Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sailor Hats 1 & 2

I finished my hats for the U.S.S. Decatur sailors! They were both very fast knits... one day each! I was able to use yarn already in my stash for both projects: Knit Picks Swish Bulky in Tidepool (discontinued color) for the hat on the left, and Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Truffle for the hat on the right.

The first hat I completed is the "Waffle Hat" from the KnitHats website. I just wasn't confident after swatching that the hat would be of adequate size, so I cast-on 88 sts rather than the 76 the pattern calls for. I tend to knit tightly, but even after obtaining gauge with the suggested needle size... doing the math for the finished size of the pattern, based on the st/in measurement, just seemed on the small side. I have a 22.5 inch noggin, though, and was also concerned that "big head" guys might not have enough hats to choose from. Better too large than too small. You can fold the bottom up more to make the hat shorter, and the stitch pattern is basically a 2x2 rib, so it has plenty of stretch to fit pretty much everyone.

Still, I hate a hat so tight repairing "hat head" requires electro shock. When a hat feels like a tourniquet I simply will not wear it. I don't want it so loose it won't stay on or permits wind to blow up inside, but I don't want to require the millinery version of a shoehorn to get it on my head either. And I want a watchcap style hat to cover my ears easily, thank you, so I added an inch to the height.

My finished Waffle Hat measures 10" tall by 16" diameter and is very stretchy. It would easily fit a 24" diameter head. One full skein, and a portion of a second skein... less than half... on 5mm (#8) needles got the job done nicely.

My second hat was inspired by "Ed's Hat" from the Lion Brand Yarn website. However, that pattern was designed to be used with Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn... a super bulky. The yarn I had to use was Knit Picks Swish Bulky, not super bulky, so this was gonna require math to make it work. I despise math. I'd rather be shot than do math. Since I would have to swatch anyway to make my yarn work with this pattern, I decided to design my own. I've been toying with some ideas for "tutorial knits," using a project to teach skills, so I decided to make this a "sampler hat."

It is worked in the round, using the Magic Loop technique, my preferred in-the-round knitting technique. It could just as easily be made using DPNs (double point needles or "pins," as they are charmingly referenced in Euro parlance), or two circulars, if preferred. When I get the pattern worked up, there will be a tutorial version and a simple pattern version. If one already knows how to knit in the round, or how to do Magic Loop, they can simply follow the traditional pattern.

However, if one is a "knitting newbie," ready to progress from scarves and baby blankets to a hat and other "circle" projects, everything one needs to successfully complete this hat using the Magic Loop technique will be in the tutorial version. (Less the enthusiasm & motivation the knitter must bring to the project, of course.) If you've been looking for a small, fast, project to learn the Magic Loop technique, this tutorial will hold your hand through that process. After you've used the tutorial, I'd love any feedback you might have that you feel would have provided additional support to your success, or simply to make it even easier for you.

Because time is of the essence due to the mailing deadline necessary to get donations to their destination in a timely manner, it is necessary to delay the final edition of the pattern. I'd like to consider whether to add some photos and if I do, that will necessitate a second knit of the hat. Which is fine because I'm planning on making another for myself anyway.

The tutorial version will be written for "newbie" knitters, assuming nothing. Using larger needles and yarn will cause the project to go quickly, and no more than ten rounds of any stitch pattern comprises any part of the design. All based on variations of knit and purl stitches, it is only the sequencing of the knit and purl stitches that modifies the various textures of the stitch patterns in this design. Most are based on a "rib" type stitch pattern to provide maximum stretch to the design, which will make the FO (finished object) a great gift pattern. Two types of decreases are included, k2tog (knit two together) and p2tog (purl two together), and the design encourages the use of the Cable Cast-on while offering justifications for learning this skill.

I've decided to call the pattern, "Sampler Skills Watchcap," because it is a sampler of several skills and stitch patterns. Once the first hat is completed, additional hats can easily be customized using one of the stitch patterns through the body of the hat or any other multiple-of-four-stitch patterns that equally divides eight. Maintain the 2x2 ribbing at the top and the bottom, along with the stockinette and garter stitch section, but knit the section in-between in one or a combination of the stitch patterns of the original Sampler version. Or continue in stockinette or garter stitch or use an "any number of stitches" stitch pattern. Lots of variations for a weekend knit gift hat!

With the brim rolled up, this hat measures 18" in diameter and 8" deep. It has tons of stretch though, so it will comfortably fit a head at least 24" in diameter.

Might I also say... Knit Picks Swish Bulky is a dream to work with! SO soft, it works up quickly, "frogs" and "tinks" nicely, (there is no designing without a good supply of each), is superwash... which means it can be gently washed by machine... is one of the softest 100% wools I've felt, (love Merino), and with the textured stitch patterns, will be very snuggly and warm on cold windy days and nights. This hat takes a single skein to complete. I'm not sure why, or how, the bulky version is softer than the worsted version, but it sure feels like it is.

Okay. I'm off to request the mailing address to send my hats in. :-) 
(Lynne @ lengelbert.at.gmail.dot.com if you need to get the address too.)

Joy in the journey,


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