13 August 2009

and I so hate consequences

This is the story of a beret. It was a lovely pattern. Irresistible to the new knitter. And it didn't look that difficult. So the new knitter looked at some yarn she had bought a month or so earlier at the department store. Brown. Soft. Acrylic-alpaca blend. Two skeins. She'd liked it very much, and now all she needed was a different colour in a similar weight. She paid her second trip the LYS and found what she was looking for. Orange. Soft. Superwash merino. Aran weight. She bought one skein. She bought a circular needle to go with her first set of DPNs. She swatched a little with waste yarn until she figured out how the pattern worked, and then cast on. She knit, meticulously following the directions, but in her naivety, she didn't realize that the yarn weight the pattern called for and the weight she was using were different. She wasn't sure how to check gauge in something that wasn't a square. So she didn't. And she knit and knit and knit. She had to buy another skein of orange. It was too big for her head after the decreases so she added another decrease round. When she finished the hat, she put it on, and it was...enormous. Like a mushroom. Or a hairnet. She was too ashamed to take a picture of it on herself so she took a picture of it on a chair:

That's right. A chair. Notice how the hat takes up most of the seat? It was a big hat. She is a fairly small person. So she wore it sometimes and people commented on its size. She knit another hat with the leftover yarn, and this time paid attention to the dimensions suggested by the pattern and stopped increasing when it was the right width. There was even a little orange left, even though she had started with a partial skein. There was a lot of the brown yarn She gave that hat to her best friend.

She tried to think of solutions to fix the hat. To somehow make it smaller. She thought about steaming it or trying to felt it. But it was superwash merino, and a 70% acrylic/30% alpaca blend. If she could get it to felt, it wouldn't felt much. So she wore the hat sometimes, thinking, "At least it keeps my ears warm." And she went on to other projects. Other hats. New techniques. And she learned.

I was that knitter. I wore this hat the other day when it was raining. Forced to admit just how ridiculous it looked, the obvious solution suddenly hit me. Frog the darn thing. Frog it back to the set of increases where I should have stopped, and reknit it. So, I did.

I took a picture of the pile of frogged yarn to remind myself of the consequences I face when I don't pay attention to yarn weight, gauge, and adjusting the pattern accordingly.

My husband helped me wind up the yarn into two balls and I reknit the hat. I reknit for the height of the hat, stopping when it would be the size I wanted, did the decreases, and the brim, and bound off. I did take a picture of myself wearing it, and you can see it on Ravelry (I look like a racoon, which is why it's not up here). I also took a picture of the hat on the same chair. Look how much more of the chair seat is visible.

The pattern is Nancy Marchant's Pecan Pie Beret, which is done in brioche stitch. My colours are similar to the original pattern because those colours worked so well (I don't generally choose my colours to match the pattern, but the orangey-yellow and brown just looked so good together). This was my introduction to working with two colours. I find it easier than fair isle, but of course, brioche stitch produces a very specific, distinctive result. You can't do motifs with this, as far as I know, but this is what has sparked my interest in mosaic knitting, which also uses slipped stitches. You can see the edge of Barbara Walker's Mosaic Knitting underneath the pile of frogged yarn. I plan to do some swatching to learn the technique soon.

My trouble with size in knitting varies. Sometimes things are too small. More often, they are too large. I frogged a sock toe the other day and am now trying to figure out whether I should go down a needle size (which may not make this particular yarn very happy), or if I should alter the pattern a bit (the motif will not take kindly to much editing, so I'm at a bit of a loss here--I can delete 3, possibly 5 stitches from the top of the sock and the same from the sole and have it still look mostly the same). We'll see. I'm still learning. And I'm glad I fixed this goof-up. The hat was definitely worth it.

Addendum: I wore this hat on the bus shortly after posting and got a compliment on it. Frogging and fixing was most definitely worth it.

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