Pumpkin Season 2 - Squishy parcel arrives......yay!!
Updated: Oct 23
Who doesn't love a squishy soft parcel? We know what it contains.....
more YARN!!! So my squishy parcel arrives - oooh the loveliness of new projects. The brown, off white and red will all go into a Christmas Pudding hat (I'll write more about that next month). The orange is for the pumpkin hat that I am just about to cast onto my needles, and the green is from stash. It will knit the leaves of my pumpkin hat. I'm using Cascade 220 Aran weight yarn. Lovely 100% wool, you can get it with or without superwash - your choice. You can knit these hats in any yarn you choose - I like Aran weight though - it will keep you warm!
First I will have to ball the skeins. So a lovely afternoon of winding ensues. A swift seems like such a big investment if you only use it a few times a year, but it is so much fun. Mine was a birthday present, and it is much loved. You will need a ball winder too - they are relatively inexpensive, but do make the job quick and easy. Of course you can still do it the old fashioned way... I remember having to hold my hands up 2 feet apart while my Granny wound the yarn by hand from my arms. My arms ached afterwards, but she baked a great apple pie, and I could earn myself a big slice. These days there seems little chance of persuading small people to oblige, so if you don't have your own swift and ball winder, take the excuse to pop to your nearest yarn store. Most will have one that you can use, and you will be able to spend a happy time browsing their shelves and chatting to fellow knitters. Lots of joy to be had.
So next is working out how many stitches I will need to cast on to make the hat to size. So first I need to knit a gauge/tension square - that is a small square of knitting in stocking stitch (knit a row, purl a row). I usually cast on around 25 - 30 stitches for this. That will usually be big enough to knit at least 4 inches (10 cm) width and have a few left over for the edges. This gives the best accuracy when measuring your gauge/tension. Ideally you would knit as many rows as will make the square, but half way is likely good enough!!
I know, I know, you hate knitting gauge/tension squares, and don't see the point anyway. Well there IS a point, whether or not you are following a pattern. It's all about making your carefully crafted item actually fit. So more about that next time. Meanwhile, if you are following along with me, take the time to knit a tension square, and I'll explain how to use it. If you don't want to waste the yarn (and I admit I shudder at that one!), knit up your swatch, and leave it on the needles, without breaking the yarn or casting off. When we are done with measuring we can just slide it off the needles and pull it back. It is helpful in that case to have a slightly longer swatch, maybe 3/4 width of your square. Just so the stitches on the needles don't affect your measurements.
As we are knitting this because we enjoy knitting (you really could buy a cheaper hat in a chain store or online), while you knit up your swatch you can tell yourself this is extra bonus enjoyment time :)
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