Woodpecker Love

Just as I was about to start typing this post about my Downy Hat, a downy woodpecker whinnied somewhere outside. It was easy to hear because — at last — it’s warm enough to open windows.

What a charming bit of serendipity — I was popping in here to let you know the March Mayhem Downy Sale ends tomorrow (Monday, April 15). Through midnight EST, you can save 20% on Ravelry with the coupon code MAYHEM on this sweet colorwork hat inspired by the colors and markings of the downy woodpecker. The pattern provides instructions for four sizes, so you can make Downies for the whole family.

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It was so exciting to see Downy advance in the Mason-Dixon Knitting March Mayhem bracket. There were many beautiful designs this year, but only one could become the champion. That honor went to Carol Feller’s Tabouli cardigan. It got my votes from Round 1 onward — those lovely cable-and-lace details really stole my heart.

Did any of your favorites make it to the final four? Are you casting on any of the 64 bracket patterns? Of the many I would love to make, the one that most likely will be on my needles before long is Christin Kimsey’s striking Smilla.

Before we all move on, let’s take a moment to thank Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting for creating and hosting March Mayhem. There must be quite a lot of behind-the-scenes work to put together the bracket, gather photos, contact designers, set up the surveys, write the blog and social media posts — all so we knitters can join together to celebrate the work of independent designers. I hope you’ll support them by having a look around the MDK shop (I fell hard the other day for a few skeins of Socks Yeah! DK, which I’ve had my eye on for a new sock design).

It’s such a fun event — can’t wait for next year. Thanks again to all of you who voted for Downy!

Downy Has Flown to Round 2!

The results are in: of the initial 64 patterns in this year’s Mason-Dixon Knitting March Mayhem bracket, 32 have advanced to Round 2 — and I’m thrilled that Downy is among them.

Today and tomorrow (March 26 and 27), you can vote for four patterns in each of the bracket’s categories: Head & Hands, Neck & Shoulders, Pullovers, and Cardigans. The top vote getters will advance to the next round on Friday.

Thank you so much for the love you’ve shown for Downy. Be sure to vote in Round 2! And just a reminder: through April 15, you can save 20% on the pattern in my Ravelry store. Use the coupon code MAYHEM to get the discount.

Happy voting — and happy knitting!

Mason-Dixon Knitting: March Mayhem

March Mayhem has begun! The “world’s only bracket for knitters” was cooked up by Ann and Kay over at Mason-Dixon Knitting to celebrate knitting patterns created by independent designers. Out of the thousands of patterns published during 2018, only 64 were chosen to compete in March Mayhem. I’m thrilled that my Downy Hat is among them!

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How does it work? There are 16 patterns in each of four categories: Cardigans, Pullovers, Neck and Shoulders, and Head and Hands. You can view them all here, with handy links to each pattern’s Ravelry page.

Starting this Thursday, March 21, you’ll be able to vote online for your favorites in each category. There will be five rounds of voting, with the top patterns in each round advancing to the next round. The championship round, April 5-7, will determine the final winner. And after that? More fun - a big knitalong begins!

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Keep up with the voting and the excitement as patterns advance at Mason-Dixon Knitting. If you like my Downy Hat, I hope you’ll vote for it!

Sneak Peek: Downy Hat

A few years back, when Kate Davies released her DK weight yarn Buachaille, I joined her Seven Skeins Club and had a wonderful time making three different pairs of Pawkies for my sisters. Since then, the leftover yarn has remained in my stash, and every now and again I’d look at it and ponder what it might become.

Watching downy woodpeckers at my bird feeder recently, a lightbulb went off: wouldn’t it be great to design a stranded-color hat inspired by the woodpeckers’ colors and markings? (I especially like the red streak on the male downy’s head.) I weighed my leftover colors of Buachaille and realized I definitely had enough, if I was careful about how I designed it.

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The ends are woven in, the hat’s already blocked, and a pom-pom has been made. Today I sent the pattern off to my tech editor, and I’ve arranged for a photo shoot. So everything’s on track to publish the pattern by year’s end.

There are four sizes, with circumferences of 16 (18, 20, 22) inches/41 (46, 51, 56) cm. You’ll need one skein each of Buachaille in Highland Coo, Haar, Squall, and Ptarmigan (120 yards/110 m per 50 gram skein). The pattern provides exact amounts for each size, should you want to substitute yarns.

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I was undecided about adding a pom-pom, so I took a poll on Instagram and in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. Knitters voted for a pom-pom by a margin of 2 to 1! You can make your pom-pom in any of the four colors — I went with Highland Coo (the red-orange color) because I had the most left over of that color.

Do you have a favorite method for making pom-poms? I use the Clover pom-pom tools, which work quite well. This time, I also tried something new: steaming my pom-pom. I first read about it at Mason-Dixon Knitting and now I’m a convert. Steaming is easy and adds a little extra poof and polish, taking a pom-pom from pretty nice to pretty perfect. I dangled the pom-pom in front of my Dritz steamer, twirling it this way and that for a couple minutes (watching it carefully because I didn’t want to felt it). If you don’t have a steamer, I imagine steam from a tea kettle would do just fine.

Look for the Downy Hat pattern later this month. In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying a peaceful and happy holiday season!