Monday, August 30, 2010

Smoke on the Water

In December 1971, the rock band Deep Purple set about trying to record an album in Geneva, Switzerland.  But before they were able to get started, disaster struck.  Disaster in the form of a flare gun and a Frank Zappa concert. 

In August 2010, the TSMK family set about trying to enjoy a vacation.  But before we were even able to get started.  Disaster struck.  Fires erupted throughout the region - with one burning just 5 miles from our cabin. 

Coincidence?  Hard to say - although I'm confident that Zappa was nowhere nearby.

Ok.  Perhaps disaster is overstating it a bit.  Perhaps inconvenience is more apt.  Nevertheless, there was indeed smoke on the water.  

But no matter.  For we were not trying to record Machine Head.  We were simply looking to relax.  Spend some time together and with family.  And perhaps make a few new friends.  Friends like this guy. 

In all, our trip was wonderful.  I spent much of it playing with the boys, fondling Molly and playing with fiber.  In terms of the fiber, there was much knitting to do, and a fair amount of picking wool out on a back deck overlooking a creek. 

But the high point of my daily fiber intake happened on our last full day - when I got a chance to try out my father's Majacraft Rose spinning wheel.  I carded some of the wool I'd brought along on the trip - made five rolags, and set to work.

I'd never used a double-treadle wheel before - and was astonished at the difference it seemed to make in my spinning.  There was just a lot more control, and I was able to draft down to a cobweb weight yarn with relative ease.  Too cool.  Of course, I now have a bit of a case of wheel lust - but that should pass in a week or two of working on my Ashford single-treadle Traveller.  Right?  Right?

In terms of knitting - well I made a lot of progress on a certain stole that will be featured prominently in a few future posts.  And I made a hat.

Specifically, I made a hat during the trip out to Idaho.  Mrs. TSMK was kind enough to drive, which allowed me time to concentrate on making a hat for my youngest nephew: GE.  There's nothing fancy here, but I rather like the result.  And, as it is made of machine washable yarn - perfect for a little guy.  I call it GE's 300-Mile Hat.

The construction is very simple - and you can probably figure it out just from looking at the product.  But here it is anyway in case it is helpful.
  1. Cast on 112 stitches of main color yarn (MC) using a knitted cast on and dpns.  Join (being careful not to twist).
  2. Knit one row in stockinette stitch (SS).
  3. Join contrasting color yarn (CC) and work in K1 (MC) P1 (CC) rib for two rows.
  4. Work SS in MC for 3 rows.
  5. Work in CC for 3 rows.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for desired length before decreases - ending with 3 rows of MC.
  7. Using CC, [K5, K2tog] to end of row.  96 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  8. Repeat step 4.
  9. Using CC, [K4, K2tog] to end of row.  80 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  10. Repeat step 4.
  11. Using CC, [K3, K2tog] to end of row.  64 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  12. Repeat step 4.
  13. Using CC, [K2, K2tog] to end of row.  48 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  14. Repeat step 4.
  15. Using CC, [K1, K2tog] to end of row.  32 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  16. Repeat step 4.
  17. Using CC, [K2tog] to end of row.  16 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  18. Repeat step 4.
  19. Using CC, [K2tog] to end of row.  8 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  20. Repeat step 4.
  21. Using CC, [K2tog] to end of row.  4 stitches remain.  Knit 2 more rows of CC in SS.
  22. Cut yarn (MC and CC), draw through live stitches and pull tight.
  23. Weave in ends.
  24. Give to Child.

I'd like to tell you the gauge that I used, but I didn't try for any specific gauge.  Instead, I just tried to make a hat that I thought would fit GE in a few months, when he's 6-7 months old and the weather turns cold.  So I wanted something with a circumference of about 17.5 inches and a fairly dense knit.  I achieved that using Berroco Comfort DK and U.S. size 4 double-points.  If you decide to make something similar - take the time to futz about and do a swatch or two.  Your gauge could be (and probably is) different than mine.



  1. What a sweet nephew and a very cute hat! Glad your holiday was super good, and that the DW drove so you could knit. :) Thanks for sharing your pattern! See you at Rav,

  2. Love the hat! Completely cute baby to go with it!

    Glad vacation was a relatively good one. Even happier that you are back here though. :) hehe.