Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Caput Helianthus, Jeff Goldblum, and the Multi-Generational Blanket

There was triumph and creative energy. There were misplaced yarn-overs and gnashing of teeth, but here I am, at the end of July with a completed caput helianthus (code name: Blue Stardust Sunflower Hat). ON TIME. How about that?

I started out a little worried. The pattern ended up a lot more intricate than I originally thought that it would be. Though the individual rows had, essentially, a new repeat each time, the repeats were easy to memorize. However, they took a fair bit of maneuvering to accomplish, with knits and purls and yarn overs and knit into the back loops all over the place. It took several days just to get the cast on straightened out and lengthened to a respectable size. It was a top-down pattern, meaning the cast-on was only a few stitches that then had to be manipulated on double-pointed needles without twisting them to form a Mobius strip instead of a circle.

Because it was a hat and a lace hat at that, I didn't swatch, figuring a swatch really wouldn't tell me a whole lot anyway. I was worried that the hat would end up to0 small as I was knitting it (I'm a bit of a tight knitter), but when I bound off, it was the exact size of a small stocking cap. Though this meant it was not slouchy like the pictures, I was content that it would be wearable. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first finished object I've made that was mostly wool (the RH sock yarn is wool with a small amount of nylon). Thus, for the first time, my project required blocking to look "right." At the time of bind off, the  stitch pattern of the hat was sort of bunchy and the leaf-like portions overlapped each other just a little bit, which was not the case in the pictures either.

I plopped the hat into the bathtub in warm water and it just sort of bloomed. That's the word I would use to describe it. The yarn overs expanded in size and the hat with them. After I took it out of the tub (with care), Irolled it up in a fluffy towel to release excess moisture. Then I found a plate 10 inches in diameter and placed it on top of a smaller than 10 inch diameter bowl. The hat went over the plate so that its center sunflower filled the center of the plate exactly. That's where it remained until it dried out completely. The plate did it's work and the hat took on that flat-topped look just a little bit, providing a nice slouch. There was just one problem, the brim of the hat also bloomed, so that instead of hugging the head, it was wider than a head. It still worked as a hat, but lacked some of its former stability. This means that while it has a great slouch to it, the hat is a little precarious in how it sits on a head.

I pondered the impact of this development as my BFF/identical cousin Kristin made the drive from my hometown to Cleveland this weekend past to celebrate her birthday. The hat is her birthday gift this year. Over the course of the winter, she's picked up crochet and so, appreciates entirely the effort that goes into a handmade gift, especially a lacey one. Her trip kicked off with the big hat reveal.

The loose brim means that it will never give her hat hair, so she thinks it will all work out. If not, I have leftover yarn I can use to make a cord that can be pulled through the bottom brim eyelets and pulled snug.

We also feasted on carrot cake my hubby made to celebrate Kristin's birth + 28 years, visited the local zoo, and watched Jeff Goldblum movies from the mid-90s. We have a thing for Jeff Goldblum. And carrot cake.

While watching Jeff be the science nerd he always seems to be, we both crocheted. She's working on a scarf for her mother, and I, a blanket. It was the blanket sitting unfinished by the usual chair of my husband's grandmother after she passed away. I've figured out the pattern repeats (a varying number of double crochets) and started the process of taking the not-yet-half-a-skein-of-yarn-used-up blanket into a two-skeins-long blanket. It's a fun little pattern, and I like looking at where her stitches become mine. I didn't get the chance to know her very well in the short time I was with her grandson before she died. I feel like we're bonding in our own crafty way, across time, across dimensions, with our one crochet hook and four hands.

My advice to anyone who crafts: leave behind a partially-completed project if you can and make sure you have a loved one you've taught how to finish it.

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