The Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Amirisu landed on my desk last week and I had a bit of a swoon. It is stunningly beautiful from front to back, and there’s not a single thing in there I wouldn’t want to have. (Including the house where it was shot!) I’m not sure the last time I said that about a magazine or book, but while I’m thumbs-up on the entire dozen patterns that comprise the issue, of course there are those that stand out as my very favorites of the bunch:
TOP: Streaks by Keiko Kikuno would make me want to learn how to knit if I didn’t already know how
LOWER LEFT: Fleur by Megumi Sawada is a pretty little lace-and-bobbles hat (which apparently is a thing that appeals to me! who knew)
LOWER RIGHT: Lierne Cowl by Bristol Ivy is a fascinating little loop of pleated coziness
BELOW, UPPER: Escala by Alice Caetano features a mesmerizing fade in texture from smocking to diamonds — I’m obsessed with this
BELOW, LOWER: Wetherell by Kiyomi Burgin is a super charming yoke sweater with additional colorwork accents at the cuffs
Hats are the best. A great way to learn to knit (or crochet!), pick up new skills, add variety to your queue, get that “I made it!” feeling fast. And of course, they don’t require a lot of yarn and they’re the perfect handmade gifts: The receiver is wowed with something you made yourself — without your spending a month or more making it! For this round of the holiday hat knitting cheat sheet, as I did with our Fringe Hatalong Series a few years ago (6 free patterns), I’ve organized it by the skills involved, from what I think of as the simplest to most challenging. You may dispute the order, and of course there’s no requirement that you knit them all or in this sequence, but if you’re looking for some fun patterns for charity or holiday gift knitting, and the chance to maybe pick up some new skills in the process, check out these gems that have caught my eye this year—
I’m totally stunned that this worked. A) I’m not a frequent or experienced crocheter. B) I have never attempted to crochet something that had to fit. C) My gauge was totally different from the Wool and the Gang “Joanne” pattern I bought for this, so I had to wing it. But really the most amazing part isn’t that I crocheted a hat that fits — it’s that I made a hat that actually doesn’t look bad on me! Incredible.
Right after I posted about that pair of bobble berets to which I found myself unexpectedly drawn, I realized I had the yarn for one of them right under my nose. The April Hat (a free pattern) is designed by my friend Courtney Kelley for their Germantown worsted, and I had an almost full skein of it left over, in natural, after my mini Sólbein used so little. So I cast on immediately. And quickly understood that while a good useful stockinette project like my vest-in-progress is the equivalent of a good long walk (with hopefully some scenery along the way), and I love a good long walk, I was desperately in need of an experience more like a gymnastics floor routine — lots of action and fluttery doodads. And this hat nailed it.
The brim is an easily memorized lace pattern that was fun right out of the gate. The floral bits on the body of the hat are a combination of puff stitch and bobbles. I’ve knitted bobbles before but had no idea what I was in for with puff stitch — the puff-stitch rounds were almost comically slow for me, although I did get faster each time. Like anything new in life, it’s awkward until you get used to it, but it’s one of those fabrics where you just can’t wait to get to the next repeat because it’s so fun watching it develop.
I’m rarely one to swatch for hats, especially one I don’t expect to wear myself. Having knitted Courtney’s patterns before, I know that she’s a looser knitter than me, plus the dimensions are a little on the small side and I didn’t want it to come out even smaller. So I threw caution to the wind and went up from the recommended needles to a size US8 for the whole thing (same as I had used on the Sólbein), brim included. After blocking, it clocks in at pretty much exactly the pattern dimensions. And I’m excited to send it off to another of my little nieces, who I feel certain will love it.
The only point of debate for me is the pompom. I imagine she’ll like it, and it is definitely a cake topper to go with all this icing, but I love the way the crown comes together and regret that the pompom covers that up. So as I’m wont to do, I’ve tied it to the inside with a bow, so it can be easily removed by the recipient.
It’s been two months since I cast on this simple little vest and I’m finally nearing completion. After letting it sit for weeks unassembled and then postponing the pick-ups, I made great strides over the weekend, when I ripped out the false-start first armhole edge and knitted them both, then picked up stitches for the neckband. After crowdsourcing armhole edging ideas, I wound going with Norah Gaughan’s suggestion, which was to pick up, knit one round, then bind off in purl. It’s a bit like a single garter ridge, but set off slightly, which felt like it’ll be a good companion to the garter-stitch shawl collar I’m planning.
I still have two key decisions to make: 1) will this have button/holes or not, and 2) still debating sewn or knitted pockets. As soon as I decide those things, the finish line is mere days away, so of course now it’s in the 90s — but still, this is a great a/c defense tool. (Yarn is Mungo.)
Meanwhile, needing a major departure from stockinette, I cast on the April Hat from my recent bobble berets post. I’ve never knitted anything like this, am having a great time with it, and will say more about that when it’s finished! (Yarn is Germantown.)
Honestly, saying something has an almost confectionary quality is not normally my way of paying a compliment, but somehow I’ve fallen in love with these two new beret patterns that are exactly that. And I don’t even like berets! Although now I’m wondering why I’ve never really tried one on my beanie-unfriendly head. It could work!
These both just look like such total joy to knit, no matter whose head they might wind up on—
TOP: Western Sky by Caitlin Hunter combines cables, lace and bobbles into the more understated-yet-freespirited of the two
BOTTOM: April Hat by Courtney Kelley mixes a spot of lace, twisted-stitch faux cables, bobbles, puff stitch and a pompom into a fun-loving whole (free pattern)