December 27, 2010


For me, the holiday season is spent alternating between two modes: revelry and crafting lock-down. I enjoy them both, but I must admit that I'll be relieved when January rolls around and I can operate on a less frenetic pace. The revelry is fun and offers a distraction from the cares and burdens of normal life, but the crafting provides me time to think, plan, mull and relax.  I relaxed so much this year that I couldn't seem to get off one project type: hats.  It's almost become an addiction, but one that's that's healthier than wine or bourbon or easy men.

Some of these hats were were made with particular loved ones in mind, but others came about only because I wanted to experiment with specific yarns or techniques.

Pattern: My Own
Yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca Chunky
Needles: 5.0mm/6.5mm
Started: December 23
Finished: December 24

What I've learned about alpaca is that it makes terrible pullovers (because it's super warm and gets itchy) and its really drapey, both qualities that I thought would make it suitable for a slouchy winter hat.  I really liked Kim Hargreaves Kat hat, but I wasn't in the mood to spend $26 on a pattern book, so I improvised this hat with the help of a stitch dictionary.  I used somewhere in the neighborhood of 120-130 yards of the Frog Tree Alpaca.  Love it!  Loved it so much that as soon as i finished, I whipped up another.

Pattern: My Own
Yarn: Rowan Rowanflek DK Tweed (held doubled)
Needles: 5.5mm/9.0mm
Started: December 24
Finished: December 25

While I'm happy with this project overall, I'm not great fan of the yarn.  It's a wool cotton blend, but it's oddly stiff and unyielding.  I had to use large needles to prevent knitting a super stiff, icky fabric that would result in more of a helmet than a hat.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but the yarn is tweedily flecked.  I wanted to make a black because so many of us have black winter coats and colorful scarves, it's sometimes helpful to have one accessory that can fade in to the background a bit.

Both the yarn and pattern for this next project were selected specifically for it's recipient.  David married one of my besties, Lauren, last summer.  He's a fun and handsome man who hails from Portsmouth, England who, more than almost anyone else I know, is always super psyched  to get a handmade gift from me, be it a cake, mix CD or knitwear. Since the UK is known for being damp and chilly, a hat was in order, and given this location, tweed seemed quite appropriate as well.  Cables don't seem like his style, so I decided to go with a simple ribbed hat. 

Pattern: Marsan Watchcap, by Staceyjoy Elkin
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran
Needles: 4.5mm
Started: December 12
Finished: December 15

I modified the pattern so that I worked in a k1tbl, p1 rib, which results in awesome stitch def.  What makes this so neat, to me, is that when you've completed the brim, slip, turn, flip inside out move that results in your knitting in the opposite direction. This means that when the brim is flipped up, the visible rib is the same, not the reverse, of the rib on the body of the hat. Genius!
This next project started as something else entirely, and was, in fact, a completed project.  The first iteration was a slouchy beret that had no slouch. It was awkward, at best, so I ripped it out and started on a pattern I've been wanting to make for a a few weeks now.

Last Minute Slouch by Madelinetosh
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Silky Blend (held doubled)
Needles: 5.5mm, 6.0mm
Started: December 25
Finished: December 26

Not so slouchy, but I have a big head.  None of the photos that I took capture the depth and shine of this yarn.  If you've seen it, you know what I mean.  This hat is the polar opposite of the slouchy black beret, and by that I mean it demands a neutral scarf and black coat. Bright and shiny, this one would be good to wear to a parade (easy to spot).

 Pattern: Scarab, by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere 6-ply
Needles: I'm guessing 4.5 & 5.5
Started: December 8
Finished: December 11

I'm petering out here, so these last two will be brief.  This yarn is amazing.  I want pillows made out of it.  I want a hat out of it.  I want a bra made out of it.  This pattern utilizes a folded brim (attached to the body via  picked up stitches) for extra warmth around the ears, and extra luxe in general.  Faux cabling every 4th row meant an easy and satisfying knit.  The yarn was a bit of a splash out, but the recipient, Megan, has been a friend since 1985, so she's earned it.

This last one was the first of the holiday batch that i made.  Easy pattern that results in a well textured hat with a pattern that's noticeable yet subtle.  I really like the soft  effect of cabling without the use of purl stitches.

Pattern: Isotope Cable Hat by Tonya Wagner
Yarn: Rowan Lima
Needles:  didn't make note, but I'm guessing 5.0mm
Started: November 13
Finished: November 15

This really isn't a Christmas gift. I was a bit lax with one of my birthday presents last year, so this will be going to Lauren, wife of David of the green tweed hat as part of a belated anniversary of your birth gift. Lauren's lovely with long dark hair, and I'm thinking she'll look a little like Ali Macgraw back in the 70's.

Cute, right?  Steve McQueen knew how to pick 'em.

I'm beat now.  Need a wee drink and then to bed.  Happy New Year!


Erin Joy said... Best Blogger Tips

So many hats! You'll be drinking tea out of cracked cups and muttering about ravens and writing desks pretty soon. Love them ALL.

Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

I love all the hats! I especially love the Frog Tree Alpaca one. I have bought a few hat patterns these past few months, but haven't had the time to make a hat for myself. I will need to remedy that soon. But right now, it's shawls, shawls, shawls.

littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

I love that first hat! It looks so cozy and warm. Probably really handy considering the weather you've been having out there!
You are one busy crafter! You never cease to amaze.

Penelope said... Best Blogger Tips

Ooh--I really like the hat of your own design!

craftivore said... Best Blogger Tips

What an awesome collection of hats! I love that cabled beret-ish hat that you made, it's fab. Happy New Year!