Tag Archives: hat

All the Old Showstoppers (Part 1)

What keeps us coming back to the same patterns over and over again? Certainly, a familiar pattern is always faster and usually made with more technical proficiency, but there’s more to it than that.  A really great pattern demands to made over and over again.  Some patterns have that perfect mix of beauty, versatility, practicality and reliability that has you coming back to them again and again. These patterns are the ones that I love to make over and over again.

The worsted weight version in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino

The worsted weight version in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino

Favourite hat:  I’ve written a few of my own hat patterns and tried countless others over the years, but the one I come back to again and again is the Dean Street Hat, which is available as a free ravelry download.  The pattern comes in chunky and worsted weight and every size from toddler to large headed adult, like me.  The texture has a nice density that keeps you warm. The cables are simple enough to knit swiftly but attractive enough to be special, and I’ve gotten countless compliments on the three that I’ve made.  All in all a classic.

My first Rocketry cardigan in Dream in Color Classy

My first Rocketry cardigan in Dream in Color Classy

Favourite baby sweater:  While my recent experience with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Sweater on Two Needles, had me second guessing this choice, Dream in Color’s Rocketry Baby Cardigan edged it out.  The advantage went to the Rocketry cardigan purely on the basis of it’s unisex appeal.  This adorable cardigan works well for boys and girls, and it’s a great stash buster.  The stripes keep the knitting interesting and make ensuring uniform sleeve length a breeze.  I’ve made it four times, twice in the suggested (but expensive) Dream in Color Classy, and twice in much more reasonable Lamb’s Pride wool.  It’s reliable and seamless, and works equally well as a six colour rainbow sweater and in simple three colour combinations (I’ve tried pink/white/black and red/navy/white).

Gusset heel toe up socks in unidentified stast yarn

Gusset heel toe up socks in unidentified stash yarn

Favourite socks: As a dedicated sock knitter this was a tough choice.  Lately, I’ve worn down the spine of Cookie A’s knit.sock.love and I was tempted to choose one of her innovative designs.  In the end, however, I went for simplicity: Wendy Johnson’s Gusset Heel Basic Socks, published in Socks from the Toe Up are fantastic.  The directions have an admirable clarity and they are perfect for showing off multicolour yarn or as a basis for your own experiments with texture.  The gusset heel is elegantly simple, providing lots of space for good fit across the top of the foot, without all of the slip stitch heel fuss.  I’ve had lots of knitters look at these and ask how I made such a clever heel, if only I could take the credit.


How NOT to knit a hat

DSC_3874I often feel like I’m the only who has knitting projects flop, so I was relieved to read this blog post on frayed at the edges, about a project gone meh.  It turns out I’m not the only one who is sometimes disappointed by my projects… this weekend, I definitely suffered one such disappointments (or in this case, one such totally frustrating wastes of time).

This toque was supposed to save me time.  About a week ago, I realized that I had not allowed myself time to finish my ambitious holiday gift knitting (which, at the time included 6 pairs of light weight socks and a couple of toddler sweaters).  I flipped through my pattern library and rifled through my stash, hoping to find a lovely, faster gift that I could make with yarn I already have.

I landed on the Chunky Dean Street hat, which is available as a free ravelry download.  I’ve

My son in his chunky Dean Street hat, in Dream in Color Groovy

made the hat twice before, for myself and for my son, and I knew I could complete it quickly.  It’s warm and cuddly, and I had a gorgeous little ball of leftover Dream in Color Groovy in purple. I even had a touch of the Dream in Color in a complementary pink, if the purple didn’t make it.

Of course, I ran out of yarn, just before starting the crown decreases, so I went back, unravelled several rows of the hat and started to add pink stripes.  Everything seemed to be going well, and as we sat and watched a movie this weekend, I finished about half of the crown decreases before looking down at my ball of yarn.  I ran out of yarn 9 rows from the top.  At this point, I had to declare defeat.  Sure, I could have pulled out some random wool and completed the tip of the hat in a different colour, but this was a gift – it’s supposed to make the recipient feel special, not lead to awkward “Umm, gee, thanks. I love it?”s around the Christmas tree.

Fortunately, this clever little hat was there to help me out of a knitting jam. I had stashed the blue-green Dream in Color Classy years ago for a sweater I never made, so it also helped me fulfill my promise to my husband to work on those bins of yarn under the bed.  Now that I have a toddler, who outgrows shoes every 3 months, I rarely buy this wonderful $20/skein yarn, so knitting with it felt decadent.

The hat is based on an eighty stitch repeat, across eighty-one stitches, so the lines of purls twist becomingly around the hat.  I can’t wait to experiment with this idea (perhaps with some cables?) after I work through the rest of my holiday knitting.  Until then five gift projects down, four to go – next year, I’m starting in August!

Beanies for babies (finally, a use for grade six math)

We are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of my newest niece (although, I’m sure this waiting is hardest on my very pregnant sister-in-law.)  In the mean time, I’ve been preoccupied with making sure my newest niece’s little head is warm when she finally arrives.

(Left to right) a modified texture in grey Dream in Color Smooshy, the eyelet hat in madelinetosh leftover from my Monkey socks and the heart version in Dream in Color Starry

It is a happy coincidence that my recent sock knitting binge has coincided with the pregnancies of so many friends and family, because newborn hats are the perfect way to deal with the little balls of leftover sock yarn that I have collected over the years.  I know I have previously railed against knitting tiny impractical baby clothes, but I make an exception for these.  Newborn hats are quick, easy, adorable, practical (albeit very briefly) and the perfect use for leftover yarn.

One of my nieces in the heart version of this hat in Arauncania Ranco Multy

My favourite pattern for baby hats is a modified version of Carissa Knits’ Preemie Hats for Charity. These lovely little hats are simple, versatile and easy to modify.  Using sport or sock weight yarn makes these hats more practical, since they are the perfect thickness for indoor or warm weather wear.  The hats are not intended for full term babies, so some changes are needed if you intend to use them as a shower gift.  When in doubt, if you are making anything for a baby or small child, err on the side of big – they will always grow.

When I make these hats, I make them on size 6 needles and cast on 84 (rather than 72) stitches. Modifying a pattern in this way requires a bit of basic math.  If you look closely at this pattern, you will notice three instances where the pattern repeats:

My son, as a newborn, in the diamond version

1. The ribbing is p2, k2 – so you need to cast on a multiple of four for the ribbing to work out.

2. The hearts and diamonds repeat every 12 stitches – so you will need to cast on a multiple of twelve for the texture pattern to work out.

3. The eyelets and first row of crown decreases repeats every 6 stitches – so you will need to cast on a multiple of six.

Once you have carefully recorded all of the repeats, make sure that the number of stitches that you increase or decrease by matches the repeats in the original pattern. (in this instance, the original 72 sts and my 84 sts are multiples of 4, 6 and 12).

Since the pattern is so versatile and quick, it’s a great place to start experimenting with new ideas and techniques. Any texture or colourwork that repeats horizontally can

A modified fair isle version in Dream in Colour Starry and red sock yarn from my grandmother’s stash

be easily substituted for the hearts, eyelets and diamonds.  The grey hat at the top is a simple knit, purl combination that was inspired by a rug I liked.  Here, I tried a basic fair isle pattern.

Of course, this pattern is originally intended for donation to NICU wards. I was really moved by stories of parents recieving hand made clothes like these in the hospital.  However, my basic internet search has not yielded anywhere in Ontario that accepts donations like this.  If you know of anywhere, please share.  I’d love to make some of these in their original size and for their original purpose.

Winter is Coming Toque

Last summer, my brother-in-law lent me the very addictive Game of Thrones novels to occupy me on planes, in airports, on docks and beaches and in doctors and dentists offices.  I missed more than my share of subway stops catching up on what the scheming Starks and Lannisters were up to.

Winter is coming toque (slouchy version)

Inspired by the similarity between the ominous feeling you get in Canada in November and House Stark’s motto, a toque to brave the winter in Canada or the Seven Kingdoms (or anywhere else for that matter….)

Needles: Size 7 and 9 circular needles.  Size 9 DPNs

Notions: tapestry needle, stitch marker

Yarn: 60 yards worsted weight yarn in colour #1,30 yards in colour #2 (sample in Berroco Vintage)

Size: medium/large 24” inches in circumference

Gauge:4 stitches/inch

There’s no escaping it… winter is coming.

Cast 96 stitches in colour #1 on size 7 circular needles

Brim: (8 rounds)

Row 1:  join in the round, careful not to twist, (K1, P3)* repeat to the end of the round

Rows 2 to 8: repeat

Main hat: (33 rounds or desired length)           

Switch to size 9 circular needles.

Knit 4 rounds

Work colour pattern bellow as follows:

K2, work 92 stitches in pattern, K2

(The long strands can be difficult to deal with if you’re a novice at stranded colourwork.  If you are doing more than 5 or 6 consecutive stitches in one colour, just tuck the other strand around every 4 to 5 stitches to avoid long drooping strands.)

Knit 20 rounds for a slouchy hat as shown. (15 rounds for a closer fitting toque)

Decrease for crown:

Switch to DPNs

Row 1: (K6, k2tog) repeat to the end of the round

Row 2 (and all even rows): knit

Row 3: (K5, k2tog) repeat to the end of the round

Row 4: knit

Row 5: (k4, k2tog) repeat to the end of the round

Row 7: (k3, k2tog) repeat to the end of the round

Row 9: (k2, k2tog) repeat to the end of the round

Row 11: (k1, k2tog) repeat to the end of the round

Row 13: k2tog to the end of the round.

Run yarn through remaining stitches, and sew in ends!

For personal or charitable use only. LGN, 2012.

Winter is coming…

My impulsive project in progress

There’s really no denying it anymore.  Every morning, I wake up in the dark and there were flurries in the air here last week.  Most knitters are probably be turning their thoughts to fuzzy hats, scarves and mitts. Instead, I’m letting my mind wander back to Costa Rica, where my husband and I escaped winter’s clutches last year.

On the advice of some good travel agent friends, we decided to travel indepedently and stay in hostels and hotels in La Fortuna, Turrialba and Liberia.  Costa Rica is fantastic –

Relaxing at Arenal’s “five star hostel”

our accomodations were cheap, comfortable, safe and the perfect place to arrange any kind of adventure from.  The local food (or “typical” as they describe it) was plentiful and FRESH in a way that almost no food in Ontario is.  Having breakfast at our lodge in Turrialba was probably the only time in my life that my coffee with sugar and fruit salad were grown within walking distance.

The food and accomodations were extremely reasonable, but budget lots of money for adventures.  We ziplined, white water rafted in a setting worthy of BBC’s Planet Earth, toured the Cano Negro and soaked in volcanic hot springs.  Even without a toddler to wake us up (he was with his grandparents), I was often up at 6 am, sipping local coffee and watching the birds. The golden sunlight and lush vegetation is haunting my dreams these days, when I look out my window to be confronted by gray skies and naked trees.

La Fortuna

It wasn’t all sunshine in paradise though, we made some mistakes that should be avoided.  Renting a car in Costa Rica was probably our biggest travel mistake in the last few years.  There was an extra insurance cost sprung on us at the last minute, and the car was more of a hassle than it was worth.  The driving was beautiful, but the Lonely Planet, and many other travellers that we met, recommended never leaving valuables visible in your car.  So on long drives, with all of our luggage in the trunkless jeep, we were forced to eat in the car and take turns in the washroom.

A spider monkey on the Cano Negro

This mistake was made all the more glaring when we saw the ease with which backpackers navigated the country.  Inexpensive tour buses operated between every major destination in Costa Rica, and in some cases made it easier to get to isolated places, like Monteverde.  Thanks to our jeep, Monteverde remains on our to-see list – maybe once our son is old enough to get into the ziplining, rafting and wildlife spotting?

As much as I’d like to be holding a ticket back to Costa Rica, there comes a time when we all must face facts.  Which is why you’ll find this on my needles this week:

The colour chart from my impulsive design project

Choo-choo Toque

My son in his choo-choo toque

This pattern is now available on ravelry.com

For personal or charitable use only. LGN, 2012.

* I had some ravelry comments that mentioned that the long strands can be difficult to deal with if you’re a novice at stranded colourwork.  If you are doing more than 5 or 6 consecutive stitches in one colour, just tuck the other strand around every 4 to 5 stitches.