Knitting

Talking Through My Hats

January so far has been pretty monochrome. The sky has been hidden under dense cloud and we’ve had alternating icy rain, sleet and snow. Not the beautiful crisp sort of winter weather that makes you want to head out for a brisk pink-cheeked walk but the damp kind that chills you to the bone and makes you want to hibernate.

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Hibernating and busy family life don’t really go together though, so wrap up and go out we must. Where our hats, scarves and gloves get to over the warmer months is quite the mystery. Never, ever is there a full set when we need them.

Generally I try not to buy something that I could feasibly make, so off I went to find a quick hat pattern. Black Sheep Wools had just the thing on their blog post ‘How to Knit a Hat’. I’m not sure if it’s a bad habit or just a style, but I do that knitting with the right needle tucked under my arm thing. Therefore I’ve always avoided knitting in the round. However this post was so encouraging with clear instructions and a video tutorial,  I decided it was high time to give it a go and ordered the Debbie Bliss Odin yarn and a set of circulars.

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After a few rows of working on the circulars I’d got the hang of it and even as a slow knitter, I could make a cosy hat in a couple of hours. There’s no waste here either. All the yarn leftover after knitting is used to make the generous pom-pom. Only one ball is needed for an adult hat, unless you want contrasting colours. My second hat was for my tween, so I made it slightly smaller (by beginning the decreasing rows when the work measured 17cm length rather than 20cm).

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One of the members of our knit and natter group is a scout leader. Her region are collecting beanie hats to take on a trip to an orphanage in Uganda. I thought I’d make one or two for them with yarn from my stash. With size not being crucial, it was a good opportunity to practise more ‘hatting’. I had a few of balls of Scheepjes Stone Washed spare. Spare because I didn’t check the dye lot. I know, I KNOW, shame on me!

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This yarn is 78% cotton 22% acrylic, so much more suited to the Ugandan climate as well as being beautifully soft and non-scratchy. First I knitted a simple striped beanie on straight needles  (Sirdar pattern 4623 is something similar).  Then I got a bit more ambitious and searched Ravelry for something a little more challenging.

I found an interesting free pattern called Fibonacci Cables Hat by Maghouin Beg. It’s designed for DK so I adapted for my yarn by following the adult pattern but using 3mm needles for the rib then switching to 3.25mm for the body of the hat. Some of the reviews mentioned that the hat turned out quite tall so I worked ten less rounds before the cabling started.

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I did find it slow going and a bit fiddly (unknitting cables when you make a mistake especially!), though hats make good neat and portable projects for taking out and about, while the kids do taekwondo etc. A few times my stitch marker dropped off so I had to look back to the cast on edge to work out where the rounds began. Needle point protectors were very useful to stop stitches falling off when I put the work down.  However I decided it was all worth it as I fell in love with the look of the cabling in this yarn though as it started to appear.

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The final few round were trickiest. When you have only a few stitches left they won’t stretch around the cable so you have to pull the wire through the stitches at the bottom of the right hand needle to shorten it.

Although the cabled hat took me almost a week, it left me really inspired to explore the technique further in this lovely yarn.

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