Competitive Stitch

It has been a while since I've posted on here, and since I've posted, several REALLY exciting fibre-related things have happened to me!  But I'll partial out all my great news post by post.  Currently, I am sitting in my lab waiting for human guinea pigs to do my experiment.  So briefly, here is my first piece of news: I'm entering a knitted piece into a show.

Towards the end of last year when I realised I was getting good at knitting, I told myself it would be nice to knit a really special shawl to enter into the Royal Adelaide Horticultural Show of this year, which takes place in September.  I soon realised that knitting a stitch-perfect shawl and filling out all the paperwork was not a great idea in my Honurs year of uni.  Fact is, I get distracted enough by knitting as it is.  So I threw that idea out the window.  Then, about two or three weeks ago I was working at my parents' shop, which sells feed for farm animals.  Someone had left some booklets about the Strathalbyn (or as the cool kids like me call it, "Strath") Agricultural Show.  Looking briefly through it I found that the show, as they often do, would be judging handknitted work alongside the jams and sheep and such.  I decided to enter the knitted beanie division.  I figured a beanie is much less work than a shawl.  I think the idea is that people will enter more than one item because the entry fee is about as much as the cost of processing the cheque for it, but I didn't want to overload myself.  After I finished the shawl I was making for my mum (I'll tell you about that in a later entry) I got to work on my show beanie.  I chose this amazing beanie pattern to make. As it's my first entry and I'm still a newbie, I didn't want something too complicated so that I could do it well, but not something so simple that I couldn't get away with slightly off tension here and there (how can they see with sequins in their eyes?).  I also didn't want something too conventional in case another competitor entered something very similar, against which my piece could be compared.  I chose the Lotus Hat pattern because at first glance I thought it was some fancy work with cables and lace.  When I actually sat down to do it, I found that it was a deceptively simple and enjoyable lace pattern.  The bits that I thought were cables turned out to be made by the arrangement of k2togs and ssks.  On the advice of a friend who is a seasoned show-knitter, I chose a woolen yarn (a hand-me-down from a deceased estate) because the tension is apparently more even compared to acrylic.  The yarn is bulky, which is just a little thicker than the worsted weight suggested, so I did a tension swatch on one needle size smaller than suggested.  This came out a tiny bit small, but I decided to stick with that needle size. 

Actually knitting the beanie only took a couple of days, as beanies do.  I am still not sure on my choice of needle size.  It was a bit of a strain on my hands.  The fabric turned out crisp, which I think looks and feels lovely and shows up the lace well, but I don't know if the judges will see it that way, they might have preferred it fluffier.  I especially like in the lace pattern the fact that there are yos on every row, rather than a yo, k, yo, k arrangement which seems more standard.  It means the holes are separated by a single thread rather than two threads twisted over each other.

And here is the finished product:

So I've sent away my entry form and the hat will be delivered closer to the show date.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.  I guess the most important thing is I'm happy with the finished result.  It's definitely something that I'll wear.

I shall return,

The Knitted Kitten