Thank gawd today is here because the suspense has been killing me! Finally I can tell you that the hat pattern for Fringe Hatalong No. 2 is Cirilia Rose’s L’Arbre Hat — from her beautiful book Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads — which I’ve been wanting to knit since I first laid eyes on it. (You can see the full range of patterns included in this book on Ravelry.) Major thanks to Cirilia and the fine folks at her publisher, STC Craft, for making the hat available to us for the knitalong.
Click here to download the free pattern. Be sure to post your progress here, there and everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong. And for newer knitters, see my two-part How to Knit a Hat tutorial: Part 1. Anatomy Lessons and Part 2. Gauge and size.
“Arbre” is French for tree and the hat features a stitch pattern called Little Tree, which is just knits and purls and — now that I’ve swatched I can say this for certain — so much fun to knit! As I mentioned in the preview post last week (which contains yarn suggestions and a discount code for the recommended yarn, so if you missed that go look) you will definitely want to swatch for this hat — both to get the hang of the stitch pattern and to measure your gauge, because if you’re working this stitch tightly at all, that will affect the outcome. You’ll also want to block it because it does create a sort of corrugated fabric that relaxes when blocked, so measuring without blocking will give you a deceptive measurement. Below you can see the difference in my swatch before and after blocking. (For the record, this swatch is knitted with Purl Soho Worsted Twist from my stash — Purl sent me several colors awhile back and I’m debating! But I’m exactly on gauge.)
HOW TO SWATCH FOR L’ARBRE
The pattern is written for a heavy-worsted/aran weight yarn, and the stated gauge is 18 sts over four inches. (Recommended needle size is 5mm/US8, but you should use whatever needle size gets you the correct gauge.) And gauge is given in the Little Tree pattern stitch, so that’s what you need to knit your swatch in. You will need to “swatch in the round” — here’s a good tutorial if you haven’t done that before. And be sure to knit your swatch with the same needles you’ll be knitting the hat with. Your gauge will be different if you switch from bamboo to metal, etc.
You need your swatch to be at least 4 inches wide in order to measure it correctly. This particular stitch pattern is a multiple of 8 stitches (k5, p3, repeat) and we know the pattern says 18 sts is meant to be 4 inches. So we need to cast on a multiple of 8 that is greater than 18 to be sure we’ve got four inches of knitting. In addition to edge stitches being messy and unmeasurable in an in-the-round swatch, you won’t be able to work this stitch pattern from the first stitch with this method. To be really safe, cast on 36 stitches: 32 for the stitch pattern (4 repeats) plus two extra stitches at each edge, which I’ve just worked as knit stitches. So knit the first two stitches, work Row 1 of the pattern stitch four times, then knit the last two stitches. Proceed to work through the four rows of the pattern stitch, and repeat those four rows until you have several inches of knitting. Ideally you would swatch at least four inches high as well to measure row gauge. I’m trying to conserve yarn so am taking my chances and will measure row gauge on the actual hat once I get to four inches.
Once you’ve got a big enough swatch, bind off and block it, then lay a ruler across the middle four inches and count the stitches. A stitch pattern like this makes it really easy to count, because each 5- and 3-stitch section is easy to see and add up. Even in my photo above where the ruler is not directly on the swatch, you can see there are 18 stitches between the 0″ and 4″ marks on the ruler — 5+3+5+3+2.
HOW TO WORK THE LOOSE STRAND
Like I said, this pattern is just knits and purls but there is one nifty, simple little maneuver that creates the “tree” pattern. On Row 2 of the stitch pattern, you slip five knits with your yarn in front — so it’s sticking out the front of your work five stitches over — then lay the yarn across those five stitches, moving it between the needles and to the back of the work in order to knit the next stitch. If you pull that strand too tight, it will cause your stitches to cinch or bunch up in the final fabric. So the trick is keeping the width of that strand loose and even. My advice is to spread out the five stitches on your right-hand needle to their natural width, then lay the yarn across them so they accurately determine the width of your strand, as pictured above. If the stitches are bunched up on your right needle, chances are your strand will be too short, and vice versa.
Then on Row 4 of the stitch pattern, you’re told to “work the loose strand.” All you do, when you get to that stitch, is insert your right needle under the strand and then into the next stitch on your left needle, as pictured here. Wrap the yarn around the needle as usual, and pull it back through both the stitch and the strand, letting the stitch drop off your left needle. And voilà, the strand is now behind the stitch you just knitted. Magic!
Whether you’re working from the book or the PDF here, note that there is one small error: Under SHAPE CROWN / RND 1, where it says “k4” it should say “k1, p3” — that will preserve the garter stitch section correctly on that row.
Also, the PDF includes the coordinating mitts pattern (bonus!), but it’s missing the instructions for completing the thumbs after the stitches have been set aside. If you’ve knitted mitts before, you won’t have any trouble figuring out how to finish them!
There is one abbreviation in the crown decrease section that’s in the back of the book and didn’t make it into the PDF. Here’s how to work it: “Slip the next 2 stitches to the right-hand needle as if to knit 2 together, k1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over.”
As I’ve mentioned before, part of my goal for this Fringe Hatalong Series is to highlight worthy charities that take hat donations. You may be planning to knit this hat for yourself — totally cool! — or you may be one of those knitters who deliberately knit more hats than you can use, with the intent to donate them. For this installment, I’m featuring Halos of Hope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide hats to cancer patients. With the density of the textured stitch in this pattern and the incredibly soft recommended yarn, I think L’Arbre seems like a great “chemo cap.” So if you are inclined to donate your hat, give Halos of Hope a look. You can find a donation location here, and I believe they’ll also be at Stitches South next weekend, as will we!
DOWNLOAD THE L’ARBRE HAT PATTERN and remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. I’ll be on the lookout for photos everywhere, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (Sorry, I’m not able to reliably answer questions across multiple platforms!)
PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 1 Audrey by Jessie Roselyn