Tams Are Me

  I have loved wearing a tam, since I was young. I like to pull my tam to one side of my head. Our grandfather loved wearing a tam. He was a tall, striking man of Norwegian heritage and wore a tam all of  the time. I loved seeing them on him. I am sure this is why my tam love-affair started.  In fact, Q made sure grandpa was wearing his favorite tam when he was buried.

I have always worn the felted tams that everyone is familiar with. (Q – she is adorable in tams!) A few years ago, I decided it was time that I try to knit one.  I bought the book Knitted Tams by Mary Rowe, picked out one of the patterns, and attempted to  knit it. It was a total disaster and I’m not quite sure why. Something just went horribly wrong.  I did not try to knit another one until I saw THE HAT on the front cover of “Vogue Knitting” Fall 2009. The article was called “Head Trips”.  The name of THE HAT is Vine and Leaf Beret on page 75. I love THE HAT so much that I have made 3 of them! This is a picture of Q wearing THE HAT on our Northwest Trip, she didn’t bring a hat so I took pity on her and let her wear it.  I made it as a gift for mom.  (Q – being the wonderful sister that she is, she ended up knitting a tam for me on the trip.)

When Q dyed the gradient, green yarn (see our post in March “It’s All About the Dyeing“) I was ready to try a Fair Isle tam. I looked through all my books and online to find just the right tam that would work well using gradient yarn colors. I found the Three Tams by Angela Sixian Wu on Ravelry and choose Tam C to knit.

It has been a blast to knit this tam. I start out using the darker colored green yarn at the bottom and the lighter color at the top this way it follows shadows and light.  The yarn is Stitch Nation’s “full o’ sheep” and it is a little heavier than I usually use for a tam. I used a size 5 to cast on for the standard rib (k1,p1,) then I changed to a size 7 to do the body.

I used the twined method of knitting, so I wouldn’t have a lot of strings on the inside to get caught on something.  See the inside, notice strings are not carried across as in a regular Fair Isle. This is going to be my Spring hat so colorful to wear.  Look how wonderful the gradient looks!

Blocking the tam is very easy.  First, hand wash in a mild soap. I use Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash.  Shampoo works great, too.  After gently washing, sandwich the tam between two towels and press out most of the moisture. Remember Do Not Wring!


Now get a dinner plate about 10 to 10 1/2″ and gently stretch the damp tam over it. Check the bottom to make sure the tam is centered and equal on all sides of the plate.


Note: The picture below is the finished tam off the plate. Next time I do my tam I shall put the top of the tam on the top of the plate. I did it this way per instruction, but, as you can see,  it left the shape of the bottom of the plate on the tam.  The bottom of the plate should come out of the bottom of the hat.

Let the tam totally dry, it might take up to 2 days. If it doesn’t look as if it has a sharp enough edge shape for you, lightly steam it. Do Not Iron.  Since ironing will flatten the tam and the yarn will loose all of its bouncy look. Notice the nice sharp edge.  Perfection! 😎


Dyeing to Meet the Challenge!

Q –  This is my dye challenge the Fair Isle Beret featured in Prima November 2009! Will I be able to take the raw yarn below and dye it to match the purple, brown, and pink colors found in the beret?  Saturday was rainy, windy day so I couldn’t go outside and use the Jacquard dyes, I don’t like using them inside.  I stayed warm and dry indoors and used food color dye.  I know, I know, these colors tend to be WAY to bright, but that’s what was in the house.  After rewinding the yarn onto the nitty noddy, it was soaked in a mixture of Kookaburra Delicate and vinegar for 48 hours.  Since I don’t need as much brown and pink yarn, I made small 20 gram hanks which were soaked in the mixture for an hour.

I used Wilton’s Food Coloring in brown, pink, and purple.  See the dye splotches? I was just checking to see the colors.  Very cool!  They really do look BRIGHT!  The brown looks more greenish.  We’ll see!

I started with the brown.  It really looks green.  Amazing how you can’t tell what color the yarn will be based on the color of the liquid.    I added about 8 cups of water into the crockpot and poured in about 2 tablespoons more vinegar for mordant.  I poured in brown dye until it looked as if it were dark enough.  I was trying for a tan color, not dark brown.  I’m thrilled with the crockpot that I found on Friday for $8!  Another one of my fabulous thrift store finds. Thank you to the person who gave it away.

Turned the crockpot to high.  It took about an hour for the dye to be exhausted.  Took the yarn out and cooled it.  Really wasn’t 100% happy with the color so after I dyed the pink and the purple yarns I redyed the brown and it turned out perfect!  The first time it was too mottled and there were green spots.

The pink yarn was dyed next. Rather interesting that the pink dye left a pink rim around the inside of the crockpot.  It turned out a bit to bright, even though I used about 1/8 teaspoon to 1 cup of water.  It was then diluted further when only a tiny bit was added into 8 cups of vinegar – water mixture in the crockpot. Everything I’ve read said that adding vinegar to pink food coloring or easter egg dyes would make a lighter color.  Didn’t work in this instance.  I put it into Oxyclean and desaturated it a tiny bit.  Rinsed really well.

Last to dye was the purple.  It really came out mottled.  I had soaked the yarn in yarn soak for about 48 hours so the yarn was throughly wet.  I have about 100 grams of wool.  It took a few hours to exhaust the purple. After I took it out it didn’t look as if it was the purple I was looking for. It’s hard to see but the yarn is too periwinkle blue with lots of hot pink thrown in – definitely not what I’m going for! Pretty, but not up to meeting the challenge. So, I decided to wait until the morning to check it in morning light. Since yesterday was sunny, I took the purple yarn outside and studied it.  It really was too periwinkle blue – hot pink- blue instead of a purple.  It had to go back into the dye pot. Re-soaked the yarn for an hour. Then I made a mixture of two purple Kool-Aids.  Kool-Aid has citric acid as the main ingredient so I didn’t add any more vinegar to the water mixture.   Added the yarn, plugged in the crockpot (lol), and heated the yarn-dye bath until all of the dye was exhausted.  The dye was perfect.

Original purple which had to be redyed:

Voila! The results!  The colors in “real-life” turned out quite well.  Recap time:  1. The brown had to go through the dye bath twice, but the food coloring worked just fine, 2. The pink frosting turned the yarn “hot pink”.  Redyed with pink lemonade and the results were a much softer pink. 3. The purple frosting gave a periwinkle-hot pink-blue color so I redyed with purple Kool-aid!  I think the results are close enough to meet the challenge.  What do you think?

A note about yesterday – It was one of those days!  Sister Barb, Curls, was having a wonderful day, with her husband, at the bike race in Los Angeles.

While riding along doing wonderfully well, her bike fell over on her.  I personally think the bike turned into “Christine”. lol  She ended up with a bruised, swollen ankle.  Thus proving my point that yesterday was really Friday the 13th!

Poor Curls is RICEing her ankle today so we aren’t having our Monday Meeting.  When she’s feeling better she’ll probably tell you all about it.

Ok, I had a tax reprieve from yesterday – they’re not due until tomorrow!  So, ta-ta I’m off to have real fun! lol  I just have to resist the call of the Siren aka Mariah the Spinning Wheel.  Taxes, taxes, taxes!