Vacation Knitting — A Wrap Up

Knitting on vacation is a joy.  And an agony, when you don't have the right tools.  Midway into our trek through Glacier National Park, with nary a yarn store in sight, I realized that the 6" DPNs I have brought along to knit Vitsippa, my fairisle hat, on, were going to be too short to accommodate all the stitches once I finished up the ribbing and added additional stitches called for in the pattern to begin the stranded portion of the hat.


So here I am, rather unattractively sweating and knitting away, trying to recover from the hike up the Highline Trail, whilst coming to the sad realization I'm going to have to put Vitsippa away until our return to civilization.  The view was compensation (and if you've read my earlier post, the knitting really liked the view too).

Next, I pulled out my Oak Park, renamed Glacier Park in honor of the trip.  Oak Park is a triangular shawl, knit in a devious pattern that is constantly shifting.  I had been looking for a pattern for my three skeins of The Plucky Knitter's Cachet (aran weight cashmere) in Slumber, my most prized yarn, for a really long time and was so happy when a friend suggested this pattern.  I was one repeat in when we emerged from hiking the Swift Current Trail in Many Glacier and made our way on up to the Prince of Wales Lodge on the Canadian side of the park, only to discover that they served a very nice tea.



I knit away on Oak Park/Glacier Park for the rest of our hiking time, and ended up just shy of three repeats in at the end.  It's an absolutely lovely pattern and precisely what this yarn wanted to become.  I'm going to be so happy with it as soon as it isn't 90` that feels like 100` degrees with the humidity in Alabama.  (Let me digress and say it was 40` when we flew out of Kalispell, Montana, and I really wish I was still there!)

Amazingly, there was a yarn store when we made it to Whitefish, Montana, our last stop.  And, a day of rain that was perfect for exploring town, eating some delicious crepes, watching the huge logging trucks roll in filled with freshly cut timber, and stoping by the local yarn store, Knit 'n Needle where the lovely proprietress encouraged me to pick out a circular rather than longer DPNs. I fell in love with the store yarn, Polka Dot Sheep, and engaged in a little stash addition.  And we discovered that the fabulous Huckleberries we had been picking and eating along the trails were used for all sort of pastries in town.  What a wonderful place to end our trip!



Armed with my new 16" circular needle, I returned to Vitsippa on the flight home.  After picking up a few stitches that had dropped off the overloaded DPNs, I was back in business. Sorry about the bad airplane lighting on the picture, but I'm so excited about the colorwork on this one that I can't wait to share it.  That's The Plucky Knitter's Oxford in Waxing Poetic (the gold) and Bedrock (the gray).  I love knitting fairisle and am really enjoying this one!


Truth be told, I love my day job and our life in Birmingham, but there is a little part of me that would love to remain under Montana's Big Sky, knitting and hiking.  It was a wonderful vacation and it reminded me of decades ago trips with my grandparents, which not too surprisingly, featured hiking and knitting, along with some fishing.  It's fun to come full circle like that.

I can't end this post without a few trip pictures.  First off, this lousy camera phone picture of a BEAR who was swimming casually across a LAKE about 40 feet away from us as we drove to the trailhead to hike Bertha Lake in Canada.  It was a moment — we could see him skimming through the water, magnificent and large.


Hiking in the alpine meadows was spectacularly beautiful.




And being able to see the waterfalls and lakes, as well as the animals and flowers, made it worth several of the more challenging, steep portions of the trails.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, knitting and all!



Really. A Hat.

PeerieAnd just like that!  I have a fair isle hat. 

Peerie Flooers is one of this most enjoyable projects I've ever knit. I'm delighted with the finished hat, which is like a little piece of art.  It fits perfectly and it's beautiful!

I've spent the evening stashing up for stranded knitting.  Because there is no pointing fighting it when you catch a fever like this!  I'm planning a Northport Hat, but also eyeing all of the Rowan 58 Sweaters.



The Start of Something Special: Colorwork and the Knitted Hat


It's my maiden voyage into colorwork!  I have been absolutely obsessed with Kate Davies Peerie Flooers hat pattern since the first time I laid eyes on it.  But I've always felt it was beyond my skill level.

With a coupon at hand, I was able to inexpensively pick up a smorgasbord of Rowan Fine Tweed colors for practice.  My goal is to learn to knit fair isle style, with both hands.  This is new for me, so I was quite slow in completing what you see above, the border of the hat.  Just above the point I've completed, the hat will burst into a multi-colored garden of stranded knitting.

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

© Ophelie

This is Ophelie's beautiful, completed version, which was my inspiration.  Ophelie teaches colorwork in Australia, so her version is beyond incredible.  And, since she has been very sweet about giving me advice, I feel like I'm getting a wee bit of the benefit of her teaching, without going to Australia. But, wouldn't that make for a fun knitters' retreat?

My goal is to use my test version to work out the technique and learn the pattern, before committing to knit with the beautiful Plucky Knitter's Oxford base yarn I've been collecting for this project.

A few early observations:

  • I'm concerned that my cast on edge is not stretchy enough to be a very effective hat.  I used a longtail cast on, something that I often do for hats with a nice result, but here it seems loose and flabby.  I wonder if the fact that one jumps immediately from the cast on into a stranded 2×2 rib impacts on the stretchiness.  Or perhaps it's just because I'm a loose knitter, and may need to go down a couple sizes for the cast on (although that would sadly put me at size 0  needles). Either way, I need to seek some advice from the experts on Ravelry in this regard. 
  • I've managed to learn to knit a bit with my left hand (I've been a thrower since I learned to knit and I don't think that's likely to change at this point), so I can manage two-handed knitting for this project.  It keeps the yarn from tangling, and I like that.  One piece of early info I gleaned from some experienced fair isle knitters, is that the strand of yarn held in your right hand will be dominant if you are knitting with two hands.  Since I can't yet purl with my left hand, this means that that the purl stitches in the border were knit with the yarn in my right hand, and they are dominant, rather than retreating as the purl stitches normally would in a ribbed border.  I wonder if this contributes to the stretchiness issue?  Whether it does or not, I see the need to figure out how to purl with my left hand before I go much further. 
  • I had an abortive effort at simple color work six years ago.  I knit a hat that was meant for my 18 year old, but was too small for anyone except the six year old when it was done.  I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to pull the color that wasn't being used tightly when starting a new color, so I ended up with a teensy, tiny hat.  With this project, I'm making the effort to stretch out the stitches along the right hand needle every little bit in order to keep those floats of yarn nice and loose.  I'll only know if I've succeeded when I'm done.  But I'm optimistic.  At least I have some understanding of what I need to do here to produce an adult-sized hat.

And looking ahead to the next row, there is the issue of catching floats.  The pattern repeat often goes 7 or 8 stitches, so I'm going to check out a few resources on catching floats to make sure the back side of my knitting stays nice and neat.

Now that I'm twelve rows in, I'm reflecting on why it took me so long to give this a try.  It's surprisingly easy and very addictive – I've had great difficulty putting this project down to go to sleep at night since I cast on a few days ago.  So jump right in and join me!  I'd love to have company, particularly now that I'm getting to what may prove to be a more difficult part of the hat.