Aaaand this is why GAUGE is a thing.

There is a category on this blog marked Current Obsession. It is there for a reason. Generally my current obsession is either worked off in library books, or in handwork – the DPN/hook case, for example, or the Dishonour Cow. (Sometimes it is worked off in books about handwork.)

Frequently, however, the more hands-on obsessions are unwise to pursue, or at the very least imprudent, and this is why I use the Caped Gooseberry as a Sensible Sounding Board, because he doesn’t fall under the enchantment that the putative project projects on to me (or that the putative projects project on to me, if plural).

On the other hand, I can be very persuasive when in the grip of an obsession. Continue & Comment

Necessity is the Mother of Design

Scroll down for link to pattern pdf.

Some people speak the language of gifts with flair and elegance. I am not one of those people. (I could go into a discussion of love languages, but that’s probably a post all of its own.) While I am always delighted when I can think of exactly the right gift for someone – and find it in order to give it to them – it doesn’t often happen, and giving a ‘meh’ gift is irksome. (So is receiving it, probably, but all my friends and family have decent enough manners not to say so.)

Facepalm (4254919655)So I have been known, on more than one occasion, to fall back on the scheme of offering to knit someone something. That way they get to choose something they like – assuming it’s within my capabilities – and I get to give them something they will enjoy without having to go into the mall. Win-win.

And then a friend of mine said she’d really like a hooded scarf for her present – and helpfully sent me some pictures so I knew the kind of thing she was thinking of. I went hunting for patterns and – nothing. OK, not nothing. There were cutesy patterns with little animal ears – or paws (not all of them for kids); there were complexly cabled ones (no can do, although I’m hoping to learn this winter); there were fancy lacy ones and ones where the scarf element appeared more like chin ties. There were some in the finest of yarns (my friend wanted something warm, verging on chunky) and some which used so much yarn it would wipe out my entire craft budget for the year.

Ramona and my small stash of yarn :) (81/365)I did find one pattern, however, which looked like what my friend wanted. In fact, it was one of the pictures she’d sent me. It was also, alas, a crochet pattern. And while I can, technically, crochet, the results are not the sort of thing I would inflict on a friend. Certainly not a friend I wanted to keep.

So I decided to branch out, to stretch myself, and to do something I’d never done before. I designed a pattern for a hooded scarf: simple enough for my skills, thick enough to be warm, using little enough wool not to bankrupt me, and creating the look my friend was looking for. With pockets, because there are not enough pockets in this world. Plus it gives you somewhere to keep your hands warm.

And it really is a simple pattern: all you need to know how to do is knit, purl, cast on and cast off. Plus very basic sewing skills (attach A to B, using needle and yarn) and, yes, it helps if you can count. (Embarrassing personal side note: I once applied for a job where the few requirements included being able to read and count. I didn’t get it. I didn’t even get an interview. I’d like to say this was when I was a child, but I was 24 and had a brand-new Master’s degree at the time.) You don’t even need to worry about gauge for this pattern, which means there’s no need to swatch.

19 Jan
In the spirit of sharing which makes this world what it is, I am making the pattern freely available here on the blog (assuming I can figure out the technicalities) and also on Ravelry and OpenRavel. As with everything else on the blog, it’s under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. This means that you are free to copy the pattern, reuse it, adapt it, sell what you knit from it – anything you like, really, as long as you credit me as the designer and share your derivative works just as freely.

So here it is: the Simple Hooded Scarf with Pockets! (click on underlined text for pattern file). Not the catchiest name, I know, but at least you know what you’re getting. Truth in advertising, et cetera.

If you use this pattern, I’d love to see what you do with it! Feel free to leave a link in the comments, and if you’re on Ravelry or a similar craft site, link your project to the pattern for others to see. Have fun!


Note: the pattern calls for 12-ply yarn, but the yarn I used – while saying 12-ply on the label – knits up more like a 10-ply. For the level of drape shown, go for something around 8wpi; or go thicker for a chunkier scarf.

I Made A Cake!

Not just any old cake. No, this is an intentionally inedible cake.

yarn cake

Ingredients: yarn (in this case, 75% merino and 25% possum), and a nostepinne.

This is the first time I have ever made one of these, because in New Zealand, yarns are almost always sold in a balled state. I was greatly surprised when I discovered that in other parts of the world, e.g. the Americas, yarn is sold in a twisted skein, and it is the knitter’s responsibility to ball it.

Of course, back in the day when knitting wool came from a sheep you knew personally, winding the skein into a ball was the natural last step before knitting it. I am just lucky that I don’t have to start each knitting project by following a sheep around to collect the wool it sheds, as with the Soay sheep – or combing the animal’s neck, as with a cashmere goat.

gathering wool

Despite the extra work involved, I can understand why people like to buy yarn in skeins. It’s certainly more visually appealing that way, and you can wind the yarn into any shape you like (e.g. A Complete Dog’s Breakfast). The benefit of cakes as opposed to balls is that cakes have flat bottoms and don’t go rolling about while you use them.

Also you don’t have to fossick about in their insides trying to find the inner end, as you carefully ran it down the handle of the nostepinne when beginning the cake, so as to have it handy when you need it. Indeed, I think this humble piece of rimu is going to join my list of treasured old technologies.

Yarn-caking can be very relaxing – once you’ve really got the hang of it, and don’t have to keep worrying about your cake losing shape. (MacArthur Park, anyone?) I myself have not yet attained to this height of nostepinne mastery, having only made one cake to date.

skein nostepinne cake
skein + nostepinne = cake

I have started knitting from my cake, and while the actual knitting is proving more problematic than I thought (due to gauge issues and use of techniques at which I am not yet proficient), the cake is performing splendidly.

It’s fat-free, sugar-free, suitable for sharing with people who are dairy- or gluten-intolerant, and a joy to both make and consume. What more could one ask of a humble cake?