Thursday, 13 September 2018

Mirrie Dancers Hat part 1

I absolutely love the pattern for the Shetland Wool Week hat this year. It has been designed by Elizabeth Johnston who is this year’s well deserved patron. This is special to me as it was Elizabeth that first taught me to spin in Shetland many years ago.... and in effect changed my life. 

The pattern 

I bought a postcard of Mirrie Dancers taken from Unst ...our favourite island in Shetland. (For those wondering what Mirrie Dancers are, they are what we would call ‘The Northern Lights’. ) 

As always I will knit a hat for Michael first, to judge the size and then knit mine, for my small (!?) head, with some tweaking. We chose colours for M’s hat when we had the pleasure to go to Jamieson’s Mill shop in Sandwich when we were in Shetland in June. 

The colours we bought.

So I looked at previous patterns and decided that M’s hat, if it was to go round his head comfortably needed 168 stitches, so that would mean 7 pattern repeats and further adjustment for the crown to have 6 repeats rather than 5 noted in the pattern instructions. As in previous years I punched a card to use for the main body of the hat with the knitting machine. As with other Wool Week hats I would knit the crown and rib in the round using dpns (3) and thus be able to use my knitting belt. 

I rearranged the colours from Jamieson’s and added another colour in addition to Elizabeth’s original design. In all I used 6 colours. I thought  I would knit a sample using yarns and colours from my stash that were as close as I could manage. I did not have dark grey so used black. 

I was pleased with my rearrangement compared to the pattern and knew I now needed to knit a sample in the real yarns. 

This was just not as striking, the purple was not standing out but appeared so much more muted. 

This shows the importance of : 

   Taking into account the value of all yarns

   Understanding how yarns react with adjacent yarns

   Sampling and sampling ......

So I looked further into my stash and found Shetland black jumper weight wool, left over from weaving the material for my black and red dogtooth skirt (2). 

The hat looked so much better with a black background as this restored the vibrancy of the Mirrie Dancers. The crown knitting was uneventful, I loved the effect given. I knitted the rib downwards again altering the pattern to give what I have began to call my rib. This was first used with the Croft house Wool Week hat in hand dyed meadowsweet yarns (4). Initially I cast off the rib super loosely but it turned out to be too loose so I had to carefully take that out yarn is not good for my eyes and in fact just used a plain rib cast off but on a bigger needle size. 

The completed rib

The full hat will be unveiled at the opening ceremony for Wool Week 2018 where M will wear the hat. 

.... and now for my version...... however I so love this there may just be a matching pair. 

  1. The pattern is available from Shetland Wool Week web site and is free during this year. You are welcome to knit one but not to sell. 
  2. Pictures of this are on the ‘landing page’ of my website which shows a selection of photos from sheep to skirt 
  3. Dpns - double pointed knitting needles. I prefer these to circular ones and knit in the round with 3 needles and a knitting belt. The method being perfected following classes with Hazel Tindall and also with Amanda Pottinger and Janet Irvine (from Whalsay) in classes in previous years with Shetland Wool Week. 
  4. Ella designed this hat for Wool Week 2016;the meadowsweet hat that I knitted is described including the rib here

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