Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Locks and the Three Hats. . .

Hats and I just don't get along.  I think it has something to do with the fact that I have bangs and usually have my hair up in a ponytail, neither of which is conducive to a really good hat look.  But I live in Canada and it gets bloody cold in the winter.  So I'm on a quest to knit the perfect hat even though I still shudder when I think of my first attempt.  It looked like this:

It's now a lovely felted bowl.

I've improved my knitting skills over the last year and it was time to plunge into headgear again.  I found this pattern I quite liked from Classic Elite Yarns called the Kumera Diamond Cap.  And the pattern was just for one size. And I took the time to do a gauge swatch which I obviously didn't do for my first attempt. And it was fine for the horizontal measurement, but fell a bit short vertically.  What do you do in such a case?  I pressed on.  And here it is - it's a very pretty pattern and was quite fun to knit.

But . . . it's a wee bit too loose on my head.  You can't see it in the picture but there is an inch or so of ribbing at the edge.  I KNOW I should have knitted this with smaller needles but I didn't have the right size handy and so I didn't.   It does sit on my head while walking, and it's a good fall hat, and as long as a gust of wind doesn't come along or I shake my head violently, it usually stays on.  Maybe I need to find some discreet hair clips to hold it on in the way that women used to use their hatpins.  Does anyone do this with knitted caps?  Or do they just knit them to a perfect size?  I keep gazing at women wearing handknit hats on the subway and I'm guessing it's the latter.  Sigh.

I've been reading a lot of knitting books and blogs and certain legendary names in the knit world come up all the time.  One of them is Barbara G. Walker and I recently bought her book Knitting From The Top.

Someday I will be using her techniques to knit a sweater, but she also writes about knitting a hat from the top down so that you can stop and measure it as you go.  Terrific, I thought, and cast on.  Now, there's no specific pattern - you just start with 8 stitches and increase on a regular basis until you've knitted to the circumference of your crown and then you continue making a type of tube until it's as long as you want.  Here's the problem though: holding a circle of knitting on the top of your head as you gaze into the mirror on the bathroom cabinet, what exactly constitutes your crown?  Well, here's my second attempt:

I really liked the wool (Cascade Quattro for the grey/white blend and Cascade 220 for the brim) and the way the two went together (and this time I DID use smaller needles for the ribbing) and I was quite chuffed to be doing this without consulting a pattern.  But . . .  it's a wee bit too big.  I should have stopped increasing about 3 rows before I actually did.  It does work in a pinch, but I'm just not satisfied.  I'll probably rip it apart and start again some day but I just can't bring myself to do it right now.  Sigh.

Undeterred, having bought a skein of lovely, bulky Cascade Lana Grande, I cast on again from the top.   This would make a really warm woollen winter hat.  Though it's much thicker than the wool used for Hat #2, I did measure where I should have stopped increasing on that hat, and so my "crown" was much smaller.

And it was all going really well and I bound off and ran excitedly to the mirror and pulled it onto my head and . . . the bind off row was so, so, tight it left a huge mark on my forehead even after stretching it.  I was ready to cry at this point.  But I took a deep breath, thought for a bit, and carefully ripped out the bind-off row.  I got bigger needles and bound off much more loosely and ran back to the mirror. . . and . . . IT FITS!  It's warm and cozy and covers my ears and though next time, I think I'd do away with the three garter horizontal rows that I added on a whim, IT WILL DO FOR NOW!

I think hats are now out of my system until the next time.  And I still don't really like them.


Sandra said...

Oh, I do understand the frustration of hat sizing! Though mine tends to go in the other way... everything is too small.
There are a few hats made just for ponytails, which have been a saving grace - I can just shift the buttons a wee bit to fit if I don't want to fiddle with gague. There's one I'm fond of on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/hannah-4
Hope your next time goes better!

Blithe Spirit said...

I'll definitely check that pattern out - thanks for sending the link. And despite the frustrations, I did enjoy (sort of) the process. I'm at least feeling a bit more confident in my skills to actually look at my work and try and work out how to fix the errors. Which is quite a distance from where I was when I knit that first hat!