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)
Since I first published images of this hat back in June 2017 — the Debutant Hat, originally designed for use in my classes — I’ve gotten regular requests to release it for the rest of the knitting world to enjoy. I’m happy to have finally had the time to put it into pattern format and publish it through Ravelry, where it’s now available for download!
Debutant was inspired by a couple of mid-century hat patterns I love but was, as noted, explicitly designed as an introduction to cable knitting and chart reading. So it’s a great first pattern if you’re new to either, and a quick, pleasant knit for anyone already versed in those skills. (If you’re new to cables, I strongly suggest sticking with the recommended yarn, Osprey by Quince and Co., which will net reliable results.) Because it’s meant to get you comfortable with charts, it is charted only, but I assure you you can do it! And you will be glad you did. The pattern includes guidance on how the chart works.
While I debate with myself about which yarn I want to use for the shawl-collar vest idea and which pattern (and stash yarn) for a wrap, I’ve knitted a hat for my beloved. On Christmas day, we had turkey enchiladas with our close family-friends, the elder of which was wearing a hat Bob took one look at and flashed me a face that said “please!” After some investigation, it was established that my pal Jo had knitted it from Alexis Winslow’s pattern called Cabled Dad Hat. And it seemed like a perfect use for some of the leftover yarn from Bob’s sweater vest, so that’s what’s kept my hands busy on recent nights.
If you’ve seen previous years’ posts about hats for Bob, you may recall he likes a skullcap — won’t wear a beanie that comes down over his ears — but we’d agreed he needed one that could at least fold down over them when needed. To arrive at this outcome, and following Jo’s lead, I began the decreases at 6″ instead of 7″, which for me meant 5 repeats of the chart. (If I make it again, I might stop at 5″.) And then I also shortened the crown portion by speeding up the increases and knitting fewer total rows, which I did simply by decreasing on every round starting with crown row 13.
As usual with hats, I didn’t swatch, and it’s a tiny bit big so we’ll make an effort to shrink it just a touch. But overall, we’re both very happy with it — it’s a great pattern that was obviously more fun to knit than his usual stockinette-everything requests, and it’s nice to see some texture on him.
I realized while finishing this up the other night that, as much as I’ve enjoyed knitting for him and my as-yet unspecified niece, it’s officially been too long since I knitted anything for myself. Time to solve for one or the other of those aforementioned cast-ons!
Maybe it’s because I’m wrapping up my annual spot-of-colorwork project, I don’t know, but for whatever reason, I’m finding myself soooo drawn to the idea of knitting something really simple and straightforward but also beautiful and useful. Such as …
TOP: Column by Hiromi Nagasawa is a bulky or superbulky pullover with an unusual construction method that also gives a simple sweater a different look