Before wet blocking, the band was loose but clinging to my head. And I have a big head, normal women's hats don't fit me. This is pure New Lanark DK wool, so I optimistically hoped it would tighten up when it was washed. Nope.
I blocked this over a plate (to flatten the beret part) balanced on a mixing bowl (to allow the beanie part to stay vertical). I had to wait a day and a half for it to dry then I finally got to try it on. You can see the result above - the ribbing had loosened up considerably. The beret part looked really good, and it had been a lot of knitting so I didn't want to start all over again.
In machine knitting I have quite often unraveled waste yarn from below, so I thought that would be the solution. I picked up stitches all the way around just above the ribbing with a circular needle, then cut a thread a few rows below and unpicked the ribbing so it just fell away. However, I had reckoned without this hairy yarn, which just wanted to cling to itself and breaks rather easily, and made it so impossible to unravel the last couple rows so that it was a complete mess. I had to pick up AGAIN a few rows higher up, above the increases, and pull away more rows. Then I decreased down to the ribbing, reducing by 30 stitches which was my estimate by pinching the original band on my head.
However, after knitting a half inch or so of ribbing, it became clear that it still wasn't snug enough. So I ripped out AGAIN, picked up AGAIN, reduced another batch of stitches evenly, and knit the ribbing. The happy end to this probably dull story is that the ribbing now fits quite snugly and I am really pleased with the hat. Apart from the untidy loopy edge where I picked up the stitches. I've never had a floppy hat like this so wasn't sure how it would look on me, but it's cute and makes me feel like picking up a paint brush and palette like a bohemian artist.
I blocked out my Advent Lace 2010 Calendar Scarf on the bed, diagonally, because we don't have a clear space sufficiently long enough on the floor. Only the king size bed wasn't long enough either, so I had to put part of it in a plastic bag to stay wet, while the blocked part dried, then block the wet part later that day. I blocked it to 16" wide which seemed to suit the patterns. I didn't steam block, but perhaps I should have as it is curling on some of the patterns a little. I'm really pleased with it, and feel proud of how much better I am at lace knitting now thanks to this KAL. It is ridiculously long, but lovely and soft in Valley Yarns Huntington (colour Arctic) and I found I can wrap it around my neck like a giant cowl.
Yesterday was my quilting club, and Clue Two of our group mystery design was to make two variations of an animal connected to your theme. I'm making a knitting bag, so I made two sheep. I drew my own foundations based on two blocks I found online, mine aren't as good but they still look like sheep.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting unravel, the yarn festival in Farnham. In the morning I took a very enjoyable two hour class on Knitting with Beads with Fiona Morris. I've had classes with her before and like her teaching style, she is very prepared and really knows her stuff. To teach us the two techniques of pre-stringing beads (which I hadn't done before) and the crochet hook method, she gave us a pattern for a simple lace bracelet. The course fee included a choice of many colours of perle cotton, 2mm needles, a tiny crochet hook, a packet of small beads and a packet of accent beads and a clasp. I chose to do mine all in silver, and I'm really pleased with how it's going. It might actually be something I will wear.
I find the crochet hook method fairly easy. The pre-strung beads took a bit of getting used to, but after a while I found what worked for me was to bring up half a dozen to sit above my tensioning left hand little finger (I knit continental style), and just bring one bead down over my forefinger with my thumb when I was ready to place it. I had most problems with the instructions being written out, because I am used to charts after knitting the Advent Calendar scarf.
What did surprise me about this course was the number of knitters getting into trouble over what to me are fairly basic concepts. Perhaps I need to upgrade myself from 'advanced beginner' to 'intermediate' knitter. People were struggling to do a knitted cast-on, about half didn't know how to do ssk, one woman was doing her yarnovers backwards so they hardly showed up, other people were struggling with the lace pattern etc. So the first hour of the course was more Fiona solving all of those problems for people and doing demos of SSK, than actually about the course matter of knitting with beads. But she was really patient about it.
I also bought a secondhand book, The Art of Knitting, on one of the vintage stalls. There looks to be some history of knitting in the first part, and then some patterns inspired by historical artwork.
And I bought a pattern from Fiona Morris called Liz's Jacket. She knit hers in two strands held together but it equals an Aran weight, and I have a fair bit of Aran weight.
I saw a very interesting demonstration of a Brinkley Loom on the Plant Dyed Wool stall. It looked much less faff than other looms I've seen. It was basically a large wooden rectangle which you just wound yarn around to be the weft, and then an ingenious plastic finned heddle, that looked a bit like a futuristic radiator, acted both as the gadget that raises alternate threads and as a beater. However, they cost around £200 so not cheap, and you would need a large table to use them.
The show was busy but not heaving, but this was the second day. It was impossible to find anywhere to sit at lunchtime, so I ended up not eating lunch until about 2pm, when some chairs opened up as many people went to see the fashion show. I thought perhaps there weren't as many traders as last year, but many of the traders who were there had really big stalls with loads to look at.
Two more weeks of work and then I will be a free (unemployed) woman. I've started jobhunting but not very actively, just sending my CV in to a few agencies and turning my email alerts back on. I've applied for one job in London which sounds interesting, but it's one of these annoying ones where they say 'competitive salary' without telling you what that salary is. I always think that they will see what candidates are asking for and then pitch their salary offer at that level.
The dollshouses and roomboxes are all packed now apart from the biggest one (the Vic-war-gency house). I've booked a hotel for a couple of nights in March, we are going to go and really look around Sandy in Bedfordshire to see if we could live there, and try out the morning commute from there. Although we are beginning to wonder if we actually need to be moving even further away from London, say South Yorkshire, before we will find a big enough house that we can actually afford. On the positive side, I did a bunch of online research on what's available in the area, and discovered Sunflower Fabrics, BSK (machine knitting supplies), and a few other knitting shops are all within driving distance.