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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