Happy international women’s day, my friends! I am feeling grateful today for all the women who came before me and put in such hard work to see that future generations (me included) would have the benefit of the vote, the right to run for parliament, and something much closer to equal pay than they ever knew. And access to the professions, and to choices about marriage and family life. And education. And meaningful responses to violence in all its forms. And so much more!
These images are of two of the champions of women;’s rights in my own little part of the world, Mary Lee and Dame Roma Mitchell. I am celebrating today by going to sing I Can’t Keep Quiet in the International Women’s Day March. We did a lovely flashmob a few weeks back with MILCK’s song, so some of us have practised up! And in preparation for today, I knit some pussy hats. I began with cochineal dyed wool. I had been wondering when I would ever use it, and recognised this as the time!
Soon, I was off!
I decided to knit my pussy hats in the round, because, you know. That’s how I roll on anything that could be knit in the round, and I’m not afraid to graft (Kitchener stitch).
Knitting while blogging?
Knitting on the train, because I usually do. I just kept churning them out until I ran out of wool. Then I had some pinky purple-y handspun and it was a faster knit than the 8 ply (DK) commercial wool. Finally, I had 4 pussy hats and a lot of conversations with people about what I was knitting that led to raised eyebrows and then conversations about contemporary politics and the inappropriateness of bragging about sexual assault. I popped them in the mail to an Education Union in Victoria that was calling out for women to wear them in their IWD march. I’m a member of a different education union, so that seemed completely appropriate to me. I hope some women in Victoria will be stepping out in handmade pussy hats tonight and feeling fine!
At last! I have finished a larger version of the Rhode Island Red hat. It took some doing. I cast on at least three times. I was clearly having some problems with sizing, and thinking straight. Plus, inexperience with provisional cast ons. I cast on once at home and knit the entire band… enormously…
Then twice more in a hotel in Melbourne. It was a comedy of errors! But I started to lose my sense of humour by the time I had knit the band three entire times, instead of knitting the whole hat!
I may have put the hat in the naughty corner for some weeks at that point, as th0ugh the hat was the one creating the trouble. But now, it’s done and it’s glorious!
Last night it headed out into the world to warm the head of a delightful friend who is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a chicken fancier with an entire flock of hens to tend to in all weathers. Plus, more plans for rare breeds. And, it’s her birthday any minute now. She has a wonderful chuckle, and this hat brought out the chuckling. And she liked the softness of this lovely pet polwarth sheep a lot too.
I made a Turn a Square.
It travelled all kinds of places and some of it was knit in Sydney. Here we are waiting for someone else’s lunch to be ready.
And here we are with muesli and yoghurt. Who knew??? Muesli and yoghurt don’t look this awesome at home!
There was yarn left from this skein, so I reverse engineered Turn A Square and knit it from the centre out so I could use the whole skein. It seems like the right season to be making a few hats… and Students of Sustainability seemed like the right people to give them away to!
In the latest issue of Knitty, there is a stranded colourwork hat featuring a Rhode Island Red chicken design by Pam Sluter. I don’t know Pam, but clearly we share a love of chickens, wool and knitting. In short, I had one of those moments, and decided to cast on RIGHT AWAY! Because, I have these handspun yarns. Mmmm. Polwarth, my friends. Soft as anything. Perfect for a little hat.
I had an early period of doubt, because provisional cast on, and then three circular needles in play for a while. I held my nerve. I consulted a book on cast ons and bind offs. I love a good book.
I tried to talk myself out of taking it on the bus. Because charted patterns are not really ideal for bus knitting and I have a perfectly charming sock on the go. No hope of resistance. I kept wondering if the woman on the other side of the aisle could really be staring at me as intently as she seemed to be from the corner of my eye. How can my eye possibly be following the chart, keeping track of two yarns on the needles, and still noticing a total stranger? Eventually as we neared our destination I looked over. Yes! She was utterly intent. It appeared we didn’t share much common language so I showed her the picture. She grinned.
Here is the finished hat, being blocked over a big jar. But you know, not a jar as big as my head.
I did not do a gauge swatch. Risk taking knitting, I tell you! I went up a needle size as even when not using two colours, I tend to be on the tight side with knitting, and stranded colourwork has a tendency to mysteriously come out smaller than planned. Especially in the hands of a novice. Especially with long floats. Well. Not truly a mystery, then! This is the medium size and I have to say, nowhere near fitting on my head. I didn’t swatch because I was quite prepared to give this hat to whomever might like it and fit into it… and I am thinking of starting out with one of my very small friends. Who would look cuter than any button in this…
The other night, treasured friends came round for dinner and brought with them someone I hadn’t met before. She saw the display of tea cosies and loved them. She collects. The honest truth is, I don’t even drink tea. Nor does my beloved. I just buy random teapots at the op shop and make them cosies for my own entertainment and the joy of giving them away.
Naturally, I said ‘would you like to take one home?’ She struggled to choose and I offered that she take two, but that wasn’t happening… it is difficult to make people understand just how far I am from having a yarn or tea cosy shortage. So a particularly ugly teapot was disrobed and a corespun cosy with recycled sari silk threads went home with her. That had me in a tea cosy frame of mind… So I delved into the stash and came out with this the very next night:
The yarn is felted wool blobs spun onto crossbred wool from a sheep known by the glorious name of Macchiato the Mongrel. I believe the epithet was added after Macchiato ate the neighbour’s pea crop and had to be found a new home. That fleece came to me from a friend of a friend who lives in the hills. The pattern is a fast and loose adaptation of Funhouse Fibers’ Fast and Fun Tea Cozy.
This twining vine yarn (commercial wool top, felted leaves) was in the same bag. I started in on a cosy and the audience decided it was too cute and really should be a child’s hat. I guess we’ll wait to see who it fits come winter! I started with a three stitch i-cord and made the rest up, ending with a stitched cast off for stretchy edge…
And, some silk cocoons went off to be reeled by a friend with a lot more patience than me, and here are the rest. I have no idea why they are in two colours, but if anyone else knows, please tell. I keep thinking I will finally get back to the nettle stems, but I fear it won’t happen today…