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Old 03-20-2013, 01:04 PM   #1
butlersabroad
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FO - Watch Cap
After seeing all the lovely cardigans, jumpers and bags on here I almost didn't post this but we all have to start somewhere right? The back story to this is interesting too so bear with me!

Last September I was up North in Michigan and called in to a little farm shop that advertised wool, mainly Alpaca. The farm was a horse farm, but the "wool" lady was the mother of the owner and when she retired she moved up to the farm to help with the place and her two grandsons. A little bored she acquired three Alpacas and started to learn spinning (she (Betty) was already an accomplished knitter), and opened up her little store in the old dairy. Quite by chance she was offered six Icelandic Sheep. Northern Michigan has a lot of farms, mainly fruit and vegetables but the economy locally has been hit hard for a couple of years. Last Spring was unseasonably warm (80F in March), followed by a severe cold snap, followed by a summer drought, anything that survived the cold snap (fruit blossom) succumbed to the drought. A lot of farmers lost their land because of this and this is how Betty ended up getting the Icelandic for free as they needed someone to take care of them. Because of the previous owner's hardship he had not kept up their vet care, all six were in lamb but they were all in a pretty bad way. Betty saved the sheep (a lot of vet bills!) but only three lambs were born live. So she now has a little herd of three Alpacas and nine Icelandic sheep. We were there well over an hour chatting, and I met the sheep, the alpacas were too shy, but I met Celia (Icelandic) who provided some of the wool I bought.

So, the hat..... 50% black Alpaca, 50% Icelandic Sheep, shorn and cleaned at source and carded and hand spun by Betty herself. It was a little rough to work with in places, it would occasionally go from thick to thin but I got on with it OK overall. It was very hard to finish due to the variation of the stitches and the yarn when I was trying to decrease, plus there was no real give in the wool. I ended up with very painful hands and a couple of cramped fingers! Plus I was glad I had used metal dpns, I know I would have broken my bamboo ones on those last few decreases, no doubt about it.



I added the red stripes as I knew I wasn't going to have quite enough of the main wool, as it turned out I could have made the thick stripe a bit thinner, but I didn't know that at the time. That wool was also from Betty, she'd been practicing dying techniques on Rowan 100% wool and then sold the large skeins of them for $10 just to get them out of her way!! The pattern was a simple K1, P1 rib and was in a book by Judith Durant.

And hubby must have liked it as he was wearing it this morning.... in the house... with his pj's on.... at 6:30am!! I left for work then and left him to it!!

The flash has bleached out the colour a bit, I'll try and get a better picture to add.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:17 PM   #2
GrumpyGramma
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Great hat and great story to go with it. I like the rustic look of the hand spun wool. Thanks for sharing the photo of your very well done hat and the story that goes with it. I needed a good heart-warming post and you gave it to me.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:44 PM   #3
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That's a beautiful hat and I also like the rustic look! Great back story!!
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:05 PM   #4
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Great hat! So glad you had enough wool to finish it. It would have been difficult to match to another batch, I imagine.

Thanks for sharing the story behind it; how very sad that many people are losing their land because of the drought. I guess that's one good thing here in Texas--we're kinda used to droughts (at least more so than some who get rain much more frequently).
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:18 PM   #5
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It looks fabulous! You did a great job on it. Hats can be a real pain sometimes to fit the wearer and you were dead on. Enjoy what you knit and don't worry about what others post. We love to see everyone's projects, or at least I do!
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by nonny2t View Post
It looks fabulous! You did a great job on it. Hats can be a real pain sometimes to fit the wearer and you were dead on. Enjoy what you knit and don't worry about what others post. We love to see everyone's projects, or at least I do!
ditto
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Old 03-20-2013, 03:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by nonny2t View Post
It looks fabulous! You did a great job on it. Hats can be a real pain sometimes to fit the wearer and you were dead on. Enjoy what you knit and don't worry about what others post. We love to see everyone's projects, or at least I do!
Agreed! I make lots of hats. They are an easy take along project and good to experiment with design on. I'm doing a project now to see how many hats I can get out of 4 skeins of Plymouth Encore. I'm on my 7th hat now.

The majority of what I make goes to charity. DH took them to the college ceramics dept. where he takes classes and volunteers. Many kids just took one, but a bunch paid for some. I ended up getting about $75 last year!

As for size... Hats are stretchy and fit almost every one. The vast majority are worsted weight so I just cast on 80 with US 7 needles and work about the length of my hand (6.5") depending on the pattern. Then I decrease. With my natural gauge this works fine.

I'll be posting FO's of them all soon.
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:58 PM   #8
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Beautiful hat and a great use of this lovely yarn. You did very well by Betty who might like to see the end product of her alpacas, sheep and hand spinning. Thanks for the story to go with. Well done!
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Old 03-20-2013, 05:59 PM   #9
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I agree! Beautiful hat and the fact it was all produced right there on the farm makes for a great story with a happy ending. I really like the yarn alot. I will try a hat someday. I've only finished 2 things so far as I'm new to knitting but practice, practice, practice!
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Old 03-20-2013, 06:25 PM   #10
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I love the hat! Everything about it! Great story along with it, too!
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