The last of the four February hats was the one I was the most nervous about: the earflap hat for my 10-year-old niece. In addition to being the one where the fit could go really wrong — there being no ribbing to simply hug the head, and que sera from there up — I was making up the pattern and adding colorwork into the mix. So many opportunities for it to go wrong! Plus with my sister’s Første having taken two weeks to knit, I had two days to get this one done and blocked. No room for error. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully!
I was initially planning to use Purl Soho’s Top Down Ear Flap Hat pattern but was concerned it would be too thin, not warm enough — even with the little bit of stranded colorwork I planned to add — plus it would have taken longer at that gauge. So I decided to improvise a version of it at worsted gauge. A good yellow (as had been requested) is not super easy to come by, plus my niece is very crafty and I’ve passed on my love of yarn to her, so I decided I’d hit up my sweet friend Brooke of Sincere Sheep when I got to Stitches West, knowing she has a good naturally-dyed yellow in her palette, and I’ve been wanting to knit with her U.S. Cormo Worsted. Armed with the perfect skein, I swatched and measured and calculated. I’d be working at a gauge of 4.75 sts and 7 rows per inch, with a target size of 20″ circumference (92 sts) and 8″ depth (56 rounds).
At that point, there was nothing to do but knit — and hope it worked out. Rather than doing the top the way the Purl pattern has it, I split the crown stitches into 6 sections and increased every row thrice, then every-other row until I had 92 sts. (A total of 24 rounds for the crown.) On the first work-even round, I started the lice stitch — using leftover yarn from her mother’s cable hat — spacing them every fourth stitch (staggered) every third round. I wound up doing 9 stranded rounds, stopping a few rows shy of my intended depth. Then I took a good hard look at the stitch counts and ratios from the Purl pattern to determine how to divide up my sts for the ear flaps, which worked out to 20 sts for the back, 22 for each flap, and 28 for the front. Then I followed the decrease logic in the pattern, decreasing down to 3 sts instead of 4; worked 56 rows of I-cord; and did the tassels as per the pattern. And voilà: adorable.
I love how the ivory lice stitch breaks up the semi-solidness of the hand-dyed yarn, and totally love this yarn. As I was knitting the colorwork, I was feeling like Is it weird I’m using this Scandinavian lice stitch pattern on an Andean-inspired hat?, but I decided to just call it ScandinAndean and embrace how cute it is. Mashups for the win!
So I’m very happy with how the four of them worked out: My sister and brother-in-law both got cable hats with a very similar motif played out a bit differently, at different scale. And the kids both wound up with earflap hats — my nephew’s squishy helmet and this darling cap for my niece. It warms my heart to know the four Floridians are somewhere in the Colorado Rockies right now, feeling toasty in their handknit hats.
PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Log Cabin Mitts No.6