I recently received a copy of Andrea Rangel's AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary to review, and I couldn't have been more excited to flip through its pages.
As a designer, I often rely on my collection of stitch dictionaries to spark ideas. Unlike those already on my shelves, this new book is a little off-beat, just like me! It's chock-full of two-color stranded motifs that range from science-y to silly, and everything in between. Looking for adorable animals, gorgeous geometrics, or priceless pop culture references? Look no further!
In the back, you'll find an index where all the patterns are sorted by stitch count for super-simple substitutions. Want to liven up a basic beanie? Say you're working with 120 stitches per round. Browse through Andrea's library of swatches for something with a 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-, or 24-stitch repeat, and then just plug it into your pattern. How easy is that?
Or maybe you don't have a specific garment in mind yet? That's cool too. Andrea has provided five classic designs, along with tips on how to swap out motifs, if you're so inclined. I chose to work up her Bikey Beanie, which she shows with either bicycles or hearts to give you an idea of how of it would look with other designs. I thought it would be cute to make a whole set of hats for my niece and nephews, in coordinating colors and varying motifs to suit each of their personalities. Let's meet the menagerie!
First, it was elephants for Eleanor. These precious, pastel pachyderms will be perfect for my niece, who is approaching the one-year mark. My family has extremely large heads, so I googled infant head sizes and found the 99th percentile for 12-month-olds is 19 inches - an exact match for the small size for this hat pattern. Worst case, she'll grow into it. Since the elephant chart's stitch count wasn't quite right for the hat’s stitch count, I simply cast on four fewer to get the right multiple. Then for the crown shaping I omitted four of the decreases in the first decrease round. Aren't these little fellas adorable, all linked trunk to tail?
The middle kid is a climber with a penchant for primates, so monkeys were the only logical conclusion. I know from gifted hats of Christmases past that the nephews' heads are now about the same size as my own, so I used the larger size of the pattern for the boys' beanies.
Finally, the soon-to-be 13-year-old nephew. What better way to win the heart of a adolescent boy than with Poopin' Pigs, am I right? Yeah, you read that right. Andrea provides plenty of giggles throughout her book with some her more off-the-wall designs that are at least 9 kinds of awesome. I think these squattin' swine are sure to please!
The yarn I used was Louet Gems Fingering Weight in Terra Cotta, Pewter, Fern Green, and Navy. I've found this line to be an excellent workhorse yarn, available in several truly lovely solid shades with the extra bonus of being machine washable!
For all three hats, I used a tubular cast on because I love how it looks with ribbing. In the sections of colorwork with large swaths of a single color, I locked my floats by twisting the two strands every two stitches because baby fingers.
Cheers to having three holiday gifts finished by October!