Saturday, December 11, 2010

Komi Hat and Mittens

My finished Komi hat and mittens in Cascade Pastaza.

The mittens are Mitten 9 from Mostly Mittens (links in the last post for the yarn and books), with the top shaping from Ann Budd's first book of patterns. The hat is based on Budd's pattern for a basic hat, with a motif from the mittens used for the stranded colorwork.

Some of the specs - keeping in mind that I generally wear a size small in hats and a size 7 1/2 in gloves:

For the mittens, I cast on 32 st for the corrugated rib cuff, then increased to 40 stitches for the hand portion. The cuff was worked on a size 2 circular, Magic Loop method, and the hand on a size 3. (I knit very loosely; you might be able to get away with a larger needle size). My gauge was about 4.5-5 stitches/inch after wet blocking.

For the hat: I cast on 82 stitches for the K1P1 ribbing on a size 2, then worked the body of the hat on a size 3 without increasing stitches. I did a one-color rib so that the fit was snug; the corrugated ribbing is stiffer and has less bounce than the regular rib. I followed the schematics for Jared Flood's Turn a Square hat; I find that his method of decreasing gives you a really nice fit, without that round egg look that you get from some knitted hats.

Wet finishing makes a huge difference in this project. Beforehand, the stranded colorwork and stitches are tight; after soaking in a sink for half an hour, the fabric has a lot more give. If your size is good, don't do much but blot the water out and lay flat to dry. If, like me, you made something smaller than you'd like (I underestimated the amount of space the stranding takes up and made the hat a little too small), you can get in there with your hands and gently stretch the fabric after rolling it up in a towel to soak up some of the water. Then, lay flat to dry.

Here, you can see the contrast between the outside of the fabric and the inside:
As you carry the color that you are not working along the back side of the fabric, you get a nice, double-thick layer of wool. Between the stranding and perhaps the llama-wool combination of fibers in the Pastaza, the mittens and hat are keeping me warm even in cold, damp weather. I know that traditional colorwork is done at a miniscule gauge, but I prefer the feel of a nice, thick mitten in the winter.

My work, now, is not to lose any of the pieces.

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