The lovely Audrey

The lovely Audrey - free knitting pattern

This whole Fringe Hatalong Series idea was a good one, I can already tell. I finished my lovely Audrey hat — my third FO for the year — and feel confident it would not have happened had I not invited you all to knit along with me. I would have gotten sucked into the next sweater without a palate cleanser or quick finish to bolster me, as this has done. And I know I already said this, but it’s such a joy to watch hat after hat appear on the #fringehatalong tag at Instagram. (140-odd posts and counting!) There are far fewer listed on Ravelry — if you’ve made a project page for your hat, I’d love it if you’d add “fringehatalong” in the tags field so yours will show up with all the rest. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to see every color and pompom and modification. Meanwhile, I love this pretty little hat and am debating whether to leave it au naturel or toss it in a pot of avocado pits.

If you haven’t cast on yet, it’s not too late! The free Audrey Hat pattern is right here, and there’s no schedule. If you have questions, you can always ask them on the pattern post.

I also hope everyone has made the Seattle Children’s Hospital donation of a dollar or two that Anna requested in offering us the pattern for free. Part of my original idea for the Hatalong series was to feature a charity in each installment — a potential recipient for those of you who are knitting with the intention of giving it away — so I was very pleased that Anna was one step ahead of me in suggesting a small monetary donation for this round. From here on out, I’ll be directing attention to charities in need of hats. But if you are wanting to donate your finished Audrey, check with your local hospital hospice or chemo unit.

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Jen Hewett for Fringe Supply Co. limited edition project bagUNRELATED NEWS YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR: The fourth and final installment of our limited-edition Jen Hewett project bags has arrived! As before, when they’re gone they’re gone! For this edition, we went back to the linen and jute drawstring bag from edition one. So if you’ve collected all four, you’ll have two linen and two cotton. The preorders have shipped and that left only about 70 bags available in the shop, so if you want one, don’t hesitate! We also got partial shipments of the amazing skim balm and Bento Bags this week, so see if what you’ve been wanting is there while you’re at it! If not, don’t worry, there’s more on the way.

First of the best of Fall 2015: Wool and Gang walks again

First of the best of Fall 2015: Wool and the Gang walks again

Following last year’s Eek hat for the Giles Fall ’14 collection, my friends over at Wool and the Gang had more knits walking the runway at London Fashion Week yesterday. This time they collaborated with Christopher Raeburn on his shark-themed Fall ’15 collection. As seen in the photos here (from @woolandthegang and @jade_harwood) the pieces include a pair of shark-shaped mittens plus a killer multi-color slouch beanie and big fringed scarf. The mittens, dubbed the Bruce Knitmitts, are available on their site straight away, both as finished goods and a knit kit, and they’ve promised to let me know when the hat and scarf patterns are available later this year. My compliments to the Gang on what must have been another thrilling ride. And to Raeburn, who looks pretty pleased with those mittens.

p.s. They were kind enough to send me an Eek hat kit when I was crying for a fast break from my four months with Amanda, but I haven’t knitted it up just yet. Love. That. Hat.

p.p.s. If I had the sewing chops, I would totally be making my own version of that olive-drab duffel coat with Grainline’s pattern. That is my dream coat right there.

 

Knit the Look: Natalie Joos’ charcoal cap

Knit the Look: Natalie Joos' charcoal cap

I find Tales of Endearment blogger Natalie Joos impossibly adorable, but this also happens to be one of my all-time favorite photos from Vanessa’s blog — Natalie in a subdued-yet-rule-breaking, season-spanning combo of a white skirt, incredible wool toggle coat and charcoal grey beanie. It’s an outfit that says she sees the light of Spring at the end of Winter’s tunnel. But mostly I just really love that hat. Neither of the two photos tells us anything concrete about what’s actually going on with it, knitwise, other than that it’s a bulky yarn knitted with a bit of purl texture on the body. I’m thinking all we’d need do to get the same effect is tamper with Audrey’s stitch counts and knit it in Quince and Co’s Puffin in Kittywake.

And now that I’ve typed that, I won’t be able to avoid doing it.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Multi-marl infinity scarf

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Fringe Hatalong No. 1: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn

Fringe Hatalong No. 1: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn — a mini-knitalong

My darling friend Anna Dianich of Tolt Yarn and Wool commissioned Jessie Roselyn to design a set of patterns for her Snoqualmie Valley Yarn last fall, and it’s super charming. (You know I love a good chevron stitch!) The complete Audrey Collection includes a hat, mittens and socks all in the same reverse-stockinette-with-chevrons stitch pattern. The hat, though, can be worn either side out and was photographed both ways. The photos on the model above show it stockinette side out, which is how I actually prefer it, so that’s the modified pattern I’ve chosen for the first Fringe Hatalong Series knitalong and am publishing below, with Anna’s permission.

In addition to the mittens and socks, the PDF version of the pattern includes a chart, so if you want the chart, the additional patterns and/or to have it in PDF form, you can purchase the complete set at Ravelry. I’m very grateful to Anna for giving us (this modified version of) the hat pattern for the knitalong. A portion of the proceeds from the pattern yarn is going to Seattle Children’s Hospital and Anna asks that, in exchange for the free hat pattern, you please donate a dollar or two to the same cause. You can make a donation through Seattle Children’s Hospital’s site.

The full hat pattern is below!

I’ll be answering questions (to the best of my abilities) in the comments section on this post. I hope you’ll share pictures of your hats here (link to wherever from the comments), on Ravelry and Instagram using the hashtag #fringehatalong. But I will only be able to answer questions posted here in the comments.

NOTES FOR BEGINNERS: In addition to being just knits and purls, this pattern is written with beginners in mind, including indications for where you should reset your row counter if you’re using one. (You could also just make tick marks or check marks on paper, or whatever works for you, as long as you’re consistent in doing it!) I would add that the stitch pattern for the body of the hat (beginning with the Pattern Rounds) is based on a 12-stitch repeat. To make it easier to keep your place and catch mistakes quickly, you might want to use 10 extra stitch markers to separate the repeats. You’ll already have one marker marking the beginning of your round, and that marker should be different from the rest (a different size, shape or color) so you know which one is the BOR (beginning of round) marker versus the rest of them. When you get to the first Pattern Round, work the first 12 stitches as indicated (p1, k11), then place a marker; work the next 12 stitches (p1, k11), place another marker, etc. On the successive rounds, you’ll simply slip each marker from the left to right needle as you come to them. You might drop them when switching to DPNs or during the last of the Top Shaping rounds once they’re in the way, but keep your BOR marked. Also, I strongly recommend you use the nicely stretchy Long-Tail Cast On.

For details on how to swatch for this hat, I’ve spelled that out in the comments. For general guidance and advice on how to knit a hat, see Anatomy lessons and Gauge and size.

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Audrey Hat pattern by Jessie Roselyn

Fringe Hatalong No. 1: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn — a mini-knitalong

CONSTRUCTION NOTES
This pattern provides instructions for two levels of slouchiness: You can work an additional pattern repeat to create a more slouchy fit.

Hat is knitted in the round with a circular needle. When you reach the point where there are not enough stitches to stretch around the circular needle, switch to double-pointed needles. The hat may be worked entirely on double-pointed needles if you don’t have a circular, or if you prefer that method to knit in the round.

[see note on dimensions below]

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MATERIALS

YARN
Approximately 175 yd / 160 m of light DK weight yarn
Sample shown in 8″ fit knitted in Snoqualmie Valley Yarn (100% wool, 250 yd/230 m per 100g skein)

GAUGE
5 stitches/9 rows = 1 in/2.5 cm in pattern stitch

NEEDLES
Needle sizes are recommendations only; always use needle size necessary to achieve given gauge.
US6/4.0 mm needles — a 16-in/40-cm circular needle and set of double-pointed needles (or use your preferred small-circumference method)

NOTIONS
Stitch marker, row counter, tapestry needle

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HAT INSTRUCTIONS
CO 88 stitches. Place marker and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist.

Setup Rounds
Rounds 1-10: [K2, P2] repeat to end
Round 11: [K4, M1] repeat to end (110 stitches)
Round 12: [K5, M1] repeat to end (132 stitches)
Reset row counter.

Pattern Rounds
Repeat pattern rounds 1-15 a total of three times for the 8″ hat (pictured) or four times for the slouchier 9.5″ hat.
Round 1: [P1, K11] repeat to end
Round 2: [P1, K11] repeat to end
Round 3: [P2, K9, P1] repeat to end
Round 4: [K1, P1, K9, P1] repeat to end
Round 5: [K1, P2, K7, P2] repeat to end
Round 6: [K2, P1, K7, P1, K1] repeat to end
Round 7: [K2, P2, K5, P2, K1] repeat to end
Round 8: [K3, P1, K5, P1, K2] repeat to end
Round 9: [K3, P2, K3, P2, K2] repeat to end
Round 10: [K4, P1, K3, P1, K3] repeat to end
Round 11: [K4, P2, K1, P2, K3] repeat to end
Round 12: [K5, P1, K1, P1, K4] repeat to end
Round 13: [K5, P3, K4] repeat to end
Round 14: [K6, P1, K5] repeat to end
Round 15: [K6, P1, K5] repeat to end
Reset row counter; repeat as indicated above for desired length

Top Shaping
[NOTE: this section was tweaked at 8:55am PST to include one extra decrease round.]
Round 1: [K10, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 2: [K9, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 3: [K8, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 4: [K7, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 5: [K6, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 6: [K5, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 7: [K4, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 8: [K3, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 9: [K2, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 10: [K1, K2tog] repeat to end
Round 11: [K2tog] repeat to end
Bind off by pulling working yarn through remaining stitch loops with tapestry needle.

Finishing
Weave in the ends and block.

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ABBREVIATIONS
CO: Cast on
K: Knit
K2tog: Knit 2 together (1 stitch decreased)
M1: Make 1 stitch — insert left needle under bar between stitches from front to back; knit this stitch through back loop (1 stitch increased)
P: Purl

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Pattern and photos © Tolt Yarn and Wool; published with permission

How to knit a hat, part 2: Gauge and size

How to knit and measure a gauge swatch

I’m reminded why I always shy away from writing about swatching: There are a thousand caveats. I’ve kept this as brief as possible but the fact is it’s an important subject and I want to do it minimum viable justice. It’s a long post. So first let’s talk quickly about whether you need to swatch for a hat, and then I’ll launch into the whole how-to.

The answer to “Do I have to swatch for a hat?” is the same as for anything: Only if you want it to fit. A lot of people don’t swatch for hats, and I’m in this camp. (And it has led to multiple “learning experiences.”) Often you’re trying to squeeze a hat out of single skein and don’t want to give any of it to a swatch. Or you just really want to cast on and knit the hat, and figure you’ll find someone it fits when it’s done. Or you accept ripping as an integral part of knitting, so you let the hat be its own swatch and are prepared to rip and restart if need be.

My friend Rachel was elated to have knitted her first hat last week, and over the weekend I got a series of deflated text messages from her. She had soaked her hat, which was all ribbing, and now that the ribbing had relaxed it was way too big. I told her the hat-that-don’t-fit situation is a rite of passage. She replied plainly, “It’s very discouraging,” and yes, it surely is. But it can be avoided simply by knitting and measuring a gauge swatch first.

WHAT IS A SWATCH?

A swatch is a square of fabric that puts you in control of your outcome. The point of knitting a swatch is to understand how the fabric will behave and to establish your gauge — to see if your stitches are the same size as the pattern drafter’s stitches, and thus whether your finished item will be the same size as the pattern indicates. So the most important thing about knitting a swatch is that it has to be a nearly exact replica of the thing you mean to knit. Therefore:

• Use the exact yarn
No two are the same; a dyed yarn will even behave differently than its undyed version

• Use the exact needles
Your gauge will likely be different if, e.g., you swatch with bamboo and knit with metal

• Use the exact method
Swatch flat if knitting flat; swatch in the round if knitting in the round

HOW TO KNIT A SWATCH

In knitting patterns, gauge is usually stated either in stockinette stitch or in the stitch pattern used for the item in question, and it’s measured over 4 inches but might be stated as the 4-inch measurement or divided by 4 for the 1-inch measurement. I.e., “20 stitches and 28 rows over 4 inches” is the same as “5 stitches and 7 rows per inch.” You measure 4 inches rather than 1 to make sure you’re getting an accurate count of fractional stitches in a given inch, which can add up to quite a lot over the span of a garment.

In order to measure 4 inches, you need at least that many stitches — ideally more. The best swatch is a big swatch (especially if you really want to know if you like the fabric), but at bare minimum, you don’t want to be measuring edge stitches in your 4 inches. Sticking with that 5 sts/inch example above, you know that 20 sts will be about 4 inches (depending on whether you are a looser or tighter knitter), so you want to pad it to give yourself margin for differences and for measuring. I would cast on at least 25 stitches, but again, preferably more. And unless you already know yourself to be a loose or tight knitter, start with whatever needle size the pattern recommends.

Many people like to put a garter-stitch border around their swatches because it looks nice and because stockinette will roll. Others believe (especially if your swatch is small) that the difference in stitch and row gauge between garter stitch and stockinette will affect your measurements. I’m a purist, so I keep my swatches to only the pattern stitch and don’t put a border on them.

Again, if the item you’ll be knitting is knitted in the round, you must swatch in the round, and vice versa. Most people’s gauge varies between their knits and their purls, so if you knit a stockinette swatch flat (knitting on one side and purling on the other), your gauge will be different than when you knit stockinette in the round (knitting every stitch). And vice versa. Garter stitch worked flat is all knits; worked in the round it’s a combination of knits and purls. Here’s a good tutorial on swatching in the round — it’s much easier than it sounds.

HOW TO MEASURE A SWATCH

Here’s the frustrating truth: Some patterns list unblocked gauge and others list blocked gauge. Some don’t specify. (If you don’t know what blocking is, click here.) What you really need to know is: A) is the fabric going to change when you block it? and B) what are the final measurements?

So once you’ve got at least 4 inches of fabric — wide and tall — bind off loosely and measure your swatch. Write it down. Then block it however you will block your garment. If you don’t intend to ever wash your garment, okey doke, you’re done. If you intend to wash your garment by hand, go ahead and soak your swatch. If it’s machine-washable yarn and you intend to use the machine, machine wash your swatch. Then lay it flat to dry.

If you’ve done as I’ve done and knitted a plain stockinette swatch, you’ll have an annoying little rolled up worm of fabric. If you pin the edges while it dries, as pictured, it will flatten out, making it easier to work with and to measure. But you want to know the natural size of the fabric, so don’t stretch it when pinning. Once it’s dry, measure it again.

I’m pretty sure it was in Pam Allen’s Knitting for Dummies where I once saw the suggestion that you put a pin in the swatch at the 0- and 4-inch marks before counting. I’d never done that until I did for the sake of these photos, and that’s pretty sharp, so you should do that. First line up your ruler horizontally across the bottom of one row of stitches, with the zero point of the ruler at the outer edge of a stitch, as shown. (A knit stitch, which we’re looking at here, looks like a V. We’re counting Vs.) Put a pin at 0 and at 4. Now count how many stitches are between the pins, and that’s your 4-inch stitch gauge. (Divide by 4 for how many stitches per inch.) Now position the ruler vertically alongside a column of stitches. Again, place two pins and count the stitches between them. You can see here I have 20.5 stitches and 30 rows over 4 inches, or 5.125 stitches and 7.5 rows per inch.

Remember, I’ve knitted a stockinette swatch for this example because that’s the most common case. But your swatch should be in whatever stitch the pattern calls for where it states the gauge.

HOW TO “GET GAUGE”

Assuming you want your garment to match the pattern dimensions, you need to match the pattern gauge. If your stitches are too big (fewer of them per inch), try again on a smaller needle. If your stitches are too small (more of them per inch), try a larger needle. Make whatever adjustments are needed until you’ve matched the pattern’s gauge.

If it’s not important to you to match the pattern dimensions, you can always choose to knit at a different gauge, just make sure you know how different your gauge is and how much of a difference that will make to the finished dimensions. With hats, it’s fairly common to tweak gauge to tweak the size. I have a big head and most hat pattern dimensions are too small for my liking, so I look at every hat pattern and think “can I knit that in the next heavier weight of yarn on a needle one size bigger?” (E.g. if it’s a worsted-weight hat on 7s, I’m inclined to knit it in aran weight on 8s.)

Gauge is a function of yarn weight, needle size and the knitter’s tension, any or all three of which can be varied to get the desired results. It’s delayed gratification — casting on a swatch when you want to be casting on a hat — but you’re that much more likely to be gratified by the hat you wind up with.

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PREVIOUSLY: How to knit a hat, part 1: Anatomy lessons

How to knit a hat, part 1: Anatomy lessons

How to knit a hat (that fits)

Knitting a hat is momentous in a knitter’s life. The simple act of knitting in the round — creating a three-dimensional tube instead of a flat rectangle of fabric — is eye-opening. But then comes the crown, where you’re suddenly learning about shaping (in this case decrease stitches) and working small-circumference fabric either on double-pointed needles or via the Magic Loop method. By the time you weave in the two ends — only a few knitting hours later — your bag of tricks has grown exponentially.

Hats are a favorite among seasoned knitters for many reasons: 1) They’re relatively quick. 2) They’re an excellent blank canvas for all sorts of stitch patterns and thus 3) a small-scale way to get to do lots of different kinds of knitting. 4) They don’t require much yarn. 5) There’s almost zero finishing involved. And 6) just about everyone can use one. They’re also fairly straightforward, as knitting projects go, and if you simply follow a reasonably good pattern you’ll wind up with a hat! (And it will fit someone, if perhaps not the intended head.) No need to give it any more thought than that if you don’t want to.

But for any of you who do want to — to understand the steps and maybe exercise some control over the fit — let’s talk about the various parts of a hat, techniques employed, and decisions you might choose to make along the way—

PART ONE: The cast on

Most hats have a stretchy brim — which we’ll get to in a moment — but possibly the most important thing is for the cast-on to be stretchy. You don’t want your hat to either bag out or cut into your forehead. For that reason, hats generally call for the Long-Tail Cast On, which is nice and stretchy. And while there are patterns out there for hats knitted flat and seamed, most contemporary hat patterns are knitted in the round on a 16″ circular needle. (I’ll talk about the Magic Loop alternative below.) Working at one end of the circular needle, you’ll cast on the prescribed number of stitches, then the pattern will likely tell you to place a stitch marker (to keep track of the beginning of the round) plus some version of two things: “join in the round” and “be careful not to twist.”

“Join in the round” or “join for knitting in the round” means simply what’s pictured at the top of this post: spread your stitches around the circular needle with the working yarn dangling from the right needle (place the marker on your right needle) and insert the right needle tip into the first stitch on the left needle to begin knitting in the round. From here on out, every time you pick it up and put it down, you’ll always hold it with the working yarn coming off the right needle.

“Be careful not to twist” means making sure your stitches aren’t twisted around your needle. If they are, you’ll be knitting a mobius loop instead of a tube, and there’s no way to fix it other than to rip it out. So line up your stitches as pictured above, with the cast-on edge running along the inside of the curve of the needle, so you can see for sure that the stitches haven’t wrapped themselves around the needle.

PART TWO: The brim

Most hats have a stretchy brim so it will cling to your head and stay on. That typically takes the form of a couple of inches of ribbing, the stretchiest of knitted stitch patterns (and the ribbing is also often worked on smaller needles than the main fabric, so it’s tighter and stretchier). You aren’t beholden to the pattern, though. Maybe you only want an inch of ribbing and the pattern calls for two. Or maybe you want your ribbed brim to fold up so it’s double thick — you are welcome to knit four inches of ribbing instead of two (assuming you have enough yarn) and then roll it up. Maybe you want it to be 3×2 or 2×2 ribbing instead of 1×1, or vice versa. Or maybe you don’t like ribbing and want to use a different stitch pattern entirely. These are easy modifications to make — just be sure you’ve thought through any ramifications.

3×2 ribbing, for example, isn’t as stretchy as 1×1, so your hat might not be as snug. The hat’s main stitch pattern might be designed to flow organically from the ribbing, and changing the rib multiple would disrupt that. 3×2 ribbing is a repeat of 5 stitches (3 knits + 2 purls, repeated across the total stitch count) whereas 1×1 is a 2-stitch repeat. So your cast-on count would need to be a multiple of 5 instead of a multiple of 2. If the pattern’s cast-on count doesn’t divide evenly into your desired multiple, you’ll need to tweak the stitch count, and then also increase or decrease by the same amount on the last ribbing round in order to have the correct number of stitches to begin the body.

PART THREE: The body

With the most obvious exception being a beret, hats are generally knitted as a straight tube (no shaping) until you get to the crown, and the length of that tube is the primary factor in how tall (i.e., fitted or slouchy) a hat is. Any pattern worth its salt will tell you the finished height of the hat, and most patterns will specify in inches, within the instructions, how tall the body of the hat should be before you begin shaping the crown. Reading into the pattern, you’ll find a sentence something like “knit until the hat measures X inches from the cast-on edge.” If you prefer your hats longer or shorter than the finished dimensions given, the body is where you’ll want to make adjustments. Say the finished height of a hat is 9.5 inches and you prefer yours to be only 8 inches — you’ll want to eliminate 1.5 inches from the body. So if the pattern says to knit until 7.5 inches before beginning the crown shaping, you’ll subtract 1.5 inches from that and only knit to 6 inches. (If you’ve added extra fabric for a fold-up brim, make sure you’re measuring from the fold.)

In the above example — that is, a 9.5-inch hat that says to knit to 7.5 inches before the crown — we can infer that the crown rounds add up to 2 inches. But if your row gauge is different from the pattern’s row gauge, your whole hat, including that crown depth, will be different. So once you’ve got four inches of the body knitted, stop and measure your row gauge. If your gauge is bigger (fewer rows per inch) and you follow the pattern to a T, your hat will be taller, so again you might choose to adjust how many rounds you knit before the crown. Or vice versa — smaller row gauge (more rows per inch) means you’ll wind up with a shorter hat, so anticipate or adjust accordingly.

Of course, the body of a hat might be based on a chart or a repeat that requires a certain number of rounds to be worked. In that case, changing the height of the hat might mean working one more or fewer repeat, and having the final measurement be a difference of the height of that full repeat. (We’ll talk more about charts and repeats as we get into the Fringe Hatalong Series.)

PART FOUR: The crown

The crown is where things get really interesting from a knitting perspective — and the world is full of hat patterns with dazzlingly designed crowns. There are countless methods for shaping a crown, but all involve gradually decreasing the number of stitches in each row until you’re down to just a few — so the tube gets narrower and narrower until it meets in the middle. That means you’re eventually going to have too few stitches to stretch around the 16″ circular needle we started out on. Commonly, a pattern will call for you to switch to DPNs (double-pointed needles) once you reach that point. To do so (unless your pattern is more specific than this), you knit 1/3 of the stitches onto one DPN, the next 1/3 onto a second DPN, and the last 1/3 onto a third DPN, so your stitches are evenly divided between three needles — or as close as your stitch count will allow — and those needles form a triangle. Using a fourth DPN, you work across the first needle, which frees it up; use it to knit the stitches from the second needle; and so on, around and around and around. It looks wildly intimidating, but is actually quite simple, and a hat crown (where you already have a volume of fabric on the needles) is the easiest way to learn it. (There’s a good video here.)

The alternative is to knit the entire hat on one long circular needle using the Magic Loop method, for which there are countless video tutorials on the internet. (I’ll let you Google that since there isn’t one I’ve personally relied on — I’m not a Magic Looper.)

The pattern will always tell you how many decrease rounds to work — typically alternating between decrease rounds and straight rounds. Then it will tell you: once you have only X stitches remaining on the needles, break your yarn and thread it onto a tapestry needle, then pull it through the remaining stitches and cinch to close. Pass the end down through the center and weave it in on the inside, and voilà, a hat!

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In case you missed the announcement, I’m launching the Fringe Hatalong Series of occasional hat knitalongs this week and the first pattern pick is suitable for your first hat. I hope you’ll join in — details to come on Thursday!

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Introducing the Fringe Hatalong Series

Introducing the Fringe Hatalong Series of mini-knitalongs

Because I’m so focused these days on filling in my sweater wardrobe with handknits, I’ve been knitting fewer total items, which means trying fewer patterns and techniques and also knitting with fewer yarns. My closet might be benefiting, but what about my range of knitting experiences? How will I ever get around to all those intriguing hat patterns I’ve been stockpiling for ages? And how will I ever make a dent in my copious stash of single skeins of delectable yarns? Plus I love the feeling that comes with finishing things, and those moments are farther apart when you’re knitting sweaters. So I decided to make a pact with myself to knit some hats in 2015. I’m trying to resist the urge to be overly organized and formal about this — to just pick a hat and a yarn that I’m itching to spend time with — and I’m asking you all to knit along with me on these. Ergo, the Fringe Hatalong Series. I’m thinking of doing one roughly every other month (we’ll see!), and I’m thinking hats because they’re instant gratification and don’t generally take a lot of yarn, but more important, they offer the opportunity to try out lots of different skills in the form of lace, cables, colorwork, unusual construction methods, etc. Which means who knows what we might get into along the way.

I’m always saying I think a hat is a great first knitting project, but certainly it’s a great way to get past rectangles (scarves and washcloths) and pick up life-changing new skills. Future selections will bring other tricks into the mix, but the first hat I’ve chosen for the Hatalong series also happens to be a great first hat, period. So I’m hoping some of you who’ve never tried knitting in the round before will join in. The only thing you’ll need to know is how to knit and purl in the same row — we’ll cover the rest together. And if you don’t know how to purl, here’s a video for you!

Leading up to the first Hatalong, tomorrow I’ll have a post on how to knit a hat — meaning not just how to join for working in the round, but how to assess a hat pattern and decide if you want to make any modifications to it along the way. And then I’ll have another post about whether hats require swatches (pros and cons) and how to knit and measure a swatch. I’ll be referring back to those two posts for the entirety of the Hatalong series. Then on Thursday, I’ll announce the first hat selection by publishing the pattern here on the blog, but I’ll tell you in the meantime that the recommended yarn is Tolt Yarn and Wool’s Snoqualmie Valley Yarn, which I have in my stash and have been dying to get to, and which can be ordered from Tolt. If you want to substitute with something from your stash, you’ll need at least 175 yards of ideally 100% wool, DK (or light worsted) yarn with good stitch definition. So you want something plied (preferably not a single-ply or roving yarn), and in a solid, heather, semi-solid or tweed — something that will be well showcased by a very simple stitch pattern, and that won’t compete with that simple stitch pattern. Gauge for the pattern is given as “5 stitches and 10 rows = 1 inch in Garter Stitch,” so feel free to start swatching if you’re into that kind of thing. ;)

The hashtag for this series will be #fringehatalong, and I’ll be encouraging you to share your knitalong hats, your questions and comments once we get officially rolling on Thursday.

Are we excited?

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PLEASE NOTE: There is currently no way to take a picture of hats I haven’t knitted yet, so the photos at the top of this post are of hats I have knitted in the past. They are merely decoration for the post and are not meant to be indicative of the specific patterns that will be included in the Fringe Hatalong Series. If you’re curious what they are, though, clockwise from top left they are: Gentian, Stadium Hat (free pattern), Heel Stitch Hat and Gorro Montanhac.