Last week was the first week of term and was predictably stressed at work, leaving me with little time or energy to think once I escaped the confines of the office. I was however thinking about crafting, especially when cycling to work... The weather has turned nippy and is in that in between phase, when it's not quite cold enough to wear a coat on the bike without risking some serious overheating... But first thing, it is cold enough to make setting off from the house in the morning decidedly chilly.
So last week I thought a lot about cowls or snoods. You know, the knitted (or fleecy) tubes that you pull over your head and wear around your neck like a scarf, but without the dangly ends, plus the added bonus that they can be pulled up over your ears if needed.
I thought about cowls a lot and as is customary my current thought is that I don't have the yarn to make the cowl I want. Now this is plainly ridiculous thinking, given that my stash is huge and ever growing and I'm trying to knit some of it up before it erupts from behind the sofa and buries us in mountain of wool... But the instant I start thinking about something I might want to make for me (rather than to give away) I immediately start thinking maybe I need more yarn. Perhaps I need to make time to go stash diving again to reassure myself that I do indeed have yarn and should pick something I already own?
Talking about knitting from the stash, I decided to make something with my first handspun, originally glimpsed in this post about the pain of a broken needle. Fortunately a replacement needle tip winged its way to me within two days (three cheers for Get Knitted!) and I resumed knitting.
This hat is a simple, stocking stitch slouchy hat pattern called Felicity, by Wanett Clyde. I picked it for its simplicity, not wanting anything complicated for this first attempt to use my own yarn. I'm working on the basis that the point of spinning is to produce yarn that can actually be used and rather than just knitting swatches, I wanted to make a something and here it is!
Since the pattern calls for a 'worsted' and my 2-ply handspun is more like a 'fingering' weight, I decided to knit held double throughout. After knitting a guage swatch, I cast on 84 stitches so the finished hat would fit my 56cm head without cutting off the circulation to my brain.
The pattern also calls for 4mm needles and then a switch to 5mm needles once the hat measures 3.5 inches from the cast on edge. I didn't want such a sudden jump in stitch sizes, so I switched to a 4.5mm needle after 3.5 inches, knit for approximately another inch or so and then switched to the required 5mm needle. I then knit for another inch, bringing me to the 5.5 inches specified by the pattern before starting the increases. After that I knit as per the pattern, with allowances for the higher stitch count.
This is a very easy knit, although I did have a worrying moment when I'd done all the increases but hadn't started the decreased and began to worry that I was knitting some sort of mushroom! Once I was working through the decreases, it all came right though and I'm very pleased with the result.
The most revealing thing about this knit was that my handspun knits like real yarn. It handled like yarn, it dangled like normal yarn and it behaved itself, never tangling or winding back on itself. I was amazed since I'd been expecting it to be difficult and didn't really believe that I'd produced usable yarn. In other words, my handspun is real yarn! I now stand corrected and can admire the end result.
The hat itself is not really in the colour pallete that I'd normally wear, but since this is Blue Faced Leciester in Humbug (from Wingham Woolworks) it is the colour it should be. In some lights it looks more grey than brown, but is in fact a light beigy colour with a subtle variegated effect. It definitely is not unpleasant to the eye and the handle of the finished fabric is very soft in the crown of the hat. The brim, knit on the smaller needles is very dense and I suspect will be very, very warm to wear.
So my first handspun, knit up and looking presentable.