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

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

The rainbow of Seathwaites

A rainbow of Seathwaite hats (free pattern)

The only knitting I’ve done since I got back from Seattle two weeks ago was one night when I worked the last few rows of my superbulky stockinette hat. Which means I’m positively dying to knit — and specifically dying to knit my Seathwaite. I’m torn about yarn, though. I want this one to be mine all mine, need it to be a little bigger than the pattern dimensions, and don’t want to go up a needle size with the Cumbria and the cables and have it look less perfect than the original. So I need to pick a yarn I can cable on 7s. But meanwhile, I’m admiring the hell out of all the hats appearing on the #fringehatalong feed! Whereas our last hat, Laurus, inspired all kinds of variations, what stands out about the Seathwaites is the incredible range of colors and yarn types and how great it looks in every iteration, from ivory to black, pale pink to magenta, chartreuse to forest green, you name it. Here’s just a sampling—

ROW 1: Our beloved test knitter @jo.strong1’s in Cumbria (Scaffel Pike) (modeled by Meg) and @thegirlmoth’s in Cumbria (Helvellyn)

ROW 2: @iiinesg’s in Beiroa (Branco), minus the doubled brim, and @modaveloce’s in Cumbria (Windermere) (photo from @toltyarnandwool)

ROW 3: @blueberryhillcrafting’s in unspecified Bumblebirch Yarn and @knitpurlpdx’s in, I believe, Cumbria (Dodd Wood)

ROW 4: @lauraadarby’s in Portland Tweed (discontinued? color unknown), with a fold-up brim, and @recklessglue’s in Galway Highland Heathers (color unknown)

And of course, there are tons more on Instagram and Ravelry.

It’s never too late to cast on any of the Fringe Hatalong hats and join the fun. Just pick one out — they’re all linked in the right rail of the blog — and jump in with hashtag #fringehatalong!

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PREVIOUSLY in the 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

Hatalong No. 5 PREVIEW

Fringe Hatalong No. 5 PREVIEW

If you know anything about me, you know I love Fall and I love cables, and I think the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. So in plotting out the Fringe Hatalong Series patterns, naturally I wanted the October hat to be cabled. This month’s pattern been written just for us by one of my favorite designers, and while it’s striking and incredible and intricate-looking, it’s doable even if you’ve never done cables before. I promise! We’ll be working from a chart, so if you’re new to charts take a minute to read through my notes about that from the Hermaness Worsted intro.

I’ll reveal the hat and post the pattern here next Thursday, October 29th. Meanwhile, let’s gather our yarn!

Recommended yarn: The pattern is written for The Fibre Co’s new Cumbria, which is a really special yarn. It’s a worsted-weight blend of 60% Merino, 30% Masham and 10% Mohair. Merino, of course, is incredibly soft. Masham is a British longwool that’s a natural light grey, which creates really beautiful, muted colors when it’s overdyed. And the Mohair gives it a nice bloom when it’s blocked. So it’s a yarn with loads of touchability as well as great stitch definition. I really recommend trying to get your hands on a skein of Cumbria for this if you can. Ask for it at your local yarn shop.

Suggested substitutions: Cumbria is 238 yards per skein, and the hat does use most of that (allowing enough for swatching if you’re into it), so if you’re substituting, make sure you’ve got equivalent yardage. Cumbria’s recommended gauge is given as 18-20 sts per 4 inches in stockinette stitch on US6-8 needles. Because cables knit up more tightly, this pattern’s gauge is 20 sts per 2.75 inches on US6. But you want to start with a yarn with a similar base stockinette gauge to Cumbria in order to get similar results, so consult the ball band on whatever yarn you’re considering and look for that 18-20 sts on US6-8 range. Any nice lofty, neatly-plied, worsted-weight yarn will give you good stitch definition for the cables, but the fabric will be a little bit different from Cumbria’s fiber blend, depending on what you choose. Some good alternatives suggested by the pattern designer — if you’re stash-diving or can’t get Cumbria — would be Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Worsted, Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair, Fancy Tiger’s Heirloom Romney or Istex’s Lett Lopi.

I do recommend sticking with solids/heathers/tweeds to allow the cable pattern to really shine; variegated yarns will compete with or even blot out the appearance of the cables.

So get your yarn lined up and be ready for the big reveal next Thursday! And keep those #fringehatalong posts coming.

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PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: Laurus by Dianna Walla

Queue Check — September 2015

Queue Check — September 2015

It’s colorwork season over here, y’all. (And knitalong season, obviously!) I’m finally sailing through my Laurus from the Fringe Hatalong Series — but I flubbed it! I was knitting while socializing the other evening, looked down at one point and realized I had knitted the final colorwork row all wrong. It’s just a few rows of stockinette back, so I’ll rip it soon and finish it up. I forgot how fast a plain ol’ stockinette hat knits up! Even with a few rows of colorwork thrown in.

And of course the big sweater on my needles at the moment is my Cowichan-style Knitalong vest, up top.

Honestly, I was a little perplexed about this vest. I chose grey, black and ivory for the “color” scheme because it’s my failsafe. But as much and as long as I’ve been wanting a Cowichan-style vest, I honestly wasn’t sure how I would wear it. (Which troubles me, given my “don’t make it or buy it until you know how it fits in” rule.) Over the weekend, I was plotting out some sewing projects, sketched a simple top-and-skirt combo for some plaid fabric I’ve been dying to sew up, realized the vest will look amazing with those two pieces — worn in various combinations with other things — and now I can hardly stand the wait. After casting on the ribbing Sunday night, I realized I don’t think I’ve ever been this eager to see a project develop. Fortunately, it shouldn’t take long!

I mentioned last month that I’m not planning a Rhinebeck Sweater, per se — this vest will be my Rhinebeck sweater. But there is one other thing I’d like to have for my Rhinebeck trousseau, which is that Linda scarf I’ve been talking about for months on end. I still want it in what’s left of my stash of camel-colored Shibui Merino Alpaca. So as soon as I finish Laurus, that will be next on the needles. I realize a whole scarf is almost as ambitious as a sweater (coming from one who has never knitted a whole scarf before) and Rhinebeck is only three weeks away — and I have a vest to knit! — but I’m fantasizing about it anyway. No pressure, Karen!

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: August 2015

Laurus your way

Laurus your way

I’m officially the Fringe Hatalong laggard — nearly done with my Hermaness Worsted and barely started with my Laurus. But oh how I love watching the hats roll in. Laurus is definitely creating the most diverse results, which I guess is not surprising given the extra level of opportunity for variation afforded by the colorwork. We’ve seen everything from the very pale to the dramatically dark, with the quite bright and everything else you can think of in between, but apart from the color choices I thought I’d highlight some of the subtle changes people have employed to tailor this one to their own liking:

TOP: There are a couple of ebony and ivory versions on Instagram — @ecr00neg and @simonesmanufaktur, above — both of which, coincidentally, omitted the stripes.

BOTTOM LEFT: There are lots and lots of pompoms and a couple of lengthened brims, but @kiyomibee made her brim long enough to fold up. Along with the contrasting pompom, of course.

BOTTOM RIGHT: I thought there would be a lot of people using three colors instead of two (although I failed to suggest that possibility up front). @wintiliviknits knitted her stashbuster with four: a forest-y green with both pink and purple (navy?) stripes, plus ivory for the leaf motif. With a four-color pompom.

Mostly I’m thrilled at how many people who’ve never tried colorwork before have jumped in with this simple little Laurus hat and reported back that I was right — perfect place to start!

SHOP NEWS: Field Bags and bonsai-style scissors are both back in stock, so go get ’em! Due to the postal holiday on Monday, we’ll be doing a special shipping session tomorrow morning for tonight’s orders. Note that orders from tomorrow morning through Monday will ship on Tuesday when the PO is picking up again.

Happy long weekend to those in the North America! Make it a good one, wherever you are—

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe Hatalong Series: Laurus by Dianna Walla