Vintage Knitspot – Woodcutter’s Toque

majordomo wrote this mid-afternoon:

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Many of you know by now, my obsession with hats. I love to knit them and I love to wear them. I have a huge cedar chest of them in the basement, a tote in the hall closet (which my mom has coined “everyday woolens”), totes in two bedrooms, and you will also find them on just about every hook in the house. I love all types. And to my delight, I bore a child who looks precious in a handknit hat. I think it’s the chunky cheeks.

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In the last year, I can’t get over how many hats I’ve had to retire. He’s growing so fast. But for a knitter, that’s not too bad of a problem. It just gave me an excuse to go to the archives! Lots of Anne’s hats have several sizes, so I wasn’t limited to only the kid section. I was narrowing down my search (ravelry is awesome for that), because I had skeins of Confection I was dying to knit,

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when I came across Woodcutter’s Toque.

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Oh man, was this perfect! Not only did the photography of the hat sell me, but the words…

It’s a rustic, cabled toque in three sizes (S/M/L) and two yarn weights (worsted/bulky) for doing battle against deep-winter cold. Rich cable panels create a double-thick fabric that offers the ultimate in cozy protection for ears and forehead.

really spoke to me. I dug through the blog archives and read Anne’s original post.

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I loved seeing the hat in different weights, fibers and colors.

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I told Anne about my plan and she was thrilled. It’s one of David’s favorite designs and he owns several different versions. That’s all I needed to hear!

I crossed my fingers and began to swatch. To my delight, Confection was a match and I settled on the Milk Chocolate colorway. I have very little knitting time with a toddler, but I knit on it everywhere I went – knit nite, guild meeting, people’s houses, and in the car when I had the privelege of a driver.

It took me forever to knit it and not long ago I realized why. I would stop every couple rows to pet and admire the  cabled fabric. This pattern really makes cables pop and it’s more than exciting to watch them grow. This is a bad habit of mine and really cramps my knitting speed. I really need to curb this and keep those needles clacking.

The hat was finally done and time to graft. You can either use the Kitchener stitch (my personal fave) or a three needle bind off. I chose the latter, because I thought it would give it a nice sturdy top. If you’re not familiar with grafting or need a refresher, Anne has a great Craftsy class

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where you can watch clear videos on many techniques. It’s FREE here.

After blocking I was thrilled with the finish. We happened to be at my parents recently and they have a wood pile in the backyard. I couldn’t help myself. You know I love a theme, so a photoshoot with Matt and Buddy was born…

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He is so close to walking on his own, and he loves his independence. He kept eyeing up the woodpile that Buddy was chasing chipmunks in. We let him loose and he was much happier standing up on his own!

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This is my new fave! I love how the hat has so much body and character. And I know it will fit for two seasons because there’s a lot of stretch and height to the hat. That’s what I love about Anne’s patterns. There’s so much flexibility and careful thought into her designs. For example, my mom knit Baby Knitspot a Hot Waffles last year. It fit great with the brim folded even though it was an adult small.

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Today he had it on, brim down, and there’s still a lot of room left.

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What a great, practical baby gift! For his toque, all I did was eliminate one repeat (you can see details on my ravelry page here) so it wouldn’t be too tall. I think it’s time to make Matt one to match. With the ability to knit Woodcutter’s Toque in two weights, there’s plenty of yarn options. I’m thinking another baby version would be great in Ghillie Sport DK. Or this would be stunning in handspun!

So tell me, what yarn would you knit this hat in? I need some ideas. Tell me in the comments by 9 pm EST Sunday Dec 15 and I’ll pick a winner to receive the Woodcutter’s Toque pattern for free!

In case you didn’t get enough views of the hat, here’s a few more…

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anne wrote this in the early afternoon:

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it’s here!!!
today we begin red scarf fundraiser time—my favorite moment in the pre holiday ramp up.

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it’s that time of year when we devote december sales from one pattern to raise money for our knitspot scholarship, which goes to one student who participates in foster care 2 success programs. the entire sale price of each 2013 red scarf pattern sold during the month of december is added the knitspot scholarship pot.

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one of the reasons this is so exciting for me is that during these opportunities, we get to see our knitspot community at its best—when we are GIVING. each year you come out in droves to top what we did last year, showing what you are made of—rock stars through and through.

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foster care 2 success helps students who are aging out of the foster care system to navigate a continuing education and advancement into independent adulthood. they provide guidance and counseling, classes in life skills, scholarships, and other types of support that a family would normally provide.

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the 2011 knitspot effort began as a way to raise a little money to send in for the postage fund, but when we tallied the proceeds, we realized we had enough to create a $2500 scholarship. we decided right away that we’d make this a yearly event, featuring dyers who have been ongoing collaborators in knitspot projects (you can see the past red scarf fundraiser patterns here, and here).

so far, we have exceeded each previous year’s amount by quite a lot; last year the scholarship grew to $3500; i’m excited to see how we’ll top that this year—as i know we will.

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soon, we ‘ll publish a very special guest post from brandy, the recipient of our 2012 scholarship (left, above with friend emily; i know you’ve all been dying to finally “meet” her). brandy is enrolled in the curatorial studies program at western washington university. she has sent along a beautiful photo essay of her semester at school; i thought it would be a good feature to post with an update on the fundraising in a few day’s time.

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many of you are aware of the red scarf drive, for which knitters put together care packages that are distributed to students on valentine’s day (the 2013 drive is coming to a close, but if you act quickly, there is still time to send a scarf or help out with postage).

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speaking of last minute, if you do want (or need!) to knit something fun and quick to give or keep this week, this pattern is your candidate—i gave barb the kent DK yarn for the light-colored one last wednesday, she cast on the next day, and had it all done and blocked by sunday.

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one of the reasons is the yummi-luscious cable-stitch-and-garter texture; plenty to keep your interest and affection from start to finish, but not so much that it breaks your rhythm. just the right amount to fall in love again with each repeat.

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hence the name baci—which means “kisses” in italian; doesn’t it look just like a big smooch in that incredible red color?? jill at studio june yarns really outdid herself in coming up with a new colorway. we also have some coordinating pieces in progress in two other of her colorways—coming soon!

oh, and if all that isn’t enough, did i mention it’s a cowl, too?? our cowl sample is on its way from our test knitter, anne marie and we will show you that in an upcoming post when we have an update on the fundraising (pattern is already done and included with the scarf; i just couldn’t wait another day to release it).

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speaking of color that we want to roll around in, shown above, the tall scarf in studio june springy sport, a lush, 8-ply superwash merino in colorway red scarf, which you can pre-order in jill’s etsy shop now. she has also dyed up another delicious selection called here comes trouble that i’m knitting up right now into a coordinating hat design.

shown below, the petite size scarf in bare naked wools kent DK, in the white sand shade. nicole has just listed a kit for this yarn/pattern combination, available now in our shop. this cabled fabric would also look fab in our ghillie sport/DK or stone soup DK.
$10 from the sale of each small kit and $15 from each large kit sale will be added to the scholarship fund.

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to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the knitspot pattern shop. or purchase the pattern in our ravelry pattern shop.
the entire $7 retail price of each pattern sold will be added to the scholarship fund.

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a huge thank you to our collaborator jill june from studio june yarns for her inspirational red colorway and to dear barb and anne marie for providing top-notch knitted samples. as always, it is SO wonderful to collaborate with people i like so much!

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and of course, many thanks to adorable nicole, a very recent graduate herself, who knows how important it is to be supported and encouraged throughout one’s studies. thank you nicole!

ok, now let’s get the ball rolling and make a scholarship happen!

 

Blocking Away

majordomo wrote this in the wee hours:

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I love blocking. I love that after spending time knitting a piece – large or small – I give it a sudsy bath, lay it out properly and after awhile it smells divine and the stitches are smooth and perfect. There is nothing more pleasing.

I never used to have a fondness for blocking. It was more of a loathing type of feeling. I would avoid blocking like the plague, especially if it was “just a baby hat” or “just a sock”. It wasn’t a lace shawl after all! And then I took a class with Anne Hanson at Sock Camp. She laid out beautiful knit samples (which of course were blocked) and then presented an array of swatches that were beautifully blocked as well. Swatches! I couldn’t believe it. Even if I did swatch for a project, I certainly did not block it. Heck, I would rip out my swatch as soon as I got gauge and knit my project with it. I can hear the gasping now from you knitters that know better. haha

Anne’s class changed my knitting life. I sucked up all the info she spewed in class. It was fascinating! Over the next couple years, Anne and I became friends and I was always learning from her. Whether it was from reading the blog, taking her classes all over the country, or a quick email or phone call here or there. Her mind always fascinates me and with every encounter I learn something.

I have learned a true appreciation for knit stitches and it gets solidified every time I block. I really learn how stitch patterns, fiber, twist, and needles behave together when a knitted piece of fabric is dry.

I was at Anne’s in February when I bound off my Slöfock and thought I’d give it a bath at her house. She has fab old registers that are perfect for drying a dense fabric like a hat. I gave it a bath and when I rolled out the excess water the hat was HUGE! I panicked. I ran to her and said, “I know it’s a slouch hat, but this is ridiculous!” Anne assured me that when that particular fabric is wet it really expands but it will dry beautifully. Apparently I gave her the “yeah right” look and she said “trust me.” She told me to go in every hour and give the hat a good yank in several directions and rotate how it lies on the register.

I did everything she told me. And really, it was seconds of work. The hat came out amazing. It was the first hat I knit that didn’t have major seams on the side or wonky sections that didn’t lay right. It was perfect. It was beautiful. I was proud. And this was all due to the attention of blocking.

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With Anne not at the ready every time I block, I find it really handy to pop this in when I need a few tips.

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Blocking Knits is great to watch all the way through the first time, but it’s also super handy to reference sections when blocking a handknit. Especially when blocking wires are involved! We keep getting testimonials from knitters loving this DVD! Here are a couple:

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As soon as I learned Anne Hanson had a blocking video out, I rushed to the website and purchased it.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of taking a blocking class from Anne, and it helped me so much. Up until then blocking was my least favorite thing to do. After the in-person class, I had a bit more confidence, but I still had some questions.

This video on blocking answered all of my questions. Anne goes into a lot of detail, and she is simply a great teacher. I loved that she took all sorts of shapes and showed you how to block them. Hats, socks, different types of shawls – she covers them all. Now I don’t dread blocking. Anne has turned it into a joy!

I have watched the video several times. I love that I can enjoy Anne’s teaching whenever I want to. This is a must have item for my knitting resources.

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I was so excited when I found out that Anne had done a video on blocking. When I block handknits, usually it’s me quickly threading blocking wires, pinning it, and moving on. Usually not measuring and just kind of winging it, and it seemed to work but my blocking was never as good nor did it seem to “stay” blocked. After having knit a test knit for Anne and having sent it to her for blocking and after the photo shoot and receiving it back, it was amazing! And yet my poor blocking skills continued. So, now I’ve watched the video. There are great tips and tricks for blocking along with the “how to” and “why fors” that make it an invaluable resource for anyone.

Seeing the tips and how to on blocking shawls and sweaters was the most helpful for me especially since the majority of what I knit are lace shawls and I’m currently working on a sweater that will need to be blocked. Anne makes it look easy and her ability to explain why and how is just amazing and makes it so that you can take what she shows in the video and apply it immediately and it makes sense. This video is one that really is invaluable to anyone who needs to block a handknit piece, even those who crochet would benefit from the tips about blocking, from beginning blockers to advanced, it’s always good to learn something new or have a refresher course in something you’ve done for awhile. 

I recently knit a Woodcutter’s Toque, which has a lot of cables. The cables were tight and only looked a bit like the pattern photo when I was done. Did I panic? No. I just knew it would all come out in the wash.

And it did. The cables relaxed, flattened and popped off the knit. Gorgeous, just gorgeous. Perfection in Confection!

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pre-blocking photos. On Friday, I had the sudden urge to knit a baby hat as a topper for my SIL’s baby shower gift. I stumbled upon Barrel O Monkey, a perfect gift. It was a favorite of Baby Knitspot’s. I happened to have some Wooly Worsted on hand, so a hat was born. I knit it everywhere I went that day

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and finished it in the witching hour. And this time I took photos of the process!

After I wove in the ends, it looked like this

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Notice how the crown decreases are uneven and kind of jagged while the hat is folded. Also, the hat will not lay flat. Not a very pretty presentation for a gift. Into the water it went! (sorry for the night photography, but this was done at the witching hour!)

Almost instantly the stitches started to relax.

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It was if they said, “aaaaah.” I left the hat in the bath for an hour or so, occasionally giving it a swish around.

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With just a quick roll in a towel to get the excess water out, it looks amazing.

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I let it dry on the register, yanking, flipping and rotating until it was dry.

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The next morning I added a Knitterella tag to personalize the gift

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and let the recipient know how to care for it.

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It was well received by my brother and his wife. Don’t they look so happy to be new parents!?

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Over the next couple weeks I know I’ll be blocking holiday gifts like crazy and, thanks to Anne, Blocking Knits will make everything beautiful. I bet a lot of you are in the same boat and we have plenty of DVDs ready to ship. Click here to purchase and we’ll get it right out! This would also make a fantastic stocking stuffer for the knitter in your life. Happy Blocking everyone!

And because I know Cherie is wondering, the song I hum while blocking is Skating Away but I change the lyrics to go with my title Blocking Away.

helen sock

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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now socks are a gift that you must be careful about giving—it’s pretty easy for recipients to become addicted to them and you may not want to spend most of your knitting life enslaved to a mile-long gift list.

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that said, socks are one of those things that lots of knitters just keep making in the background, using commuting or waiting time to create a nice pile on the gift shelf through spring, summer, and fall—knowing that come december, they will become the pet gift of some lucky (and special) recipients.

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the helen sock is perfect for the knitter on the go—just involved enough to be completely entertaining for hours, but simple enough to knit without charts or other accoutrement to keep track of—you just grab the yarn and needles to go.

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socks like this are a magic bullet during the holiday rush for  variety of reasons—let me count the ways:

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1. totally relaxing to knit; soothes frazzled nerves and centers oneself in just a few rounds (and who doesn’t need that just about now?)

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2. knits up speedily—so much so that you can dispense with a pair in a week of evenings or less and still wish you were knitting them when they are done. some knitters will finish a pair in oddments of time they find through the day between other tasks

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3. warm and cozy texture that is universally appealing, very stretchy, and molds to a variety of shapes; in other words, you can knit them for a very important recipient who has yet to make themselves known but will almost certainly materialize at the last moment. mark my words.

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4. has built in depth and stitch definition that works with a really wide range of yarn types—you almost certainly have something right in the house that will work for this design (but we hope you’ll consider using our breakfast blend fingering yarn as shown in the dark pair here)

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5. unisex design with multiple sizing so that if you enjoy them, you can knit several pair for anyone from children to teens to that big guy in your life.

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6. truly entertaining to work—trust me, you won’t want  put them down. they are the perfect project to get snowed in with, providing a complete experience on their own or as an accompaniment for a movie marathon. and if you are a commuter knitter, these are your go-to project.

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shown above, the helen sock in size medium with the pattern extending all the way to the top cuff, knit in breakfast blend fingering yarn, color espresso (to order the kit, click here). these are soft, dense, and cushy, with great cling, but not too tight.

and below, the medium size topped by a ribbed cuff (pattern contains instructions for both versions) in natural dye studio angelus, a luxury blend for indulging oneself or someone else.

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to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here or here for helen sock kit, to visit the knitspot pattern shop. or purchase the pattern in our ravelry pattern shop.

big thanks to carol, who knit the espresso sock sample for us; she is a speedy one and always so generous with her skills; thank you carol! and helen knit the second sample in angelus yarn, but even more importantly, helen was craving slouchy socks and asked me to design some, so we owe this pattern to her, really. thank you helen for the inspiration and photos!

so if you are a sock knitter, i hope you will enjoy this design; it’s my favorite kind of sock . . .

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