Sunday, May 21, 2023

The hiatus hat

My hobby has caught up to me: I love to knit, and as I typed this, I accidentally typed “I live to knit” at first, and that’s pretty telling. I started about 18 years ago, and after doing it almost daily for over ten years, I’ve got carpal tunnel syndrome. Time using a computer mouse, working on the backend of my business or just doing things for fun, made things worse. 

Let me back up a bit to recap what happened in the previous months. There are small projects I knit, such as another Baby Fair Isle Cardigan with two skeins of Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby DK Yarn in Grey and some pink yarns and buttons from my stash. 

After that, I used a skein of yarn gifted to me by my mother-in-law. She lives in British Columbia, and there’s a local-to-her business called Wild West Dye that makes naturally dyed yarns. She gifted me 100 grams of bulky weight yarn in Firestar, which is a red colorway that I really loved. This yarn is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. It was a joy to work with! It rekindled something in me, because it had been over 10 years since I had worked with bulky yarn – the one with which I learned the craft in the first place. 

I looked up patterns to use up that skein and decided to make the Red Herring Reversible Beanie, coincidentally created by someone local-to-me. I actually had to buy 15 mm circular needles and 9 mm circular needles for this because I didn’t own any that were big enough – I did have a pair of 9 mm, but they were straight needles and therefore not appropriate. After knitting my swatch, I adjusted for gauge (buying more and more needles wasn’t an option), and I love the result! It’s a beautiful herringbone on one side, and ridges on the other, so the hat can be worn either way. 

The only downside to that yarn is that it’s losing some fuzz and I’m afraid it’ll felt, but oh well, so be it. Even though it’s a one-ply yarn, it didn’t break when I was frogging and working it up again, so there’s that.

 As I was looking for hat patterns, though, I had come across a photo of the Everyday Hygge Hat insuch a beautiful colorway that I just had to buy both the pattern and a skein of Malabrigo Noventa Yarn in Anniversario. (I also bought yarn for a third hat, which I will reveal later. The fact that I live in a climate where I only rarely need a hat is but a small detail and I won’t let it stop me.) And I bought some 8 mm circular needles – I was happy to try the SmartStix model I’d been hearing about for so long! 

I started knitting this hat and, after two days (just when I had reached the end of the ribbing pattern), my right wrist gave me some sharp pains. So I took a hiatus from knitting to rest my wrist, even though I still had to spend a day making a panda cake. My wrist got so much worse overnight that I had to make my way to urgent care on the weekend, where I was given a splint and a prescription for painkillers. (I wasn’t even able to fill the latter because I had asked for a prescription for a liquid version, but it turned out that my insurance only covered the pill as the difference in price was exponential. It took a while for a doctor to change the prescription to the pill after I had given my assent, but even then they made a mistake and gave me 10 doses instead of the 100 originally prescribed, so I’ve been hoarding those pills for the next time.) A hand therapist gave me the all-clear to resume normal activities, but did not recommend any exercises or modification of knitting technique, so I guess I’ll be looking for another physical therapist at some point. It turns out that the symptoms I’d been bringing up with my PCP for the past two years, which she had brushed off, were in fact early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Anyway, knitting at my normal speed and without any frogging, this would have taken me three evenings. In addition to the carpal tunnel break, I also took some time to get the end right – I originally had knit 17 rows after the tip of the front-side pattern before decreasing, and that didn’t leave me with quite enough yarn. So I frogged it and knit 15 rows, which left me with a bit too much yarn, and I frogged again and knit 16 rows before decreasing, which was just right. 

Finally, since the Engineer’s youngest cousin just had a baby named Zelda, I had time to knit a Multiflora cardigan. The mom-to-be said she gravitated toward greens and purples rather than pinks, so I found a few options I liked. The Fox helped me with the final color choice and we settled on Madelinetosh Pashmina Yarn in Lost In Trees. (The photo that shows the colorway truest to life is the first.)

It's a bottom-up cardigan, made in size 9mo. I didn’t have enough yarn to make the matching hat, but at least I didn’t run out while making the cardigan! If I had to do it over again, I would knit the sleeves first, because that would be fewer ends to weave in – you would just graft them on when you got to the arm holes, instead of having to break the yarn at that point to knit sleeves separately. I also found that the buttonholes were a bit too loose for my liking, even though they are only one stitch wide (but the bigger button were too big for the button band, so there’s a chance this cardigan will just stay open). Still, I really loved the delicate floral pattern!

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