Sunday, 26 February 2017

Woolly Hat Week

It's just been Woolly Hat Week here in the UK.  
The Sailor's Society asked everyone to 'Be A Hat Hero' and to wear a woolly hat to raise money to help seafarers in need.

The Society helps those who brave cold and dangerous seas to make world trade possible.  It's an international Christian charity which works in ports around the world and helps seafarers in practical ways.  Enabling contact with home which is so important for those away at sea for many months.  They also help with access to medical treatment and, in less developed countries, they build homes and schools and provide grants to bring hope and security to seafaring communities.

So, in support of The Sailor's Society, here's me and Geoff in our woolly hats!

You may know that my husband, Geoff, works in data management on board a hydrographic survey vessel on a four week work rotation (meaning he spends four weeks at sea followed by four weeks at home),  a job he has done since 1992.  You my not know that I also worked on a hydrographic survey vessel as a data processor over a three year period in the mid 1980's.

Here I am in July 1986 on board the MV Seaway Labrador with the DSV Seaway Harrier in the background at Ekofisk (probably contravening all health and safety rules nowadays!)

Though the vessels we've both worked on were mainly crewed by Norwegian sailors, as we've both worked mainly for Norwegian companies, it would be usual for some crew to hail from far more distant places such as the Cape Verde islands off Senegal or The Philippines or India.  Docking in ports such as Aberdeen and Peterhead, or Stavanger and Bergen could be a very chilly experience for those whose home ports were considerably warmer.  No wonder The Sailor's Society has an army of knitters making more than 10,000 woolly hats a year to give out to seafarers.

So I've decided to knit some hats for them.  Simple styles and serviceable colours - here's a couple I've made so far:

The Sailor's Society says "not only do the hats help keep seafarers warm, but it's a great feeling to know someone they have never met has spent time making them."

Well, that's giving me a warm glow - even when I'm not wearing my favourite handknit woolly hat!


Friday, 10 February 2017

Lovely Leftovers

Keeping my 2017 word 'purpose' in mind, I decided at the start of the year to knit with some of the beautiful wool I have leftover.

I wanted to give the wool a purpose, rather than have it languishing in storage.  I remembered the previous projects, and their recipients, and all the joy I had making these gifts for them.
Three hats - one for Sophie, one for Eilidh and one for Mae - all made from Ripples Crafts Na Dannsairean Aran which is a squishy mix of merino and Donegal nep in gorgeous colours.
Two pairs of mitts - a pair for Frances in Rowan Colourscape and a pair for me in Noro Kochoran, now both sadly discontinued yarns.
A cowl for Sophie in Manos Silk Blend and a jumper for me in Rowan Renew.  

There's also wool leftover from a neck-warmer in some pale blue Rowan Tapestry knitted before I started documenting everything I make!

I really liked the pattern for the Baa-ble-hat by Shetland designer Donna Smith which features cute sheep in a snowy landscape.  As I've blogged about here, I knitted this hat for my sister-in-law, Fiona, for Christmas.  The baa-ble hat is really popular with knitters and was the official pattern for Shetland Wool Week 2015 - to date nearly 7000 have been created in a variety of colours and textures. Look!!!
But I didn't want to make myself a hat - instead I decided I'd use the sheep design and incorporate it into a cushion and use all the lovely soft and colourful leftovers for the background.
I added the sheep to the cushion front.
I kept the same stripes of colour for the back but didn't add the sheep this time.
After the back and front were finished, there were lots of ends to be sewn in.
To make the knitted fabric a bit more sturdy, I decided to felt it lightly by washing my knitting in the machine at 60 degrees. This is a bit of a leap of faith as pure wool and the washing machine are not usually best friends!

I measured the fabric first as I expected some shrinkage and I wasn't sure if all the woolly stripes would react the same way to being felted.  Pinning out the damp fabric afterwards allowed me to stretch it back into the desired rectangular shape.
I embroidered a tree onto the front, thought about adding a second smaller one, realised I didn't like it and ended up taking it off!
Lastly, I stitched on some small details like rocks and copses of trees in the background.
I attached the zip to the base following this useful tutorial by Purl Soho, sewed up the other three sides, popped in the cushion pad and, voila, one finished cushion!
It looks right at home in the lounge.

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