This uses just one stitch, Grecian Plait Stitch, pg 131. It was a very interesting stitch to do. You switch needle sizes each row. You knit round with a needle 4 sizes larger than normal (6mm), then use the regular size needle for the yarn (4mm) to lift one stitch up and around the other as you knit it. It was pretty slow going for quite a while before I developed the knack. In the variation, you stagger the stitches that are pulled over as they are knit.
This is a two stitch repeat, so I decided it was easiest to do a double decrease. I did a slip one, knit two together, psso for the decreasing. I used 6 points of decrease and decreased every second row on top of the last decrease.
Originally my plan was to do three repeats of Clustered Cable or Cable Check, pg 274, then move into Coral Knit Stitch, pg 130 and use its property of lateral spread to make a slouchy hat. As I did the Clustered Cable, it became apparent that the cast on edge was a bit unsightly and waved up and down, distorting the first pattern repeat. I decided to cast off after the third repeat to make a nicer edge, then pick up from the cast on edge to do the Coral Knit. I realized after I had started the Coral Knit that three repeats of the Clustered Cable was too many, but two wouldn’t be enough so I flipped the whole concept upside down.
I had to use Jeny’s surprisingly stretch bind off so that the bottom edge of the Coral Knit would not pull in. I then took out my cast off again and finished the hat in Clustered Cable.
Clustered Cable has a 12 stitch/8 row repeat with 6-stitch blocks of cables alternating with 6-stitch blocks of reverse stockinette. To get rid of the stitches, I did a k2togtbl on one side of each cable block and a k2tog on the other, for the reverse stockinette blocks I did a p2tog at each side. This decreased my number of stitches by 40 (to 80). I now had 4-stitch blocks so I did the cabling over 6 rows instead of 8. I did a full repeat of the pattern, then decreased again giving me 2-stitch blocks, decreasing my stitches by 40 again (to 40). On the second row, I did a knit into second stitch then first stitch instead of a cable, then did another row. After these, I did k2tog, p2tog around to get down to 20 stitches, which I got rid of over the next 3 rows.
But you can make it behave as you put it on your head, so it is not bad. I am pleased with the graphic look of the hat. I realize it is my usual shape. I have been thinking a lot about why that is, and I have come up with two reasons. Number one, hats need to sit on a head and stay there, so a functional hat has to conform to certain restrictions. I believe absolutely in function over form, and I always have as a craftsperson. We used to talk about this perennial debate in pottery school and I was always four square for function.
The second reason is that I am fascinated by the process of getting rid of the stitches. I mentioned a long time ago I learned much of what I know about knitting hats from the hat book (Hats On! by Charlene Schurch I worked my way through a decade or so ago Lots of friends and family own hats designed by her, because I made way too many of them to keep for my small family. Alan still wears one of them every day of the winter, and has never replaced it by one of my design. One line in the book bothered me and it was when she was trying to get rid of a heavily patterned set of stitches and she got rid of them all in a couple of rows by doing k2tog so she didn’t loose the pattern effect, then put a pompom on top. I felt at the time this was a cop out. As I knit a pattern, I am constantly trying to figure out how to get rid of the stitches in a (hopefully) elegant manner. Iff that is not possible, then I put a decorative element on the top. I find I am putting decorative elements on top less and less. Usually if I put them on now it is because of other design considerations, like the fact that squiggly bits on the top are fun to make and look at, rather than hiding something.
The stitch is Clouds and Mountains, pg 68. I did 15 repeats of the 8 stitch pattern, which covers 8 rows. I did a k2tog through back loops, k2 ,k2tog on the dark parts every 5th repeats, did one row plain following the pattern then k2togtbl, k2tog above the previous repeats. I did this twice more so I had got rid of the entire repeat. I did this 5 times on top of each other until I had used up all the stitches.
If you have more than 500 patterns in a book, some will have to be also rans. I have been avoiding the Arabic Diamonds, pg 22 and Double Woven Stitch in two colours, pg 95 for a while. I did manage to use the arabic cross a hat or so ago, but this one seemed even worse to me than that.
I had a bit of fun playing with the top. I used 6 points of decrease and did an ssk on every other row until I had 30 stitches left from the 120 I started with. I cast off and then cast back into the back of each stitch and did some swirls and some spikes. For the swirls I cast on 17 stitches, then knit back 12 of them. I turned round and did k,p,k in each stitch back up, then cast it all back off to the base. For the spikes, I cast on 15 stitches and cast them right back off. I picked up and knit the other half of the cast off stitches and did a couple of roll backs where I garter stitched 8 rows and joined back into the base, I decreased from 30 to 20 between the rolls so the second one was smaller.
Before we were parents, Alan and I took a considerable number of book binding courses together. It was a big interest of his. He had been to Library School and had an enduring love of books. He kept trying to take classes which got cancelled for lack of enrolment. I started signing up with him to create a critical mass for the courses to run, so we took lots together and he took some alone as well. We drifted away from it as we moved away from Toronto, then had the kids and moved to Ottawa. He noticed a class which ran yesterday, so we signed up. It was nice to be back in the paper mode for a day. I think we will do some more in the future.
The class was called Crossed Structure Binding put on by the Canadian Book Binders and Book Artists Guild. In the morning we did a quick paper decoration and then made the smaller book. It has eight sewn signatures and the cover is made by cutting a single sheet of paper with tabs that link around the spine and weave into the opposite cover. I cannot resist the temptation to change things up a bit so I cut my tabs on angles in the afternoon. I have shown front and back of both books.
I was walking with my friend Jen who I went to pottery school with a couple of decades ago. She said all my hats are the same shape. Looking over my Pinterest page (gillianknits on Pinterest), I can see that I do tend to make a lot of hats with a similar shape. I do a smaller percentage that are quite different, but I definitely have a comfort zone. I have decided I am going to try to be more “creative”, a term she actually happens to dislike. She claims artistic people are often called upon to be spontaneously “creative” and demands are then made for the creative person to make a silk purse out of an available sows ear. I am no artist, I leave that to others, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to leave my box once in a while. I realize this isn’t too far from the box, but I will try to keep the box exterior in mind in the future.
I cast on the usual 120 stitches and did a few rows of garter stitch to make the bottom behave before I did one and a half repeats of Hexagon Pattern, pg 67. I then increased to 152 stitches and switched to Basket Cable, pg 274. In the last row, I decreased back to 120 and did an I-cord rope cast off. I then did a 31 stitch square of Plaited Basket Stitch, pg 118 and sewed it inside, one repeat of the Basket Cable down.
I have a group of friends that I have been meeting for coffee once a week for a very long time. Originally, we were all quilters, most of them still are. At this point, I don’t see myself ever sewing little pieces of fabric together again, but I am not willing to get rid of my very expensive stash yet just in case. Who knows, maybe the quilting bug will strike again. There is a joke in the group about brown because one of our members, Albertina, hates brown. She loves nature in all its forms but I guess not plain dirt. She loves all the plants growing in it and the animals that live amongst the plants. When we get together for coffee, often people peruse quilting books and magazines for inspiration. Whenever there is a predominantly brown one we say it is for Albertina and have a laugh.
For this hat, I again started with 120 stitches. I did one repeat of Woven Transverse Herringbone, pg 96, then one of Arabic Cross, pg 22 before returning to the herringbone pattern. The herringbone was a lot tighter than the other pattern, so the crosses stand out in relief. I was originally just going to do the herringbone all the way, but I am glad I changed my mind. This hat has a lot of yarn in it because the herringbone is so dense.
When I was a kid, I loved Neapolitan ice cream. I eat my foods one kind at a time. I work my way round any plate, eating one thing after another, so Neapolitan ice cream was perfect. Eat the strawberry first. I am not really fond of strawberry, but it is still ice cream. Next comes the vanilla, which I quite liked, but the chocolate was the pinnacle. Alan, on the other hand, can be a bit glass half empty. I asked him if he liked Neapolitan ice cream when he was a kid and he said no because 2/3 of it was not chocolate. Heather, also not a fan, says “who wants strawberry ice cream getting in the way of enjoying your chocolate and vanilla”. She says they had the same tub of strawberry ice cream for 6 months when she worked at Baskin and Robbins. My sister Melanie also mentioned the anathema of the strawberry ice cream in her dislike of Neapolitan ice cream. So there you have it. I think it is just there for the pretty colour.
I cast on 120 stitches and used Organ-Pipes pattern, pg 23 as the ribbing, then switched to Chain Stripes, pg 66. In this case, I decreased in the second of the two plain knit brown rows between the coloured chains. The first time I did k2, k2tog around (90 st left). I switched the pattern from k6 slip 2 to k4, slip 2 at this point. Next time i did k1, k2 together around (60 st left) and stayed with the k4, slip 2 on the pattern rows. The third time I did k2 tog around (30 st left). After the final chain rows, I just got rid of the rest of the stitches in 6 rows.
I originally had two repeats of the Organ-Pipes Pattern , but I thought it was visually too heavy with the Chain Stripes, so I hemmed one repeat under.
I am sure Alan is happy I am finished this hat because I kept humming and singing snippets of America the Beautiful as I knit it. They sang it during the 7th inning stretch in the ALCS playoffs between the KC Royals and the Toronto Bluejays and it kind of got into my head. You gotta hand it to the Americans they have some catchy patriotic songs. I even secretly like their national anthem.
It has been a long time since I knit alpaca. When I was a young adult, my Uncle Robert was friends with a yarn wholesaler in England. He brought Mum a suitcase full of mohair and one of alpaca. If I remember correctly, it was the first time alpaca knitting yarn started to become available. The alpacas themselves were still unavailable outside South America as breeding animals and the yarn was just starting to be marketed in England, I had never seen it in small town Canada before. The alpaca yarn we got was about a fingering weight and mum and I knit sweaters galore out of it that year, lots and lots of stitches per sweater. My sister Phil gave one to Heather when she cleaned out her closet last year. We made the mohair into sweaters and afghans. It took both of us ages to knit it all up. My sister Penny pitched in and crocheted at least a couple of afghans.
As soon as I saw the Star Tweed pattern on pg 67, this hat jumped into my head. I decided to use the stripes to take care of a few extra patterns, so each stripe has a different stitch. Sometimes when I look forward too far in The Book, I get scared by the magnitude of the project and panic a little bit, then I load a couple of hats with stitches before I calm down again. I don’t actually think this makes necessarily bad hats. I kind of like the rich texture it gives them. I cast on 120 stitches. Starting from the bottom, I used Single Woven Rib and Woven Stitch from page 95. then Mock Ribbing from pg 97. I finished with a stripe of Double Woven Stitch from pg 95 before doing the Star Tweed pattern. I am not sure how much this is cheating, but I tried to do the stitch as it stands and found the white stars to be too close together for the flag effect, so I ripped back and added an extra blue row in between (two knit rounds instead of one). I could do something else with the pattern stitch, but I think I will go with this. My house, my rules and all that.