Call for Testers: Shawn’s Hat

Men's hat knitting pattern
Double knitting in progress! Dark grey on the outside, light grey inside 🙂

 

Men’s hats … does anyone else struggle? My husband Shawn is a plain kind of guy, and I love that about him, but boy, does it make hat knitting for him boring! I much prefer playing around with techniques, colours, and stitch patterns 😉 So when he asked me for a new hat, I figured it was a good time to try something new: double knitting!

Double knitting (unrelated to DK or double knitting weight yarn) is a technique in which you create two layers of fabric at the same time – one to the front of the work, and one on the back/inside, depending on whether you are knitting flat or in the round! This results in a project that is completely reversible and is also extra thick and warm.

So, with a new technique to practice, I set off to make my husband a new hat. I snuck in a tiny bit of colorwork, but it still passed the “simple” test 😉

Barents Hat & Cowl patterns now available!

knitting pattern - slouchy hat and cowlThat’s right, my face is smiling today! Both the Barents Hat and Cowl patterns are now live!!!

If you are a member of my email list, you should have already received some pretty awesome coupon codes. If the email got lost along the way, or you just didn’t sign up in time, don’t fret! Just shoot me an email to Sarah@KnitaBitofWhimsy.com and I’ll forward it over to you. (It seems like no matter WHAT we do, some emails go missing).

Call for Testers: Barents Hat and Cowl Set

Barents Hat & Cowl

This summer I was accepted as a Yarn Ambassador from The Fibre Co., for which they sent me four skeins of delicious Tundra yarn in their new colours. I had never used Tundra before, but immediately fell in love with the soft and airy texture of this bulky weight yarn. I immediately knew that I wanted to create something I could cuddle up in, and keep close to my skin. It took a few tries, but I finally created a cowl that is soft, cozy and so very warm! It is inspired by the colorway names themselves (Blue Lagoon and Barents Sea) – the stitch pattern reminds me of waves in a choppy and icy sea, and the colors complement that perfectly.

Because of the high percentage of baby alpaca and the bit of silk in this yarn, it is quite drapey (and so soft!). I’ve used a tighter gauge than recommended to create a cowl with some structure to it. I also finish the cowl off with ribbing that is designed to tuck inside for a 2-layer cowl design that helps to show off the stitch pattern on the outside of the cowl, and helps keep it close to your neck for extra warmth (a must in our Canadian winters!).

The hat uses the same stitch pattern, and has a slight slouch. It’s quite warm due to the fibre content of the Tundra yarn, despite it’s somewhat lacy appearance.


Cowl design

This hat and cowl set is nearly ready for testing. It will be tech edited before you receive it to ensure a mostly painless testing experience. This set is a quick knit perfect for last-minute gifts as it’s knit in a bulky weight yarn. I used The Fibre Co.’s Tundra yarn, and I can’t recommend it enough. It is soft and luscious (a blend of baby alpaca, merino and silk is hard to beat!), and I absolutely love their commitment to sustainable and ethical processes throughout their creation process. I recommend using Tundra if you can get it, but I understand that’s not always possible – just let me know what yarn you plan to use for the test knit!

If you’re interested in testing, just send me a message to Sarah@KnitaBitofWhimsy.com and tell me about yourself! In particular, let me know what if you would like to make the hat and/or the cowl, and leave your social media links (including Ravelry) so I can say hello and see what you’re up to!

picture of Sarah wearing the Barents Cowl

 

Deadlines:

  • Testers chosen Nov 26, 2017.
  • You will receive the pattern Nov 27, 2017.
  •  Test knit is due Dec 11, 2017.

 

Needles Required:

Cowl:

  • Size US 7 (4.5 mm) 24” (60cm) circular needles

Hat:

  • Size US10 (6mm) 16” (40cm) circular needles
  • Size US10 (6mm) Set of 5 Double Pointed Needles (or a longer circular to use the Magic Loop method)

 

Yarn Required: 

note: in the samples shown, the Main Colour (MC), and Contrasting Colour (CC) are reversed in the hat and the cowl.

Cowl:

  • Main Colour:  approx 120 yards bulky weight yarn.
  • Contrast Colour: approximately 60 yards bulky weight yarn.

Hat:

  • Main Colour: approximately 87 yards of bulky weight yarn
  • Contrast Colour: approximately 22 yards of bulky weight yarn

Barents hat

Requirements for testers:
  • Let me know what yarn you will be using for the test.
  • Specify if you would prefer to test the hat or the cowl.
  • Provide a progress update once a week in the testing thread on Facebook.
  • Create a Ravelry project page for the test knit.
  •  Give feedback on the pattern and knitting experience, and if tutorials or extra features would be helpful (super important!).
  •  Only sign up if you can meet the deadline!

Compensation:

  •  You will be given a copy of both the hat and cowl final patterns upon release.
  • You will also receive a coupon code allowing you to download an additional pattern from my Ravelry store once your project is linked to the pattern (once pattern is published). This code won’t expire.

 

 

9-inch circulars – Yay or Nay?

I tried something new recently. I’ve done bits of colorwork before, and even designed a few intarsia patterns for myself, but I’ve never attempted anything I would consider “real” Fair Isle knitting before. Then a friend requested some mittens, and not just any mittens. The “How Cold Is It?” mittens by Drunk Girl Designs on Ravelry.

How awesome are these mittens? Really, really f’in awesome 😉 They bring a smile to my face every time I work on them. Plus the pattern is easy to follow! I was worried they were going to be a bit small, but with a bit of blocking, which the colorwork needed anyway, they fit great!

The designer used 9-inch circular needles for these mittens. It was another new thing for me, but I thought they would be worth a try. Anything to play with a new knitting gadget 😉 Have you used 9-inch circs before? I picked up some ChiaoGoo needles from my LYS, found some squishy yarn, and headed home to play.

OK, for the first three rows, I nearly lost my mind. Working in the round on such tiny little needles, with tiny fine yarn, and alternating colors for the ribbing? It was awful. I pressed on (only because I didn’t have any appropriately sized DPNs). I think my husband may have learned a few new curse words as I attempted to pick up the numerous stitches that I dropped.

But then an amazing thing happened.

The farther I got, the faster I got! Pretty soon I was done the ribbing (thank goodness) and I moved onto the colorwork section. And I was hooked. There was something quite satisfying about slowly and carefully creating the f-word in such a ladylike and “proper” medium. (I had a tough start to the week, so that might have contributed to the joy of swearing! 😉 )

Even more amazing, when I got to the tip of the mitten, where I had to switch to DPNs, I was disappointed! I had grown to love my tiny 9-inch circs. I dropped a stitch with them, and my tension is all over the place, especially carrying floats between two needles. If anyone has any advice on doing that, I’d love to hear it!

 

Have you used 9-inch circulars before? I have to say I’d recommend them for sure – just don’t give up when you first start. I’m about to cast on for the second mitten, so I’ll find out if it was just inexperience, or if the first three rows always suck (I’m expecting the latter).  I’d love to hear whether you enjoy using them or not! 🙂

The story behind the Barents Hat and cowl set

Barents Hat and Cowl

You may have recently read about my disappointment when I realized the cowl I designed had already been invented. However I really loved it, and I loved the stitch pattern, too, so I figured a hat with the same stitch was in order!

Barents Hat & Cowl knitting pattern

When I received this yarn from The Fibre Co. … well, first I couldn’t stop petting it 😉 But when I stopped and read the colorway names (Blue Lagoon and Barents Sea), I totally pictured a cowl with icy waves and whitecaps, and jaggedy, unforgiving landscapes. I tried a two-color cowl, but I wasn’t entirely happy with how that turned out. The hat, however … I LOVE how the hat turned out in both colors!!! I might love it even more than the cowl! It totally reminds me of the icy Barents sea:

Icy Barents sea
Source: BarentsPortal.com

 

I’ve got to write up the hat, then decide if I’ll do anything with the cowl … so keep your eyes out for another call for test knitters!

 

 

PS, do you love this hat? I’ll be looking for test knitters soon! Join my Test Knitter mailing list to be the first to hear the call for testers 💙

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Title image: Abandoned cowl

The Abandoned Cowl

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook  you may have seen my most recent creation, a lovely blue cowl.

The inspiration for this cowl was the yarn sent to me from The Fibre Co. I was chosen as a yarn ambassador for them in August, and they sent me two of their latest colorways: Barents Sea and Blue Lagoon on their Tundra base (it’s absolutely lovely – I’ve written about it once already here).

A close up of Tundra yarn

Tundra yarn with a swift

The yarn cried out to become a cowl – it’s so soft I wanted to keep it next-to-skin close! With the colorway names, I immediately thought about water, oceans, and waves. I found the perfect stitch pattern, and cast on immediately.

Knit cowl - first edition

In the first version, I tried to combine the two colorways, but didn’t love the result – just a bit too messy, and it was a little too long, too.  So I cast on again, and was so, so, SO excited about the result! Simple, but pretty, soft and squishy. I loved it, and squeezed it, and blocked it lightly. And went on my way browsing Pinterest for the next big idea.

But that’s when it happened.

There was my cowl. In a different color. Published almost 10 years ago. WHAAAAT?!?!

Yep, turns out great minds really do think alike! We even cast on the same number of stitches! I was pretty bummed for a while, but as I’ve shared my story, I’ve learned that it totally happens, and I’ve realized it would be MUCH more embarrassing to have published it, THEN found the pattern (or heard from the original designer 😮 ). It’s a part of designing, and while we *try* not to create the same thing as someone else, it’s impossible to know every pattern that’s ever been published … especially when we call the patterns different things 😉

So for now it’s abandoned, and I won’t be sending out a call for knitters. But I do love the lace pattern, so I *may* have just cast on a hat 😉

 

Cowl knit with Tundra yarn from the Fibre Co.

Pin for the Abandoned Cowl

Seasons

To everything there is a season.

As the seasons change from summer to fall, I’ve been reflecting on change, and the seasons that happen in life. Right now I’m in a season of nurturing – raising my kids, supporting them in school, making time for family.

My business is for ME (and a little bit for you 😉 ). It’s something that helps define me outside of “mother.” It’s work I can do while staying home with my kids … but the point here is home with my kids. I need to allow THEM time to blossom while Knit a Bit of Whimsy remains a tiny sprout for a while. It gets some attention, and lots of love, but in this moment, my kids need me more.

This morning was my youngest’s first FULL day of Kindergarten! Six whole hours for work (and housework, I suppose … boo!). The idea that this is the new normal. That I will have uninterrupted time to focus on whatever I want is … well … I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.

BUT … it’s still a slow season of quiet growth for Knit a Bit of Whimsy, while my kids seem to be growing by leaps and bounds!  I struggle a bit when I see other businesses thriving, while I’ve been working on getting a pattern published since February. 😛 We hear it over and over (but it never seems to sink in), that we cannot compare our beginnings to another’s middle, so I’m gonna tell you (and me!) once more: everyone has their own story. Everything takes time. As Lao Tzu said “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”  For now, I’m gonna try to remember that, and just enjoy the ride.

Do you have similar struggles? I’d love to hear about you, or what you do to stop the comparison game!

Three things …

Hi there! I’m so glad you could join my in my inaugural blog post. I was having trouble coming up with what to write, so I thought first things first: introductions!

My About page, Etsy page, etc, all have the major details: I’m a knitter, I sell my items on Etsy, but now I’m gonna be a pattern designer! (Haha, that makes me feel like a small town girl showing up in LA to become an actress. I AM from a very small town, so it might be accurate… ). Here are a few things you might not have heard yet.

3 things you might not know about me:
  1. I have a MSc (and 2 years of a PhD!) in Psychology, but quit because I decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working evenings and weekends as a professor. I didn’t have a plan in place, but we decided to move back to our home province (closer to family), and figure things out … 5 years later, here I am!
  2. I have 2 kids (my daughter is 7, and my son is 5), and just went from no pets to getting a puppy and a kitten almost at the same time. Apparently I had been feeling too relaxed, so had to increase my level of responsibility exponentially.
  3. I’m a Pisces, a Dreamer Fibre Muse, and an Innocent Archetype. That means I’ve got more ideas roaming around in my head than I can ever get down on paper; I’m messy, my husband thinks I’m crazy, and I love creating things! At the same time I crave safety, simplicity and natural products. Sometimes it all works well together 😉

 

So that’s me! What about you? Care to play along? Or hey, go take one of the tests I linked to above, and tell me what your archetype or fibre muse personality is 🙂