Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Harriet's Tam

As you may recall, I am an avid fan of Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. One of my favorite programs is from the late '80s, the Dorothy L. Sayers mystery series set in England circa 1930. In the  *Have His Carcase* episode, the heroine, mystery novelist Harriet Vane, comes across a body on the beach while on a walking tour of England's west country. The body is about to be washed away by the tide. Harriet and the body are miles from a telephone, town and other people. Before the body is lost, quick thinking Harriet quickly collects some evidence and snaps a few pictures to prove what she found. Who is this unidentified victim and who is his  murderer? How does Miss Vane become a suspect in this mystery? You will have to read the book or watch the film to find out.

Harriet Vane's no-nonsense style and adventurous spirit are the inspiration behind my newest pattern: Harriet's Tam.  It is a classic beret with no-nonsense features. Worked in the round from the bottom up, this tam features a garter stitch rim and stockinette stitch body with swirl of decreases on the crown. On top, is a small loop created with an i-cord.

Harriet's Tam is available in two sizes: women's small/medium and women's large/extra large. The one in the photographs is the larger size (to accommodate my 22.5" head). Depending on the size of head, the smaller size may fit a child too. The smaller size fits both my mother and my daughter! There is plenty of stretch in this rim and it should easily fit up to 2" larger than the finished circumference measurements.

My tam was knit using Rowan Felted Tweed DK. This design was screaming to be knit up in an English tweedy yarn. After all, my inspiring protagonist was hiking in the English countryside. The beauty of this yarn is that although it is soft and quite warm, it is also light weight.  I'd love to see this hat made in a denser heavier yarn such as a Donegal tweed or even knit in a tonal dyed yarn like Madelinetosh Tosh DK?

This tam will be a staple in your hand-knit collection - one that you will reach for again and again, never going out of style.

Playing with Yarn

I am a stay-at-home-mom. Therefore, I have ample opportunity to play all day long with my kiddos: building towers out of blocks, coloring with crayons, racing cars through the dinning room, dressing dolls, reading books, creating forts... you get the picture.  But when the kids are down for a nap, I get some much needed me-time. And how do I spend that time? Well, after pouring a cup of hot tea and wasting way too much time on Facebook and email, I then pull out my knitting basket and play with yarn.

The inspiration for my latest pattern, Colorblock Mittens, came about when I dumped a big bag of partial skeins of bulky weight yarn onto my bed. The majority of my stash is made up of partial skeins of this and that. Some yarns are easy to use up, others not so much. There are many beautiful patterns on Ravelry for using up extra sock yarn like The Bee Keeper's Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits. And Susan B. Anderson has an enormous amount of darling toys to help you de-stash some of those worsted weight skeins (I am in love with her latest doll trio: Mary, Millie and Morgan). The trouble was that I had a few too many partial skeins of bulky weight yarn (namely, Quince and Co.'s Puffin). That got me thinking...

And here is what I came up with...

The Colorblock Mittens pattern actually includes TWO patterns: one for full mittens with three blocks of color and one for fingerless mitts with two blocks of color. It comes in a full range of sizes from children's medium (think kindergartener) to men's small. Originally I had intended to write this pattern only for adults, but then Emma caught me knitting with hot pink and that led to this...

So now Emma and I have matching mother-daughter mittens. I think my heart just skipped a beat!

I am really looking forward to seeing all sorts of different color combinations and yarn choices for these mittens. The women's small mittens used about 28 yards of each of the three colors (Chanterelle, Winesap, Sorbet). Emma's mittens, which were children's medium, used about 17 yards each of the same three colors. If you don't have quite enough yarn to make the mittens, then try the fingerless mitts.

Knit in Storm and Peacoat.

Can you see the steam coming from the mug? It was piping hot. I swear if I were not wearing these mitts I would have burned my hands.


Well there you have it. If you ask me (and of course I am biased), but I think $3.95 is a pretty good deal for two patterns. So get knitting!