Friday, October 24, 2014

Momentum in My Library?

I have lost my momentum again.  I had an incredibly fun, but busy summer and fall.  It changed my habits and I don't reach for my knitting needles as often.  I have finished hat #80.  To reach my goal of 100 hats by the end of the year, I need to change my momentum.

I mentioned months ago about organizing my queue, which has helped.  Although I still love those patterns, I needed something new to get me back on track.  This time I turned to my Ravelry library.  Did you know you can search your own library?

Included in my library is every pattern I have purchased or downloaded along with every book I own.  Keeping it up-to-date has helped a lot when I am trying to figure out where I have seen the pattern before and if I have it somewhere.  But now it is bringing me new ideas for hat patterns.

If you go to your library page and scroll down a little bit, you see "search patterns in library" in the lefthand column.  I clicked on accessories, which brings up more patterns than I want.  To narrow it down to hats, I click on the check for all accessories to make it disappear and then click on the "hats" box to check it.

Now I can look at every hat pattern that I already have.  I can narrow my search further by many options - age or gender - yarn weight - yarn yardage - hat characteristics like cables or color work.  It is a great place to look for inspiration or to find something specific in patterns you already have.

Stay tuned.  Do you think I will make it to 100 by December 31st?  I'm not so sure.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Finding Inspiration

You can tell I am hitting a creative block when it comes to my 100 different hat patterns.  Somehow, I am having problems coming up with new inspiration.  Thank goodness for the monthly Hats for Sailors KAL on Ravelry or I would have nothing!  I need a kickstart.  One of the ways I am hoping to get that is Hats for Sailors and the Summer Giveaway.

Hats for Sailors on Ravelry

Usually we giveaway something every month to someone who has posted a picture of a finished hat on our Ravelry Hats for Sailors group.  This summer we are going to combine all 3 months into something a little different.  Here are the rules:

1.  You must have mailed in at least one hat to Hats for Sailors since the beginning through August 31, 2014.

2.  You must post at least one picture of a hat you have knitted between June 1st and August 31st and will be sending to Hats for Sailors for the November deadline.

3.  You must post one pattern to one of 3 discussion threads in the Ravelry Hats for Sailors group.  These groups are:
      Great Travel Knitting Hat Patterns meaning easy and/or fast
      Favorite Patterns
     Wacky Hat Patterns

Anyone who fulfills those requirements will have one chance to win one of the prizes.

All About Me

Looking to the Hats for Sailors group for inspiration will take a little time and I need something to get me started in the mean time.  Lately I have noticed that I find patterns I like and they are already in my queue.  Obviously I need to look through there for inspiration.  My queue is 17 pages long!!!  I have a short attention span and that gets too long for me to look through and I get bored before I get inspired.

Did you know you can organize your queue like you can organize your patterns?  I did take the time to sort through them and put all the hat patterns into a group with a tab.  I discovered that I have almost 90 patterns!  I was shocked and I should be able to find some inspiration there.  Now that they are all grouped together in one tab, it is only 3 pages and much easier to peruse.

I hope you will join us on Ravelry this summer and be inspired!

   


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Have You Heard About Us?

We have been receiving some great publicity lately so I thought I would have a post summarizing who we are.

Back in 2010
We started with this post on Shanti's blog by her mom Lynne.  It was an ambitious hat drive with a short time schedule to provide a hand knitted or crocheted hat to every sailor on the USS Decatur.  Shanti (who is a knitter and quilter) would be commanding the ship and was hoping to have the hats when that happened.  The response from knitters and crocheters all over was amazing and hundreds of hats poured into Lynne's home.  Not only did they supply the USS Decatur with hats, they supplied many others with hats too.  It was such a great idea, it just couldn't stop there.

Fast Forward to 2014
I was one of the knitters who joined the hat drive for the USS Decatur.  When I emailed Lynne for her address, I discovered that I live only a few miles away.  I was very excited to join these two amazing women in their project.  Many others have joined them too.  We now have almost 500 members in our Ravelry group and hundreds of hats arrive every year at my home to be packed and sent to the ships that Lynne and Shanti have arranged.

Interested in Joining Us
We have several places where you can read about us.  We have a web site at  www.hatsforsailors.com .  We have a Facebook page and a Ravelry group.  You can read about us in any of those places and join us in our current hat drive or the one for November.  Have a question or two or just don't like social media, then please email us at hatsforsailors@gmail.com.  If you aren't a knitter but want to help, please tell your knitting and crocheting friends about us.  If you just want to keep up with what is going on, you are welcome to join us on Ravelry, like us on Facebook or just check into our website or blog periodically to see what is going on.

Welcome to Hats for Sailors we hope you will join this amazing group of generous men and women!

Sandra


Monday, April 14, 2014

KALs

I have been slowly chipping away at my 100 hats in 100 patterns.  I am now on #66 so I am almost 2/3rds of the way to my goal.  Yay!  I am getting a little tired of being restricted to new hat patterns especially since we are having monthly KALs over on Ravelry.

If you haven't checked it out then take a look at our Ravelry group and the KALs we have done so far. Each month has added a new technique that we have not tried before.  We are learning together and having fun while doing it.  I had already knitted some of the patterns so know the technique but I am learning a lot from the other knitters and modifying my own approach to make it better.  We have a new KAL starting on the 1st of each month, so click on the link on this page to our Ravelry group and think about it joining us.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hats in General

The Ravellenic Games are over and I have now completed 64 hats.  Almost 2/3rds of the way there.  While I was frantically knitting for the Games, I thought a lot about hats in general and about my personal preferences.  I doubt you are interested in my minor, personal preferences but for those of you who are just starting to knit hats, I thought I would share the general things I have learned.

General Observations:  Almost all of my hats are knit with worsted or light worsted weight yarn (most commonly Cascade 220 superwash).  I always use a 16" size 6 Addi Turbo circular needles.  I don't notice a significant change in gauge if I just go up or down one size needle.  I knit a little loosely, I think.  I do change the needle size when the type of yarn I use changes significantly.  I will go down to size 4 for DK weight or up to an 8 for Aran weight.

I generally cast on between 88 and 120 stitches.  DK weight on 4's would be closer to the 120 and Aran weight on 8's would be closer to the 88.  Usually with worsted on 6's I cast on 94 or 102.

The pattern can change the number of stitches I need.  Patterns that pull stitches closer together mean I will probably choose 102 and with another pattern or with stockinette that doesn't pull stitches together I would choose 94.  A complicated pattern that requires even more stitches means that I would add them in on the first row of the body.

Most of my hats are between 8 1/2" and 9" in length.  This is generally made up of 1 1/2" ribbing, 5 1/2" of body and 2" crown decrease.  I usually don't knit a hat with a fold up brim.  That would change these measurements.

These are all my personal preferences.  I am sure many of you have other needles you prefer, or you like hats in a different size or length.  I am just describing what I do because all of these things change the outcome.  If you want them wider or longer, then you would need to make adjustments.

Hats in Sections:  Hats are generally made up of 3 sections and they are Ribbing, Body and Crown Decreases.

Ribbing:  This section is usually k1, p1 or k2, p2.  One variation of this is the twisted rib and it is k1tbl, p1.  There are lots of other variations and some hats without any ribbing at all.  But these 3 will carry you through a lot of hats.  Most of the time my ribbing is between 1" and 2".  That varies by how much space I need for a pattern in the body or just that I am sick of ribbing and want to move to the body of the hat.

Body:  This can be anything you want, including stockinette.  My body is generally 5 1/2" long so that I begin my decreases at 7" in length (again not with a brim).

Decreases:  I divide my hat by an even number of stitches.  That's why most of my stitch counts are divisible by 8.  I'm not sure I will describe this well, so I will give an example after the explanation.  I divide the total number of stitches on my needles by 8, markers can be handy.  I knit until 2 stitches before each marker and then k2tog.  On the next row I just knit.  I continue this 2 row pattern until about half of the stitches are left on the needles.  At that point, I decrease on every row.  I decrease each row until I have a small number of stitches, usually 7-12.  Then I cut the yarn and use the tail to pull it through the last stitches twice and tighten up the hole and weave in the end.

So, if I had 88 stitches when I want to start my decreases.
Row 1: k9, k2tog
Row 2:  knit
Row 3:  k8, k2tog
Row 4:  knit
Row 5:  k7, k2tog
Row 6:  knit
Row 7:  k6, k2tog
Row 8:  knit
Row 9:  k5, k2tog  (48 stitches)
Row 10:  k4, k2tog
Row 11:  k3, k2tog
Row 12:  k2, k2tog
Row 13:  k1, k2tog
Row 14:  k2tog
Run the yarn tail through the remaining 8 stitches and pull tight.

Knowing the basics of hat construction means that I don't need a pattern to knit a hat.  Your results may vary as your gauge will be different from mine.  But trying a few different hat patterns and noting your gauge and the end result will help you tweak a pattern or create your own and get the results you want.

Knitting so many different patterns and understanding my knitting and the structure of a hat means that as long as I have yarn and my trusty #6 needles, I can knit a hat.




Thursday, January 30, 2014

#52

I finally finished the hat I started in December.  The pattern is Seaman's Cap by Brenda Zuk.  It is a great basic pattern, simple and straight forward.  I used Cascade 220 superwash for the ribbing and then switched to Liberty Wool for the main part of the cap.  I have a lot of Cascade in my stash so it is a good way to make my Liberty Wool stretch further and I like the way it looks.



I have slowed down my hat knitting and am focusing on knitting some other projects.  But I am in training for the Ravellenics.  We have Team Hats for Sailors and I am on the Team.  During the London Olympics, I knitted 7 hats.  I plan to exceed that number this year.  It will be a little bit more complicated.  During the London Olympics, I could knit the same, simple pattern over and over again.  This time I need to knit a different pattern each time which will slow me down.  I am currently mulling over my pattern choosing strategy.  Do I choose simple, quick patterns that are basically the same hat?  Do I choose only patterns that have been sitting in my queue?  Do I choose patterns that are interesting and keep me going?  Do I choose them all in advance and just live dangerously and choose one at a time?

How ever I decide to approach it, I really have to tamper down my eternal knitter's optimism and be realistic about what I can accomplish.  I have to admit that I can't just whip out quickly a very complicated cable pattern with a 12" brim!

If you aren't already on Team Hats for Sailors, think about joining us.  Your goal can be anything you want it to be.  All we ask is that it be a hat for a Sailor.

Monday, January 13, 2014

#50

We now have a web site Hats for Sailors.  It is still under development, but that will be the new place to go for information and news in addition to our Facebook and Ravelry pages.

We have a great KAL on our Ravelry site.  Each month we will knit a different hat pattern. We are still looking for volunteers to lead KAL's throughout the year.  No experience necessary.  Just pick a pattern and invite our members to knit along with you.  Easy Peasy!!!  Check Ravelry to sign up.

I have passed the midway point in my quest to knit 100 different hats from 100 different patterns.  The month of December was chaotic and hectic and I was not sure I was going to make it.  Somehow my knitting brain (that thinks I can do amazing things in no time at all) seeped into the rest of my life!  I planned and hosted a Christmas at home in California and then flew to London with my husband and sons to meet my daughter for another Christmas.  No problem, I can pull off two Christmas's in two countries.  And all that extra time to knit on the airplanes, I can make even more gifts than I had planned!  I had to finally admit that my plans were too ambitious and I needed to scale back.

It is funny that even though I scaled other things back, I was able to meet all my knitting goals (sometimes only by minutes)!  Maybe being confined on airplanes for long periods of time with nothing to do helped.

My hat goal was to finish #50 before the end of the year.  I had posted a picture last month of #50.  That hat still isn't finished, but two other hats skipped in front of it.  They are both watch cap patterns and very similar, so it was interesting to knit one right after the other.

Both are great patterns and easy to knit.  The length was determined more by the amount of yarn and time I had than exactly what the pattern called for.  In both cases, I was sure that they were long enough and tested them others to be sure.  I would happily knit either pattern again and they will be my "go-to" patterns for watch caps.  I used the same yarn for both hats, Cascade 220 superwash.  Lorne's Hat was knit on size 4 needles and Sandoval Hat was on size 6 needles.  Lorne's hat was tighter, more dense and probably a little warmer.  Sandoval Hat was wonderfully squishy, stretchy and soft.

One pattern was Sandoval Hat by Robyn Devine (#50)



The other pattern is Lorne's Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee #51


After all the chaos, I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu right after I returned home.  I am so lucky that I could recuperate at home in my own bed!  But now I'm a little behind on my 2014 hat knitting.