Friday, August 31, 2012

Something Special: a product review

The original intent when I began this blog was to create a space to post my original knitting patterns. Now, over 3 years later, I had no idea it would become so much more, a space for poetry, advice, stories and photos of my ever-changing, artistic life. However, today I thought I'd get back to my roots and review a new yarn and knitting pattern we just got in at Nina: a well-knit shop. Knitters, enjoy! All others, ignore or... better yet, get some needles and become a knitter. It will clear your pores and help you find love. Guaranteed.

BUCKINGHAM HAT, a blue sky alpacas royal petite knitting pattern

Completed hat, pattern, alpaca picture and leftover yarn.
First of all, the marketing of these new patterns is brilliant The pattern comes in a petite, sweet folder. All the designs have a vintage sketch of a handsome 1950's model on the front, echoing old Vogue dress patterns and Mad Men. They remind me of something innocent and lovely from my childhood, like my Playmobil Victorian dollhouse or a piece of sweet candy wrapped in pale pink cellophane. Simply put, the patterns are cute as can be! Inside the folder is the pattern and a picture of one of Blue Sky's very own alpaca. The Buckingham Hat pattern contains the proud image of Colonel Mustard, "a handsome boy with beautiful fawn colored fleece." Each pattern, depending on the garment, takes one, two or three skeins of Blue Sky Royal Alpaca. The yarn, oh the yarn, is so luxurious!! I loved knitting with it and I recommend using metal needles.

Practically, the pattern is written very clearly and the directions are easy to follow, but please read them twice or three times. I made a few simple, careless mistakes because I had not read the pattern carefully. I love that the pattern includes a ruler on the page so that I didn't need to carry around my tape measure. This is a company that knows that excellence is in the details!

On Nina's suggestion (she had made the hat in black/brown as a shop sample) I did make a few ALTERATIONS to the pattern:
  • The hat is intended to be quite short, as you can see on the cover of the folder. It ends well before the gentleman's ears. I wanted a longer version, so I knitted the hat to 7 inches before beginning my decreases.
  • The pattern also calls for the decreases for the head shaping to be done using ssk (slip,slip,knit). I used knit 2 together, which worked just fine.
Blocking is absolutely necessary with this hat. Don't skip this step! Blocking really evened out my ribbing and the transitions between knitting and purling. The cascading ribbing is very unique, most hats for men are rather dull, but this one has a little flair.

This product also makes a unique, affordable gift. You can buy your favorite knitter everything they need to make a complete project for only $25-$50. The projects are classy, classic, and simple designs which are likely to complement any one's style. Knitting one of these patterns feels like an experience, start to finish. I made the hat for my boyfriend, Scot, who posted on his Facebook: "When you purchase wool from Colonel Mustard, you receive a picture of him standing resolutely on his farm, keenly surveying the distance. His noble countenance fills one with confidence that it will be a quality hat which will protect my head from the possibly brutal upcoming Chicago and Iowa winter months." If a man can be so moved by a knitting pattern, Blue Sky is doing something right.

A "petite luxury" indeed. 

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