FO - Watch Cap

After seeing all the lovely cardigans, jumpers and bags on here I almost didn’t post this but we all have to start somewhere right? The back story to this is interesting too so bear with me!

Last September I was up North in Michigan and called in to a little farm shop that advertised wool, mainly Alpaca. The farm was a horse farm, but the “wool” lady was the mother of the owner and when she retired she moved up to the farm to help with the place and her two grandsons. A little bored she acquired three Alpacas and started to learn spinning (she (Betty) was already an accomplished knitter), and opened up her little store in the old dairy. Quite by chance she was offered six Icelandic Sheep. Northern Michigan has a lot of farms, mainly fruit and vegetables but the economy locally has been hit hard for a couple of years. Last Spring was unseasonably warm (80F in March), followed by a severe cold snap, followed by a summer drought, anything that survived the cold snap (fruit blossom) succumbed to the drought. A lot of farmers lost their land because of this and this is how Betty ended up getting the Icelandic for free as they needed someone to take care of them. Because of the previous owner’s hardship he had not kept up their vet care, all six were in lamb but they were all in a pretty bad way. Betty saved the sheep (a lot of vet bills!) but only three lambs were born live. So she now has a little herd of three Alpacas and nine Icelandic sheep. We were there well over an hour chatting, and I met the sheep, the alpacas were too shy, but I met Celia (Icelandic) who provided some of the wool I bought.

So, the hat… 50% black Alpaca, 50% Icelandic Sheep, shorn and cleaned at source and carded and hand spun by Betty herself. It was a little rough to work with in places, it would occasionally go from thick to thin but I got on with it OK overall. It was very hard to finish due to the variation of the stitches and the yarn when I was trying to decrease, plus there was no real give in the wool. I ended up with very painful hands and a couple of cramped fingers! Plus I was glad I had used metal dpns, I know I would have broken my bamboo ones on those last few decreases, no doubt about it.

I added the red stripes as I knew I wasn’t going to have quite enough of the main wool, as it turned out I could have made the thick stripe a bit thinner, but I didn’t know that at the time. That wool was also from Betty, she’d been practicing dying techniques on Rowan 100% wool and then sold the large skeins of them for $10 just to get them out of her way!! The pattern was a simple K1, P1 rib and was in a book by Judith Durant.

And hubby must have liked it as he was wearing it this morning… in the house… with his pj’s on… at 6:30am!! I left for work then and left him to it!!

The flash has bleached out the colour a bit, I’ll try and get a better picture to add.

Great hat and great story to go with it. :thumbsup: I like the rustic look of the hand spun wool. Thanks for sharing the photo of your very well done hat and the story that goes with it. I needed a good heart-warming post and you gave it to me. :muah:

That’s a beautiful hat and I also like the rustic look! Great back story!!

Great hat! So glad you had enough wool to finish it. It would have been difficult to match to another batch, I imagine.

Thanks for sharing the story behind it; how very sad that many people are losing their land because of the drought. I guess that’s one good thing here in Texas–we’re kinda used to droughts (at least more so than some who get rain much more frequently).

It looks fabulous! You did a great job on it. Hats can be a real pain sometimes to fit the wearer and you were dead on. Enjoy what you knit and don’t worry about what others post. We love to see everyone’s projects, or at least I do! :slight_smile:


Agreed! I make lots of hats. They are an easy take along project and good to experiment with design on. I’m doing a project now to see how many hats I can get out of 4 skeins of Plymouth Encore. I’m on my 7th hat now.

The majority of what I make goes to charity. DH took them to the college ceramics dept. where he takes classes and volunteers. Many kids just took one, but a bunch paid for some. I ended up getting about $75 last year!

As for size… Hats are stretchy and fit almost every one. The vast majority are worsted weight so I just cast on 80 with US 7 needles and work about the length of my hand (6.5") depending on the pattern. Then I decrease. With my natural gauge this works fine.

I’ll be posting FO’s of them all soon.

Beautiful hat and a great use of this lovely yarn. You did very well by Betty who might like to see the end product of her alpacas, sheep and hand spinning. Thanks for the story to go with. Well done!

I agree! Beautiful hat and the fact it was all produced right there on the farm makes for a great story with a happy ending. I really like the yarn alot. I will try a hat someday. I’ve only finished 2 things so far as I’m new to knitting but practice, practice, practice!

I love the hat! Everything about it! Great story along with it, too!

What GG said! :thumbsup:

Unfortunately last summers drought was the final straw for many of the smaller farms. It all started about 4 years ago with that severe downturn in the economy, Michigan was hit hard (the auto industry). Prices for everything, including food, were forced down, where they didn’t go down people didn’t buy because they had no money. Bottom line is everyone was affected, not just the auto industry workers.

The economy picked up a bit but Spring of 2011 was so wet, 4" of rain in April, 6" in May stands out for me, and it rained heavily in March and June too. The fields were under standing water and couldn’t be plowed, the crops couldn’t be planted. It didn’t dry out enough until late June / early July, far too late to plant anything and get a good yield. Our food prices went through the roof that year, the stores were buying in from other states and our farmers lost out again. They also had to buy in winter feed for their animals as they couldn’t grow enough of that either.

Spring of 2012 was the opposite… March was hot and sunny, we topped 80F on a lot of days, a bit of rain, some thunderstorms (and an EF3 tornado!!), but it encouraged all the fruit trees and bushes to blossom far too early. This was followed by killing frosts through April and May. I don’t know if you know but Michigan is second only to California in the diversity of our agriculture. We’re also the cherry producing capital of the US, producing 70% - 80% of the cherries eaten, baked and canned in this country. We have a diverse range of other fruit too, our fruit industry alone is worth 6.6 billion $ to Michigan. Because of the early Spring followed by the freeze we lost 90% of our cherries and apples, 95% of our peaches and 85% of our pears, the other fruits were also badly affected. You can imagine what this did to the farmers.

We also grow a huge amount of sweet corn, sugar beet, potatoes, alfalfa and soy beans. These weren’t affected by the freeze as most were only just being planted and hadn’t germinated. It was nice to see the fields full of green crops again as I drove to work last year but it didn’t last as we got no rain. By the end of June we’d had no rain at all and had 25 consecutive days over 90F, that pattern continued in July, adding consecutive days over 100F too which is unheard of for us. Only the large farms with access to wide scale irrigation were able to survive it, by the time the drought broke the majority of the farmers had once again lost everything, and were once again facing another winter of losses and not being able to maintain their property or their livestock. This was the final straw for most of them. This is how Betty ended up with her little flock of Icelandics. Her sheep were luckier than most as the farmer called the bank, the Humane Society and his neighbours before leaving the property, so they were able to collect and rehome his animals. Unfortunately others weren’t so lucky, some farmers just left and didn’t tell anyone. I won’t elaborate on that, I’m sure you can imagine what they found when someone finally realised the farms had been deserted and the animals weren’t being taken care of.

Sorry GrumpyGramma, but this back story is a little sadder than I first portrayed! Let’s hope the weather plays nicely this year and the farmers can recoup some of their losses. Most people don’t realise how hard my adopted state has been hit in the last few years, or how diverse it is. When they think of Michigan they only think of the auto industry and nothing else.

Yeah, absolutely, I have her email address. We’ve also booked our week camping trip in that area again over Labor Day and the week after, so we’ll pop in. In fact, Andrew, (hubby) said last night that he must remember to pack his hat to take and show Betty in September, without any prompting from me, so our visit and chat with her must have stayed in his mind too.

OMG, Brenda, all I originally saw was someone got free sheep and you bought yarn and made a hat. I guess we see what we want to when we read things.

I enjoyed your story so much. Thank you for sharing. Your project is great. Don’t ever hold back on showing something you have made; folks here are great encouragers.

:thumbsup: Love the hat, and the story - thanks for sharing it all. Sounds like difficult work, so big congrats! Awful, about the drought, must be SO hard to see things suffer so - if only we could all share our excesses and even things out. I’m on the West Coast (aka “Wet Coast”) - dh always says our Provincial flower is algae. :stuck_out_tongue:

So sorry to hear about all the problems in Michigan. I have an Internet friend who lives in that state, but I don’t think she’s as aware of the farmer situation as you are.

I know here in Texas (and other southern states, too) we have been hit hard by the drought. We were on the verge of running out of water last year, but thankfully, we got about 8 inches of rain in one weekend, which filled up the water sources [I]some.[/I] They’re going down again fast, though, and it’s been a dry dry spring (no moisture here since January). It’s not looking good for this summer!

Lots of people are selling cattle and some are selling out completely. It’s very sad to see!

:yay:I like your hubby’s hat,thank you for sharing photo with us

Isn’t that a true statement! It’s already dry again in the central plains and Texas I read, yet they’re calling for river flooding in North Dakota again, pity we can’t find some way of getting the water where it needs to go.

We travel around during the summer as we like to camp, kayak and bike so we do get out quite a bit more than most folks do. If your friend just stays in her local town and still sees the stores stocked up with food she might not question where it comes from, but I’m sure she complained that the prices had gone up!! I sit across from a guy at work who sees nothing but what he wants to see. He doesn’t believe we had a bad summer or a drought last year, his only comment was “Well my grass was green”! I asked him if he was born stupid or did he have to practice.

I can’t imagine living in a State like Texas where it’s always quite dry but I suppose it’s a way of life really. Perhaps we should all do a rain dance!!