Friday, June 24, 2011

A Brief Trip Home

At the beginning of April I got one of the worst bad news phone calls I've even gotten. My grandfather had had another stroke. He was paralyzed on half of his body and we were not sure he would make it. To cap the call off my boss from my previous job who I had known for eight years had finally lost her battle with cancer, her funeral was to be the coming weekend. I wondered if I would be coming home for two funerals.
 That turned out not to be the case as my grandfather held on for weeks. He was confused, frustrated, and unable to speak.  I called my parents and grandmother everyday. It was hard to be hundreds of miles away unable to be there for my family in anything but voice. Unable to say goodbye as papa slipped away.  At the end of April he finally came to rest, and I came home to be there with my family.  The funeral turned out to be both harder and easier than I expected.
As the closest family we had to be there before anyone else at the viewing in order to set up all the pictures. Overall we had to be at the viewing for three hours. I thought it was going to be really hard seeing him in the casket, but he looked so peaceful it was more of a relief after I knew how much he had suffered at the end.  It was confusing and awkward to know almost no one at the funeral, and have relatives you didn't know/couldn't remember come up to you and exclaim how big you are now(I should hope I'm 'big' now, I am 21 and a senior in college).  There were even cousins I had no idea existed. One of them is even going to grad school at my University. (We ended up talking about our university jobs and he got my lab office window fixed, it's all about the people you know apparently).  I think the absolutely hardest part of the funeral was the military honors for my grandfather's service in WWII.
As soon as we got out of the car at the cemetery I went to my Nana and put my arm around her.  As her only grandchild (my 'new' cousins were the children of Papa's son from his first marriage) I knew she needed my support. I stayed there for the whole burial service, which is how I know that the moment the soldier saluted her after handing her the folded flag her composure cracked. She had held up well all day, but looking in that woman's face as she thanked my grandmother for Papa's service to the country was heart wrenching.  And then they played taps. That's when I lost it. That song is so sad and plaintive when you're already sad, I couldn't help but lose a few tears.  After an emotional day like that I took refuge in one of my hobbies, photographing nature:
We have quite the flock of turkeys at home. My father feeds them and gives me daily updates on their activities. He can tell them apart by the carbuncles on their necks, and some of them even have names now. Last I heard there was a mom with four babies who's hanging out with the loner hen (she lost her only chick despite our efforts to save it on my trip home in June) and another hen who had no chicks.
The Jake.
 Jake vs Tom. Jake never gets to eat once Tom gets to the dish, though while we were watching this Jake pulled a clever ruse to get at the food. He perked up and looked down the driveway like he had seen something and then ran away, the Tom followed him. As soon as the Tom was moving away from the food dish the Jake did a one eighty and sprinted for the food and managed to chow quite a bit before the Tom came back and bullied him out of the way.

Our mound, my mom's been trying to make it into a flower meadow for years

The North Pond, my dad has been digging it by hand since I was a sophomore in high school, he calls it his exercise program. The plan is someday to stock it with game fish. I think it's my dad's way of making up for us not living on a lake like my mom had wanted.
Some wild blood root, I was lucky I was home while it was blooming
My mother's hyacinths. This is my favorite shot from the whole trip.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Much More Masculine Hat

After I made my hat with the brim I wanted to try making another, but I didn't need another brimmed hat. I talked my boyfriend into letting me make one for him. We went pattern shopping on the internet and were pretty disappointed in what we found, nothing was like the hat I had proposed to him.  I could see the hat I wanted to make him in my head, so I started designing my own pattern. I started with the cast on from the pattern for my hat and altered it from there.  I let my boyfriend make a lot of the pattern choices, so this is truly a man's hat.

210 yds worsted weight yarn, I used 100% wool
US 8 circular needles
US 8 dp needles
stitch marker(s)
piece of plastic for the brim, I used the other side of the cool whip container I used for my hat

Gauge: 18sts=4in
 K2 tog-knit two together
P2 tog- purl two together

Cast on 96 stitches, place a marker at the beginning of the round and join being careful not to twist stitches. K2 p2 around, continue until hat measures 11.5 inches. ( I asked my bf if he wanted just the cuff to be ribbed, and the rest of the hat straight knitting, but he wanted ribbing all the way up. If you want just the cuff to be ribbed and the rest stockinette stitch, rib about 3 inches and then start stockinette stitch.)
Round 1: K2 tog P2 tog around
Round 2 and 3: k1 p1
Round 4: K2 tog
Round 5: k around
Round 6: K2 tog

Cut yarn leaving a tail, thread through remaining stitches, bring to the wrong side, pull tight, and weave in ends.
I wanted the brim to be longer and more like that of a baseball hat than the way it turned out on my hat so I changed up the start of the short rows and how many rows there are between the short rows and the decrease rows.

Cast on 40 sts, knit is stockinette stitch. Start short rows on right side row 4 (as in the fourth row total, not the fourth of the right side rows).
Row 1: knit 25, turn
Row 2: slip 1 p12 turn
Row 3: slip 1 k15 turn
Row 4 slip 1 p18 turn
Continue to work in this manner, working three more stitches at the center each row until all 40 stitches have been worked. Work eight rows in stockinette stitch. Starting on a right side row bind of 2 sts, repeat 9 times (ten rows total 20 sts). Bind off 3 sts at the beginning of next four rows, 8 sts remain, bind off.
For some helpful tips on short rows and wrapping look here and here

Brim Assembly:
*note some pictures are from the assembly of the brim for my hat hence the different yarn color.

So step one fold the brim in half:
 I pinned the brim on a piece of paper and traced it before I took it to the cool whip container. Be sure to actually stretch your knitting when you pin it, you don't want your knitting to sag when you sew it around the brim. This is the tracing I got:
 I took the shaky outline and drew a smoother one just inside it small enough that the yarn would be able to be sewn over it. I cut out on the smooth line, folded it in half and trimmed it to make it symmetrical. Then I pined it to the cool whip container.
I traced my paper shape with sharpie
I'm pretty handy with knives and have had several art classes that relate to carving things, so I just carved this out with a box cutter. If you're not so steady of hand or experienced with knives I'd recommend scissors.
On my hat I could see a bit of the white from the plastic showing through my knitting so I covered the brim with electrical tape.
I used some stitch markers to pin my knitting around the hat brim

I used the tail from knitting it and started in the middle with a whip stitch. Here's the brim halfway sewn up
Unfortunately when I cast on I did not leave a long enough tail to sew up the other half of the brim, so I had to add an extra piece of yarn to do the other side.
This is the brim of my hat

Here's the brim of my boyfriend's hat, as you can see it's a good bit longer than mine.
The next step is pinning on the brim while that hat is on the wearer's head. My boyfriend loved this part, especially because it interfered with him watching the NFL draft.
He loves me enough, that with a few reservations he allowed me to sew the brim on while it was on his head.  The only problem that can about was that he kept futzing with the hat while I was sewing and it didn't quite come out like I had imagined (I wanted the bottom edge of the brim on the hat not on his forehead).

 At his request I tacked up the folded edge of the hat. Also note that the weird bulge at the back of the hat is because my curly haired boyfriend needs a haircut, not because my pattern does something weird.