Go blue

NIcely organic, don’t you think? This is Grace Wong’s Mosaic Leaf Hat, a Ravelry freebie. Well, this is the crown section of Mosaic Leaf Hat. And if you think this is really a Pittsburgh Steelers’ black and gold team hat, it isn’t. Try as I might I couldn’t get this hat’s true maize and blue to photograph it’s blue properly. Possibly it was some secret Spartan green and white plot?

Enough of the University of Michigan vs. Michigan State University rivalry. I didn’t attend either school. But Michiganders seem to choose sides anyway. For the record, I attended Wayne State University in Detroit. I matriculated in an era when Wayne State’s teams were called the Tartars. Just like the stuff you go to the dentist to scrape off your teeth. Even spelled the same way. I suspect that the image the Wayne State team-naming founders intended to conjure was the fierce fighting Tartars of Tartary.

This is a fine hat. It’s an interesting slip stitch pattern with slipped stitches separated by somewhat long floats in some of the sections. Here’s Mosaic Leaf on the inside.

A knitter needs to be sure not to tighten up those floats or the hat will pucker like a dried prune.

You’ve been waiting long enough to actually see this hat.

I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn’s workhorse Encore Worsted, a 75% acrylic 25% wool. The colorways were 842 Navy and 3482 Yellow. That’s Navy, not black.

Unexpected to me, at the bottom of each of the second and third layer of leaves, where there’s an increase in stitches, the increase tugs in a way that bares the contrast color at bit. Although I’d rather not see the contrast color peaking through, I’ve decided it’s the nature of the beast. I made my peace with it. Next time I might try a knit in the front and the back then the front again at the increase. Possibly that would work better than the suggested increase. And if my yarn had a significant halo that might hide the peek-a-boo bit. But that could also make the leaf pattern less distinct.

This is a big 112-stitch hat that’s sensitive to row gauge. That’s because you can’t just stop the body of the hat when it’s tall enough and start the crown. I had a row gauge problem with my Plymouth Encore. I tightened the stitch gauge by dropping down a needle size on each section, to a US 7 and US 9, and that worked for me.

Next up is another hat knit in the same Plymouth Encore colorways.

This one is School Colors Hat AC-53, a classic Fiber Trends pattern by Betsy Lee McCarthy. It’s still available in shops and is downloadable on Ravelry.

I’ve knit many versions of this hat and post them regularly on my blog. A number of folks have contacted me because they can’t figure out how to get that double roll to roll properly. The pattern directions say: “Fold the lower edge of hat up as shown in photo.” At the start the pattern says that “the lower edge of hat must be rolled up to get the double roll look shown in the photo.” I didn’t have a problem with the double roll, but I’ve sometimes wondered if the questioners missed that you start knitting with the main color. So, for this version, I cast on in the navy. You start with the main color even though your eyeballs make it look like you’d start with the yellow contrast color. When the hat is complete you basically fold the hat up to the last color change–(in mine) where the yellow ends and the navy begins again–and just fiddle with the fabric until you form the double roll.

Such a no-nonsense pattern. But with that interesting improbable double-roll start it’s fun to knit. Plus it has a nicely behaved crown decrease. This pattern was copyrighted in 2002 and by now knitters have knit a zillion versions.

More blue. This one’s Clara Parkes’ Hill Country Hat. It’s included in her book, The Knitter’s Book of Wool. But she’s also released it as a freebie on Ravelry. This is the 11th time I’ve knit it and you can search in the search window above if you want to see all my versions. This one is knit in King Cole Big Value Chunky. It’s a bulky 100% acrylic. The colorway is Blue Heaven.

Hill Country knits up super fast. If you knit it in acrylic none in the “it itches” crowd will be complaining. But I do like it best in a chunky wool.

Hill Country ends with an excellent pinwheel crown decrease.

With the exception of Wong’s Mosaic Leaf Hat, this post is filled with very straightforward knits. Galina Shemchuk’s aptly named Just a Hat is another. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash. The colorway is No. 86 Denim Heather. Nice wide brim. Easy “mistake rib” stitch pattern.

Well thought-out crown decreases.

The pattern is translated from Russian, but its English version is clear and error free. As the pattern directs, be sure to finish the Mistake (False English) Rib section after a round 2. That will make the crown decreases work out. Also, a few of the crown decrease rounds don’t complete a full set of stitches set out between the asterisks in the pattern. Just stop working the “asterisked” section e.g. 2 stitches before the round marker (as the pattern directs) and follow the directions for the last stitches before the round marker. It all works out correctly.

The pattern ends with 24 stitches to gather in. My sense is that’s too many. So I knit two together all around as Round 6. That left a more manageable 12 stitches to gather in. I knit one additional round to draw the stitches together a bit more.

Just a Hat is so worth your knitting time. Any head can wear it. And any knitter can knit it.

Red hat days

Recently I noticed that I’ve been knitting a lot of red hats. Not that it’s been red red red all in a row. But I looked over my “knits4blog” file and found an abundance of red hats that I’d not yet featured.

This first one is the great Wooly Wormhead’s freebie, Meret, left free to be a beanie instead of a beret. That’s just a matter of not blocking it as a beret. My Meret is knit in Malabrigo Rios in the Cereza colorway. It’s a rich red with undertones of almost black. My apologies if that sounds wine-connoisseur-silly (“woody, with a hint of apricot and mushrooms”). But then lots of us are yarn connoisseurs in this robust knitting universe.

I was a smidge disappointed that the crown decreases turned out rather porous. It’s not beyond the pale though that sometimes we might need an air conditioned beanie.

Next up is yet another version of Jesie Ostermiller’s Portsmouth Beanie. This is such an excellent unisex hat pattern. This time I knit it in Anzula’s For Better or Worsted. 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere. This is the Watermelon colorway. I’m pretty sure it’s the 10% cashmere that keeps me reaching for this hat when I’m looking for cozy.

I’m frugal enough that I very much enjoy knitting multiples of purchased patterns. Six dollars for three hats–with likely more in the future–would please even my rubber-band-saving grandmother.

What would especially tickle Gram is that I knit this version in yarn I frogged from a prior, less successful, hat. I unraveled the hat, wound the yarn onto my swift, tied it in a few places, and then steamed it. That did an excellent job of unkinking the yarn and saved me the trouble of washing and reskeining it.

Here’s another version of Galina Shemchuk’s excellent freebie, Just a Hat. It’s a somewhat new hat pattern that’s drawn a lot of attention with 450 project pages in just a few years. There’s a lot to like about the pattern. Unisex. Very forgiving size-wise. Tidy crown decreases. And free.

 

I knit my Just a Hat in Malabrigo Rios using the Desert Rose colorway. This hat seems to look especially nice knit in a yarn, like Rios, with shading and depth to make the hat’s furrows furrow just right.

This next hat is Hill Country Hat by Clara Parks, the only bulky weight in this post. It’s part of her “Knitters’ Book of Wool” but the pattern’s been released as a freebie.

I’ve knit Hill Country (ahem) eight times and already posted this hat’s predecessors. If you search on this blog you’ll find them all and be able to see the interesting stitch choices that make this bulky-weight a standout. What makes my latest version different is my unusual yarn choice: Lana Grossa’s Fusione. If you want to give it a try in this yarn, I’ll just wish you luck because it’s discontinued. Personally, I liked its 30% cotton, 26% alpaca, 25% wool, 19% nylon mix, for some purposes anyway. Very cozy. But I didn’t like it’s-time-to-take-out-a-mortgage price. And then I bumped into a huge markdown on the stuff and I was all in. This Hill Country wiped out my stash though.

Admittedly, not the best choice if you’re looking for stitch definition. But it will keep some head totally warm.

Last up is another Maria Socha beauty: Rioska. Mine is knit in Sugar Bush Yarn’s Bold, unfortunately another discontinued yarn. It’s a worsted weight with excellent stitch definition. I’ve often knit with solid shades of Bold. This was the first time I used a variegated shade: Rose Garden. I was concerned that the mock cable details would be overwhelmed by a too busy yarn. But I’ve decided that the result is excellent.

So pretty, including Socha’s trademark well-planned crown decreases.

Knitting multiples, again

Sometimes a hat should just get down to basics. Galina Shemchuk’s freebie Just a Hat does just that. A nice simple 1 by 1 rib. The body of the hat is what Shemchuk calls False English Rib. It’s a form of what I know as Mistake Rib, but worked in the round. By whatever name it’s a very easy two-round stitch pattern.

The crown decreases are well behaved. Nothing fancy. But sometimes that’s perfect. I knit my hat in Malabrigo Rios. I couldn’t be more pleased about how nicely the Indicieta colorway shows off this simple but very satisfying knit.

I’ve been having fun knitting the same patterns in different yarns or different colorways. Here’s Just a Hat knit up in a yarn that’s new to me: Merino Mix by Schoeller + Stahl. It’s labeled an Aran weight. But I knit both my Just a Hats on the same size needle, US 7 for the body of the hat and US 5 for the rib. The size of the hat and the fit are the same. GlassHead declares these are both super cozy.

GlassHead especially likes that the deep brim keeps her ears extra warm. Glass skin, especially glass ears, allow for a lot of heat loss and warm hats are a must.

Switching now from heads to necks, this is a cowl that I’ve written about many times. It’s Stephen West’s Windschief. The pattern is a twofer. You can knit it as a cowl. Or you can continue on and work crown decreases for a great unisex beanie.

I knit this Windschief in Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherd’s Wool. 100% merino and super soft. It will pill, but my experience with it has been that it still wears well. Picking off some fuzzballs isn’t the end of the world. This close-fitting cowl only needs about 125 yards.

Often I’ve knit Windschief in Berroco Comfort. Comfort is, well, very comfortable. Perfect for this next-to-the-skin cowl. A great yarn for those who don’t tolerate wool well.  My lemon yellow cowl is the, ahem,15th time I’ve knit Windschief. These next two Comforts were numbers 14 and 13.

Maybe I’m too easily amused, but just a change of colorway or change of yarn livens up working a pattern I’ve knit so many times.

This next double is Aimee Alexander’s Hungry Horse Hat. I knit my pair in  Plymouth Yarns’ DK Merino Superwash. Three 130-yard-skeins yielded two excellent hats.

Never underestimate the yardage-saving power of a brimless hat. Well, Hungry Horse isn’t exactly brimless, its brim just doesn’t fold.

And such a nice pinwheel swirl of a crown decrease.

Some might accuse that if a knitter knits a pattern over and over and over that knitter’s in a rut. I might be. But I know these patterns work out well. I know that those in my giving circle appreciate receiving the final product. And I can just settle in and relax into a familiar conversation with my yarn and my needles. There are lots of days in a long life of knitting when that feels just exactly right.