Just in time for winter to really hit us, I've finished my first winter accessory of the season! We got this yarn in the store yesterday and it was just so amazing, I had to splurge. I decided to buy just one skein and make a hat, and this is what I came up with after many tries that all pooled. The yarn is Prism Cashmere 3 1/2 oz, it's 100% cashmere that's so warm and soft, it should be a controlled substance. This is the Tahoe colorway, which I'd never seen before in this yarn and is just stunning in person. The box of yarn had been in the store less than an hour before I'd picked out my skein and wound it to start the hat on my commute home!
It took me several false starts to end up with this crocheted hat, it seemed that no matter what I did the colors still pooled (my mathematical mind just can't wrap itself around the concept that no matter how many stitches there are in a project, some yarn ALWAYS pools. How is that possible? The color repeats are a set length, aren't they? How can they pool no matter the stitch pattern or stitch count?!?!? HOW?).
Knitting the hat flat would probably have broken some of the patterning, but I hate how you can see a seam in handpainted yarns because the color changes stop abruptly, so I knew that doing the hat flat was out of the question. So I proceeded to try all my handpainted yarn tricks, which I will now share with you all:
1. Texture is good -- the 3-dimensional nature breaks up the pattern, and raised stitches that are part one color and part another always look more interesting. Seed & moss stitch are usually good choices.
2. Slip stitch patterns -- since they layer different parts of the yarn over eachother, you get a different effect than with other stitches. Linen stitch is a great choice, as are stitches that use a reverse stockinette border with slipped stockinette stitches for dimension.
3. Bobbles -- because bobbles are worked every few rows and eat a LOT of yarn, they're good choices for handpainted yarns as they change the amount of yarn used in each row, which shifts the color repeat. They also look interesting because the booble ends up being a different color than the background stitches right around it.
4. Tuck stitch patterns -- since you're working into the row below, you can get a dimensional look and break up the pooling. Variations on fisherman's rib work especially well (but they eat yarn like crazy and take forever to knit)
5. Double stranding -- if you knit with two strands held together, positioned so that they are at different points in the repeat, you can get a really beautiful fabric that hopefully doesn't pattern. Unfortunately, the colors in this yarn overlapped too much so I got blobs of green no matter where I started the pattern.
6. 2 row jog -- works well if you have multiple skeins to work with. Since I didn't, I used the inside and outside tails of the skein, which didn't work AT ALL as it just meant every other row had the colors reversed, so they still pooled but in the other direction.
7. Lace -- an option I didn't try for this hat because it's not what I consider a good winter option, lace is a great idea especially if you pick a pattern that changes stitch count throughout the repeat.
8. CROCHET -- when nothing works, I change from needle to hook. Since in crochet it's possible to work into the row below with no pre-planning, it's ideal when you're pulling your hair out after tons of failed attempts.
What I ended up with is a sort of slipped stich version of single crochet fabric done in the round. Every so often I sc'd into the row below, and did that for two rows, then did a row or two of sc. This way I ensured that rows used different lengths of yarn, so that the color repeat started and ended in different places. AND when I saw colors pooling too much, I threw another sc into the row below to break it up.
What's neat about this is that those stitches into the row below create a layered look that adds dimension to the fabric. And since any color can be over any other color, it makes the whole thing look more organic, more like it did in the skein.
And the flower? That's the easy part! You can make it with any yarn:
CO 7 stitches (can be fewer or more, doesn't matter)
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: (K1, YO) to last st, K1
Rep these two rows for as many rows as you want, until the flower is the size you want (I did 4 repeats on size 9 needles in this aran weight yarn).
Bind off row: K1, (YO, bind off 1 stitch, K1, bind off 1 stitch) across
Squish the "petals" together and sew the center to the hat, shaping the petals around and over your sewing. Easy!
Pattern: Made it up as I went along
Yarn: 1 skein Prism Cashmere 3 1/2 oz in colorway Tahoe
Needles: Size G crochet hook and size US9 needles for flower
Started: November 2, 2005
Finished: November 3, 2005