Recently, a knitter wrote to me, saying “Mary Ann, I’m thrilled with my Two Strands Headband- thanks! You’ve turned me into a real stranded knitting nut! What can I knit next that won’t be too challenging, but will help to develop my skills further?”
The headband she knit (it’s a free pattern here on the blog) has a short, uniform repeat with no long floats and no shaping, so it’s an ideal stranded knitting starting point. I think her next level in building some mad stranded knitting skills should focus on two things: simple shaping and irregular motifs. I’ve just designed two new “next level” projects that will hopefully lead new stranded knitting nuts a bit further up the ladder.
The Macadamia Hat has very simple shaping atop and a decidedly less-uniform motif below. So, the chart work definitely requires a bit more attention, but it’s easy to focus on each new aspect entirely, since the shaping and color work areas are separate. There are a few things I especially love about this hat: The motif is a little unusual – a bit quirky, rather nutty (yes, like me!) The gauge is a bit heavier than what I usually use for my stranded work, but the Hegre takes to colorwork nicely and rewards me with an FO in no time! Last, but not least, I am madly in love with this wonderful, huggable, new Hegre. It’s so soft, I was certain it must have a fair dose of cashmere or alpaca in it; imagine my delight as I read the ballband: “100% pure new wool”! If I have my way, you’ll be seeing a lot more in Hegre from me soon!
One of the things I love about more irregular, organic motifs like this is that the pesky, end-of-the-round jog that drives me nuts with geometric motifs nearly disappears here. The hat as worn was photographed with the end of the round showing, but far less than usual, dead center.
* * * * *
The North Star Hat combines some simple shaping with simultaneous chart work, yet the motifs are traditional, old favorites that are easy to track. As soon as I completed the one you see here, my rowdy boys were clamoring for North Star Hats of their own, so I guess we can call them “unisex”, too.
I’m hoping they’ll both make great “next step” projects…and awesome gifts… for any stranded knitting nut…or their nutty friends and family:
I knit the boys’ must-be-machine-washable hats in Dale of Norway Freestyle yarn – again, just 2 50g balls total; 1 each of 2 contrasting colors.
There are three sizes within each design – youth, average adult and extra large adult – the different sizes are achieved simply through different gauges. Let me know if you have any further questions. Happy knitting!