When I was putting together my 2018 Favorite New Favorites and looking back through the year’s best (in my opinion!) knitting patterns, there were several things I regretted not having gotten onto the blog yet. Chief among them, these two enticing cable hat patterns by Sari Nordlund:
TOP: Marlon Hat is gorgeous and worsted weight, which means I have countless yarn options in my stash
BOTTOM: Utu Hat is gorgeous and written for Woolfolk’s weirdly compelling bouclé yarn, Flette, which I happen to have two skeins of (because they sent them to me) and so much curiosity about that I’m seriously sitting here thinking “would I knit a hat on 2s …?”
By the time the calendar blows over to January, I’ll have completed 19 knitting projects, which is a lot for me, but almost half of them were Log Cabin Mitts! When I came up with this pattern back in January — my contribution to last winter’s Fringe and Friends Logalong — it was one of those magical manifestations where you wonder where on earth it came from. I said at the time that they felt like the only truly creative thing I’d ever done, and I’m still so amazed at how beautifully the pattern worked out — and how fun it is to play with — that I have no intention of ceasing to knit them, even having finished 7 pairs this year: the originals (free pattern here), grey, black-and-white, toffee, black-and-blue, verb kit and indigo. (Grey and black-and-blue have been given to friends but will likely be replicated for the collection, which still feels like an art project in process.) The toffee pair live in my jacket pocket and are worn on the regular, but the black-and-white ones are my favorite rendition so far.
Then there’s another hat that’s never been blogged because it’s a pattern I’m supposed to be writing, plus my Hozkwoz hat from the Fringe Marlisle Knitalong. So a total of 6 hats. And of course the cable dickey I haven’t been able to shut up about either before or since knitting it.
The dickey and matching toffee mitts are easily my most-worn, best-loved wardrobe additions this year, and the ivory Første hat is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever knitted. And in addition to the Log Cabin Mitts, I also designed a second mitts pattern this year: Cascara Mitts for Tolt’s anniversary collection. I can’t add them to my tally because I have only knitted 1 mitt for the sake of writing the pattern (plus two more partials for teaching purposes), but I love those mitts and will be making myself a completed pair in the future.
Log cabin and marlisle were both new techniques for me this year, as were the clever construction on the 1898 Hat and mosaic knitting, which was used for the unseen pattern-to-come hat. (Oh wait, there’s one more secret hat — a sample for someone else’s pattern that also involved a way-new technique!! Tell you more about that when I can. So that’s 7 hats, and 20 finished projects in total.) I also got to knit quite a few cables and did some experimenting with the earflap hat and the sweatshirt vest. And published two patterns I’m proud of. Not to mention finally getting the Anna Vest published as an individual download. Phew!
Of all the years, this is one where I feel most dramatically like WAIT! I haven’t even knitted anything from last year’s Favorite New Favorites yet! I’ve gone back to the patterns on that list over and over this year, and several I’ve continued to go on about during 2018, and yet somehow it’s already time to look back through this year’s and pull out the ones I most fervently want to not lose track of.
It was a really good year in knitting patterns, better than I even realized. To scroll back through the year’s New Favorites (which I recommend!) is to witness a lot of ingenuity and beauty, and yet there are loads of things I saved on Ravelry that haven’t even made it onto the blog. (Yet.) Trying to narrow it to the ones I simply admired the most, I was at risk of putting about 40 or 50 patterns into this post. So I decided to limit myself to just 12 patterns for the year: the ones I’d most like to actually knit and have. Which also means this could function as a queue for the coming year — if only people would stop with the new distractions!
Simply based on how many times I’ve typed the words Carbeth Cardigan this year — and the fact that I did cast one on during my flight to Palm Springs last week — it’s clearly the pattern that bored the deepest hole into my brain this year. And then there are the ones I actually made: Grete and Hozkwoz.
With gift-knitting season upon us and my having a backlog of eye-popping knitting patterns I haven’t squeezed into the blog yet, I decided to do a sequence of New Favorites alternatives this week: recent killer accessory patterns that also knit up quickly and would make great gifts. Starting today with hats, the ultimate unisex gift. These patterns have enough going on that they’ll be fun to knit and make an impression, but not so much as to slow you down too much!
The particular beauty of hats — or any small-scale gift knits, really — is that it’s a chance for you to have fun rotating through different techniques while you’re at it. A definite win/win—
TOP:Tamitik by Shannon Cook shot straight to the top of my hat list when I first saw it on her Instagram* — cute, simple and bulky is a perfect gift-knit combo
MIDDLE LEFT:Diamondback Hat by Mary Jane Mucklestone was on her needles when I saw her in September and it gave me instant cast-on-itis — rhythmic 2-color stranding at worsted gauge
MIDDLE RIGHT:Adam by Rachel Atkinson is a fitted cap in DK on 8s with gorgeous knit-purl patterning
You guys, I picked these thinking “slip-stitch, colorwork, knit-purl texture, cables,” something for everyone, and didn’t realize till I saw the photos together that I unconsciously assembled a collection of diamonds! But then isn’t that the ideal motif for a gift knit?
(Disclosure: Shannon has since sent me the pattern.)
Oh look, I finished up my Hozkwoz Hat (from Anna Maltz’s amazing book Marlisle) quicker than I thought I would! So cross that one off the list. Although I have to say, overall it took me a whole lot longer than I imagined. This was sort of slow going for me (cast on during the Fringe Marlisle Knitalong). The marlisle sections are far enough apart that I never needed to figure out how to hold yarns for this, so I just dropped one strand when I got to the solid sections, then picked it back up again. I tried to be super cautious about the length of my float, but there are spots where it’s a hair short and slightly pinching the ivory tower of stitches, but I do not care in the least — its lovely and warm and clever as could be.
This hat is knitted top-down, which means the crown can serve as your gauge swatch. My measurements were confusing, though — the X measurement is bigger than stated in the pattern, while measuring my garter suggested I was more or less on track. No matter, though, since it’s top-down: I figured I could just forge ahead and if it was proving to be on the large side, I could always decrease some stitches before working the ribbing. But there was no need to. All is well!
This is Sincere Sheep’s Covet (CA Rambouillet/alpaca/silk) in natural, and my mini skeins of Kelbourne Woolens’ Scout (100% wool) weren’t quite enough to do the job, so I subbed in some blackish tweed from my leftovers bin for the last inch or two. Were this solid-colored stockinette, you’d no doubt be able to tell I switched yarns, but in this context it’s perfectly invisible. And I knitted the whole thing on a US9 needle, including the ribbing.
In my first couple of years as a knitter, I had an idea for a book I wanted to do (I think I’ve told this story before) — a collection of patterns that would gradually build up your skills if you worked through them in order. Then Tin Can Knits put out The Simple Collection, which is wonderful and similar but also super different, and I abandoned the idea. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw the bit of simple brilliance my pals over at Kelbourne Woolens came up with for their new yarn, Germantown, which you’ve already heard me raving about. Dubbed “Building Blocks,” it’s three patterns that each encompass three variations on an accessory, of escalating difficulty. The Hats are just plain stockinette, then add a ribbed brim, then rib all over. But the Scarves take you from garter stitch to striped ribbing to cables, and the Mittens encompass stockinette, textured stitch and colorwork. Of course, the hats and mittens also introduce you to shaping, and the beauty of mittens is you can leave the tops off to make fingerless mitts, for even more variations. If you’re like me and like knitting simple things — especially at worsted gauge — they’re great little patterns to have in your arsenal, no matter how long you’ve been knitting.
(If anyone’s wondering, I have no stake in this yarn or anything — I just really like it!)
Actually, I can tell you one thing we’re doing — right off the bat — is going to Retrosaria Rosa Pomar in Lisbon, a shop I’ve longed to visit for years and am proud to count as a Fringe Supply Co. stockist. I “met” Rosa on Instagram shortly after learning to knit, and wrote about her blog awhile back — a post a few of you cited when I asked for your favorites. The hat pattern of hers that I knitted in 2014 is still one of my all-time favorite knits. I knitted it Portuguese style, as taught to me by Brooke, and as much as I LOVED that, I somehow haven’t done it since — so I’m excited to relearn from Rosa and to finally get to see her beautiful shop and yarns and get to spend some quality time with her. Definitely check out these links and especially her Instagram feed @rosapomar.
*Which has probably already happened by the time this posts!