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.

Winding Trail 2 Central Ave

This is a new pattern from Linda Courtney of Knitwise Design: Winding Trail Headband. Courtney writes that “The trail is rarely straight – and neither is this headband!” I knit mine in a long-ago discontinued yarn: Classic Elite Tapestry. It’s a 75% wool, 25% mohair, beefy worsted.

The pattern calls for Malabrigo Merino worsted, but any worsted or Aran weight should work well. Just be sure to keep a sharp eye on the row gauge. Or, if you’re off on the row gauge, adjust the number of pattern repeats. This headband is a one evening project.

Here’s a look, off-head:

The winding trail starts with a provisional cast-on and ends with a three-needle bind-off. A knitter could chose to do garter stitch grafting. I find that a bit of a bear though, and the three-needle bind-off worked well. There’s a tiny extra ridge at the bind-off. Only if wearers suffer from serious cases of “Princess and the Pea Syndrome” will they be able to feel the ridge.

I cast off and soon cast on for a second.

This one is knit in Harrisville Design’s Orchidville Cashmere. It’s a 70% wool, 25% goat mohair, 5% goat cashmere, Aran weight. I’d provide a link but the agedness of my stash strikes again. It’s discontinued too. Orchidville Cashmere, like Tapestry, was a very good yarn.

Here’s another look, off-head:

Headbands are such sensible headgear, since ears are what mostly get cold on many people. And headbands are ponytail-friendly. You can keep one in the pocket of every coat, for the days you didn’t think you’d need a hat.

Recently, while reorganizing my stash, I was reacquainted with two wonderful skeins of worsted. Colorbug and Quaere Fiber:

 

I’d been saving these two beauties for something special. Aimee Alexander’s Central Ave has turned into a bit of an obsession for this knitter so I decided to break out the good stuff. My first two Central Aves (scroll to the end of the post) were very well received by my nieces. So I decided to cast on:

And cast on again:

There are a number of hat patterns, some of them free, that look a lot like this one. But Alexander’s version has a few design sensibilities that I feel the others lack.

And it even has a nicely behaved crown decrease.

I sometimes test knit for Alexander and for Knitwise Design. And I look forward to it every time. Even in the testing stages their patterns are clearly written, without errors.

Knit on!

Winter blues

Blues. It’s too soon for the real wintry blues, since winter is only just getting revved up here in Michigan. But blue hats. Well, blue hats seem to be leaping off my needles. This one is Dani Sunshine’s Rockhound. One of her free patterns. Anything feathery and fanny is fun for me. This is knit up in Plymouth Yarn’s Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. Excellent stitch definition. Glass head likes how well it works with her blue vintage mohair cheekbone.

Here’s a look at the nicely rounded crown.

This next bit of blue is Speargrass, in another shade of the same Plymouth worsted superwash I used for Rockhound. It’s another free pattern, this time by Susie Gourlay.

How cool is that? Possibly, very cool. “Holey hats, Batman!” But not every hat has to be super-warm. This one is a lot of fun to knit. And the pattern is easily memorized.

At first I thought that I didn’t care for the way the ribbing transitioned into the body of the hat. And next time I might try knitting a round to make the transition to the body a little more defined. But the more I look at it, I sort of like the added texture.

Here’s another view, this time off-the-head.

The crown decreases lay nice and flat and maintain the pattern well. In those last few rounds, that’s not easily done. But it looks neat. And anyway, the very tops of hats aren’t visible. Well, unless they suffer from PHS (Pointy Hat Syndrome) and this hat doesn’t.

Next up is another freebie, “Jaye a Copy of CC,” by Elaine Long. I had no idea who or what CC referred too. About the only thing I know about current popular culture is what can be gleaned from HGTV. (What waterfall islands are, that everyone wants “open floor plans,”  and that for some reason parents now want to be able to see their kids all the time when kids are playing in the house.)  But, the internet teaches that the CC Beanie is Colorado Chick‘s. Hopefully imitation, especially with attribution, remains a sincere form of flattery.

My Jaye is knit in, you guessed it, Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, this time in one of their hand-dyed hanks. The rim is doubled, which will definitely help eliminate cold ears.

The crown decreases work well. My only modification was to continue the decreases a few extra rounds so that there would be fewer stitches to gather at the top.

Here’s my favorite hat of this style: Aimee Alexander’s Central Ave. It’s not a freebie, but the few extra touches make it worth the purchase.

Alexander’s pattern uses an easy “trick” to get the reverse stockinette ridges to pop nicely. Same for the twisted rib. Great pop factor. And the crown decreases are well-organized too.

Even though I knit this one in Brown Sheep worsted, which made it a bit stiff, I am very pleased with how it worked out. It disappeared quickly from my holiday pick-your-gifts stash.

In fact, as soon as I finished my Central Ave in Brown Sheep, I cast on for another. This time in Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted. I can be forgiven for that purchase because I bought the skein at half price, which made it only twice more expensive than seems right. Not so. Organic. I get it.

Oops. Not blue. So not blue. The colorway is Bittersweet. By now, I figure we’re sick of the blues anyway. Central Ave is an especially satisfying easy knit.

And reports are that people who don’t tend to look good in hats, look good in Central Ave.

Polka Dot Sheep hats

polarsun_1

This is Polka Dot Sheep designer Aimee Anderson’s newest hat pattern: Maeve’s Hat. I was part of Alexander’s test knit on Ravelry. The pattern hasn’t yet been added to her website, but it’s available for download on Ravelry.

When you check out the pattern you’ll notice I modified it some. Everywhere there’s one of those beefy bobbles, Anderson’s pattern has a bead. In the test-knit phase, bobbles were an alternative in the pattern. The beaded version is elegant. My version is, well, not elegant. Mine is funky and fun.

This is a fingering weight pattern. I didn’t want puny bobbles, so I knit one, purled one, three times into the stitch, to create six from one. Then I turned and knit back on those six stitches, turned and purled those six stitches, then passed each of the 5 stitches, in turn, over the one nearest the right needle tip. In the body of the hat, I placed a bobble at each spot where the pattern called for a bead. In that first set of bobbles near that sweet picot edge, I spaced the bobbles four stitches apart.

Here’s another view, with a bit of the pentagon-shaped crown showing.

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Ah, what’s that yarn? It’s Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin (80% merino, 20% nylon) left over from my kayak shrug I knit a few years back. I was saving it for a special project and decided the time had come.

This next hat is Evelyn’s. The pattern, though, is Margot’s Hat. And again it’s a Polka Dot Sheep pattern by Alexander.

margo_hat2

The pattern calls for DK weight, but the DK I had on hand didn’t want to get to gauge. So I knit it instead in Malabrigo Rios, a worsted weight.

Margo_hat

Alexander’s patterns are very attentive to small details. In this hat, it’s the way the picot edge is created and how the earflaps are tucked in place. My only modification was to use I-cord ties instead of twisty cord ties.

Of course, little ones look very sweet in pastels. But, I enjoy seeing them in earth tones.

Alexander’s two daughters are Maeve and Margot. Now they each have a hat pattern named after them. Both my creations will end up in Evelyn’s collection.

Farm to Market Hat

Farm2Market2

This is Aimee Alexander’s Farm to Market Hat. Her pattern, a Polka Dot Sheep publication, is available via Ravelry. I’d knit the Farm to Market mitts and was very pleased to be included in the test knit for a matching hat. Even in the test knit phase, the directions were clear and very sensibly presented. The minor corrections have all been incorporated in the final pattern.

The pattern includes directions for heads sized from 17 (basically newborn) to 23 inches. As with the fingerless mitts, the cables are the star, but the turned-under brim is a really nice touch. It’s very gentle on the ears!

My hat, actually, Isaac’s hat, is knit in Shalimar Yarns Breathless DK–a yummy concoction of 75% merino, 15% cashmere, 10% silk. No scratchiness here!

Isaac actually did wear the hat outdoors, under his hoodie. But the little guy is not fond of hats so I had to press another model into service for this one.

Farm2market_hat

I have no idea what this yellow fellow is. But he’s quite heavy. Not at all cuddly. And kind of creeps me out. But I love the hat! It even sort of tames the toy and makes it easier to take.