Libby is not only an inspirational crafter, but also a fellow Cambridge-dweller: I suspect we must have crossed paths in the John Lewis haberdashery department on more than one occasion before I moved last year. Skeppe is the first knitting pattern she has released, and, when I saw she was looking for test knitters for it, I jumped at the chance.
I’m a fairly slow knitter, which may be to do with the fact that I seem to be congenitally incapable of learning to throw yarn properly, and I was knitting the largest size of the pattern due to having a big giant head. This meant that I was a little worried about finishing the hat in time for the pattern release, and, as such, I’ve been spending most of my free time working away with a ball of Malabrigo and my trusty KnitPros. Fortunately, this wasn’t a trial: Libby’s pattern is absorbing, full of clever details, and, in worsted weight yarn, really does zip along.
This is my Skeppe: it’s in Malabrigo worsted, in the lovely Ravelry Red colourway. It took under one skein, which is pretty good going considering I was knitting the 23-24″ size, to fit my enormous 23.5″ cranium. If you have a normal-sized head, you could probably squeeze out a pair of mittens, maybe the 75 Yard Fingerless pattern, to match without even breaking into that second skein that you were saving for a cowl.
As you can see, the key to the pattern is a rather striking smocked stitch: before I started it, I was terrified that this would be impossibly difficult to knit. In actual fact, though, it is both simple and very effective. I’m certainly not going to fear projects with smocking in the future. The crown decreases, which you can seen rather more clearly on Libby’s (much better) picture, are neat and clever, and the ribbing, a 2x2x2x3 pattern which flows neatly into the body stitches, delighted me to a quite unreasonable extent. The finished hat is slouchy but not excessively long: I spent a long time trying to take some self-portraits modelling it, but it turns out this is terribly hard to do well if you a) do not have a tripod and cable release for your camera and b) are not Ysolda Teague, who seems to have the most amazing gift for self portraits ever. If you promise to ignore my really ham-fisted technique with the camera, the photo on the right here should give you an idea of the degree of slouch involved. It’s very comfortable, and does accommodate moderately big hair, but it’s still smart, trim and not excessively floppy.
Once again, apologies: I know it’s a dreadful photo. It was dark, I couldn’t sight properly and kept getting close ups of the picture rail instead of me, I had to use the slightly ropey compact because the lens on the SLR kept bashing me on the back of the head… Can you believe I’m supposed to be doing the Cardiff Photomarathon in a couple of weeks? Neither can I.
Moving on from my ridiculous attempts to immortalise my occiput in pixel form, though, I have exciting news! As a thank you for doing the test knitting, Libby has very kindly offered her testers a copy of the pattern to give away to their blog readers. So, if any knitters out there have a pile of Malabrigo burning a hole in their stash (Sian, I’m looking at you!) or are jonesing for a new hat, read on. To win a copy of the Skeppe pattern, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post sometime between now and next Sunday (19th May 2013), answering the question below. As to the question itself, I’ve been racking my brains to come up with an unusual, witty or quirky poser for you, but my brain has taken a beating from a day of tantrummy toddler. As such, I’m going to have to go with something straightforward and soothing: while you are knitting your Skeppe, you are undoubtedly going to be partaking of a slice of cake or a biscuit. Come on, you know it’s true: it’s pretty much impossible to knit without some form of baked goods on hand. My question is: what will be your knitting nibble of choice, and why? After next Sunday, I’ll pick one answer at random, and the pattern will be winging its way to you. Good luck!