Here is the result of my pompom mania — SNAWHEID!

Snawheid is a seasonal, snowflake-adorned beanie, feauturing a gigantic snowball pompom. It being Wovember and everything, I thought it would be fun to present to you three rather different Snawheids, each made in a different British breed-specific yarn. All are, of course, 100% wool (as is, incidentally, the rest of my outfit, with the exclusion of my boots).

Snawheid #1 is knitted in Shetland Organic 2 ply. As its name would suggest, this yarn comes from certified organic Shetland sheep, and is processed by organic mills. It knits to a standard 4 ply tension, and, as you would imagine, has a lovely woolly, typically Shetland hand. In the ball it has a matt, almost chalky feel to it and it is plied and spun slightly looser than other natural Shetlands I’ve knit with. When blocked, it puffs right up, producing a lovely halo. I gave it a good long soak and the yarn bloomed and relaxed tremendously. Its a really special, totally traditional Shetland yarn, and makes a lovely soft, even fabric. It has lent Snawheid #1 a quintessentially cosy, Wintery feel.

For a rather different look, I present to you Snawheid #2, which has been knitted by Jen in Excelana 4 ply.

I decided not to stick the pompom on Jen’s Snawheid just yet, so that I could show you my crown design — which is shaped to resemble a gigantic snowflake. If one were in any way averse to pompoms, or preferred a sleeker look, the crown ensures that your heid will remain adequately snaw-y, however you decide to knit this hat.

Excelana is a collaboration between Susan Crawford and John Arbon: the former has unparallelled knowledge of vintage yarns, and the latter is the UK’s independent spinning meister. The result is this delicious blend of 70% Exmoor Blueface / 30% Bluefaced Leicester which has an incredibly smooth, soft hand, a lovely sheen, and a good bit of bounce. Being worsted spun, it also has superb stitch definition, making it ideal for showing off some festive colourwork snowflakes.

Without the enormous pompom, and knitted in the monochrome shades of Persian Grey and Alabaster, I think Jen’s hat has a lovely muted, classic feel.

And finally, here is Snawheid #3.

After I finished Snawheid #1, and got my hands on Snawheid #2, I had a sudden desire to make another one using Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight. Snawheid #3 is knitted in shade FC 34 — the coolest of cool winter blues — and 1A, a natural Shetland white.

I am not quite sure why, but this is my favourite of the three.

Perhaps I am just in a blue-hat mood, or something.

Or perhaps its that the addition of colour makes this hat feel particularly jolly and festive.

Or perhaps it is just that knitting with Jamieson and Smith jumper weight feels like spending time with an old friend.

In any case it is fair to say that I have gone a wee bit Snawheid crazy. These gigantic, happy pompoms certainly chime with my mood right now; I am really pleased with the design and I absolutely love every one of these three hats. And let me tell you that you have got off lightly with the name, as the temptation to call it Bawheid (one of Tom’s dad’s favourite insults) was extremely strong.

Well, now there’s just a bit of pattern-tweaking and checking to do and, all being well, the SNAWHEID pattern will be released on Ravelry tomorrow (19th).

three hats!

Perhaps it is the time of year, but I definitely find myself in full-on hat-knitting mode. I’ve finished the first clue of my Woolly Wormhead Mystery hat . . . I’m not sure whether or not the next photograph warrants a SPOILER ALERT warning, since it is purposely rather cryptic and unrepresentative, but if you are involved in the KAL and would rather not see, then look away now!

I am using Fyberspates Rural Charm (70% Bluefaced Leicester 20% Silk & 10% Cashmere) in shade “Forest,” a birthday gift from Jen and Nic (thanks, ladies). This deliciously luxe, and slightly variegated yarn is quite unlike anything I’ve been knitting with recently, and I absolutely love it. It is soft and smooth in the hand, with an amazing sheen, but the high proportion of Blueface Leicester means that it also springs up with a little bit of steam – the stitches bloom and puff out to fill their available space in a most pleasing manner. The ‘forest’ colourway is a beautifully complex green, with some dark undernotes and a lot of Autumnal gold in the finish. . this is beginning to sound like a whisky tasting . . . in any case, it is a very tasty skein indeed, and I’m looking forward to my next clue, so that I can continue working with it.

Clearly knitting Woolly’s brim has made me hungry for head coverings, as I immediately cast on another:

This is not, strictly speaking, a hat, but Anna Elliott’s Spirograph Headband which appeared in a Summer Issue of Knit Now, and whose neat simplicity I have admired for some time. One of the perils of working from home is the inevitable neglect of one’s personal appearance. Recently, I have been working very hard, and I would frankly rather spend time on my book and other important stuff than superfluous matters like, um, brushing and styling my hair. The only person I tend to see during the day is the postie (who doesn’t seem to care that I am dishevelled) and I only leave the building to go for a walk with Bruce (who happily has said nothing along the lines of ‘she’s letting herself go a bit’ etc). Anyway, some days when walking time arrives, I just want to gather up my unruly mane, squirrel its hideousness away in a pleasing TUBE, get out of the house, and go for a good four mile stomp. Until the book is done and I can be arsed dealing with my increasingly unkempt appearance, this headband will hopefully fulfill that function. I am using Kid Classic, one of my Rowan favourites, in shade ‘Nightly’ (846).

And finally, some yarn that has not yet begun to be a hat, but will certainly do so soon. The yarn is grey Shetland 4 ply from the lovely folk at Shetland Organics. This yarn has a great bouncy hand, a proper Wintery sheepy feel, and a real depth of hue in its natural fleece shades. I have been gripped by a familiar compulsion to make lots of festive things, and fear I am about to design a hat whose seasonal theme will make Boreal look quite restrained. We will see how this goes . . .


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