New Favorites: Mad hatting

New Favorites: Mad about hats

I have this vision of a time in the future when my wardrobe is in good working order (no more rush to fill in all the gaps) and I can simply knit 1 or 2 carefully chosen sweaters per year, at my leisure. Then the rest of my time can be spent knitting hats! There is such an endless stream of good pattersn, and we all know how relatively quick and gratifying they are. These are my current obsessions:

TOP: Fidra by Gudrun Johnston (as knitted/shot by Kathy) is just good chunky fun

MIDDLE LEFT: Halus by Jared Flood is even more good chunky fun

MIDDLE RIGHT: Buck’s Hat by Thea Colman is cable-based basketweave used to great effect (See also: Manx from my fall hat roundup)

BOTTOM: Holt by Alicia Plummer features allover puff stitch for a simply gorgeous hat


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Welcome basics, part 2

Fidra photo by Kathy Cadigan used with permission

Plait Hat

Plait Hat by Karen Templer (free knitting pattern)

I thought it might be nice to kick off the new year with a little free pattern — the one I’ve promised you for this easy peasy hat!

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Plait Hat pattern


For this super simple, super warm hat, you need approximately 190-200 total yards of worsted-weight yarn held triple. By knitting with three strands, rather than a single strand of superbulky, you get to create the sweet little braided loop detail up top. You can either wind off three balls of 65 to 70 yards each (i.e., one half skein of Lark per ball), and knit with them held triple. Or, for the safer and easier approach, wind your yarn as usual and use the Navajo Ply method to create the tripled strand as you go. If you Navajo Ply, when you get near the end of the crown decrease section, pull out a crazy-long loop — like 6 feet — to be 100% sure you can finish the knitting and break the long tails for the braid without encountering the bend in your loop. I’d also recommend splicing on the second skein when you come to it.


  • 2 skeins Quince and Co. Lark (134 yards / 123 meters per 50g skein, pictured in Sabine) or approximately 195-200 yards worsted-weight yarn, held triple throughout (see note above)
  • 16″ circular needle and set of DPNs in size needed to match gauge (suggested size US13/9mm)
  • 16″ circular needle two sizes smaller for ribbing (suggested size US11/8mm)
  • 3 stitch markers and 1 contrasting Beginning of Round marker
  • tapestry needle for weaving in ends


  • Gauge: 10 sts and 18 rounds = 4″ in stockinette stitch
  • Size: 18″ circumference at brim (unstretched); 8″ tall


Using smaller needle and the long-tail method, and holding three strands of yarn together throughout the pattern, cast on 44 sts; place BOR marker and join for working in the round.

Work k2/p2 ribbing until piece measures 2.5″ from cast-on edge.

Switch to larger needle and stockinette stitch: knit all stitches, all rounds, until piece measures 5″ from cast-on edge. (For a slouchier hat, knit more rounds before beginning crown shaping.)

Shape crown
Setup round: *k2tog, k7, SSK, place marker; repeat from * to end of round. (8 sts decreased; 36 remain)

Round 1: Knit
Round 2: *k2tog, knit to 2 sts before marker, SSK, slip marker; repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat last two rounds (switch to DPNs when needed) until 3 sts remain between the markers.

Next round: *k2tog, k1, slip marker; repeat from * to end. (8 sts remain)

Next round: *k2tog, drop marker; repeat from * to end. (4 sts remain)

Next round: k2tog, break yarns leaving an 8-10″ tail of each strand; thread all three strands onto tapestry needle, thread them through the remaining three sts and pull to cinch hat closed.

Create braid
Remove the strands from the tapestry needle and braid them loosely for about 2″. Holding the braid securely, form a loop with the three strands (right at the end of the braid), pass the tails through and pull tight to secure braid in the knot. Now thread the tails back onto the tapestry needle and pass them down through the center top of the hat — it will stop at the knot, leaving you with a braided loop atop the hat and the tails inside. Now weave in your ends, block as desired, and wear it in good health!

<< Fave/queue the Plait Hat at Ravelry >>

2015: My knitting year in review

My knitting year in review

Last year, I remember being so shocked to discover that I had only finished six projects within the span of the year. This year I’m equally shocked to find I finished thirteen! But this having been my Year of Sleevelessnees and of holding yarns triple, I guess it’s not that surprising! And it’s really more a dozen than a baker’s dozen, since my first FO of the year — my Amanda cardigan from the first Fringe and Friends Knitalong — was knitted in the last four months of 2014 (the reason for that year’s low count) and only finished in January of 2015. But still, I’m pretty proud of this list. Even more for the success of the items than the quantity:

My Bellows is easily the most-worn handknit of my four-year knitting career.

My “vintage waistcoat” was modified from a WWII-era knit-for-the-troops pattern, and led to the full reworking that is my Anna Vest pattern — my proudest moment of the year.

– The green vest was a test-knit of the vest pattern for the Fringe Cowichan-style Knitalong, which was followed by my black/natural/grey Cowichan-ish vest. That’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had knitting, and a garment I adore. (Although I still need to do something with the armhole edges.)

– The purple shawl for my grandmother’s 90th birthday may (or may not) have been the last shawl I’ll ever knit, but I loved having that to give to her, regardless. And as a profoundly unexpected bonus, I was pretty thrilled when Instagram asked if they could use my cast-on photo in the promo spot on the Explore page to promote 25 great knitters to follow.

– The two versions of my sleeveless turtleneck — camel and black — were super fun to knit, and although I’ve tried your patience, I’m flattered by everyone who has been begging for the pattern. Getting that written and tech edited is at the top of my to-do list for the new year.

– I’m a little bummed to have only finished 4 of the 6 Fringe Hatalong hats by the year’s end, but I’m also happy to still have the other two ahead of me! Pictured are my Audrey, L’Arbre, Hermaness Worsted and Laurus. And I love that my niece claimed L’Arbre while modeling it for me and Bob claimed Laurus as soon as it was off the needles. I couldn’t be happier with the range of patterns I wound up with for the Hatalongs, and am so grateful to all of the designers and knitters who participated with such enthusiasm! NOTE: It’s never too late to cast on for any of them!

– Which just leaves that one last hat up there, which was a quickie I knitted to use up the leftovers from the black turtleneck and turned out super cute. I’ll be along with the simple pattern for that one any minute.

I even got them all listed at Ravelry!

Thank you so much for all of the support and encouragement you guys have given me this year. You’re always very generously telling me how much you get out of the blog — and I appreciate that so much — but it’s a two-way street, you know. Happy new year to you! And I’ll see you in 2016—

Favorite New Favorites of 2015

Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

Just about every week of every year, I post about the knitting patterns that are occupying my thoughts — whether they’re new or just newly appealing to me — under the heading of New Favorites. Some are content to be admired for just that moment, while others bully their way right into my queue. Interestingly, this year not a single New Favorites pick actually made it onto my needles (Not yet, anyway. I still have projects in my queue from last year’s and the year before’s.) Oh no, wait: I did cast on Linda — I just didn’t get very far because I need to switch yarns. Given that it’s the one I cast on and sketched into my Fashionary queue, and that I’ve mentioned it on the blog at least 92 times this year, that must have been the absolute most magnetic pattern for me this year! I’m still dying to try my hand at mosaic knitting, and this is still my favorite colorwork pattern of the year. But what follows are the patterns I’d most like to not lose track of as more and more new ones distract us from that which we already loved:


Although I give myself a 1% chance of ever actually knitting them, I think Dianna Walla’s Aspen socks/legwarmers, pictured up top, is the best pattern of the year, so I wanted to mention that. It’s inspired by historical garments and yet perfectly new and original, and just completely enticing and memorable. (It’s from the Farm to Needle book that, disclosure, I also have a pattern in.) If you haven’t seen Dianna’s blog post about the inspiration behind the pattern, take a minute to give it a read.
(as seen in From Farm to Needle)


Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

For me, Norah Gaughan’s Marshal is the sweater of the year, despite the fact that the neck treatment doesn’t quite work somehow. If (when) I were to knit it, I think I might make it into more of a bomber jacket — with a crewneck and curved neckband. That, or keep the V-neck and just leave off the neck flap, which looks fantastic from the back but which I love less from the front. Regardless, I’m completely crazy about the pocket design, texture and placement, and the gauge shift from the body to the pockets — really fantastic use of simple detail to elevate a design.
(as seen in The chevrons of BT Winter ’15)


Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

Next year will absolutely be the year I knit myself a colorwork yoke sweater. Perhaps one of these three—
top: Stopover by Mary Jane Mucklestone, as knitted by Kathy Cadigan (as seen in Dark yoke sweaters)
bottom left: Lighthouse Pullover by Carrie Bostick Hoge (as seen in Dark yoke sweaters)
bottom right: Skaftafell by Beatrice Perron Dahlen (as seen in Winter blues)


Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

The rest of the sweaters I’m keeping on the don’t-forget list are good, hardworking wardrobe basics that also look reasonably interesting to knit—
top left: Grille by Bonnie Sennott (as seen in Grille)
top right: Trace by Shellie Anderson (as seen in Trace)
bottom left: Sanford by Julie Hoover (as seen in The chevrons of BT Winter ’15)
bottom right: Butte by Pam Allen (as seen in Big ol’ cozy pullovers)


Favorite New Favorites of 2015 — best knitting patterns

left: Lambing Mitts by Veronika Jobe (as seen in Foldover mitts) (free pattern)
middle: Bonnie Banks Shawl by Beatrice Perron Dahlen (as seen in Fair-weather friends)
right: Abyss by Wool and the Gang (as seen in the WATG x Raeburn beanies)
right: Crag by Jared Flood (as seen in The hats of BT Men Vol 2)

What were your favorite patterns this year? Cast-on or otherwise!


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Winter blues

One-night knits!

One-night knits

Whether it actually is the night before Christmas and you’re short one gift, or you’re just desperate for a quick finish between long projects — or whatever the case may be! — here are four excellent free knitting patterns with fast and highly satisfying outcomes. All blissfully simple in garter, stockinette and ribbing, so they’re also great for beginners—

1. CFC Hanspun Toque by Patrick Rush
If you happen to have some Camellia Fiber Co. handspun in your stash, let me be the first to profess my jealousy! But if not, any superbulky will do. This one is designed by a guy and I can vouch for the fact that it’s worn by the whole CFC crew, so it’s unisex as well as being fast and great-looking. (See also: EZ’s Brioche Watch Cap)

2. Whichaway Mitts by Karen Templer
My own pattern for two-tone mitts that can be worn either direction. Again, perfectly unisex depending on your yarn choice. And it was specifically designed to use up leftovers! (See also: Super Simple Mitts)

3. Lara’s Hat by Susan Ashcroft
This is the most specifically feminine item in the group, but such a stupendous hat! Again with superbulky yarn on US15s, so you’ll be done in a flash. (See also: Purl Soho’s Chunky Cable Hat)

4. Simple House Slippers by Simone A.
These would be welcomed by any member of the family. They might take slightly longer than the previous three patterns, especially since you need to make two — but you could totally wrap up one finished slipper and an IOU for the second one. (See also: Tootsie Toasters)

Another great last-minute gift idea (no knitting required!) is a Fringe Supply Co. gift certificate, which I will happily send to your recipient as a personal email! ;)

For more gift knitting suggestions, see Warm hands, warm hearts; Cowls all around; and A hat for every head


Fringe Hatalong No. 6: 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes

Fringe Hatalong No. 6: 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes (free pattern)

Have you ever heard of Christmas at Sea? When DG and I were manning our Fringe Supply Co. booth at Stitches South last spring — back when the Fringe Hatalong Series was brand new — I kept seeing him chatting up these two really cool women who had a nearby booth. Their sign said “Seamen’s Church Institute” and I couldn’t figure out what that could mean, much less what it had to do with knitting. Well, it turned out to be a really interesting story! The Seamen’s Church Institute is a centuries-old advocacy organization for mariners — all those men (mostly) who work on the countless cargo ships that make our way of life possible. It’s a life of dangers and difficulties most of us have never thought about, and SCI provides job training and free legal aid and interfaith chaplains and … Christmas gifts! Every year every mariner who enters a US port gets a present, many of which contain hand-knitted hats and socks made by who-knows-how-many charitable knitters. To that end, SCI has developed knitting and crochet patterns that they know to be what the mariners need and want — free of worksite hazards like pompoms! — including this really cool earflap hat called the 1898 Hat (the year Christmas at Sea began), which was the result of a design contest a couple of years ago sparked by the men’s repeated request for ear flaps.

I loved the story almost as much as I love the hat! And since I had planned to feature a hat charity with each installment of the Hatalong, I was extra thrilled that this one was built in. Thankfully Paige, who runs the Christmas at Sea program, was on board (no pun intended) with the idea of featuring it as a Hatalong pattern.

You can download the free 1898 Hat pattern here.

Backstory aside, there’s a lot to love about this hat – and it’s a great gift hat, whether you give yours to a mariner or a loved one: it’s perfectly unisex, despite its origins; incredibly warm with its double-thick brim and flaps; and is constructed in an intriguing way that will make it fun to knit! You might be thinking it’s all short rows and I-cord, but nope — none of that! It starts with the garter-stitch headband part, which is knitted sideways. The earflaps are shaped with simple increases instead of short rows, and a slipped-stitch ridge along the center of the piece becomes that beautiful thick lower edge once the band is folded in half. It’s brilliant! So that gets folded together, you pick up stitches all the way around, and from that point upwards it’s a basic stockinette cap.

If you do want to donate yours (or one of yours) (I’m guessing there will be lots of multiples with this one) make sure you read through the Christmas at Sea guidelines with regard to yarn and color choice, and where to send it. And if you don’t donate your hat, I hope you’ll consider making a small donation of some kind — from money to toiletries — as a thank-you to SCI for the great free pattern.

Remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. Also be sure to fave/queue the pattern at Ravelry. I’ll be on the lookout for photos, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (There’s no way to guarantee I’ll see it if you post it elsewhere.)

I can’t wait to see your hats!


PREVIOUSLY in Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 5 Seathwaite by Kate Gagnon Osborn

Queue Check — November into December 2015

Queue Check — November into December 2015

When last we spoke of this, in late October, I was setting aside my black Anna vest to work on much-needed pullovers for myself and my beloved husband. I’m sorry to have to admit that the husband’s has gotten short shrift. As noted, I took the Sawkill yarn with me on my Seattle trip last month and managed to knit most of two sleeves and a twisted hem for the body of mine by the time I got home. (Haven’t had a minute for it since.) And I finally got the time and nerve to cast on Bob’s sweater just this week. As much as I want it to be saddle-shouldered and knitted bottom-up, I’m doing it top-down and raglan for the sake of having the best possible chance of getting the fit exactly how he wants it. (It’s been so long since I did a top-down sweater, I had to consult my own top-down tutorial to make sure I remembered how!) This is dull knitting, these two stockinette sweaters, but we’ll both be thrilled to have them if I can just stick it out!

And fortunately, there are Fringe Hatalong hats to break up the monotony. I cast on my Seathwaite at long last — I’m trying it in the new YOTH Father (given to me by Veronika when I was in Seattle) and knitting on 7s, crossing my fingers the fabric and size both turn out ok without a swatch! (So dumb, but sometimes we gamble.) And I’ll have news of the final Hatalong of the year very very soon!


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2015