Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dr. B.'s First Bout of Intarsia: A Moose Hat review

If you were going to try knitting with two colors for the first time, you'd start with this, right? Of course you would. Everyone knows the moose is best known for its gentle temperament and easily-knitted shape, no?

For the Knitting Olympics earlier this year, I decided it would be a fun challenge to try intarsia. Or stranding. Or whatever it's called when you knit holding two different yarns at the same time. I'll spare you the technical details and just say that the challenge is, if you don't know what you're doing, it's very easy to turn the whole thing into a mess of puckers. Ergo, one should start with a small project like a headband.

I have a problem choosing first-time projects (see: very large crocheted afghan and baby quilt made of triangles). We know this much. But do we remember what we know? Well, no. And even though we employ the help of other people to help us remember what we know (because that's how the sane ones do it), sometimes other people also forget.

Case in point: I was sitting at my computer, looking at the Bea Ellis site.

ME (to my wasband): I want to learn intarsia for the Knitting Olympics, so I think I'm gonna make a headband. Do you think that'll be hard?
WASBAND (looking over my shoulder): What else is there?
ME: Well, there are headbands, (scrolling) and these hats, and--
WASBAND (enthusiastically, pointing): MAKE ME THAT MOOSE HAT! (then, more restrained but serious, puts his hand on my shoulder) You have to make me that Moose Hat.

Even though it looked complicated, I figured, "I might as well try. It is the Olympics. And, they don't call me 'How Hard Can It Be' Dr. B. for nothing." So, I ordered the kit.

(Note to self: To keep up appearances, get people to start calling you "How Hard Can It Be" Dr. B.)

What I've posted above is the photo of the Moose Hat from Bea Ellis's site. It is not a photo of my creation. Because, while it is true that (1) I finished in time to get the gold medal that you see in the sidebar, and (2) the moose does indeed have an easily-knittable shape, the resulting product was definitely a first-timer's hat. There's no need for a photo of that, really. It just shames us all. I think we can just leave it at "mess of puckers" and move on.

(There will always be opportunities to make things dirty here, won't there? Yes. Always.)

Anyway, the following may only be of interest to knitters. If you are not a knitter, feel free to keep reading. I'm not stopping you, just warning you. That's all.

Hello Yarn recommended the kits from Bea Ellis because the charts are really easy to read, and the yarn you need is great quality and the exact right amount you need. For those reasons, and because the Bea Ellis people were prompt and very helpful, I also highly recommend them for a first-time project of this kind.

There are only two very tiny things I'd say I wished were different:
(1) You have to order your yarn by color number; and, if you want to make the item using the same colorway shown, there's no way to know the corresponding yarn numbers. But, if you send an e-mail to them, they'll take care of that right away for you.

(2) The wool for the hats is itchy, so they include cotton yarn for a soft hem part that's hidden and keeps a person's widdle head from itching to high heaven. I'd never made a hem on a garment before, so I didn't really know what it was or how to do it. This was not their fault. But, there weren't clear instructions about the hem, so I had to do a little extra research to figure it out.

I will say those twisty things at the top were very fun to make. It took a little testing out to get the right number of strands of yarn for optimal thickness. But once I did, fun twisty times were had by all. And then I considered putting them on everything.

So, there you have it: my first intarsia experience. Will I go back? Only time (and my wasband's requests) will tell.


jen said...

Hey there "How Hard Can it Be" Dr. B :) That moose hat is adorable. I would consider making it for my uncle (he collects moose stuff) but I'm afraid of intarsia. I've been holding off doing the Pirate mitts from Hello Yarns for ages. Big chicken that I am. You may have inspired me....

Kristy said...

In line with your love of abbreviating, does this mean that we now need to address you as HHCIBDB?

The moose looks complicated. I've only done a little intarsia and while it wasn't all that bad, it didn't really do much for me. Maybe it was the project I did but It just seems to me that the results aren't worth the hassle of doing instarsia. I've refrain from saying this too loud because I know that there are knitting overachievers out there who would have my head for that kind of talk