Surviving the Pandemic With… More Hats!

I think I can safely say that today, June 2020, nobody foresaw this year coming. It’s been *eventful* to say the least. However, one of the bright spots of a worldwide shutdown is that interest in hobbies have skyrocketed, and this includes, of course, all of our favorite yarning adventures!

As an expat who lives outside of my native country, I often have to depend on the trusty Internet to provide me with the yarns I love to use. I’ve been super lucky to have an adorable LYS here in Bratislava (Vlna Na Predaj, if you’re ever in the neighborhood), but sometimes you just need bags of yarn to show up at your door. I discovered LoveCrafts several years ago, when it was still (inexplicably) LoveKnitting, and LoveCrochet (that both linked to the same website, only… tailored to knitters and crocheters? I’m so glad they decided to consolidate.) Their yarn selection is ENORMOUS, their packages arrive so quickly, they have free shipping and easy returns, their yarn comes in reusable organza drawstring bags that I have hoarded for years, and most dangerously, every order comes with a 20% off coupon code for your next stash. (I’m looking at you, Malabrigo Rasta.) They offer tons of yarn, but did you know they also offer tooons of free patterns? It’s the ultimate yarntopia – find a yarn you like and a pattern to accompany it (or vice versa.) One click and *poof*! All your yarning dreams come true.

I’ve been dying to try Paintbox Yarns for several years now. As an American, I can only get it online. I’ve also been eyeing this lovely (FREE!) SweetPea Slouch, by EmmeClaire Crochet, also for several years, but the heretofore unknown star stitch intimidated me. What better time than a pandemic and global lockdown to tackle both long running goals?!

I used Paintbox Yarns Simply Chunky in Raspberry Pink (the dark pink) and Candyfloss Pink (the stripes). It was my first time using this, and I loved it! The ‘chunky’ weight is definitely more on the light side, like a heavy aran, similar to Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice (which is listed as a heavy worsted.) It was 100% acrylic and incredibly soft. I was amazed at how reasonably priced they are. The hat pattern was very easy to read and included lots of photo references, which I always appreciate. I was afraid it would end up too big so I went with the ‘small’ size, which turned out just that – small for my gigantic head. However, the sizing was pretty accurate and I’m sure I won’t have any problems finding a recipient for this hat.

Check out this gorgeous texture!

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I had ordered two skeins of the Raspberry to be safe (it ended up taking up juuuuuuuust under one skein), and also an additional skein of Slate Grey, because I had also stumbled across the (also FREE!) Crystal Ice Hat by Schachenmayr, a German yarn brand that I’ve discovered at craft hobby shops here in Slovakia, and thoroughly enjoy using. It turns out that there was plenty of leftover Candyfloss, along with the Raspberry and Slate Grey, to crank out this nifty pattern!

I couldn’t decide between the white or black pompoms, so here are both options. I used a different yarn than the pattern recommended, so the hat ended up quite small – more like a toddler size. But I loved the alternating fpdc stitches and the staircase effect it created. The pattern came in both German and English, which terrified me for 3 seconds until I found the second page English version in my printout. 🙂 This pattern was very clearly written and incredibly easy to read, and the stitches lined up so nicely.  There’s just something so satisfying when you get to the end of each round and you’ve made the exact right number of stitches.

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Ahhhhh, my eyes are so happy and relaxed just staring at this… beautiful… repeating… swirly… staircase…

I was thrilled to try out these hat patterns. My main goal was to find techniques that I had never used before. The star stitch and the staircase effects were both new to me, and working with them has gotten me really excited to explore and create more designs in the future!

What new yarns, techniques or patterns are you looking forward to trying??

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*The yarn and patterns used for these two hats were provided with generous support from LoveCrafts.com. A huge thank you for the opportunity to try them out!

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