And now, back to the early days of my knitting . . . when I left off, I’d finished a scarf and hat for mom and half of a garter stitch mystery scarf, all out of homespun, and I’d worked a fun-fur scarf for adorable. Baby, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, I’m not offended if you think it’s heinous — I do too. As my Dad would say, “What’s a girl to do?” I wanted to knit, I was itching to knit, but I didn’t know where to go to find yarn or patterns that didn’t make me feel all hive-y.
A major part of the appeal of knitting over counted cross-stitch was the idea that when finished, a crafty project from my own two fingers would be something that I’d want to give to a person I cared about, something they would even be glad to receive. I wasn’t digging the Michael’s yarn, but I loved their prices. I didn’t recognize any of the yarn brand names out there, I didn’t know anything about fiber, and I didn’t have the cash to lay down a hundred (or even ten!) dollars for a tiny ball of quiv-angor-ashmere-ino that looked oh, so appealing on the first yarn-store website I encountered.
Well, Dad raised a resourceful girl, so I set out determined to Google my way to knitting knowledge. As it turned out, this was a fairly decent strategy. I quickly found The Knitter’s Review forums, which held a wealth of helpful how-to advice. Most important for me, there is a forum on favorite yarn. Lots of pricey “dream yarns” were mentioned, but knitters kept coming back to KnitPicks as a good quality, reasonably priced yarn in great colors. I checked out the website and after a few visits I purchased yarn and color cards. That first yarn delivery was incredibly exciting. I got two balls of Andean Silk in Bluebell, and several shades of Wool of the Andes for felting.
Around the same time I discovered Kate Gilbert’s patterns and purchased her Shining Star hat instructions. I ran out to Michaels, got myself a set of size 6 double-pointed needles. The only aluminum DPNs they had at Michaels were size 3 and size 6, so I just guessed . . . and hilarity ensued. Knowing nothing about gauge or swatching and having a near-terminal fear of measurements, geometry and numbers, I blithely cast on the required number of stitches and started working the hat from the top down, with glamorous in mind. Here’s where the story takes a point-and-laugh-at-the-new-knitter turn.
I worked my little fingers to the bone — it was winter and I wanted to give the hat to glamorous for her birthday in January. I worked and worked at that hat, for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was a few days and nights parked on the couch while The Baron watched movies and fiddled with his playstation. Finally, it was done, I cast off (yes, far too tightly, but no matter) and triumphantly held the hat heavenward. Wanting to better inspect my handiwork, I asked The Baron to model it for me. Now, I love this man, but he is a big guy, with a size eleventy shoe and a sizeable inseam and what he himself had described as a big O’ melonhead. He put that hat on, and it hung hood-like on him, a very beautiful burlap sack. He looked like a little kid dressing up in grown-up clothes. It was not pretty. I was crushed.
The entire thing was ripped out and re-wound into a neat center-pull ball. Luckily it wasn’t too kinky since it had only been a finished object for about an hour before it became a ball of yarn again. But did I learn my lesson? Did I? No. I went right back to Michael’s, bought that set of size 3 needles, and knit that hat all over again. This time it fit The Baron pretty decently, but glamorous says it’s still too large for her. A few months ago, when she was getting ready to go to Sundance for the film festival, I modified the hat for her, ripping out some of the length of the hat and adding some simple ribbing in an attempt to make it fit better. It’s not my favorite finished piece, but I loved working the Andean Silk yarn so much I soon made a second hat for Mom out of the Hollyberry color. Between the discovery of KnitPicks, finding Kate Gilbert’s designs (which I continue to love when they turn up in magazines) and learning the hard way about gauge, that winter marked the real beginning of my knitting adventure.
These are photos of the finished hat:
Want to see my gallery of amazing finished projects?