Hats for skill-building and gift-giving

Free hat patterns for skill-building and gift-giving

It’s that time of year when two things are happening: new and beginning knitters are looking for ways to learn, and knitters of all skill levels are looking for great hat patterns for gift and charity knitting. (Not to mention those of us who are just always on the lookout for a great hat!) As it happens, there’s a whole series of free patterns right here on Fringe Association that can satisfy all of the above! Last year, I had the idea to do a hat knitalong every other month, mostly to force myself to knit something other than sweaters — and have your company doing it — but the collection evolved into a pretty amazing little master class, as these hats escort you from the most basic knits and purls up through lace, colorwork and cables, with lessons in swatching, chart-reading and stranding along the way! So whether you’re looking to fill out your skill set or your gift pile, we’ve got you covered—

1. KNITS + PURLS: Audrey by Jessie Roselyn

2. KNIT-PURL TRICKERY: L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose

3. LACE: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

4. STRANDED KNITTING: Laurus by Dianna Walla

5. CABLES: Seathwaite by Kate Gagnon Osborn

6. CLEVER CONSTRUCTION: 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes

Or scroll through the entire Fringe Hatalong Series. Depending on yarn choice, nearly all of them are unisex, and I can personally account for their popularity: My Audrey is one of most repinned posts in the history of the blog; my niece kept my L’Arbre; and my husband laid claim to my Laurus.

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PREVIOUSLY in Holiday Knitting Cheat Sheets: A hat for every head / Cowls all around / Warm hands, warm hearts

Improv: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Improv: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

When I first published my top-down tutorial in early 2013, I’d only been knitting for about 17 months, hadn’t yet struck on my basted knitting theory, and didn’t take much care with the tutorial photos. In the interim, I’ve published many related posts about various details of the process. And I also never imagined how popular the tutorial would be or how many countless sweaters would be knitted from it! So in 2016, I felt like I owed it an update — factoring in some deeper thinking and linking — which is now in place. (And which also feeds into the Top-Down Knitalong!)

I also realized what was missing was a short and sweet outline/pattern for how to knit a seamless top-down sweater — without all the explanation and elaboration — which would be sufficient for sweater knitters who’d simply not done it from scratch before, while also serving as a gateway to the full tutorial for those who need it. So that’s what follows. And both the short-form version below and the full tutorial now contain specifics on how to incorporate basting stitches and/or flat knitting for those (like me) who choose to add seams to their seamless knitting, to get the benefits of both!

I can’t wait to see what you make with this pattern and tutorial! Please link your Ravelry projects to the new Improv pattern page. And if you’re participating in the knitalong, please use #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you share. Enjoy!

Improv: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Improv: A basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Knitting a basic sweater from the neck down is one of the easiest ways to gain an understanding of how sweater shaping works, which builds your confidence as a knitter and enables you to begin modifying published patterns to your liking or to knit without a pattern. And it’s so simple that, as I said in the original tutorial intro, if you can knit a fingerless mitt, you can knit a top-down sweater.

For this pattern, you may use any yarn and needles you like; you may choose between a pullover and cardigan, as well as the specific details thereof; and you’ll establish your own stitch and row gauge.

First: With the exact yarn and needles you intend to use, knit a large swatch (swatch “in the round” if you’re knitting your sweater in the round), measure your stitch and row gauge once, then block the swatch and measure it again. The blocked dimensions are what you’ll base your sweater on, but if your counts changed with blocking, bear that in mind when trying on your sweater as you go. (And if so, you might find it worthwhile to steam your sweater whenever you’re trying it on.)

Read through the entire pattern below before starting. Reference the “Target Stitch Counts” section below that for calculating the numbers used throughout the pattern, see the notes below that for including optional basting stitches, and click through the linked pattern subheads as needed for the corresponding tutorial for that step.

Materials:

  • A sweater’s worth of your choice of yarn (see yardage requirements for comparable sweaters or consult a source like Stashbot)
  • Needle Size A: in size needed to achieve your main fabric gauge, one 24″ circular needle for neck/shaping and start of yoke; one circ slightly shorter than your intended body circumference for yoke and body; DPNs or preferred method for small-circumference knitting in the round for sleeves
  • Needle Size B: in size needed to achieve your edging fabric (ribbing, or as desired), one 16″-24″ circular for neckband; longer circ for hem edging; DPNs or preferred method for cuffs in the round
  • Optional Try-On needles: Second long circular needle gauge or smaller than Needle A for trying on sweater in progress (See: Save time at try-on)
  • stitch markers
  • waste yarn
  • tapestry needle

Note: If you are knitting a cardigan and are a Magic Loop knitter, you can knit the entire sweater with one long circ

Gauge:

  • Taken from blocked swatch, see headnote above

– – –

DIRECTIONS

1. CAST ON AND MARK RAGLAN POSITIONS
CO [A] sts for neck edge, placing markers for raglan positions (and any “seam” stitches if desired) on this or the next row. (See Basting Stitch section below if using)

2. WORK NECK SHAPING ROWS
Improv: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Work back and forth in rows, increasing on both sides of each raglan on every right side row (or as desired) and at front neck as needed for your intended neck shaping (every other row for crewneck or shallow V; every fourth row for deeper V; or as desired).
(8 sts inc at raglans, 2 at front neck, per inc row)

For crewneck pullover: Continue neck shaping until you’ve worked to your desired neck depth [B] and have completed a RS (inc) row. Count back neck sts and front neck sts (combining the two fronts), and subtract to get the difference — this is your additional CO count. Placing a marker (BOR) in the center of them, CO the number of sts needed to make front and back equal, then join in the round.

For V-neck pullover: Continue until your front sts combined equal the number of back sts. At end of the inc rnd that brings them equal, place a marker (center front neck, BOR) and join in the round.

For cardigan: Work neck shaping as above but do not join in the round; continue working back and forth in rows.

3. COMPLETE YOKEImprov: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Continue working in the round (for pullover) or back and forth in rows (for cardigan), increasing at raglans as needed until desired st counts are met for front and back [C minus F] and sleeves [D minus F], then work even until desired yoke depth [E] is met.*

4. SEPARATE BODY AND SLEEVESImprov: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Dropping raglan markers as you come to them, and dividing any sts within the raglan seam between body and sleeves as desired, work to first raglan marker; transfer left sleeve sts to waste yarn; CO underarm sts [F], placing a marker at the center of the underarm; work across back sts to next raglan marker; transfer right sleeve sts to waste yarn; CO underarm sts [F], placing a marker at the center of the underarm; work to BOR marker (for pullover) or end of row (for cardigan).

5. COMPLETE BODY AND SLEEVESImprov: Basic pattern for a top-down seamless sweater

Body: Continue knitting the body with shaping as desired until intended length before hem treatment. Work hem treatment and BO.

Sleeves: Return sts to needle, making sure you’ve got the correct number. Pick up and knit one st in each underarm-cast-on st, placing a marker at the center of the underarm, and join in the round.** Continue knitting the sleeve with shaping as desired until intended length before cuff treatment. Work cuff treatment and BO. Repeat for second sleeve.
(To minimize holes at the corners of the underarms, pick up and knit one extra st in the gap between the cast-on and held sts, then decrease it out on the next round.)

6. FINISH AS NEEDED
Block your completed sweater and finish as needed for your specific sweater:

Neck: Pick up sts and work as desired for your preferred neckband/buttonband treatment. BO.
(This can be done at any point after the neckline is complete — for a pullover, I prefer to do it shortly after the neck is joined.)

Weave in ends; close up any gaps at corners of underarms with a tail of yarn; seam anywhere you included a basting stitch or knitted a sleeve flat. Wear with pride!

– – –

TARGET STITCH COUNTS AND DIMENSIONS

A / CAST-ON COUNT
[back neck width x sts per inch] + [~30% of that number for sleeve top x 2] + [1 front neck st x 2] = CO
(See how to subdivide with markers for raglans in the tutorial.)

B / NECK DEPTH
desired drop from back to front neck edge x rows per inch = neck depth
e.g. For 3” neck depth at 5 rows per inch, you’d work 15 rows

C / FRONT AND BACK ST COUNT (at underarm/chest)
1/2 chest circumference x sts per inch = front or back st count***
e.g. A 44”-circumference sweater is 22 inches across; at 4.5 sts per inch that would be 99 sts for the front and 99 for the back
NOTE: subtract F from this number to get the number you are increasing to during the raglan shaping. E.g. if you’ll be casting on 16 underarm sts, you’ll work raglan increases in the front/back until you have 83 sts, then 16 will be cast on at the underarm, giving you 99.

D / SLEEVE ST COUNT (at underarm/upper sleeve)
desired sleeve circumference x sts per inch = sleeve st count***
NOTE: subtract F from this number to get the number you are increasing to during the raglan shaping; see above.

E / YOKE DEPTH
desired distance from shoulder to underarm x rows/rounds per inch = yoke depth****

F / UNDERARM CO COUNT
desired underarm width (rule of thumb is ~8% of body circumference) x sts per inch = underarm CO count

For how to calculate sleeve shaping and body shaping, see the sweater shaping math section of the top-down tutorial.

– – – – – – – – – –
FOR BASTING STITCHES (optional)
Yoke: Add one stitch in center of each raglan (do not include in any target stitch counts), work in reverse stockinette for duration of yoke
Sleeves: Give the extra yoke stitches (above) to the sleeves on the separation round; use them as the two extra selvage sts needed for flat sleeves, or decrease them out right away for circular sleeves
Sides: Work one stitch at each side seam marker in reverse stockinette
– Mattress stitch after blocking finished garment. For the basted seams, work mattress stitch back and forth under the bar on either side of the basting stitch for the length of the “seam”
– – – – – – – – – –

ABBREVIATIONS
BO = bind off
BOR = beginning of round
CO = cast on
circ = circular needle
inc = increase
rnd(s) = round(s)
RS = right side
st(s) = stitch(es)
WS = wrong side

*You may reach your desired counts in the sleeves before the front/back, or vice versa. As desired counts are met, simply work even in that portion of the sweater.

**Or for seamed sleeves, knit flat as described here.

***You may need to round up or down on either your target count or your cast-on count, so that both are either even or odd numbers. Every increase is an even pair (2 sts) and you can’t increase evenly from an odd number to an even number, or vice versa. Use whichever your stitch pattern requires, if applicable.

****Make sure you have enough rows to work the number of increases it will take to get from your cast-on counts to your target-minus-underarm counts.

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!

– – – – – – – – – –

Plait Hat pattern

BY KAREN TEMPLER

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.

Materials:

  • 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

Measurements:

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

DIRECTIONS

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 >>

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!

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

Fringe Hatalong No. 5: Seathwaite by Kate Gagnon Osborn

Fringe Hatalong No. 5: Seathwaite by Kate Gagnon Osborn (free pattern)

I knew from the outset that I wanted the October hat for the Fringe Hatalong Series to be a cable hat, and one of my favorites is by my friend Kate Gagnon Osborn (of Kelbourne Woolens, distributors of The Fibre Co. yarns). When I asked her if there was any chance of using it, she suggested designing a whole new pattern for us, and the result is Seathwaite, modeled here by Kate herself. Seathwaite is a gorgeous beanie with a toasty double-thick brim and allover cable patterning that looks jaw-dropping but is doable even if you’re new to cables. There are only three different cable crosses involved, with cabling on every other round, so it will be easy if you’re an old hand, and a good challenge and lots of great practice if it’s your first time. As noted in the preview, the pattern is written for The Fibre Co’s new Cumbria yarn, which is a fantastic blend of Merino, Masham and Mohair, and I’m super excited to knit with it. Thank you so much for creating this hat for us, Kate!

See the preview post for additional yarn guidance and download the free pattern to get started. And be sure to share your progress everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong.

HOW TO SWATCH FOR SEATHWAITE

Gauge for this pattern is given as 20 sts (one chart width) = 2.75″, so what you can do is simply knit one repeat of the chart and 4″ of row height and measure that. To keep the edge stitches from being wonky and throwing off your measurement, cast on a couple of extra stitches at each end and work those in garter stitch. Then just measure the 20 pattern sts in the center to get your width. You’ll also need to swatch “in the round.” (See Ysolda’s tutorial if that’s new to you.)

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Charts: Everything I said about lace charts holds true here — working from the bottom right corner, how to make it less intimidating, etc. So review that if needed. (See also the chart-reading tutorials on the Kelbourne Woolens blog.)

Provisional cast-on: Kate has posted a tutorial on the Kelbourne blog for their preferred method, which is the crochet method. You may use any provisional cast-on you like for this hat.

Knitting cables: See my intro to cables, for beginners, and Kate’s how to cable without a cable needle if you want to advance your skills

Fixing cables: If you cross a cable the wrong direction and don’t notice it right away, never fear — it can be repaired! The Yarn Harlot’s tutorial taught me this incredibly empowering technique and changed my knitting life in the process. Mistakes are awesome growth opportunities!

FEATURED CHARITY

For those inclined to donate their hats, this month I want to highlight another group providing warmth and aid to Syrian refugees, organized by knitting designer Laura Nelkin and functioning as Knitting for Munich. You can see all the details at that link, but their next shipment will be going out in mid-November so the timing is good for helping with this effort! If you’re planning to donate, email knittingformunich@nelkindesigns.com for where to send your hat.

DOWNLOAD THE SEATHWAITE HAT PATTERN and 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 everywhere, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (Sorry, I’m not able to reliably answer questions across multiple platforms!)

Happy cabling!

Fringe Hatalong No. 5: Seathwaite by Kate Gagnon Osborn (free pattern)

Photos by Anna Dianich

Fringe Hatalong No. 4: Laurus by Dianna Walla

Fringe Hatalong No. 4: Laurus by Dianna Walla

Colorwork! I wanted to include some colorwork knitting in this little Fringe Hatalong Series and got in touch with my friend Dianna Walla, who has a knack for beautiful stranded designs. We agreed it would be fun to do a variation on her adorable Nordic Knitting Conference Mitts, and that we would keep the colorwork to a minimum — just enough to adorn the hat, while keeping it accessible for those of you who might be tackling colorwork for the first time. The result is this charming beanie, which we’ve named the Laurus hat, as it looks a little like a wreath around the crown of your head. I hope you love it as much as I do. And thanks so much to Dianna for the fantastic free pattern!

Laurus is written for three different head sizes and two heights — slouchy and fitted — so there are lots of options. And depending on your size and color choices, could easily suit any decade or gender. See the preview post for yarn guidance and download the pattern to get started. Remember to share everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong.

HOW TO SWATCH FOR LAURUS

This is a stockinette hat but colorwork typically affects gauge, as people tend to knit more tightly when doing stranded knitting. So you’ll want to swatch the colorwork motif and swatch in the round, for sure. The pattern gauge is 18 sts / 4 in and the chart is 6 sts wide. So to be safe, I would cast on 4 repeats, or 24 sts, to be sure you have at least 4 inches to measure. (6 chart sts x 4 = 24) I’ve been recommending Ysolda’s tutorial for how to swatch in the round, if that’s new to you.

HOW TO KNIT FROM A COLORWORK CHART

Everything I said about lace charts hold true here — working from the bottom right corner, how to make it less intimidating, etc. So review that if needed. The obvious difference is that instead of knits and purls being charted here, it’s only the color changes. So in this case a white box is your main color (MC) and a black dot is your contrast color (CC).

COLORWORK ADVICE

Beyond the chart itself, Dianna has some great posts on her blog about colorwork knitting, which are listed right here. I also wrote a bit about the basics in Colorwork for first-timers. So hopefully those posts will all prove useful. And as always, we and the rest of your fellow knitters are happy to help, so post your questions below.

FEATURED CHARITY

For the featured charity this round, I got in touch with Robyn Devine to see what she might recommend. Robyn has a blog called She Makes Hats, and the name is an understatement. She knits hats for charities, like many people, and it’s her personal mission to knit 10,000 hats for 10,000 people in her lifetime. (As well as persuading as many people as possible to knit at least one hat for charity.) So she’s an authority on which charities are a good match for which hats. For this unisex 100% wool hat, she made what I thought was the perfect suggestion: “Hats And More for War-Torn Syria is dedicated to helping the four million Syrian refugees around the world, with a focus on sending items to the refugee camps in Jordan most often. Items are sent to the Salaam Cultural Museum, which has volunteers bring everything from hand knits to medical supplies overseas on a regular basis.” As it happens, the Salaam Cultural Museum is in Seattle, where Dianna also hails from. So if you’re inclined to donate your hat, that’s our suggestion for this round — thank you, Robyn!

DOWNLOAD THE LAURUS HAT PATTERN and remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. And be sure to fave/queue the pattern at Ravelry. 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!)

Happy knitting!

Fringe Hatalong No. 4: Laurus by Dianna Walla

PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

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Photos by Kathy Cadigan

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

The Shetland Trader Book TwoI’ve mentioned not once but twice how much I admire and want to knit Gudrun Johnston’s Hermaness hat, from her beautiful collection The Shetland Trader – Book Two. When I thought about how much I wanted us all to knit a quick and simple lace hat this summer, Hermaness was all I could think about, but it’s fingering weight. So I asked Gudrun what she thought, and she generously worked up a worsted-weight version and has made it available to us as a free pattern for Fringe Hatalong No. 3! Just click to download the Hermaness Worsted pattern PDF.

I ADORE it at this chunkier gauge and hope you’ll love it as much as I do. As I mentioned in the preview, this is very simple lace, so if you’re a seasoned lace knitter you can do it in your sleep. If you’re a lace first-timer, it’s an absolutely perfect place to start! And if you don’t believe me, try swatching it — it’s important to swatch anyway, and it’ll be good practice before you start in on the real hat. I’ve got lots of how-to advice below, and the whole Hatalong community will be happy to help if you have any questions or trouble along the way!

If you prefer the fingering-weight version, you can buy that one individually at Ravelry or buy the book. You’re welcome to knit either Hermaness or Hermaness Worsted for the knitalong. Remember to share everywhere with hashtag #fringehatalong.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)HOW TO SWATCH FOR
HERMANESS WORSTED

Gauge for the pattern is 22 sts per 4 inches in the lace pattern, and it’s an 8-stitch repeat. So if you cast on three repeats [3×8] that’s 24 sts, which should get you 4 inches of knitting to measure. You do need to swatch “in the round” and you’ll need a couple of stitches on either side of the lace to keep it intact and measurable. So I cast on 30 sts: 3 in stockinette, 24 in the lace stitch, and 3 more in stockinette. Target row gauge is 29 rounds per 4 inches, so I worked 30 chart rows: 1-20, then 1-10 again. Block before you measure since lace, of all things, changes once it’s resting.

As far as how to measure this one, Gudrun’s advice is to pick an identifiable spot in the lace to measure from — either a yarnover or a psso — and measure to a spot that is 8 or 16 or 24 sts away from that. For instance, if I measure from the left edge of the left-most yarnover in my swatch to the equivalent yarnover two repeats away (16 sts away) I get 3 inches. 16 sts divided by 3 inches is 5.33 sts per inch. Multiplied by 4 inches is 21.32 sts, so my gauge is slightly bigger than Gudrun’s 22 sts. The body of the hat is worked over 120 sts — at 5.33 sts per inch, that’s a 22.5-inch hat, so I’ll need to go down one needle size. Make sense? Ask questions below if not.

(For further thoughts on the why and how of swatching, see How to knit a hat, part 2: Gauge and size.)

How to knit from a chartHOW TO KNIT FROM A CHART

A chart is simply a picture of the right side of a piece of knitted fabric, with each stitch mapped out. They can be infinitely easier to mentally process than long strings of written-out instructions, and yet charts can seem intimidating when you’re new to them. I think the most important thing to keep in mind right off the bat is that we only knit one row at a time, so if you only look at one row, it will seem instantly less scary! It’s a good idea to use a post-it note or piece of washi tape (or the thousand other really great suggestions people will make in the comments) to track which row you’re working on. Some people stick it below the row they’re working; some stick it above. Do whatever makes the most sense to your own brain — there’s no right or wrong. I’m a post-it-below person, but for the sake of reducing the chart to just Row 1 for you, I stuck it above for this photo. See how much more digestible that is? Go ahead and print out the PDF or have it open on your screen so you can see the whole thing and the legend while we talk about how to work it.

We knit from right to left and each new row is created on top of the one before it, so you’ll see a little number 1 at the bottom right corner of any chart — that’s where you start. Generally speaking, an empty square is a knit stitch, and a square with a black dot in it is a purl stitch, of which there are none in this particular chart. For any symbols you don’t recognize (you’ll memorize the basic ones the more charts you use), there’s always a legend telling you what each symbol means. I classify this as a simple chart for three reasons: 1) it’s only 8 stitches wide, 2) there are only three kinds of stitches (knits, yarnovers and that broom-looking thing we’ll get to in a minute), and 3) there are only three different stitch sequences. At least in the main chart.

Row 1 of this chart tells you to knit the first two stitches, then that broom-y thing (consulting the legend plus the abbreviations list if needed) means “sl1kw (slip 1 stitch knitwise, or “as if to knit”), k2tog (knit 2 together) and psso (pass the slipped stitch over),” then knit two more stitches, yarnover (wrap your yarn once around your needle), knit one, yarnover. You can totally handle those eight stitches — just take them one at a time — and then you simply repeat the sequence until you reach the end of the round. Row 2 is all knit stitches! And then you’ll notice Row 3 is exactly the same as Row 1 — nothing new to learn. In fact, all of the even numbered rows are just knit every stitch, and the odd rows 1 through 9 are all the same. Then the odd rows from 11 through 19 are the same three stitches just in a different order. So like I said, there are only three different stitch sequences in the whole body of the hat, one of which is just knit every stitch. Plus the whole chart repeats, as indicated by the red border. (In some cases there might be stitches on either side of the chart that don’t repeat, but there’s none of that here.)

The other reason this is a great first lace or chart project is that a hat is knitted in the round, which means every row/round is worked from the right side. Since we’re never turning the work and working a wrong-side row, we never have to imagine ourselves behind the chart, like you do when you’re knitting flat. We’ll tackle that some other time! For now, just take pleasure in working every chart row from right to left, exactly as pictured in the chart. By the time you get to the Crown Shaping Chart, you’ll have chart-reading licked.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Stitch markers are your friend. I’m a perfectly competent knitter but I have a very short attention span and I also watch TV while I knit (sometimes with subtitles!) so I find it very helpful to place a marker between each repeat. In other words, when you get to row one of the chart, work the 8 stitches of the chart, count that you have 8 sts on your right-hand needle, and place a marker. Then work the 8 sts again, pm, etc, all the way around. Make sure your Beginning of Round marker is different in size, color or something so you know where your round ends and a new one begins. And then be careful, in this case, that the yarnover next to a marker doesn’t try to pop over the marker.

As is counting. Now as you work your way through the chart, if you ever find yourself with more or less than 8 sts between your markers, you’ll know right away that you’ve done something wrong.

Those knit rounds are saviors. If you do make a mistake, just take a deep breath and look at what you’ve got between your markers as compared to what the chart says you should have. Tink back as needed and straighten it out. And if you can’t figure it out — or you spot a mistake in an earlier row — rip back to a knit round. If you rip out a lace round, the one before it will have been all knit stitches, which are much easier to put back on your needle so you can start again. No need to panic about trying to put lace stitches back on your needles!

A lifeline might help you sleep. I think the knit-stitch rows are really all the safety net you need in this case, but some of you might like a lifeline just for good measure. To create a lifeline, you simply thread a length of smooth waste yarn (cotton is best) onto a tapestry needle and run it through a full round of stitches on your needle, being careful not to split your yarn in the process. Why would you do this? If you need to do a big rip, you just rip back to the lifeline and it will hold that row of stitches safe for you to slip your needle back into. So perhaps you want to place one after every five or ten successfully completed rounds. Then just pull it out when you’re all done.

Fringe Hatalong No. 3: Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston (free pattern)

DOWNLOAD THE HERMANESS WORSTED 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!)

I can’t wait to see your hats!

And make sure to save/fave it on Ravelry: Hermaness Worsted

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 2 L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose