knitted the first had holding the yarn in my right hand in an approximation of the all-tied-up yarn hold my mother used. For this one I figured I should try to be versatile and held the yarn in my left hand. (Or were these two the other way around?) Or I may have switched hands frequently during this hat; I forget. The point is, at some point I was trying to figure out how to purl Continental (picking) style from a diagram. Hopeless. Even now, I’m not consistent in how I execute the purl when holding yarn in my left hand. (I’m more comfortable with it in my right, since I feel more in control of the yarn, but have occasion often enough to use left.)

Not much else to say on that part. I added a stitch somewhere in the first wedge and didn’t notice for a while; on size 5s in stockinette it’s invisible. I wish my deliberate increases were that invisible. And I didn’t know anything about wrapping stitches at that time so the slipped stitches are huge, as if they’d been knit with, oh, 9s. I kind of liked the effect, though, a little spiral of texture which is retrospect is rather reminiscent of baked goods. (Oh, darn. Messed up the alliteration; I should’ve said “reminiscent of rolls.”)

I don’t remember anything about sewing the seam, though I can see that I’d managed a more conventional cast-on by then. The ribbing was also straightforward, the same as for the previous hat, though with a standard bind-off.

The problem with the hat, or point of interest if you prefer, is that the abovementioned texture from the oversize slipped stitches followed by the tight little stitches of the following full row distorts the hat considerably, especially at the outer edge, where the row is only a stitch or two wide. This is actually rather attractive and cute from the top. However, from the side, i.e., when being worn, it just looks lumpy. If I were much shorter this might not bother me, since more people would be looking down on it; as it is, I wince when I see it in the mirror. This is the only hat I’ve tried to block (over a plate) but it didn’t have any effect. Ah well.

Things I've learned from this entry: if composing in Word before c/p'ing, make sure to change curved/angled quotes to straight. At first my cuts were labelled "first and "second, then when I only corrected the first one the entire entry became the label. D'oh.
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