Hogwarts House Mascot Hats

So let’s talk about double-sided knitting.

Pros:

  • Two sides means double warm
  • Two hats in one
  • Fashion versatility
  • Multi-color knitting without floats

Cons

  • Takes twice as long
  • Casting on can be annoying
  • Decreasing and increasing is harder
  • Dropping a stitch is harder to fix

In short double-sided knitting is harder, but if you get the hang of it, it’s very rewarding. This sort of knitting is especially useful when it comes to scarves and sweaters. If you’ve never tried it before this is a pretty handy video. Like so much of knitting, it’s a technique that’s quicker to learn than it is to master.

 

Zev Hurwich 8231.JPG

 

So let’s say you now know how to knit double-sided what should you make? My first project was a design of my own. As a proud Hufflepuff I wanted something that’s stylish and also has a badger. The two colors of the houses, and simplicity of the mascots make these great projects to test this new skill.

I want to keep this first post short and sweet, and get to the most important part the pattern. Click the link below to download the pdf.

House Mascot Hat

Corin and the Values of Sheep

Sir I am a true labourer: I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness, glad of other men’s good, content with my harm, and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck.
— William Shakespeare, As You Like It III.ii
Zev Hurwich 8151.JPG

In this scene Corin, the shepherd, is talking to Touchstone, a jester who has fled the court and is living in the forest of Arden. This play is very much about the juxtaposition of the ‘civilized’ court versus the ‘simple’ and often wild forest. Here we see two side characters chatting about this very topic, and comparing the morality of the wild to the ways of the court. I won’t include the entirety of the of this exchange here, but if you want to see some truly excellent wordplay you should really give it a look.

Touchstone is running verbal rings around a poor and slightly confused Corin. He seems to damn the ways of the woods, but the clever audience knows he is actually indicting the manners of court. Corin cannot make sense of this, and so cuts through the clever BS by stating is simple yet powerful philosophy. It’s one that speaks to on a very deep level, and indeed goes to the very heart of why I picked up knitting in the first place.

Corin takes pride in his labor. He takes pride in the things he makes, and he takes pride in the work he does. Like Corin I love making things myself. Whether it’s food, or sweaters, or beer, or anything really, I take immense pleasure in having things I made. Part of that is of course the control you have when you do it yourself. You can get things just the way you like it. But this isn’t the greater part of it, because as anyone who knits knows, it never turns out exactly as you imagine. But this is often a true delight. This is how you get things you never knew you wanted, or maybe you don’t like the way it turned out. When that happens you have to fix it, and you learn and grow in the process.

Most of all though wearing something that you yourself made is just a great feeling. It’s like a hug you give yourself. Beyond the comfort of the fiber you can tangibly feel the labor and the effort you put into the piece. And it feels good.

Zev Hurwich 8143.JPG

 

This sweater was designed with the shepherd in mind. Its use of cables and its natural color remind one of the classic shepherd sweaters of the highlands. But it marries the classic cabling and texture with the classic argyle pattern to create something entirely new. It sits loose enough for comfort, but also allows you to wear any sort of shirt beneath it. The yarn is entirely natural animal hair with the Alpaca giving it a luxuriant softness, and the wool giving it warmth and structure. It’s definitely more at home in the forests of Arden, but you won’t get banished for wearing it at court.

 

You can download the pattern here: Corin

As always the beautiful photos are courtesy of the ever-talented Stephen Mosher

Be sure to come back next week for more patterns, musings, and knitting goodness.

Kent, or the beauty of humility

Last summer was the summer of sweaters. Not wearing them of course, but knitting them. For some strange reason I knit up a storm, and so over the next few months I’ll be posting patterns here, along with the usual thoughts about design, knitting, yarn, etc.

The first sweater of the series is Kent. Why is it called Kent? I’ve decided that every sweater in this series will be named after a Shakespeare character (because I am a huge nerd), and this one is named after the Earl of Kent from King Lear. When I think of this week’s sweater I think of Kent, the man who said:

I do profess to be no less than I seem, to serve him truly
that will put me in trust, to love him that is honest, to
converse with him that is wise and says little, to fear
judgment, to fight when I cannot choose, and to eat no fish.
— Shakespeare, King Lear I.iv

 

This week’s sweater is a simple knit. The gauge and straightforward knitting techniques mean it won’t take you long to make. Yet as Kent teaches us, humility is its own sort of power.

If you’re not familiar with the story of King Lear, here are the very basics. Lear is a king entering the third act of his life, and looking to split his kingdom up among his daughters. He asks them, “Which of you shall we say doth love us most?” (King Lear I.i). His two eldest daughters (Goneril and Regan) wax poetic about how great and deep their love is for their father trying to one-up the other. His youngest, Cordelia, instead is honest and does nothing to embellish her feelings for Lear. For this he disowns her. When he does the Earl of Kent tries to stop Lear from doing irreparable harm to Cordelia and to Lear himself. Lear then banishes Kent. Once Lear gives up his power the people he thought loved him turn on him, and he loses everything.

Zev Hurwich 8089.JPG

In the scene which this quote comes from Kent returns to Lear in disguise. His goal is to serve the King whom he loves, to protect a man who has ruined his own life, and the lives of those who were loyal to him. Notice that even when he is deceiving Lear he never lies. He says “I am no less than I seem,” and indeed in this moment it doesn’t matter what his name or title is. What matters is what he is willing to do, and what his values are. Unlike Regan and Goneril he is interested in people who are honest, who say little, and who love someone who for their values.  By withholding his name, Kent can tell Lear who he is.

If you haven’t read King Lear (or haven’t read it in a while) you should go and read it. Without getting too much into the twists of the plot, one of the play’s themes is sight. What do we see, and how does that inform us or deceive us. What is blindness, what is sight? That’s something that we have to think about as human beings to be sure, but is a practical question when you design any form of clothing. A good design can divert the gaze of others, or it can reveal something. A friend and teacher of mine likes to say that we have two truths. An outer truth, the truth that other people see, and an internal truth, the truth of how we see ourselves. So to put this into those terms: clothing has the power to shape the outer truth, or to express an internal truth.

 

The power of this piece, and others like it, is that its humility is what allows it to express something internal. There’s nothing wrong with adornment, Shakespeare’s prose shows us that he’d agree with that, but if you want to get the core of something simplicity is often the best way. This cardigan is for the most-part stockinette stitch, the simplest stitch in knitting. But its one flourish is in the upper part, where it switches to Double Moss stitch, and front open up with a wide shawl collar. These elements focus the viewers attention to the face of the wearer and allow the sweater itself to fade into the background.

Zev Hurwich 8113.JPG

This kind of sweater works in service. It works in service of the wearer, and whatever clothing you’re wearing underneath. It’s great to have sweaters that show off your skill, that exist to be admired, if for no other reason besides the fact that you worked hard to make it, and your skills deserve a little love. But don’t underestimate the simple pieces, the ones that may seem boring. They are incredibly powerful, just in a different way.

So whether you’re just starting out knitting, or you’ve been at it for a while I hope you give this one a try. I’ve included the pattern in the link below, and now that I have access to InDesign you’re going to notice a marked improvement in the quality of the layout of these patterns. As before these stunning pictures are brought to you by the incomparable Stephen Mosher. Please come back next week for more knitting goodness, and possible Shakespearean rambles

Kent Cardigan

P.S. despite everything you can eat fish while wearing this sweater, if you want to.

Welcome!

After months of hemming and hawing, being too lazy to actually kickstart this, I finally have a website! 

That website has a blog, that I'll be trying to update monthly with new projects that I'm working on, and plenty of free patterns. I'll also be moving posts with patterns from my old blog to this one. 

Thanks so much for reading, and can't wait to see you back soon!