Thursday, September 9, 2010

Knitting a set

A few years ago, I knitted my first and, at least as of today, my only pair of gloves. I hadn't been knitting very long at the time and didn't match yarn and pattern very well. Even though I knitted the worsted weight yarn at a tight gauge, I still had to adjust the pattern to get a decent fit.

As it turned out, my yarn choice worked out well, leading me to select different patterns than I would have with a lighter-weight yarn. Three years later, once I finally decided that these gloves had sat unworn long enough, I began to look for a scarf pattern. Actually, it was my quest for a simple project to knit in the late evenings that motivated me. I didn't originally think of the gloves. Then I came across a nicely striped scarf knit in a heavy worsted weight yarn, a good choice for the yarn left from my glove project. I bought additional yarn, dug out some from the stash, and began.

As usual, as I knit first, thought later. I wasn't sure that the solid gloves with a cabled, beaded accent would match a striped scarf, one that included two additional colors and types of yarn, knit in a different (though more appropriate) gauge. Also as usual, I continued knitting the scarf.

I read other knitters' blogs, one who discussed the propensity of knitters to avoid knitting matching accessories. I agree with this, and think there are several reasons for not knitting matching sets. First, there's the boredom factor. Same yarn, same pattern, different shape. Ho hum. Then, there's the yarn issue. I bought a few balls of yarn with no pattern and no project in mind. I chose one project, knit it up, then put it aside for years, (the boredom factor again) until the yarn had been discontinued. As a result, I didn't have (and couldn't buy) enough yarn to knit a matching set. Then, there's the lack of matching patterns. The book I found the glove pattern in provides a matching sweater pattern, but no matching hat or scarf. Not that I couldn't have devised one. I simply didn't want to.

Another blogger wrote about how her determination to knit a matching set lead her to design patterns for a perfectly matched fair-isle hat, scarf and gloves. I considered her point. Surely knitting items in the same yarn, using the same pattern is a sure way to produce something that is undeniably a match. It would be easy enough.

However, I was having too much fun with the striped scarf, choosing the color and length for each stripe, knitting the super-soft yarn, planning to finally have a scarf long enough to wrap any which way I chose. When I picked up the scarf a couple of weeks ago and saw that it was nearly done, I became excited. I grew more excited when I realized I had a couple of balls of yarn left. I imagined beginning the fall with a new scarf, the old, never worn gloves, and (here I grew really reckless), a hat. Even though I didn't have a hat pattern, I became enthusiastic about knitting a hat.

I'd found a possible pattern a few weeks ago and added to my queue. I thought it would be flattering to my narrow face, since it is a loose hat that is gathered with a drawstring. I like loose hats and I think I have a rather large head. Jumping from those two opinions, I cast on for the largest size. It wasn't until I finished the crown that I finally admitted it was just too big. Since it was also too blue, I ripped out the entire hat. OUCH.

At least the first try made me realize that I didn't want all that light blue around my face. Because I didn't have enough of the green to stripe the entire hat (as per the pattern) I had knit the bulk of the hat with the light blue yarn. Not liking the fit or the color, I decided I needed a more "mature" stripe pattern, one that would use more than two colors, allowing me to incorporate more of the yarn I used in the scarf. I began to look through Ravelry for a hat that reminded me of the scarf. Once I found one, I couldn't give up the beautiful crown pattern that looked so good in the green and light blue yarn. Neither could I rip out the drawstring I had knit for the first hat.

Keeping both the crown and the drawstring and casting on for the next smallest size, which was coincidentally the size I needed for the second hat pattern, I reknit the hat.

Now I have a hat, a scarf and a pair of gloves that have only one type of yarn in common.

At first, I was preoccupied with the prime question: "Does it look like a set?" Is it a set?

I referred to and found my answer. Set (noun) - "a collection of articles designed for use together..." How perfect! I certainly designed these items to use together. That's just what I'm going to do.

No, wait, it's 65 degrees out there, don't go out dressed like that. Not yet.

Project details: (Clicking on links below will take you to Ravelry projects, which have more details.)

Gloves from Knitting with Beads by Jane Davis;
Scarf, a simple 2x2 rib shamelessly copied from other Ravelry projects without consulting a pattern;
Hat, a hybrid of Minty (for the crown) and the Bay of Fundy Hat on Ravelry (for the stripes).

Yarn used: JoAnn Tesoro, Malabrigo (the darker colors) and bits of Wooly Stripes Tweed.

I'm a little vague on the other knit blogger's posts, but there was some mention of the matching items issue by Stephanie in her Yarn Harlot blog in this post, down toward the bottom. I can't find the other ones, so if you know of any relevant discussions of knitted sets, matching or not, feel free to link to them in a comment.

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opportunityknits said...

Interesting post :) I live near the equator so I wear the hat scarf glove combo only as a tourist when we travel somewhere cold. And, I often look at my mismatched accessories and think that I should remember to go for some co-ordination. Your set looks nicely co-ordinated without being too matchy :) By the way, I love your gloves!

Marjorie said...

That is a really great way of combining yarns to have "matching" accessories.

I knitted a really nice watchcap style hat years ago from a Swedish book. It had 1x1 ribs around the brim and cables to the crown. Then when I decided to do the matching scarf, I did it in 1x1 rib (and nearly lost my mind). I planned matching gloves/mittens (and I do have the same color Heilo for all), but after the scarf I just lost interest. I find, however, that I can't drive in gloves without leather palms, and that has dampened my enthusiasm for gloves in general. In any case, your system of mixing yarns would make projects like this far less tedious. I generally just wear different hats and scarves that I think look ok together.

pip said...

... I love the way they match :) perfect!

Wool Winder said...

They look great together!

Affiknitty said...

Great post! I love the pic of you heading out the door with your gloves, hat, scarf, AND sweater. I think your "set" is perfect, as it works together without being all matchy-matchy. You've given me food for thought as I am currently knitting a scarf for which I hope to make a matching hat. Only problem is it's hand dyed yarn and I'm having trouble replicating the color. Hmmmm... Can I link to your post when I get there?