Hat weather is here

The lake hasn’t frozen yet, though it’s getting close. On cold mornings there’s a skin of ice extending out from the shore. And the foam that the winds froth up is sort of smoothie texture. Without a hat, ears will soon be feeling pretty frozen.

This hat is “Hungry Horse Hat” a newer DK-weight pattern from Aimee Alexander of Polka Dot Sheep. I don’t know the origin of the pattern name. But I still know that I like the hat. It’s an interesting mix of garter stitch and mesh, designed to be tri-color.

Here’s a look at its well-behaved crown.

Alexander definitely knows how to tame the crown decreases. No pointy head syndrome here.

My Hungry Horse is a mix of critters-of-origin. The gold is Anzula Cricket, 80% merino sheep, 10 percent cashmere goat, and 10 percent nylon chemistry lab. The mesh section is Mountain Goat by Mountain Colors, described on the Mountain Colors’s site and on Ravelry as 50% merino and 45% mohair (which is where the goat comes in). Apparently it’s 5% unidentified something else. And the earband is Shalimar Yarns Breathless DK. Breathless is 75% merino, 15% cashmere goat, and 10% silk. I hesitated before mixing and matching yarns, but I was trying to get a proper color scheme. I’m completely pleased with the outcome. I guess it wouldn’t be too good a hat to test a person’s fiber allergies, though. If your head itches, you could be allergic to just about anything.

This next hat is Jo-Anne Klim’s new fingering weight slouchy: the Woodmere Slouchy Hat.

There’s always a lot of knitting (and yardage) in a fingering weight slouchy, but Woodmere is worth the time and effort. From twisted rib at the start, through that soothing ribbed waffle stitch, and finishing with another well-planned crown.

I knit Woodmere in Wollmeise Twin, a bouncy 80% merino, 20% nylon that worked up very nicely in this pattern. Great stitch definition. And that deep saturated color. I might not be able to put this one out for my holiday pick-your-gift baskets. Klim’s KBJ Design patterns are always keepers!

Here’s another hat from Klim that I’ve knit before: Araluen 

This is knit in one of my personal favorite worsted yarns, Malabrigo Rios. It’s their Purple Mystery colorway. I guess it’s no big mystery why it turned my hands and stitch markers purple while I knit it. That’s not my favorite part of the yarn. And it’s not normal in terms of my experience with Rios. I’ll just need to be watchful if any of the bald men in my circle reach for this one in my holiday gift baskets. I’ll need to steer them to another hat because I’m not sure this one is done bleeding yet. And, yes, another excellent crown decrease.

In fact, an extremely well thought out crown.

And now, for something completely different.

This is Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Maltese Fisherman’s Hat. She is often quoted as saying that the good thing about knitting hats is that some people will put anything on their head. This must be a prime example.

Mine is knit in the Sheepswool Super Bulky that the pattern calls for, available from Schoolhouse Press. It’s actually Bartlettyarns‘ superbulky.

I’m waiting to see if any of my holiday guests reach for this one. Laying flat it looks innocent enough. It isn’t obvious at that point that the hat makes you look like a royal airhead. But there’s nothing warmer than this hat. Maybe ice fisherman should adopt this look. Ice fisherman who actually fish out on the ice, not in a heated ice shanty. Ice fisherman who fish out on the ice alone without any companions and who keep this hat in their pick-up truck and only put it on once no one will see them.

Maltese Fisherman’s Hat is actually a quick fun knit. It puts a knitter in touch with her knitting ancestors. You just have to be brave and wear it with pride.

Knitting comfort food

I believe it’s true that most long-term knitters have certain patterns they return to over and over. You just know that you’ll be satisfied when you cast off. You know it will fit. You know there aren’t any errors in the pattern. You can put your knitting brain into gear and just cruise.

Wonderful Wallaby by Carol A. Anderson of Cottage Creations is a pattern like that. Comfort food. This pattern is so retro that you won’t find it available for download anywhere. Head to your local yarn shop. Or buy it direct from Cottage Creations and they will m-a-i-l it to you. Yes, mail as in an envelope with a stamp. That still works!

I knit this one in Plymouth Encore. Easy-care works better for the young ones. I’m a big fan of the garter stitch hood. And I love the kangaroo pouch. Everyone can use a sweatshirt. My pattern booklet includes sizes for a two year old to the very portly. It looks like the newer booklets include one for kid sizes 2-12 and another for adults.

Bayfront Cap by Melinda VerMeer is more comfort food for me. I’ve knit at least six in the last few years. This yarn has some issues with thick and thin that didn’t quite do the pattern justice. As you can see, you knit miles of ribbing. And about when you are beginning to think maybe this is a tad too much ribbing,

…you get to this beautiful crown decrease. So pretty. So well thought out. So not suffering from PHS (Pointy Hat Syndrome.) Bayfront Cap is a wonderful knit.

Here’s another knitting recipe that always works up right: Katharina Nopp’s Wurm.

Mine is knit in Stonedge Fiber Mills Crazy. Crazy is basically a DK weight that’s constructed of a number of colorways. No knots, just spun together. No two skeins are the same.

I call this my Earth Wurm. Wurm is a yarn eater.  I always need more than the 175 yards of sportweight the pattern calls for. I guess I like extravagantly slouchy Wurms.

And then there’s what some now apparently call the Dairy Queen Hat. But it’s no Dairy Queen Hat. It’s Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Snail Hat. I’ve knit mine in exactly what the pattern calls for: Sheepsdown, sold by Schoolhouse Press.

I use size 10 needles. And I’ve made several over the years. You need to be very brave (or very cold) to wear the snail hat.

I very much enjoy knitting it. Just because no one eats the jello salad anymore–you know the one, with all the colorful layers–doesn’t mean you don’t make it anyway. (I still sort of like that salad, by the way.)

That lemons and lemonade thing

EZpillbox

This is Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Pillbox Hat. Not exactly Jackie Kennedy stuff, but sort of “…in the style of.” The pattern is included in Schoolhouse Press’s “Knit One, Knit All,” a posthumously published book of EZ’s garter stitch designs. Pillbox is supposed to be knit in Super Bulky Sheepsdown at 3 stitches to the inch. Classic Elite’s now discontinued Waterspun Weekend should have been a good substitute.

Well, I am a major pumpkin head and even my head was too small for this hat. Glass Head could have been wearing three hats under her Pillbox and had a mess of raccoons in there too when this photo was taken and you’d not have known it.

I finished knitting this hat about three years ago. No head has yet appeared to claim it.

I was felting some slippers in the washing machine last week when it dawned on me that felting Pillbox could yield something interesting. But I wasn’t sure what.

Check out my new felted bowl.

waterspun_bowl

I’m quite tickled with it actually. I haven’t figured out exactly what I’ll keep in it. If you have suggestions I’d love to hear them.

EZ moebius

If an ant crawled along the length of a mobius strip, it would return to its start after crawling the entire length of both sides, never crossing an edge.  If you draw a line down the center of a moebius strip, the end of the line will meet the start of the line and you will never have to pick up your pencil to make that happen. And if you cut the strip along that center line, you end up with a continuous strip with two twists in it.

Elizabeth Zimmermann understood the design potential of the moebius. This is her “Moebius Ring” pattern from Schoolhouse Press Wool Gathering #28. It’s knitted in garter stitch with an I-Cord border. You start with a provisional cast on. Knit forever. Then give it one twist. Mathematicians know a moebius can have a clockwise twist or a counterclockwise twist, but that matters not a bit when it comes to a scarf. Then graft your end row to your beginning row and the result is a very sensible long cowl, scarf, or combination hood and scarf.

EZ Pillbox

This is a lesson in what a difference a half-stitch in gauge makes. It is supposed to be three stitches to the inch, not 2.5. But I’ve had two skeins of Classic Elite’s Weekend Waterspun in my stash for years and this hat looked to be the pattern that yarn was waiting for. Plus I basically have a pumpkin for a head and I come from a family with other pumpkin heads. I do like loose hats, but this one is probably pushing it. I may felt it and, if I do, I’ll circle back around and post the results.

This is Pillbox Hat from Knit One, Knit All, Schoolhouse Press’s new book of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Garter Stitch Designs. The book is a real charmer. Filled with original comments by EZ, copies of her notes on the patterns, including more of her water color paintings. Garter stitch star booties, clever shaped hats, mittens that fit on either hand, gloves worked flat, and beautiful sweaters and vests. As always with EZ, and garter stitch, the look has a homely quality to it–meant in a good way as conjuring up all things cozy.

The projects are starting to sprout on Ravelry and the Zimmermaniacs are knitting up a storm. Jared Flood has a wonderful blog entry on the book, complete with photos of two never-photographed-before hats that EZ knitted for a neighbor, Joan Morhard Smith (who knew the guru of modern knitting as “Betty”). I bet Betty would be pleased that her daughter (Meg Swanson) was able to publish the garter stitch book EZ’s publishers thought would not sell. They are going to be proven wrong.