More warm hats during warm-weather knitting

chameleon2

This is Chameleon. A go-to hat knit for me. I’ve knit a zillion. Probably more like half a zillion. It’s a pattern by Nicky Epstein included in the original Vogue Knitting Caps & Hats book. It was one of the early books in Vogue’s very popular pint-sized hard-cover book series. According to Ravelry, it’s also included in Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Knitting and in Leisure Arts pamphlet 15914 and in Knitter’s Magazine #49, Winter 1997. I believe the first time I knit it was from Knitter’s Magazine.

I hope the reprintability of the pattern means that Epstein has raked in bucketloads of bucks from the pattern. But the way these things go, from what I’ve heard, I’m guessing that’s doubtful. The pattern is also available at Epstein’s website.

It is one good hat.

chameleon

You can wear it lots of ways. You can fold the cuff up. You can roll the “cuff.” You can even fold the cuff unevenly and pretend you’re Robin Hood. It also has a well-behaved crown decrease. For me, that’s always the sign of a well designed hat. If you gift it to someone you don’t have to immediately start explaining: “I know it looks like it comes to a point, but when you put it on your head it won’t look that way.”

I knit this one in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash. Here’s one in Berroco Comfort.

chameleon3

Speaking of a good hat. This next one is the Easy Hombre Slouch Hat, a free pattern on Ravelry, by Paul S. Neary. It’s a great first Fair Isle project, if you haven’t tried that technique yet.

ombreIt’s crown is also nicely behaved.

ombre2

This is true even though, off-head, it makes you wonder if you’ll look like you have ruffled brains (or a starfish hiding under your hat).

ombre4

I knit my Hombre in wickedly great yarn: Shalimar Yarns Breathless in DK weight. 75% merino, 15% cashmere, 10% silk.

Warm hats to celebrate the end of summer.

Le Cirque

I’ve just completed Nicky Epstein‘s Le Cirque Baby Afghan. I made some modifications and it’s going to be a baby playmat. Epstein has a well-deserved reputation for designing wow-factor stuff. This pattern is included in her newest book, “Knitting in Circles: 100 Circular Patterns for Sweaters, Bags, Hats, Afghans and More.” I first borrowed the book from the library and was so taken with Le Cirque that I decided to buy the book.

You start out knitting circles that Epstein calls orbits. Easy short row stuff, in an interesting textured stitch. This is Martha Stewart’s Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend yarn, by Lion Brand. The yarn feels wonderfully soft. It’s 65% acrylic, 35% wool, so it should be easy care. It’s toss in the washer and then toss in the dryer. The color palette is mostly subdued tones, but that was perfect for what I wanted to do with this project. The yarn has lots of great qualities and only two not so great. For Lion Brand, it’s kind of expensive. And every skein had some “internal” knots where the yarn had been joined with a few teensy tufts left sticking out. I decided I could tolerate that. They simply melted into the project.

These are the larger-sized orbits:

Big_orbits

You knit 5 of the bigger size and 4 of the little ones.

All_orbits

Then you knit some figures, also basically building on circles. Here’s the elephant:

Full_elephant

And here’s my lion, with a modified mane of my own design:

Full_lion

Instead of the loopy mane Epstein designed, what I did was cast on stitches and knit one row. Then I cast on a bunch of stitches (somewhere between 6 and 11). Next, bind off those newly cast on stitches, knitting the last cast on stitch together with one of the “old” stitches. Then put that stitch back on the left needle. Cast on stitches again, bind off…repeat across the entire row. I knit several strips and sewed them in place.

Here’s clown girl:

Full_clowngirl

And her friend clown boy:

Full_clownboy

Assembly was a bit of a bear. Instead of just sewing the orbits in place, I joined them with a 3-needle bind off technique. I picked up stitches on each surface to be joined and then used the third needle to bind off. I bound off holding the wrong sides facing each other, so that the ridge that formed is on the public side of the work.

blankie_assembling

Notice the pinwheel in the center? That is exactly how it’s supposed to work out. I goofed in one way, though. I departed from Epstein’s instructions for exactly how the colors should be spaced. I didn’t think one set of my colors looked good placed next to each other, so I changed the placement of colors in two orbits. Then, when I assembled them, I found that some of my colors (check out the pink in the top left and top center orbits) were lining up next to each other. That’s not best, so if you knit Le Cirque, keep your “A” through “I” colors spaced just as Epstein instructs–unless you’re better at jigsaw puzzles than I am. Once the rest of the assembly was complete, that goof doesn’t really leap out.

Here’s the elephant in place in the playmat:circus_elephant

Here’s the lion:

circus_lion

And the two clowns:

circus_clowngirl

circus_clownboy

Here’s one half:

circu_half

And the other half:

circus_half2

Here’s the full view:

circus2

My other modifications were to stuff the lion and the elephant. I also knit backs to all four of the figures. The back patches hold the stuffing in place. All the threads fastening the small pieces are covered so that no small fingers can work them loose.

And I knitted an I-cord border rather than the crochet edge Epstein suggests. That’s my choice only because my crocheting skills are almost nonexistent.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out.

Chameleon Cap


This is Nicky Epstein’s Chameleon. It’s available through her website.  It’s also been published in Nicky’s excellent The Knit Hat Book, in the 1997 Winter edition of Knitter’s Magazine and in Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Knitting. Chameleon gets around, I guess.

All this coverage is well deserved. Chameleon is a simple hat. It can be knit flat or in the round. The stitch pattern is easy to learn and easy to quickly see mistakes if you happen to fall asleep at the switch. But it’s lively enough to hold your interest.

Chameleon’s brim can be folded back.You can roll the brim and it holds the roll nicely.You can add a nice sturdy tassle or pom-pom, bend the tip as you see fit, and wear it with no fold or brim. It’s even cute worn Robin Hood style, with a folded cuff that is narrow at one end and wide on the other.

Chameleon is worked here in Berroco’s Comfort, a 50% nylon, 50% acrylic easy-care blend that is soft as can be. This was the first time I knit with it and it’s definitely on my list for using again. Good stuff. I’ve knit this hat at least half a dozen times.Try it in Noro Kureyon for a stunning stylish look. Great pattern.

Rose Reticule

mom_bagKnitting holds on to its old words.  Ganseys, gurnseys, wristers, gauntlets, gussets, steeks and, in this case, reticule.  Of course, then there are “Magic Loops” and “frogging” and “tinking”  and “UFOs” but hold that thought for now.  This is Nicky Epstein’s “Rose Reticule” pattern from the Winter, 1994 Knitters Magazine.  I knit it soon after it was published.  Fifteen years ago.  But I remember the project more clearly than I remember some non-knitting events in my recent past.  It’s supposed to have beads knit in around the rose.  I could not make those beads behave.  I still can’t make beads behave the way many other knitters can.  My mom lined this small purse in a beautiful dark cloth with small roses printed on the fabric.  She thought she was finishing it for me to give to someone else and was very pleased to receive it that year for Christmas.  The yarn is an elasticized ribbon sold by Tiber.  Fifteen years ago it was a real stretch to knit this in exactly the expensive  yarn Epstein planned for it.  But it was one of those patterns where substituting would not have worked well.