Posted in Projectile

Many Hats

The knitting guild I belong to has a service project making hats for preschoolers in the tri-county early childhood programs. Our annual goal is 600 hats. That’s a lot of hats, even for a guild with 53 members! I’m doing my best to knit 12 a year, or 1 each month. Hats are a fun way to try out new techniques. They’re also a good way to use up the acrylic yarn that appears out of nowhere around these parts.

The most recent hat is also my first attempt at brioche knitting. Brioche isn’t really hard, but I am also saying that from the vantage point of never having done two colors brioche, or shaping, or pretty much any advanced technique beyond brk1 and brp1.

I chose Purl Soho’s “Fluffy Brioche Hat”  over 88 sts for my novice brioche project. Their patterns are always very well-written, whether you’re a newbie or an expert, and this is no exception. To use up bits of yarn, I used one color for the cuff and crown and a variegated color for the body of the hat. It was a fantastic game of yarn chicken that left me with less than a gram of the solid blue, and none of the variegated when all was said and done. Yes!

fluffy brioche hat The only thing I don’t care for on this hat is how the crown comes out like a square. If I do it again (and I probably will), I’ll probably add one or more decrease columns to the four called for in the pattern, to give it a “rounder” shape. These were done on size 7 needles for the cuff and size 5 needles for the body and crown (I think the pattern calls for 4s, but I didn’t have 4s in 16″ circs).

Other charitable hats of note are the Sunset Hat, which is a cool but easy colorwork pattern that gradually changes from one color to another. You can use a lot of different combinations of colors for effect. I like using black with a vibrant contrasting color: 20170315_004306

But I also liked how these pastels look:
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That particular hat used a mercerized cotton yarn, which has really crummy stitch definition. Not well-suited for colorwork, either. But it’s very soft, which is important in kids’ hats. Anyway, here is the Sunset hat in another color scheme:

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I really like these gradual color changes as an alternative to stripes.

Other favorite charity hat projects are Kitimat, which is similar to the Sunset hat but only uses two colors. I did mine in black and ivory. This picture is before blocking, which is why some of the “V”s are wonky.
Kitimat I also made the Strib Hat, over 80 sts, almost exactly as written. That’s another well-written pattern, simple but elegant. I used TECHknitter’s 3-in-1 join on cast-on edge, and back-join technique for jogless stripes.

Streb hatLast but not least, Declan’s hat is a cable-y beanie that works up quickly but looks deceptively complicated. I enjoyed this one a lot. It’s done on size 6 needles over 96 stitches (cables “suck in” your fabric, so they usually take more yarn).

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Other patterns I’ve enjoyed for this ongoing project are:

Classic Cuffed Hat by Purl Soho
The Able Cable Hat
Slip Stitch Stash Hat
Creepers All Around

Posted in Worsted - Wait!

Bunny Hop Blanket

This is the pattern that inspired me to learn how to knit.  It was sometime in mid-2007.  I had learned to crochet in fall of 2006, but quickly discovered that the patterns I was most attracted to were for knitting.  Crochet seemed so coarse and chunky compared to the soft drape of knitted fabric.  So when I came across the Bunny Hop blanket pattern, I knew I just had to learn how to knit.

I went out and bought myself a Learn-To-Knit book and some needles, grabbed some yarn (probably a boucle or eyelash, knowing me at the time) from my then-meager stash, and set down to figure it out.  How hard could this be? I thought.

While the book had plenty of pictures, it was incredibly limited in scope, showing only one cast-on and the English (throwing) style of holding the yarn.  There was no mention of long-tail caston or cable caston or even that there were multiple methods of casting on, depending on your project.  There was no mention of different styles of holding the yarn.   Having come from a crochet background, I was used to holding yarn in my left hand.  Now I was supposed to hold it in my right, juggle a pair of needles instead of one hook, and work these crazy stitches while sometimes holding the yarn in the front, sometimes in the back.  It was a disaster.  I’m pretty sure there were tears and many curses involved.

Then I got the brilliant idea to find a video of someone knitting.  This led me to Knitting Help, without which I probably never would have knitted a single stitch.  There I discovered something called “Continental” method, in which you hold the yarn in your [proper] left hand and pick it into your knit stitches, instead of throwing it around the needle.  I learned that there were no fewer than five caston methods, and actually several more.  Before I knew it, fabric was coming off of my needles.  I was knitting!

Of course, I tried to make this pattern right away.  And it was a disaster.  The pattern tells you to “knit your knit stitches and purl the purl stitches” on the wrong side rows.  Well, that was confusing.  Did that mean I knitted into stitches that I had knit on the opposite side (effectively knitting the purl stitches and vice versa)?  Or did that mean I knitted into stitches that looked like knit stitches?  And what did a knit stitch look like, anyway?  Then I accidentally pulled about 20 of the 125 stitches off the needle.  Of course this was an unrecoverable error for a newbie knitter, but since I was only 5 rows in I dutifully ripped it out and cast on again.  And then I dropped a stitch.  And then I got a knot.  It seemed like this pattern was just not in the cards.  So I quit and went on to something else, a proper scarf – which is where you’re supposed to start with knitting, apparently.

Several scarves, dishcloths, cabled afghans, socks, felted projects (some intentionally, some not), a top, a few hats, two pairs of mittens, and some household knitting projects later, and I’ve come back to the Bunny Hop.  A good friend and his wife are expecting, and this seemed like the perfect time to try knitting my inspiration again.  And as they say, third time’s a charm.

Here’s the right side, where I’ve just started a third skein:

Bunny Hop RS Progress

The yarn is actually a very dark shade of purple, but the lighting was a little wonky for these pictures and here it looks much lighter and redder than it really is. I’ve completed one and one-half repeats so far (a repeat is about 36 rows). At first the pattern didn’t look like anything at all, but now I see the reverse stockinette diamonds with moss stitch and stockinette diamonds inside/inbetween them.

The pattern is reverse on the back side:

Bunny Hop WS Progress

This yarn was originally purchased for an afghan for my niece (post coming soon). I had six skeins left over, which is exactly enough yarn for this project. Isn’t it wonderful when a plan comes together?