Category Archives: Barbara Walker

Still playing with the short rows, Barbara


I am continuing with the short row concept here. There are a couple of things I like about the short rows. I like that the hat looks different from different angles. I got the idea for hats that look different on different sides because I was watching the Australian Open and Eugenie Bouchard had a skirt that was like this. I have a way to go before I capture what I want from the skirt, but this hat is the one I like best so far.
eugenie-bouchard-australian-open-2017-nike

The other reason I like short rows is that I can use stitches which I am not sure work in the round. Some stitches have stuff going on on the return row of the instructions which I am not sure work if you do them from the front of the knitting. Any stitch that just has you knit the knits and purl the purls on the back of the work are fine in the round. I am always careful to maintain the integrity of Barbara Walker’s stitches, so if I am not sure if they will translate into the round, I do them on straight needles with a seam (ugh!). Neither of these stitches (Threaded Stitch, pg 132 or Quatrefoil Eyelet, pg 171) would actually have to be done on straight needles, but I may use the short row thing if I have stitches like that.

I cast on 100 stitches with black and did 4 rows of garter stitch, I switched to pink and threaded stitch and started short rows after a few rows. When I had finished the short rows, I did four more rows of garter stitch then switched to grey and increased to 104. I joined the grey where the short rows ended at the highest point on the front and did a repeat of the quatrefoil eyelet before starting short rows again. I did four rows of black garter stitch again and switched back to pink and decreased to 90 stitches. I knitted the top using Waterfall Pattern, pg 151. I did a full pattern repeat, then got rid of every third repeat, then every other repeat and then the rest of the stitches.

Tried a high ponytail hat, Barbara


My mum had heart surgery a week ago and you might think that sitting around a hospital ward would be a golden opportunity to knit, but no. This hat is all I have to show for it. I brought her home from the hospital yesterday which gave me access to this beautiful young blonde for the modelling. She is my nephew Jay’s girlfriend, Meagan. I am sorry I don’t have an actual picture of her face but I stressed I was going for hat photos not girlfriend photos. They took me very literally. I had received this photo of the skull and dice hat I made for my brother in law last week and you can maybe see why I was adamant.gillianknits.com
I have been hearing about high pony tail hats, but have never actually seen one, so this is my take on how I think they may be.

For this hat, I cast on 100 stitches and did two rows of each of 5 colours that I had little bits of. I then switched to Powder Puff Stitch, pg 136, and did 2 1/2 repeats before starting short rows to build up the front of the hat. I treated each set of 5 stitches independently once I started the short rows and just did whatever row of the pattern presented itself. I tried it on and when I thought I had enough hat, I started decreasing by doing p3tog instead of increasing for a new puff. When I came back on the next row, I purled 2 together which got rid of the whole puff. When I was down to 30 stitches, I went back to the garter stitch but only used 4 colours. If I had the whole thing to do again, which I will until I am happy, I would put an extra repeat in because I like hats which totally cover the ears.

I had a concept, Barbara


This hat is a bit weird, I freely admit it. I know I often start with “I had a concept”. I think there may still be some potential here, but it is not quite realised yet. It has a third colour that you can only see from certain angles. I may play with it over a couple of hats until I either “get it” or give up on it.

I cast on on two needles and made the band using green yarn and Horizontal Ridged Herringbone, pg 136. I picked up off the edge and adjusted my picked up stitches to 102 and started with Wager or All Fools Welt, pg 16 (I started something with this stitch two years ago but have decided to give up on it). For this stitch, you knit 7 rows and purl the 8th. I did one repeat of 8 rows, then started short rows. I turned around 3 stitches sooner each time until I had 20 stitches in the middle. This made the front have much more yellow than the back. I switched to blue and reduced to 96 stitches. At this point I also switched to a circular needle and sewed up the back seam on the green and yellow. I finished the hat with Pineapple Stitch, pg 137. I got rid of every 4th repeat, then every 3rd, then the rest. To get rid of a repeat I decreased 2 stitches in the 5 purl section on the 3rd row(p2tog, p1, p2tog), 5th row (p3tog) and 6th row (slip 1, k2tog, psso)thus getting rid of the repeat.

A headband for Penny, Barbara

gillianknits.comI did a post a week or two ago on cotton lined brims for the more sensitive Canadian forehead. My sister Penny requested one in the comment section of that post. I had been unsatisfied with the way I rejoined my mums headband, because I picked up from the back of the cast on edge with the cotton, then just cast them off together at the top. This made the top and bottom slightly different. I was sort of unhappy with this, but it took me a day or so of rumination to decide that I really did have to do what I knew all along I should do, so I cast off at the top of the front section and picked up a second set of stitches on a separate needle with cotton, and grafted the two sets of stitches together in the middle of the inside. Notice I am not showing that hack job I did of grafting! I am not a happy grafter in rib. Suffice to say, it is on the inside and no one will really see it.

two live needles....

two live needles….


I cast on 108 stitches and did one repeat of Ribbed Cluster Diamond Pattern, pg. 126.

Another Chapter bites the dust, Barbara

This hat has the last three patterns of chapter 5, Slip-Stitch Patterns, YEAH!!!! The brim and topper are done with Indian Cross Stich, pg 112, and the main body of the hat uses “Closing” Double Cable, pg 112 and Slipped Hourglass, pg 110.
I cast on 104 stitches for the brim and did 3 rows of garter stitch before doing one 12 row repeat of the cross stitch. It was difficult to read the cross stitch so I picked up a set of stitches from the back of the cast on row and carried a rib up the inside of the brim to put some colour in behind. I then joined everything back together and decreased to 102 for the twist stitch patterns. This was six repeats of each pattern.
To decrease, I got rid of every other hourglass, then every other cable, then the rest of the cables, then the last hourglasses. This happened slowly over 20 rows to make the top more pointy. I then increased back to 24 stitches to do the topper. I find these days if I don’t know what to do on the top, I just use between 20 and 30 stitches of the brim pattern on the top. You can’t really go wrong if you echo the bottom, I figure.
BTW…I absolutely hated doing the cross stitch, especially on four needles at the top, but I think it looks ok in the end.

Barbara’s dice


I decided to do a simple hat with some of Barbara Walker’s dice patterns on the brim. When you look at the dice patterns, I think only one through 4 actually read as dice, the 5 and 6 get lost in the busy. I think it is interesting that she only chose to put pictures of one through four in the book. I would maybe have done the same.
A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, pg 180
I decided to just go with the dice patterns and make the rest of the hat very simple. As I was knitting it, I realized how long it has been since I just did some plain stockinette stitch. Very easy, lots of muscle memory. I then did the top with a simple stacked slip 1, k2tog, psso starting every 22 stitch with one row plain in between until I was down to 20 stitches, then I just knit two together around until I had 5 stitches and finished off.

We’re dicing with death, Barbara

Black hats really are the devil to photograph, I must say.

I have always liked the phrase dicing with death. My husband Alan uses it to tease me when I am going overboard with my anxiety. I have explored the skull theme off and on for a few years now. Jax Teller and all that, I suppose. As a matter of fact, the first post of this blog was done because I got very positive response from my original skull hat and thought the hat blog idea may be ok.


I was in an airport lounge on my way to Peru in October 2015 and texted my kids for something to put on a hat. Heather responded with #YOLO. I thought then that skulls went with the theme of “you only live once”. When I was recently asked for skull hats by my son and a brother in law, I speculated I could give one of them the #YOLO hat I already have. Shot down immediately. Apparently, according to the same daughter who originally proposed the idea 15 months ago, no one would be caught dead in a #YOLO hat now…it’s so last year. But wait, what happened to wearing outdated things ironically…I guess that is SO last week. Or maybe things have to be at least a decade out of date to qualify for ironic wearing? Kids these days, I swear. Hard to keep up for us oldsters. Wait, whare have I heard THAT before? Oh, well…good thing I made that hat reversible, just in case something like this outdating thing happened. For these new hats, I decided to go with the skulls and dice idea. How could that possibly go out of style after all? I was originally going to use Barbara Walker’s eyelet dice patterns, but after two days of futile trying, I gave up on the concept and just went with dice that I drew.
For the knitters
Jake’s hat: I cast on 100 stitches and did 4 rows of garter stitch to try (unsuccessfully) to stop the stockinette curl before increasing to 110 and doing the skull/dice band. After the colour work I decreased back to 100 stitches. Also, because of the terrible curl, I went back and picked up a set of stiches from the back of the garter stitch and brought some k1 p1 ribbing up the back of the headband and rejoined just before doing 4 rows of garter stitch. I increased again to 112 for the Slipped Hourglass from pg 110. I have found that if you don’t increase/decrease between plain stockinette and/or garter stitch bands and bands of patterning/colour work which draw in, you get rippling, so I do it automatically now. Jake liked the hat with the double layer brim. He has to walk around in the cold on his way to classes and whatnot so the double layer on his forehead and ears works well.
Chris’s hat: I cast on 112 stitches on straight needles and did two repeats of the Banded Rib Pattern, pg 123, then I decided I liked the “wrong” side better at this point which was handy as I could do it on round needles this way. There is only one pattern row which has to be worked and I wasn’t sure if I could work it from the “right” side in the round. I went to a round needle at this point and did the skull/dice band. I went with 4 skulls and 4 sets of dice, where I had used 5 on Jake’s. I had felt the colour work a bit crowded on his. I also changed (improved?) the skulls a bit, adding a nose and a row of black between the teeth rows. I went back to banded rib and decreased by getting rid of every 7th four stitch repeat, then every 6th, then every 5th. I originally finished it this way (every 4th, 3rd, etc) but got a weird cone on the top, so I ripped back and got rid of every other repeat instead of every 4th, then, after a pattern row just did ssk, k2tog around, then one row plain and k2tog around once before finishing it off. I decided not to do a double brim because Chris is more of a car to building guy, and the double brim would be too hot.

For the knitters…Cotton lined brims, Barbara

Heather can happily wear the cotton lined brim for hours

Heather can happily wear the cotton lined brim for hours

Heather was itchy and unhappy the first day she wore her Santa hat to work, so I picked up stitches off the back of the cast off edge with Bernat Handicrafter cotton and did a k1 p1 rib on the inside of the brim which I reconnected and simultaneously cast off at the top of the white. This was easy because the purl bumps at the transition of the colours were easy to follow.
retrofit with cotton inside the brim

retrofit with cotton inside the brim

It did the trick for her. I guess for anyone who is not sensitive to wool, or has bangs, or wears their hats pushed back above the hairline, it is not an issue, but it was pretty simple to retrofit the hat in this way for anyone who is sensitive. It worked ok to use the handicrafter stitch for stitch because it is close enough in weight to the Cascade 220. Its not a precision deal.
I was doing this green and white hat for her to wear at work after Christmas, so I picked up from the back of the cast on edge with cotton and built in the cotton ribbing as I changed to green at the top of the brim. I knit my first row of green through the brim and the corresponding cotton stitches together. This hat uses Swiss Check, pg 90 which FINISHES THE COLOR-CHANGE PATTERNS CHAPTER…YEAH!!!! and Travelling Cable, pg 280. You would have to know the travel is there to see it. It moves over one stitch per repeat. It may be more obvious on a longer item like a scarf or something. I topped it off with one of my i-cord roses. Follow the link for detailed instructions.
Cotton lined headband

Cotton lined headband


Mum needed a headband, so I made one for her with a cotton lining too. I did it the same as the brim of Heather’s hat but I ended the hat early. It uses Round Cable, pg 247 and Triple Gull-Stitch Cable, pg 248.

Happy New Year and welcome to the Sesquicentennial, Barbara

Happy New Year 2017!!!

Happy New Year 2017!!!

This is my only New Year’s hat this year. I had plans for another one but they got way too complicated to finish it in time, so I will do it in less garish colours at my leisure. Suffice to say it will have at least 7 stitches in it, so the planning takes time.
Sesquicentennial logoI wonder if I will still love the word Sesquicentennial after living in the nation’s capital this coming year. Maybe. I still remember the national excitement of the Centennial as a child. Expo 67 and all that. All my childhood I collected Centennial coins like some people collect 4 leaf clovers. Now my aqua fitness classes are mostly held in ageing pools built with Centennial grants 50 years ago. Some of them could use a facelift with Sesquicentennial money. Justin??

For the knitters: I cast on 100 stitches for the rainbow band. I actually screwed it up and had to cast off after the purple because my rainbow was upside down. I picked up from the original cast on edge with the blue and increased to 108 for the patterning, so I had 6 repeats each of “Opening” Double Cable and Slipped Chain Cable, both from pg 113. I ended at the top by decreasing by 4 cables three times (every third cable, then every other cable, then the last 3). I used sl 1, k2tog, psso 3 times in the middle of the cable then p3tog and p2 tog above the cable to get rid of the 9 stitches. I topped it with I cord arches, then curlicues of the complementary colours which I threaded back down the arches and finished with a set of standing up i cord spikes. It was really fun. I personally love this hat, and I don’t say that about every hat I make by any stretch.

Merry Christmas, Barbara

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Heather is working on the minature train for Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village. We took Jacob down on Thursday and hung out. Al and I had gone a week or so ago and Santa Dave was not too busy so we visited him.img_20161211_190640
I have been going to town on Santa hats lately and here is the result:

From left Jake, me, Mum, Alan and Heather

From left Jake, me, Mum, Alan and Heather


Individual hats: