We have booked a trip, Barbara

Yeah! going to travel again! We booked return tickets to Hanoi for three weeks starting on St Patrick’s day. Alan bought the Lonely Planet for that part of the world and we have been invited to a Khmer wedding at the end of March, but I am not much of a pre-planner, so that’s all she wrote so far. Travel is not real to me unless I actually have my feet on foreign soil. I think we will probably book a hotel for the first night in Hanoi though, because we arrive at 6.50 pm after 24 hours of travel, so it will be dark and we will be exhausted. I am thrilled to be travelling with my husband again. It has been 10 years since we took the kids on the 6 month trip and that was the last time I had him as a travelling companion for anything more than an excursion.

I vow to be smarter about my knitting this time so I don’t have to lug a bag of wool and hats around with me, like I did in Eastern Europe last year. I think I will just knit lace, since it is time consuming. I just have to remember to put in a lifeline in case the needles get confiscated at the airport. I just googled yarn shops in Hanoi so I can replace the needles if that particular horror happens.

For the knitters: For this hat, I did a Coin Cable, pg 261 to start. I cast on 120 stitches because cabling always draws the work in significantly. I made a design decision I regret, which was to stagger the cabling, even though this meant I had to leave 3 purl stitches between the cables. The Coin Cable stitch has a 6 row repeat with only one row having the cabling. I thought staggering the cable every second row would be good, making me need a multiple of 3 cables. I believe that because there is so much space between the cables, the staggered decrease is not shown to best advantage. I was concerned about this at the outset, but I had to leave at least 2 purl stitches between the cables because the stitch called for 2 purl stitches on each side of the 5 stitch cable, and if I only left these, it would mean a cast on of 105 (7 x 15) ..too few or 126, (7 x 18) ..too many? I knew leaving only one purl in between would have probably worked to show off the stagger, but I am pretty anal about following the Barbara Walker pattern stitches to the letter at least for one repeat, because adjusting them would put me on a slippery slope I cannot allow myself to get on. I might start “improving” the stitches willy-nilly and lose the integrity of the project completely. In retrospect, I think lining the cables up together and doing the twisting row in every cable at once would have been better. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. One thing I did do is when I was doing the last row of cabling on the first of the three sets of cables, I slipped the 5 stitches of the other 2 cables and caught the travelling thread on the next row, because I thought the cables would look too gapey at the top if I didn’t.

For the main part of the hat, I switched to Ribbed Cable, pg 253 and Hourglass Cable, pg 254. I needed to reduce down to 115, so I could have 5 repeats of each. I decided to do these cables together because they both use knit 1 back on every knit stitch. I know from bitter experience that it is REALLY easy to forget to do this once in a while, but I figured that if every knit stitch in the hat was a k1-b, I could remember, and muscle memory would be less likely to kick in. Also the matchy-matchy thing.

Note to self: I need to remember to photograph things before I rip back, so I can show you why I do it. I found that the transition was messy the first time I knit it, because I just went right into the new cables with no rows between. I ripped back to the end of the cabling and did two plain garter stitch rows, starting with a knit row, then a purl row, before starting the cabling. This cleaned up the transition somewhat. I also started the cabling on the Ribbed Cable two rows later so the aggressive cabling didn’t distort the top of the coin cables. You move 4 stitches over behind three stitches on the second row of the stitch, then every 10th row after. I waited to the fourth row. With the ripping back once in a while, I got pretty good at getting the stitches reoriented correctly. Easy to make a mistake on this because when you have knit in the back of a stitch and unknit it, the stitches are screwed up and twisted.

I started the decreasing on the hourglass cable. I decreased once on each side of the cable (10 stitches per round in total), every other round. The first decreases were done by purling the stitch I had to move out of the cable together with the stitch beside the cable, keeping a constant 2 purls between the two kinds of cable. This happened for 3 decreases, and brought the stitch count down from 115 to 85. For the next decrease, I knit the first stitch of the hourglass cable together with the first purl inside the cable through the back of both loops at the leading edge of the cable, then I moved the last purl outside of the cable, and purled it with the next stitch, like the previous 3 decreases on this side of the cable. This left me with 4 knit stitches in the cable. Next time, I slipped the first two stitches onto a cable needle and held then in front and knit through the back of the loops of the stitches on the front and back needles together, crossing them and reducing the number of stitches from 4 to two. Next time I only decreased once per cable, with a k2tog-tbl at the top. Next time it was p3tog on top of the cable. I switched the decreasing to the ribbed cable after this, and k3tog-tbl on the middle three stitches of the cable. After this, I did a k2tog-tbl a k1-b and a k2tog to bring the cable down to three stitches. The top of the hat was looking a bit like it could be too pointy if I wasn’t careful so I did a p3tog above the hourglass cable on the next round instead of doing a non-decrease round between. The very next round I did slip 1, k2tog psso. Then a round of p2tog, cut the thread and drew it through the loops.

...happy with the top!

…happy with the top!

I gotta say, for me the whole process of making hats is mainly about getting to the top, so I can figure out how to make a pretty decrease. This hat came REALLY close to being ripped out when I was half way, but if I only look at the top, I am happy. Maybe when I have this whole Barbara Walker thing finished, I can make an afghan of hat tops, just cast on the stitches and get rid of them like mandalas. It’s only a couple of years yet, eh? And now, just to see if anyone is paying attention, or reads to the end. Pretty exciting news this week. I contacted the current publisher of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns last Friday so I could contact Barbara Walker to ask her a question that I had been wondering about and ….she answered. I actually got two emails from her on Friday. I don’t know if she will ever look at the blog, but at least I told her what I was doing and that it existed. I contacted her because two of my sisters had been pressuring me of late to try to let her know I was doing this thing. I guess because I am always knitting something when they see me and they actually read the blog, so they know what I am knitting and why.

4 thoughts on “We have booked a trip, Barbara

  1. Carole C.

    love cables. this combination is awesome and you made it come together so beautifully at the top. Well done again Gillian

  2. NancyMac

    Congratulations on all points. More lovely hats, your booked trip with hubby & contacting Barbara to let her know about this AMAZING project you have been working so hard on. I do hope she pops in to have a peek on occasion and is happy with how vast this project really is and your fantastic accomplishments thus far!!!

    1. gillianknitter Post author

      Thanks Nancy. I must admit I was shocked by how fast she replied. I emailed the general inbox of the publisher at 8.30 am, and she had replied to me by 12.30.


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