Posted tagged ‘hat’

Entering the world of the hat

October 20, 2015


This is the story of two hats.



Pattern: The Vermonter by Abi Gregorio
Yarn: Araucania Tolten (100% wool), colorway 4
Needles: U.S. 11 36″ Harmony wood Options circulars (magic-loop)

It all started with Thick Yarn Thunderdome. In an effort to reduce my stash, which covers an entire wall of our bedroom without counting the 55-gallon tub of leftovers and assorted skeins that don’t fit in the wall unit, I joined a Ravelry group last year and challenged myself to acquire yarn at a negative rate. Periodic competitions and goals, posted by the enthusiastic moderators of the group, motivated me to use what I had instead of always buying more.


So almost as soon as the October challenge (use worsted-weight or heavier) was announced, I was eagerly digging through those bins to find possibilities. On the weekend before my fiftieth birthday, I took a stray skein of this beautiful wool (the only one of its colorway I found at Tuesday Morning back in the heady non-stash-down days of spring 2014) and cast on for a delicious bulky hat. Two hours later, I had made a hat. Where there never was a hat.



Pattern: Three-Spiral Hat by Elizabeth Zimmermann, from The Opinionated Knitter
Yarn: Universal Ferris Wool (70% wool, 30% acrylic), colorway 802 Cream
Needles: U.S. 11 Harmony wood Options 36″ circular needle (magic-loop)

I might have gotten a little excited after producing the first hat. More digging in the Tuesday Morning bulky bin, a little deeper this time (summer 2013), combined with the vague idea that it would be fun to knit along with EZ for a bit, et voila. Another hat in another few hours.


I need not add to the millions of words spilled on our culture’s knitblogs about Elizabeth Zimmermann. Suffice it to say that sharing her mindspace with needles in hand is a heady experience. How does she see what she sees? How does she communicate it so intimately?


The next day we put on our hats for a Sunday walk. One day, two hats. From yarn to headwarmer to pom-pom to sculpted soft-serve swirls. Just in case you had forgotten that knitting is magic.


Make the pop go rock

January 6, 2015


Pattern: Insta-Hat by Lee Meredith
Yarn: The Twisted Purl Merino Merino Wool Tencil Thread
Needles: U.S. 10.5 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needle, magic loop style

New year. New start.

Lee Meredith is a designer known for her quirky sense of style. She’s especially associated with the oversize zig-zag — a texture or color pattern that veers first one way, then another, over the course of a hat or cowl or glove. After Christmas, she began posting daily clues on Instagram for a hat pattern in bulky yarn. Done with holiday knitting, done with book writing, done with 2014, and committed to a “stashdown” in the new year, I was primed for something exactly like this.


It only took five days, maybe a half-hour a day, and that includes the day I spent doing clue #3 wrong and ripping it out. Then, the pom-pom. Out came my beloved jumbo Clover pom-pom maker, truly one of humankind’s greatest achievements. Look at that big fluffy thing. The thick parts of the yarn just spread out in an irresistible texture. It’s glorious.


I have a cube in my massive yarn-storage Expedit for single skeins — leftover balls from bigger projects, or just orphans I picked up here and there. When you buy yarn at craft fair stalls from local producers, sometimes one skein is all there is of any single thing. That’s the way it was with this thick-and-thin, thread-to-roving skein spun by Cyndi Minister. I bought it five years earlier, at my church’s Christmas market. I’m pretty sure my five-year-old daughter, whom I would teach to knit within weeks of that purchase, had something to do with the selection.


And here’s that girl, now age ten, plopping on a just-finished hat for a holiday walk. New year. New start. But keep the precious things from before close by, and watch them transform.

I just need to catch my breath

December 31, 2013

Has everyone gotten their Christmas packages yet? Probably not; I know at least one went astray and might not be reunited with its recipients until the calendar flips over. Nevertheless, how can I let the year end without wrapping up what I made for the holidays?


Pattern: Luxe Cowl by Margaux Hufnagel
Yarn: Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool (100% wool), colorways Snowdrift and Persimmon
Needles: U.S. 13 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular

I actually made two of these, the other in a winter white. This red one went to my mother-in-law Libby; the white one I hope will soon be in the hands of my niece.


Pattern: Crocheted Square Washcloth by Stacey Trock
Yarn: Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), colorway Vanilla
Hook: Tulip Etimo 5.0mm (H)


Pattern: Waffle Knit Dishcloth by Debbie Andriulli
Yarn: Aslan Trends Pima Clasico Cotton (100% cotton), colorway White
Needles: U.S. 6 Sunstruck straights

Libby also requested some easy-care, throw-em-in-the-wash, bleach-the-heck-out-of-em dishcloths. I dug around in the stash, found some non-colorful cotton, whipped ’em up.


Pattern: Rikke Hat by Sarah Young
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% merino, 30% silk), colorway Robot
Needles: U.S. 4 (band) and 7 (body) Harmony wood 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

My lovely model is lovely, but I wish I’d gotten a picture of this hat on Noel. I made it for nephew Daniel, and it is a terrific style on a fashion-forward man.


Pattern: Astronomer by Veronica O’Neil
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% merino), colorways Black and White (not sure what yarn the gray stripe is)
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

Boy, this turned out handsomely. I made Bowdoin College colors for nephew Sawyer, who runs cross-country there. The turned hem is a polished touch. And the yarn knit up crisp and even. A professional-looking effort, maybe my favorite of the season.

IMG_1205 IMG_1202 IMG_1204

Pattern: Mini Sweater Ornament With Cables by Emily5446
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (in Gypsy), Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed (in Spruce), Knit Picks Felici (in Arugula), Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome (in Birches, not pictured)
Needles: U.S. 1.5 & 2 Nickel fixed Options 24″ circulars

I made a handful of mini sweaters to put in random stockings. The Birches one (made of leftovers from an as-yet-unblogged Sockhead Hat) managed to hop in a stocking before I had time to photograph it. In 2014 my leftovers are all devoted to hexipuffs, so I hope they enjoyed these last gasps of freedom.

I hope your holiday of giving was as warm as mine! See you next year!

Rising up the mountain, lighting up the valley below

December 18, 2013


Pattern: The Proverbial Cap (rav link) by Meg Swansen (IK Fall 2010)
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Kettle Dyed (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorway Gold
Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) Harmony wood Options 16″ circular needle (magic loop)

We knitters are more in thrall to our visual sense than we would like to admit. Why do we fall in love with a pattern? Because we see it in a certain color, a certain styling, a certain environment. All that has as much to do with our enamoured state as our good judgment about whether it fits our needs or the occasion.


One of the most senseless instances of this phenomenon is the influence of models. Take this hat. I wanted to knit a gift for my teaching assistant. I browsed hats. The magazine spread for this hat featured a model that reminded me of my teaching assistant. (You can see that photo at the Ravelry link I included with the pattern name, above.) Bam, I decided this was the hat I wanted to make.


Besides, it looked like fun. All this beautiful texture. I didn’t quite appreciate, though I should have from the pattern’s role as a demonstration project for a pages-long explication of twisted-stitches technique, that it would be so painstaking. Twisted stitches are no problem, I thought. I’ve got those down, I thought. Well, these are twisted stitches in bewildering variety and with entirely new methods of twisting than I ever encountered before. On a good night’s knitting I got three rounds done. The hat grew so slowly. But the effect was transcendent. I persevered.


Blocking was necessary, that was clear from Meg’s comprehensive article. I procrastinated until just a couple of days before the final exam period was over, my last chance to get the hat to its intended recipient. On the day I gave it to her, she brought her own first crocheted hat for me to see. It was beautiful. I hope she has room for two handmade hats in her life.

holly hat

Considering how beautifully she wears a hat, she should make herself a closet full of them. Or maybe become a hat model. Then she could inspire other knitters the way that Interweave model (can you see the resemblence?) inspired me.

And the kids got coke and chocolate bars

April 14, 2013


Pattern: Thoreau Hat by Terri Kruse (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Quince & Co. Lark (100% wool), colorways Bark and Nasturtium
Needles: U.S. 7 Harmony wood 24″ circulars (magic-loop)

Sometimes you get on a hot streak, and sometimes you can’t wake up the cards. Early this year I suddenly hit the jackpot on three or four blog contests, all at the same time, winning yarn and books and such. One of those windfalls was this Quince & Co. yarn. I fell in love with its sturdy, honest richness. I wanted to knit it immediately.


Noel needed a hat. I’ve made him a balaclava and a scarf and even a sweater for the frigid temperatures of Park City at Sundance time (he didn’t get to go this year, but I hold out hope for the future). But if he’s going to keep up his walking regimen in even the relatively tame Arkansas winter, he needs a warm hat. The proportions of colors I received in this yarn reminded me of a hat I saw in a magazine, with a pop of color around the brim. I searched and searched, until I found it. Man, do I ever love this hat.


Pattern: Easy Missoni Style Long Moebius Cowl by Haley Waxburg
Yarn: Plymouth Happy Feet DK (90% merino, 10% nylon), colorway 55
Needles: U.S. 11 24″ Harmony wood Options circulars

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to find my motivation to knit in different places. It’s not that I am tired of knitting; it’s that I have a number of stalled projects that are sapping my willpower. I feel like a failure for not taking care of the business I’ve already started. So I look to necessity or to pleasure for motivation. I need a warm hat for my walks to school, or a long-sleeve cardigan for layering — that’s necessity. I want to use a yarn that I really enjoy, or make a type of pattern I’ve long wanted to try — that’s pleasure.


And yet, even when determined to follow these muses, I get sidetracked into my other motivations. Necessity drove me toward attractive accessories Knitwise could sell at its annual Craftin’ for CASA event. The perennial desire to use up stash yarn I’ve had for years, yarn that has been taunting me with my inability to find a pattern suited for it, led me to this DK yarn I bought from the Dizzy Sheep in the distant past. Brilliant pink is emphatically not my color, but it is most definitely the kind of color that will draw the eye when displayed for sale.


The motivations you need sometimes come along as a surprise once the work begins. Held double, this yarn made a decadent squishy soft fabric. I learned the cool moebius cast-on, and could see myself knitting moebiuses (mobeii?) as go-to travel projects. Circular needles (I don’t take my beautiful and expensive Signature straights through airports, since confiscation can’t always be predicted), easily memorized pattern, plenty of mindless knitting for meetings and sessions.


On the other hand, I plowed through this one pretty fast — so fast that I didn’t put down the needle size or how many skeins I used on the project’s Ravelry page. Maybe it wouldn’t last long enough for my travel needs.


It didn’t last long at the sale, either. The lovely Ashley took it home, and CASA of the 20th Judicial District took home the proceeds. Stash busted, children benefited, knitter happy, necks and hearts warmed.

Now this is my turn

January 12, 2013

Finished a hat on the plane, gave it to my seatmate Walker, a DePaul senior, with wishes for a warmer Chicago winter.

Pattern: Graham by Jennifer Adams
Yarn: Dream In Color Classy (100% superwash merino), colorway Cocoa Kiss
Needles: U.S. 5 (for ribbing) & 7 Zephyr acrylic Options 36″ circular (magic loop)

As 2012 drew to a close, I was craving pleasure in my yarn. What knitters call “yumminess.” The kind of sensual experience in the hands, on the needles, and in the stitch pattern that feels almost too luxurious to be called work. I took two beautiful skeins of yarn on our post-Christmas trip to the barrier islands of Georgia, and as we were waiting for the plane to whisk us there, I cast on with the worsted weight hand-dyed merino. The kind of substantial yet buttery yarn that the snow we’d left behind seemed to call for.


Almost every second that I wasn’t at the beach, gathering shells and spotting birds with Cady Gray, I had this hat in my hand, knitting inside out in broken rib and admiring the waffle-ish texture developing on the opposite side of the fabric. I started the decreases the day before we left, and found I had miscounted my cast-on, forcing me to improvise an extra set. But by the time we got on the plane for the first leg of the trip home, I was in the rhythm, and didn’t even need to cross off the row-by-row instructions during the flight.


I sat a row back from Noel and the kids, next to a young man in the middle seat who put his head down and politely asked me to get water from the attendant when she came by for drink orders. I couldn’t tell if he were feeling poorly or not. But as I knit the last stitches and used my needles to draw the tail through them, one by one, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to give him the hat. I had no recipient in mind; in color, texture, and shape it was perfect for a young man; and with his lanky frame and longish blond hair, I thought he’d be the type to wear a hat well. He broke into a huge smile, and told me how much it would be appreciated during the cold Chicago winter as he completed his poetry degree at DePaul. I just had a chance to snap a few pictures with his permission (and Instagram one covertly during deplaning, the top one of this post) before the hat was gone forever, off to its connection somewhere else in the Nashville airport.

I began the hat with the aim of my own enjoyment. I ended it with the aim of a holiday surprise, something completely unexpected that might brighten the day of a chance acquaintance. The pleasure I wanted to extract from the process of knitting became, in the end — and not without a twinge of regret for the loss of the material object and its potential value as souvenir, gift, or fundraising item — inextricable from the impulse to create with it an indelible moment and a connection between people thrown together in their travels. I hope somewhere Walker, the young man who received the hat, is warm and full of hope for the new year.

I’m a fool to think something so impossible

December 6, 2012


Pattern: The Boy Hat by Elizabeth Heath-Heckman
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted (100% merino) colorway Nostalgia
Needles: U.S. 7 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needles (magic loop)

More catching up with little knits and random gifts from the past year! After the Ravellenic Games this year, I was in a hat mood. The thought of single skeins, easily portable bags, quick finishes appealed to me. I assuaged the yearning with this quick beanie using a orphan skein of my beloved Malabrigo. It’s on the charity shelf waiting to warm and brighten someone’s winter.


Pattern: Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf by Karen Baumer
Yarn: Wisdom Yarns Ballad (100% merino), colorway 317
Needles: U.S. 8 Signature straights

For some reason, every time I score yarn at Tuesday Morning, I can’t wait to use it up right away. It must be something deep in my Protestant or perhaps Scottish heritage. A skein of luxury yarn sits in my stash for years; an everyday purchase waits forlornly to be utilized; but bargain yarn demands to jump onto the needles within hours or days of coming home with me. This Noro knockoff became a new version of one of the very first scarves I made for a family member. This time I made a lot fewer mistakes, which I’m sure the eventual charitable recipient will appreciate.


Pattern: Intuitive by Julia Zahle (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino (100% wool), colorway Bright Red
Needles: U.S. 5 and 8 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circular needles (magic loop)

I had this project in reserve in the Ravellenics in case I got done with my Montague Vest early and needed a quick extra medal opportunity. The longing I felt to turn to it when the vest seemed far too hefty to drag out in the heat of summer — well, that’s the source of my determination to make hats hats and more hats after the Games. This single ball was left over from a 2008 Christmas project, Alex’s Irish Hiking Scarf.

More to come …