Star Wars Fair Isle Hat Part 4

This blog post covers the final fair isle chart of the hat (red with white storm troopers and x wings) and the decrease section. See http://www.stitchingbevy.com for parts 1,2,3. Pattern can be found at: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-force-awakens-hat

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By far the final chart was the most challenging in terms of concentration required to establish the pattern. There was also a lot of carry-overs in this section with spans of 6-8 stitches, meaning that midway through it was important to wrap the inactive color behind the active one so that there wouldn’t be too long of a loop inside the hat. The tactic paid off, as the inside of the finished hat was nice and orderly.

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The final decrease section was easy to handle, especially with the directions suggesting to place markers every 12 stitches, marking the decrease points. Super-simple with alternating rounds of decreases and knitting around to create a nice even slope shape to the hat.

Even though the wool was super-wash, I still blocked it by washing the hat in cold on the normal wash cycle, inside a lingerie bag. You can see the difference in the unblocked and blocked versions, with the washing and blocking evening out the fair isle stitches. For blocking, I use interlocking foam flooring like you see at day care centers, and rust-proof t-pins.

unblocked- hat was rippled with loose and tight stitches at points of color changes

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blocked- loose and tight stitches evened out after washing in normal cold cycle (in lingerie bag)

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At long last, the hat is complete! My husband loves the slouchy beanie style and the softness of the yarn which is washable and blocks nicely. I heartily recommend this pattern to anyone interested in trying out fair isle. Much thanks to the designer, Mrs. Luedeke.

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Star Wars Fair Isle Hat Part 2

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This is the second part of a series of process notes on completing The Force Awakens Hat by Mrs. Leudeke (free pattern here). In this post, I’ll cover the ribbed edging and the first charted pattern. Part One can be found here

It was very easy to work with the Zara yarn and casting on was a breeze. The edging is a simple and stretchy K1P1 repeat and combined with the yarn, you can tell already that it’s going to be a nice fit.

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Instead of doing a gauge swatch ahead of time, I used the method recommended for smaller in-the-round fair isle projects of knitting a couple of inches in pattern, then measuring gauge and adjusting needle size from there (if you end up a stitch off, rip out the work and start again on a different needle size).

Another thing to consider when knitting in the round: because you aren’t doing purl stitches, expect that your finished work will be slightly smaller. When knitting flat pieces, purl stitches are slightly larger than knit ones and they tend to even out when mixed with the knit stitches so there’s no real impact. On top of that, color work can also pull in the finished work slightly smaller because of carrying the yarn across colors. This actually works to my benefit because I have perhaps the loosest gauge in the galaxy.

As I mentioned in my last post, I always got frustrated with color work because inevitably the two strands of yarn would get wrapped around each other and the back of my work would be a mess…until this life-saving information found in Knitting for Dummies by Allen, Barr & Okey (this book is about 10 years old but full of excellent, basic info and has good patterns  to try, too).

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When working with two colors, choose one color to be the “over” and the second to be the “under.” In my case, the white was “over” and the red “under.”  When you get ready to switch colors, bring the new color “over” the color you just dropped. Then when you switch again, bring the color “under” what you just dropped. Keep working this way all around the row and you won’t believe how much faster you can knit and more even the work looks in the front and the back! What helped me was keeping the two balls of yarn apart, one by my left leg and the other by my right. That way there was no temptation to twist the strands. Just be sure to not carry over your colors too tightly- spread out your stitches before going “over” or “under” with the next color. It turned out I ended up not needing my bobbins after all so I set those aside.

So far I’ve completed the ribbed edging and the tie fighter chart. The next step will be the lettering, which will require more focus.

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Star Wars Fair Isle Hat Part 1

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Photo (c) by Hannah Luedeke

With the new year upon us and having seen another great Star Wars movie over the holidays about a dozen times, I am stoked to try my hand at this awesome fair isle “The Force Awakens” Hat pattern by Hannah L. It is available for free download from Ravelry and her website: http://www.mrsluedeke.com/patterns/the-force-awakens-hat/

My plan is to track the construction of this hat on our website, over several parts for as long as it takes, to encourage others to give fair isle a try. I don’t have much color work experience, but I have done a pair of valentine’s mittens and cowl using a charted heart I found on Pinterest, along with a cute pair of realistic kitten face mitts from a kit that Emily got me a few years back. That was a challenge!!!

As this hat will be for my husband Craig, he came with me to our LYS to select three colors of his choice, with white being the main color. He quickly chose black and red for empire colors. The pattern calls for sport weight yarn (a size 2 on the universal yarn weight chart) so we went with Zara’s 100% merino. Each ball is 50 g/1.75 oz and approximately 136.5 yards/125m. One ball of each color should do the trick. Since this is going to be an intricate and time-consuming project and worn for years, I had no qualms about spending $11.50 per ball. You could likely find comparable sport weight yarn in a different price range since solid colors aren’t that difficult to locate.

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Along with the yarn, I gathered some bobbins for winding the different colors and my hot pink size 6 circular and matching double pointed needles. I’m also brushing up on my fair isle tips by reading some of my knitting books, as a form of mental preparation. I also plan to do a 4 inch swatch just to be safe and get some practice on working the charts.

As a final custom touch, Craig was suggesting replacing “the force awakens” lettering with “Rogue One” or another Star Wars title. I copied the chart on a lighter contrast setting (not shown) so he can work out the lettering for that particular chart, since it works around the hat. Being a statistician, he will enjoy working out the mathematics on the lettering!

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Overall, this should be a fun yet challenging project. My biggest beef with color work is handling the crosses in the back and remembering to carry the yarn over longer spans of stitches without getting everything in a tangle. I’ll show some process photos in Part 2.

Civil War & Victorian Mitts, Gloves, & Mittens

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1860s Godey’s Gauntlet Mitten

One would think with the endless Victorian era patterns for knitted and crocheted household do-dads and accessories that there would be a large selection of basic mitts, fingerless gloves, or muffatees on record. Oddly enough, there isn’t, though these items show up frequently in photographs of all social classes during the Victorian Era. One might see knitted or crocheted shawls, vests, bonnets, mufflers/scarves, purses and the like, but not as many gear for hands.

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1850s openwork lace mitt with fitted cuff

 

Most of the hand-wear that you see illustrated in these publications appears to be densely knitted or crocheted out of wool yarn. You can achieve the same effect using worsted weight wool on size 3,4, or 5 double pointed needles to get a strong, long wearing fabric. Some pattern designers have developed modern directions based on historical documents which make them easier to follow. We have also created  free patterns for a basic Civil War men’s mitt and women’s longer fingerless gloves that are easy to work up in camp and will be suitable for a variety of impressions.

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Civil War era cuffs can be plain or ornate, and unisex

Outerwear for hands and wrists go by many names and most are interchangeable. Mittens can refer to what we think of as the rounded cover for the fingers with a thumb, or they can mean what we think of now as a fingerless mitt. A muffatee is a type of mitten but it mostly fits on the wrist, also referred to in older patterns as a cuff. Some muffatees have a simple opening slit in the side for the thumb while others are ornate cuff styles.Wristlets are typically worn below the fingers since there is no thumb hole. We refer to them today as arm warmers which also existed during the Civil War (leg warmers did too!).

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Wool Muffatee Cuff on Etsy
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Wool Muffatee on Etsy

As far as colors go, you can’t go wrong with naturals like browns, greys, whites, and black. But don’t be afraid to use bright colors like red, scarlet, acid green, yellow, orange, blue, or purple/violet. Stipes, solids, and more ornate patterns were also common, such as in these brown and ivory wool Shetland wristlets below. Using yarn from locally sourced artisans like Suzy the Shepherdess brings your accessories up several notches, plus there’s the satisfaction in knowing you are supporting small, ethical businesses that care for their animals! The men’s mittens below were made from such yarn and very easy to work with.

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Shetland colorwork wristlets on Etsy
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Wool Men’s Mittens on Etsy