Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Midsummer in Winter

There must be some keen knitters at BBC Radio 4 to come up with the idea of a knitting challenge to cheer up the grey days of January.  I certainly hope it does have a general cheering effect, it's certainly got knitters in a flurry.

The challenge is to knit an item that references R4, anything from bits of radio equipment, to characters and journalists, or even whole programs.  Now you might be forgiven for thinking that my new year's resolution to knit from stash this year, including a pair of socks a month, is quite enough for one body but how could I resist?  So I reposted the R4 Facebook plea on my timeline and asked my friends for suggestions.

The one I liked best was "Gardeners Question Time" based on the lines from A Midsummer's Night's dream

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine
with sweet musk roses and eglantine

And so I give you the Midsummer (in Winter) Hat

kindly modelled by TLM (who was wearing a high pony tail today)

This is how I set about making it

A dive into my stash for some suitable colours (in Drops alpaca), my book shelves for books on colour work and the internet for some photographs of the five flowers I need to represent.

 I decided that the thyme was well enough represented in words  and that I would knit woodbine (honeysuckle) and eglantine (dog-rose) in stranded colour work and oxlip (cowslip), musk-rose and violet in 3D

A bit of planning with pencil and paper

The lettering template is a free Ravelry download, the pictures from google images and my lovely notebook with squared ruling is by Clairefontaine the brilliant French exercise book company

Some messy swatching
The hat is for TLM so I needed a slightly smaller head circumference than my own and the stitch count needed to allow for the repeats in the flower motifs.  However perfunctory, swatching is a must when winging a design.  I got 30 stitches to 10cm with the Drops Alpaca 4 ply on a 2.75mm needle.  As always with such a simple shape (a tube sewn at the top into three points) I planned to go off piste for the most part but these are the instructions I gave myself

  • Cast on 126 stitches and join in the round (I knit in the round with two shortish cable needles but the hat is just as easily knitted in magic loop fashion or with DPNs)
  • Knit 2 cm in K
  • 4 rounds P
  • 1 cm in K1P1 rib
  • 4 rounds P
  • 2 rounds K
  • knit the words the wild thyme blows over 10 rounds K (filling in the space at the end of the words with little flowers)
  • 2 rounds K
  • 4 rounds P
  • 2 rounds K
  • Knit the woodbine (honeysuckle) pattern over 15 rounds K

  • 2 rounds K
  • 4 rounds P
  • 2 rounds K
  • knit the words I know a bank where over 10 rounds K (filling in the space at the end of the words with dots)
  • Knit the eglantine (dog rose) pattern over 15 rounds (I know that gardeners question time listeners will tell me the flower has 5 petals but knitters may agree with me that five is a tricky number in stranded colour work!)
  • 2 rounds K
  • 4 rounds P
  • 4 rounds K
  • cast off
  • sew cast off edges together to make three points
  • knit three flowers (Oxlips, voilets and musk-rose) and sew one to the end of each section

a bit baggy and bumpy

It is better when knitting in two colours to keep the work a little too loose than too tight.  It looks bumpy at this stage but it will even out when soaked and blocked

close-ups of the flowery top-knot

The flower stems are i-cords and the leaves and flowers are a combination of crochet and knitting.  I consulted the flower patterns in Knitted Edgings & Trims then rather heavily adapted them and the crochet petals of the (over large) violet and cowslip I made up as I went along