Sunday, September 11, 2011

How to Make a Hat that Fits or A Hat is Just a Swatch

While it is stunningly hot in the daytime, the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler. My husband is up early in the morning and needs a new hat for his lovely bald head.  It's too early to put on any heat and the farmhouse is decidedly cold in the morning.

"No problem", I said with the confidence of a seasoned and fearless knitter.  "I can make a hat in a weekend."

So I rooted through my stash to find the right yarn.  I found this one. I have four balls of this, so didn't worry at all about running out.

It's 100% fine merino wool, single ply, loosely spun. The colours are perfect for him and I love the name of the yarn -- Jasper. :)  I measured hubby's head, did a quickie swatch to figure out how many stitches to cast on and I was on my way.  I cast on 110 st.with size 4mm Addi circulars.  I knit a 4 inch. 1x1 rib and then changed to stocking stitch.  It was great, the hat was developing nicely, and with circulars, you can easily try them on the head for sizing.  When it was about 8in. total I started  decreasing:

Round 1: *Knit 9, k2tog*  (cause that adds up to 11 stitches, and there are a total of 110 -- so I'll be decreasing 10 on each round).
Round 2: knit
Round 3: *Knit 8, k2tog*
Round 4: knit
And so forth, decreasing the number of knits on each odd round before you knit two together, and always knitting on the even rounds.  I like this decrease, it echoes the shape of a head, it's dead easy to remember.

After the round of k2tog throughout, you will knit one more round.  Then cut the yarn leaving an 8in tail, and then draw up all the remaining stitches, I think there will be 10?  Weave them in.  Voila.  A Hat.

I knew from experience that this yarn benefits from a good wash to full the fibres. When it dried I was disappointed; the hat shrunk, not horizontally as I had planned, but vertically.  It got shorter and wider instead of narrower and snugger.

It's still wearable, but for another head. But isn't it lovely?  Look at the way those fibres smooth out and make a nice dense fabric, and I love the colour ways too.

Back to the stash.  I had a skein of green-blue yarn from a Dorset fleece I washed, dyed, carded and spun. I wrote about this in an earlier post.

It is heavier yarn than the Berroco, but still in the hat-making range. When it was made into a ball, it's a pretty decent amount of yarn.

 Again, I did a mini-swatch and then cast on 99 stitches, again using size 4mm Addi circulars. This time I knit a 5in 1x1 rib, in case the vertical shrink thing was going to happen again.  And then I knit and  knit around and around until the whole thing measured a bit longer than 8 in. and started decreasing.  This time round 1 of the decrease was *knit 7, k2tog* (cause that adds up to 9 stitches, and there are a total of 99 -- so I'll be decreasing 11 on each round).

It ended nicely, but it was looking big.  So I washed it and to help with the shrinkage, I threw it into the dryer.  It's way too big. I know from experimenting with the first mini skein of this year, that it doesn't felt much.  It fulls, which is just fine with me, but now that I have a larger-than-I-need hat, I want to shrink a bit.  Everything about this hat is perfect -- except for the size.  I guess that rules out perfection.  I will try washing it again, this time throwing it into the washing machine.  On hot.

It's just a hat.  And a hat is really a swatch. And now hubby has two of them and neither are really right.

On to Hat #3.

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