Saturday, September 17, 2016

It Wanted to Be a Hat

Several weeks ago, when we were in Buncrana, we stopped in at a little shop that sells various stitching supplies--threads, fabric, yarn, tools, and a bunch of other stuff. I bought some forest green crochet thread there. I also had to rummage around in the single skein clearance box (of course!), which contained lots of yarns in many different textures and colours. I did not see any two alike, but I found a couple skeins to bring home with me. One of the skeins told me right away that it wanted to be a warm and fuzzy hat. It was a skein of something called 'winter cotton'--a blend of cotton and acrylic with a fuzzy halo. Ten days ago it was getting impatient and telling me that the time was right  to cast on for the simple roll brim hat I'd decided on. I worked on it a little bit each day for 2 or 3 days and I finished it last Saturday.
Because the yarn has so much going on and I did not have that much of it, I kept things extremely simple.
Using a 6.5 mm circular needle, I cast on 72 stitches, joined, placed a stitch marker, and just knit around and around. I kept checking to see how much yarn I had left and decided to add the stripe using a bit of navy blue wool from the scrap stash. I did 5 rounds with the blue and carried on with the winter cotton--I did not cut it and rejoin it after the stripe, but just carried it up inside. I knit until the piece was the same height as the space between where my wrist meets my hand to the tip of my middle finger. In her book, Knitting Rules, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (who blogs as The Yarn Harlot) gives this as a rule of thumb for hat heights from brim to the start of the crown decreases. I made sure to keep the natural curl at the bottom, since that is how it will be worn. Had I stretched that out, my measurement would have been off.

Then I began my crown decreases by alternating decrease rounds and knit even rounds as follows:
Round 1: (knit 10, k2tog) around
Round 2 and all even rounds: knit even
Round 3: (knit 9, k2tog) around
Round 5: (knit 8, k2tog) around
Round 7: (knit 7, k2tog) around
Round 9: (knit 6, k2tog) around
Round 11: (knit 5, k2tog) around
Round 13: (knit 4, k2tog) around
Round 15: (knit 3, k2tog) around
Round 17: (knit 2, k2tog) around
Round 19: (knit 1, k2tog) around
Round 21: (k2tog) around

When there are no longer enough stitches to go around the circulars, I switch to double pointed needles and continue.  This means a decrease of 6 stitches in each decrease round, which creates a more gentle slope at the top of the hat--it is a beanie shape. If I'd wanted a different sort of transition/crown, I could have knit around for more rounds before starting to decrease--this would have made the crown itself smaller, with more decreases in each round. For example, I could have started my decreases in what is round 7 above. This would give me 8 decreases in each round. Or to decrease very quickly, I could start with what it round 13. These quicker decreases make a flatter crown, as in these hats:

 I opted for the slower decreases because I wanted to make sure I had enough yarn, and more decreases means fewer stitches to knit and less yarn used. I ended up having enough, with a small ball left to go into the scrap stash. I probably could have gotten away with making the whole hat in the winter cotton if I had cast on fewer stitches to start, but as it happens, I like the navy blue stripe, so I am glad it's in there. All's well that ends well!

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