Today’s blog comes to you from my lovely friend – Rosie McPherson.
I sometimes say that I’m only friends with people if they knit or crochet. This is of course a joke – but not too far from the truth! I met all of my close friends in Nottingham through the knit group I attend (Knit in Notts), and some of my older (well- more long-serving!) friends have now started to knit and/or crochet.
One of these ‘older’ friends is Rosie – who I have known since school. She lives down in Bristol now so we only see each other a few times a year, but it’s always as if we just saw each other the day before.
Rosie has a good creative heritage – being the daughter of the artist Alan McPherson. She’s very crafty and talented and did some of the photography for Cute Little Knits, where her nephew Billy was a model.
After dipping in and out of knitting for a while, Rosie has now become a fully fledged knit addict – and I’m very proud to have inspired her along the way.
Over to Rosie!
The Triangle Hat – a beginners guide
So a few firsts for me, I had never followed a pattern, knitted a hat, attempted fair-isle or even made a pom-pom (nor have I ever written a guest blog for that matter).
My knitting history: I was introduced to knitting by Jem circa 2002, she showed me how to knit repeatedly and although I really admired the lovely things Jem made, I just couldn’t get into it. I found the maths (counting) hard but the real problem was attempting complicated things before I had the basic skills because I was impatient to knit exciting things!
So I didn’t want my first project to be a ‘boring knit scarf’, Jem came up with a pattern (lacey 4 row repeat) and taught me what to do. It took a lot of time & concentration and I was glad when it was done. My next project was a seemingly simple square patchwork baby blanket, but I made the squares small, so it took me a long time to complete, so much so that my nephew had it on his 1st birthday instead of on his birth as intended! So I gave up for a long while (whilst still envying all the beautiful things I saw Jem make). With hindsight I was telling myself that knitting wasn’t for me when actually I gave up because it was hard!
I got back into knitting two winters ago when I started to commute by train from Bristol to Bath, and there I found a lovely yarn shop called ‘Wool’. I wanted a simple project to do on the train so I picked up a lovely yarn (Rowan Colourspun) and made a ‘simple’ circle scarf in moss stitch, I loved the result so much that I made another in exactly the same yarn for my mum! And I also made a chunky wool cowl (I really loved how fast it knitted up). I am no longer commuting by train so knitting is now an evening/weekend activity but I am definitely addicted to knitting scarves now! I did my third cowl this winter in Rowan fazed tweed. The finished product is definitely not ‘boring’ & I now prefer to invest in a beautiful yarn rather than a cheap fashion product.
I was ready for my next challenge and yet again Jem inspired me, her design for Spins & Needles looked amazing (I buy so many fashion hats for more than £12!) and she encouraged me to attempt making it. So I chose the same colours as Jem’s initial design, as I love the colour combination of mustard yellow (which can be unflattering next to the skin) & teal (my favourite).
I started the hat and on row one I messed up – I failed to cast on the correct number of stitches (counting not my strong point remember) so the first 2cm was something other than rib (quite obvious in the photo below).
I had never knitted with fine yarn, on really tiny needles before so I couldn’t believe how long it took to do just one row of 135 stitches! So normally being a perfectionist I would start again but I just couldn’t bring myself to. However Jem came to the rescue and suggested I sew the rib under rather than folding it up – which would hide the mistake and is another design option to consider anyway!
Fair-isle! I couldn’t get my head around the pattern at first but after speaking to Jem I realised it was actually pretty straightforward, she advised that I practice a fair-isle test square first and watch a few YouTube videos. And after watching a couple I cracked on. Her other really important bit of advice was not to pull tightly and to leave slack in the colour you are stranding. She also advised that I could catch in the stranding yarn as I go, but I didn’t actually do that as I didn’t figure out how and I am slapdash like that! Whilst doing the fair-isle I was worried that I wasn’t following the pattern correctly but the triangles started to form and that was a brilliant moment!
Jem advised me to block it by sprinkling water over, gently patting and then leaving it to dry on a balloon (brilliant idea)! Also she advised to only sew up the top of the hat and leave the headband (as the balloon could stretch it out too much).
The next new challenge was a pom-pom, (I probably should have just bought a pom-pom maker) but again I was impatient, I wanted to wear this hat! I knew they were simple & looked up how to do one but then guessed the circle size (I used a random cup) & I didn’t realise that I needed to leave quite a large hole in the middle, so my first try just didn’t have enough wool in it and looked a bit limp (and I like a big pom). I thought I would have to order another ball of the Leyburn (yellow) but as I had some yellow and some teal, I decided I may as well give a two tone pom pom a go. And I like the result since the rest of the hat is multi-patterned, plus I could always do a new one if I get bored of it.
And yeah there are definitely a few wonky bits but I absolutely LOVE it! I can’t help pointing out to my friends that I ACTUALLY MADE IT! And I’ve had lots of compliments on it. I will definitely be making it again in new colours next autumn.
What’s my next challenge? Mittens (I’m hoping Jem will do a matching triangle pattern) and finally learning to crochet!