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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sue's Chemo Hat Completed

Sue's hat is finally done, I hope she likes it. It is the Knitpicks Chemo Hat. I just need to find an envelope so I can send it to her. I also need her mailing address. I asked Rob but he didn't have it. Will check with Karen as I think she visited Sue recently; she is one of the most organized people I know. While I'm getting this one ready to send to Sue, I will also get the Branching Out scarf ready to send to my midwife. I meant to send it to her last month but haven't gotten around to it yet. Things move slowly in this house, especially with a "high needs" baby around. I couldn't go to the post office last week because of all the rain. I'm hoping there'll be a sunny day (ok, I'll settle for a non-rainy day) this week so I can walk over there. Mobility is limited with baby it tow.

The picture above doesn't really capture the actual shape of the hat because of the unusual shape of the model's head. You can get a better idea of the shape from the first Knitpicks Chemo Hat I made; that one is going to the UCSF Oncology Center. The model in these pictures is my baby girl's Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Puppy which she received for Christmas. She's still warming up to it. I don't know if she likes "noisy" toys, but I do know that the lights (on the bone) catch her attention. She squeals at this toy.

I love the swirls on top of hats. This one is especially pretty. It's hard to see on such dark yarn, it looks similar to the other Knitpicks Chemo Hat I made in lighter green yarn.

I learned something recently about chemo hats from a breast cancer chemo patient since last May who is on her third chemo treatment. She told me that losing hair is a real trauma along with everything else and that most people don't even want their families to see them bald, at home, in bed, or wherever, at first. She suggested making chemo hats out of cotton or lighter weight yarn that can be worn indoors as well. That's good to know! I hadn't considered this before.

Yarn: Austermann Peru sport weight yarn, 70% Baby Alpaca/ 30% Fine Merino Wool, color Juniper (75 m / 81 yds; 25 gm / 0.88 oz)

Needles: US3 (3.25mm)


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sue's Chemo Hat Started

I've started another Knitpicks Chemo Hat with Austermann Peru in Juniper, a very soft yarn made of 70% baby alpaca and 30% fine merino wool. I'm hoping to make this hat with 2 balls of yarn, but that may be cutting it close, so it may require 3 balls. This hat is for Sue; we used to work for the same Big Five, er... I mean Big Four accounting firm. I'm hoping to finish this hat and get it to her before they turn into the Big Three. :)

I hope Sue doesn't mind that this is a "hand wash, dry flat" yarn. That's the thing about yarn ... softness is almost always inversely proportional to care, and most natural fiber yarns are hand wash. I picked up this yarn from Elann. I'd love to get more but they are down to one ball left in inventory and it's in yellow. I guess I'll have to go to eBay if I want to find more, there's always somebody on eBay selling this yarn.

Knitting this hat seems a little easier the second time around. The 4-row Short Row Shaping sequence seems a little easier since I already did it 6 times on the previous hat. Sorry no pictures of the hat, too exhausted at the moment. And by the time I get the pictures downloaded to the computer and then uploaded here, the hat will have already been completed! Stay tuned for a picture of the hat... I expect to have it finished within a few days.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Chemo Hat #6 Completed - Knitpicks Chemo Hat

Here's another hat for the UCSF Oncology Center. This Knitpicks Chemo Hat is really cute. It even looks cute when I put it on my baby girl, although the hat is too large for her. Yes, I like trying on the hats on her, she even looked cute with Chemo Hat #3 on her. :) DH says she looks like a "mushroom" with this hat on. She never sits still long enough for me to take a picture of her wearing these hats though.

This yarn is pretty soft for 100% acrylic, I think anyone who is bald should have no problems wearing this against their skin. The hat is lightweight, so the hat doesn't sag or fall off the head. I have some yarn leftover, but not enough to make another Knitpicks Chemo Hat, I'll have to see if I can get another ball to make a second hat. While knitting this hat, I learned how to make a non-YO increase. I did a M1F increase for the very first time. It wasn't so bad. The pattern specifically states the backward loop method of increasing. I decided to go for the M1F method since the backward loop sounded much slower to execute.

Yarn: Lana Moro Brushed Super Soft 3 yarn, 3-ply sport weight, color 7440, lot 717 (14 oz/40 gm, 140 yds)

Needles: US3 (3.25mm)
Cast on 104 stitches, increased to 130 stitches after ribbing


Friday, December 23, 2005

Chemo Hat #6 Started

I started the Knitpicks Chemo hat using some green brushed acrylic sport weight yarn. This yarn is pretty soft. It takes a long time to cast on 104 stitches. I counted numerous times to make sure I had 104 stitches before starting the K2P2 ribbing. Knitting so many stitches using sport weight yarn takes forever... you knit so many stitches and get so little mileage compared to knitting with worsted weight. This hat is going to take me longer to finish. After doing the K2P2 ribbing section, I increased to 130 stitches. Hey, that's a lot of stitches!

I've completed three sections of the Short Row Shaping Sequence. I can't figure out why I have loose stitches in the second and third sections when I know I pull tightly on my stitches near the marker. I think it has something to do with how the Short Row Shaping Sequence works. You knit to almost the end, turn, purl back to almost the end, turn, knit back to marker, etc.... and in that process, there is one stitch/column that doesn't get knitted during that back & forth sequence.

This yarn is pretty soft but has a bit of fuzz/halo around it so it "sticks" together, making it very difficult to tink back, which I have had to do when I made mistakes. I have a hard time keeping my place in the 4-row Short Row Shaping Sequence because I can't always finish it all at once. When I pick it up again, I forget where I am and usually end up turning where I shouldn't, nevermind that the marker is supposed to tell me where I am in the round.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Chemo Hat #5 Completed

I really enjoy working on all these chemo hats, they're a lot of fun to work on. I think about what I'll do with the next hat as I am working on the current one. I keep coming up with all these wonderful ideas to try for future hats and wish I coud knit faster so I can start up all those WIMs (WIM=Works in Mind). Chemo Hat #5 is a little different, featuring a fold up cuff/brim with some cable detail. I'm pretty slow at working cables. I also find that the tips of my fingers get sore when I work on too many cables, it has something to do with how I work with the cable needle and how I use my fingertips to push off the knitting needles. This time I used a Brittany Birch cable needle which is infinitely better than using the metal "J" shaped one I used to use. Yarns tended to slip off the metal one. I didn't have to worry as much about this happening with the birch cable needle. I don't think I'll go back to using the metal one.

I've discovered that I don't know how to count. I casted on 84 stitches, and even counted them twice before I started knitting. However I got to the end of the 5th row (cable row) and was one stitch short. Doh!
(Must be a combination of "Mommy Brain" and lack of sleep.) Well that won't work. I had to frog the entire thing and start over. Sigh. At least I joined the round both times without twisting the stitches.

This hat is pretty snug due to the cables in the brim. Cables tend to "compress" the knitting a bit. The non-brim portion of the hat is a bit "looser", but it stays in place because of the brim. This hat looks cute on me, and it feels very warm because it is essentially a double layer all around the sides. I like how the yarn gathers up at the top. I started the cable brim section using US8 needles, then switched to US7 for a tighter body. This didn't work out as expected because I had forgotten how cables tend to compress knitting. Next time I will either try downsizing to US6 needles or decreasing the number of stitches to 72.

Fold up brim type hats such as this one, and the stretchy fold up brim/watch cap types like the green baby cable rib hat and the blue marsan watch cap, tend to use a lot more yarn. Of all the chemo hats I've made so far, this one has used the most yarn, nearly 4 ounces of worsted weight yarn!

I'm going to look through Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns #1 & #2 for cable patterns to use in making another hat similar to this one.

Yarn: worsted weight yarn in pink
Needles: US7 (4.5mm) and US8 (5mm)
Cast on 84 stitches


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Chemo Hat #4 Completed

Since I don't have anyone to model my hats, it is being modeled by my Pottery Barn "office" bowl propped up by some Rubbermaid containers.

Chemo Hat #4 is finished. Although it was repetitive K1P1 ribbing, it was a nice change to do a right twist on the Knit stitches instead of doing plain K1P1 ribbing, however any type of ribbing is slow going compared to doing stockinette stitch. I took this hat with me when I went out, knitting a little as I nursed my baby in the Nordstrom ladies lounge. There was one time when there were three other women feeding their babies. Two women were breastfeeding, and the other one was using formula. It's nice to see other women breastfeeding, it makes me feel like I'm not the only one doing it. I love how the ribbing in the decrease matches up with the ribbing on the rest of the hat, very nice! It looks pretty from the top. The hat is stretchy so it will fit snugly.

Yarn: worsted weight yarn in blue
Needles: US7 (4.5mm)
Cast on 72 stitches

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blanket for Baby Jack

We've discovered that some friends are expecting a baby boy on or around April 15, 2006 ... wow, what a day to be born if he's on time! I've started a baby blanket for Baby Jack. I couldn't decide which pattern to use for the blanket. I was thinking of using the
Baby Fern Stitch since it looks lovely and is a quick knit. I was also toying with the idea of using Vine Lace from BW#1 pg 218, which looks like an even quicker knit. A while back I was interested in doing the Pinwheel Blanket, however I've decided that doing all that stockinette stitch will be way too B-O-R-I-N-G...

In the end, I eventually decided to make the same
blanket I made for Marisa last January. Oh my, casting on 240 stitches takes forever! As I was knitting the first row of the pattern, the number of stitches didn't work out in the end ... I thought I counted wrong when I cast on my stitches. I was afraid I would have to frog it and re-cast on 240 stitches. Fortunately, I "read" my knitting and saw where I made a mistake in the pattern, lost my place by skipping a few stitches in the pattern. So all I needed to do was tink back about 50 stitches (slow process with lace!) and correct it. All was right after that. Yay!

I discovered a US7 needle shortage after starting this blanket. Not the first time though. I had already picked up 2 new US7 needles a couple weeks ago so I could work on chemo hats in the round. After I started the blanket, I discovered that I no longer had a pair of US7 needles to start my next hat! I have one 40" US7 needle on my Flower Basket Shawl, another 32" US7 needle on a basketweave scarf. I had been using 32" and 29" US7 needles for hats this past week; then I used the 32" US7 needle for the blanket, which left me with one single 29" US7 needle. Doh! I fixed the problem by taking the basketweave scarf off its needles, and using that 32" US7 needle (along withthe 29" needle) for my next hat.

Since this blanket will take me a long time to knit, my goal is to knit at least one row per day or about 8-10 inches per month. Hopefully that will help me get it done by April. :) It will be slow going. This yarn is more slippery than the hat yarns, so I have to be very careful not to let any stitches fall off the needle. I'm guessing that this blanket will be about 48 to 49 inches wide. Not sure how long it will be until it's done...


Chemo Hat #4 with a right twist

Chemo Hat #4 is sort of a watch cap type hat in that it has ribbing and a fold up brim. This is the picture of the Wrong Side of the fold up brim (the bottom part in the picture); the Right Side consits of K1P1 ribbing with a right twist in each of the Knit stitches. There is a subtle difference compared to plain K1P1 ribbing. You can kinda sorta see the right twists in the four rounds at the top, which is part of the Right Side body of the hat. Did I just confuse you?

I discovered that joining a round is not something I can do while nursing. I ended up twisting my stitches.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Chemo Hat #3 Completed

This Chemo Hat was fun to knit, but with any lace knitting it required a lot of concentration. I was unable to knit this while nursing my baby; I'd end up making mistakes, losing YOs, etc.

It was really hard to get a picture of this hat. The first picture I took (below) didn't do it justice; this was the best "focused" picture I could manage and it turned out blurry. I don't know what it is... something about the red color and lighting. My camera just couldn't focus. I tried taking another picture several days later, and this picture (above) looks much better. I guess the white background helped? I still couldn't get the camera to focus for a better closeup shot of the pattern. I should mention that these pictures doesn't show the true color of the hat. I have never been very good at getting the colors to come out in my photos. It seems my photos turns out out of focus without Macro mode, however the color is more true. And my photos are more in focus with Macro mode, but the color is sometimes a bit off. Unfortunately with this red hat, I was neither able to get it in focus nor able to get the color to come out right. :(

This hat is so pretty, I think I'm gonna make one for myself... :) The pattern is reminiscent of the Horseshoe lace pattern which you can find in BW#1 pg 209.

Yarn: Worsted Weight yarn in Red
Needles: US6 (4mm)
Cast on 83 stitches


Chemo Hat #2 Completed - Baby Cable Rib

Here is a picture of Chemo Hat #2, a Baby Cable Rib hat. It's nice and stretchy so this should fit people who wear Small or Medium; you can fold it up as much or as little as you want. I really enjoyed doing this pattern. It's easy to pick up from any point because it's easy to "read" the pattern and figure out when I need to do the cabling. The cabling helped break the monotony of doing K2P2 ribbing. And this hat is easy enough to knit while nursing my baby. I even took it with me when I went out. :)

Here's a picture from the top:

Here is a close up of the pattern:

Yarn: Worsted Weight yarn in Green
Needles: US7 (4.5mm)
Cast on 88 stitches


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chemo Hat #1 Completed - Nautilus Hat

Enfin c'est fini! I am so glad this hat is finally done. I frogged it 6 times; it gets old recasting-on so many times. I measured the circumference of the hat and estimate it to be a Ladies Large size hat. This is the first of several hats that will make their way to the UCSF Oncology Center. I'm trying to crank out as many as I can before Christmas, but I am a very slow knitter so they will get done when they get done. :)

I really like the how the top of this hat looks. Isn't it pretty? Of course the top will only be noticeable if someone short wears it, LOL.

Yarn: Pink mystery 10 WPI yarn

Needles: US6 (4 mm)
Crown increase up to 90 stitches


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Chemo Hat #1 Version 6

Can you believe it? I've cast on this hat 6 times already! Hopefully this will be the last time.

Here is a picture of Version 1. It looks fine from the top. What isn't immediately obvious is how BIG this hat is ... it's so large that it can fit Madame Olympe Maxime! It's hard to measure the circumference (especially with the SS rolling up on the ends) but I think it's 24 inches or more. Someone pointed out that 24 inches is even too big for a man, "even if his head is swollen," and that a woman's chemo hat should be in the 19 to 21 range.

I worked the crown increase up to 110 stitches. I probably should have stopped at 90 stitches, but at the time I just wasn't sure whether the hat was large enough! The hat looked more "platter" shaped than "bowl" shaped. I was afraid the hat won't be snug enough.

Here is the side view of the large hat next to my Tivo remote so you can get an idea of the size. It's really not a very good picture for showing how large the hat really is though. While knitting the hat, it just looks and feels more flat than bowl shaped, I kept wondering when it will start
looking like a hat. In this picture, there is a rolled up towel underneat to give it more of a hat shape. Without it the hat will just look like a flat hat.

I ended up ripping out this hat and starting over. Unfortunately, I ended up re-casting on 5 more times because I would knit anywhere up to a dozen rounds before making a mistake requiring me to frog the whole thing again. (sigh) Of course it didn't help that 3 of those times were in the car; I guess I don't knit as well in a moving vehicle. Hopefully this 6th version will make it to the bind off.

This is the top view of Version 6. It has a slightly smaller radius than Version 1, and it feels more "hat" shaped as I am knitting it:

Here is the side view of Version 6. I need to knit about another inch of the pattern, then I can begin the last 1 inch of Seed Stitch.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Chemo hat #1 cast on

I've cast on my first Chemo Hat using mystery pink acrylic yarn. I measured the yarn; it came out to 10 WPIs ... I figure it's somewhere between a heavier DK weight and a lighter medium Worsted Weight yarn. I was thinking of using US7 (4.5mm) needles but did not have any available, so I cast on using two US6 (4mm) needles instead because I thought the hat might not be warm enough if I used US8 (5mm) needles.

Nautilus hat is knitted from the top down. The picture above shows the top (crown) of the hat. I love the swirls the YOs make. The pattern calls for Paco yarn. I'm not sure what weight this yarn is and the link on the website no longer exists. As a result I am not sure I can follow the pattern as is and increase to the number of stitches specified. I may need to tweak it a bit for sizing.

I've learned something new while knitting this hat. One row of the pattern ends with a YO. I stopped knitting after working such a row, put the hat in a tote bag, and then picked it up again later to continue knitting the next row. I discovered I lost a stitch on each needle because the YOs fell off while in the tote bag. Doh! I had to go back and fix that. Now I have to remember to only put down this hat after I have completed one of the knit completely across (viz. no YOs) rows.