Monday, December 17, 2007

Another day of modest achievement. I got the serious Christmas cards stamped and into the mail box and within an hour had a phone call from the stepdaughter of one of the addressees, to say he was dead. Not a close friend, but an old one. That’s the fifth member of our not-very-extensive Christmas card list to fall off the perch this year, and we’ve scarcely started on incoming messages yet.

In the afternoon, weary of Christmas cards, I went up to Princes Street. It was awful, and I didn’t achieve much, and everybody looked as miserable as I felt. What a curious annual ritual this is!

Things were brighter on the knitting front. I started the little hat, to plug that gap on the present-list. (Princes Street reinforced my decision to do it: better a hat he doesn’t want but at least keeps his ears warm, than expensive junk that occupies him for a moment or two.)

It is to be a simple stocking cap, using my favourite (although it’s not easy to choose) of my unknit Yarn Yard club yarns. How many stitches to cast on? No time for elaborate calculations here, nor do I have the recipient’s head measurement to hand. A cap like this is so simple that most books don’t bother. Even EZ wasn’t much help – she suggests 110 stitches for a watchcap in an authoritative but unspecific way (in Knitting Without Tears) and then proceeds to give a pattern using 36.

My usual resource in such matters is Vicki Square’s “Knit Great Basics” – no text to speak of, just schematics and charts where you slot in stitch and row numbers according to gauge. She gives three sizes – small, medium, and large. OK – but is that small adult? or small child?

But children’s heads are nearer adult size than you might think. And the finest gauge she gives is six stitches to the inch, and I would expect to get something more like seven with this yarn on 1’s.

So I wound up back where I started and cast on 108, Square’s recommendation for a small hat. And I think I’ve got it. It looks, if anything, too small in the picture, but the cast-on is stretchy, and seemed too big until I started ribbing: I think we’re all right. I’ll switch to the handpainted yarn, and increase to 110 stitches, before we go out to lunch.

110, because I think that’s the number which will produce interesting swirls of an ikat-y nature in a Yarn Yard yarn. No time to go back and look at notes on that subject, either. We’ll see.

Moorecat, that’s an interesting and useful tip, about making a scarf its wearer’s height. No great problem here. It’s aimed at a young teenager from a shortish family – she couldn’t be more than 5’3” which is about what I had planned for the Linked Ribs anyway.

So at least, among the horrors of this pre-solstice week, I think I’m on target to finish both knitted presents. We now hope to go to Strathardle on Thursday – a firm who were supposed to deliver some new chairs that day phoned late yesterday evening to say they can’t do it, what about Friday or Saturday? Not on your nellie, said I. I have just begun to realise that our entire family will be in K*rkmichael next week and will want feeding – not just on the 25th.


  1. i recommend charlene schurch's hats on. she has a pattern for most types of hats. it is not a very flashy book to look at, but very useful.
    and the tip about the length of a scarf is something i read at ravelry and have used myself. looks great but it must depend on the breadth of the scarf too.
    ez can be a chatterbox sometimes and especially in knitting without tears. she thinks in both number of stitches and percentages which must be a great confusion for a new knitter. the seamless hybrid i made would never have seen daylight if not for jared of brooklyn tweed fame. he has such an excellent tutorial. i think her books needs a brush up. new photos where you can actually see what is going on as well as i think barbara walker's two first treasuries should be charted as should gladys thompson. i hope somebody will make the effort one day.

  2. Anonymous8:28 PM

    My standard stocking cap is 96 stitches in worsted weight (heavy DK) on USA size 5/7 or 6/8 depending on how I feel. 108 stitches or so if I'm stranding a pattern. I'm a tight knitter and most of my family have largish heads, but somehow they measure 22-23 inches around. Classic watch caps are in very fine wool and tightly knitted.

    Some group online is knitting all of Barbara Walker's patterns in currently fashionable colors. I think Gladys Thompson _is_ charted (the basic repeats anyway), but at least one of the charts is mislabeled. EZ expects you to think, experiment, and invent; it's her main principle.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that your old friend fell off his perch. It seems that happened a lot this year - both to you and to several others I know. I guess it's true after all, that we don't actually live forever.....shocking, really, though I guess it shouldn't be.