I’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.
HOW TO SWATCH FOR
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 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.
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.
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
PREVIOUSLY in the Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 2 L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose