So, first of all, I bought Stephen a hat. He lost it. He then commandeered my hat, which was a man’s one in the same style as his: because of my giganto-cranium, I had been unable to find a woman’s hat to fit in the shops. For a while, he was warm, and I consoled myself for my lost hat by knitting lovely Woolly Wormhead designs and Calorimetries and lace and, well, just knitting.
Then, on Friday, Stephen went to work wearing his (i.e. my) hat. He returned later that night, sans chapeau. He’s not sure where he left it: on the train, in the pub after work, in his friend’s car, inside a turbo pump…¹ Suffice to say, the hat is no more.
We decided not to mourn the loss of Hat the First excessively, but rather to begin, promptly, on the knitting of Hat the Second. I toyed briefly with the idea of an elaborate design, but Stephen, having seen the weather forecast for the coming week, asked very politely if there was any way he might have a hat, you know, soon. Like me, he suffers from Unnaturally Large Head Syndrome, and shop-bought hats tend to be a tight fit: Hat the First had been a serendipitous find in a sea of unsuitable headgear. Faced with a weekend in which to produce a hat, and knowing my usual tendency to work at snail’s pace, I settled on Jared Flood’s Turn a Square, a worsted-weight striped toque which is handily available for free on Ravelry. It’s a lovely pattern, simple but effective, and easy to adapt for the large or small of noggin. I ended up casting on 104 stitches instead of the recommended 96, then increasing to 112 after the ribbing. With a couple of additional tweaks for height and decrease rate, this has resulted in pretty much a perfect fit. I cast on on Saturday afternoon, and I was trying the finished hat on Stephen’s head after tea on Sunday, so I think we can agree that it was a pretty speedy project, even for a slow knitter like me.
I didn’t have any suitable worsted to hand, but I did have several balls of Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK which I knew, from the evidence of the Ravelry projects page, would be an adequate substitute if held double. I had four balls of the undyed Blue-Faced Leicester, a lovely sheepy yarn which is still soft to the touch. Two balls were a mid-brown, one a cream, and one a darker brown. I toyed with the idea of striping part of the hat in the cream yarn, then the rest in the dark brown. The problem with that was that the dark brown didn’t really provide enough of a contrast to the main colour, so I decided to knit the cream and brown together, hoping for a marled effect. It didn’t quite go as planned: I actually ended up with patchy stripes which look a little a ham-fisted attempt at Fairisle. You can see what I mean in the picture on the right. If I knit Turn a Square again (and I’d be very tempted to: it’s effective, simple and flattering), I’d make more of an effort with the contrast colour. I do love the resultant fabric, though: it’s soft, dense and warm, and I’m optimistic that it might also be slightly water-repellent: it smells so sheepy that I feel sure there must be some lanolin left in the fabric. If not, well… I have a lot of friends with new babies: maybe I could borrow some Lansinoh and attempt to waterproof it the natural way!
Stephen, though an enthusiastic hat wearer, has proved to be a reluctant hat model: here, then is the finished object being fetchingly modelled by a biscuit barrel.
All in all, it has been a very satisfying knit, and I would be lying if I claimed I wasn’t eyeing up the stash and planning to cast one on for myself. Just as soon as I’ve finished the Color Affection shawl. And the OWLS jumper. And the Ishbel beret. And the Clothkits dress….
¹Don’t laugh: he has previous. He lost his first wedding ring inside a different turbo pump back in London, and was he only lucky it didn’t fire itself straight through the nearest postgrad when he turned the machine on. Fortunately, a ribbed beanie is not likely to bring much collateral damage in its wake, however fast it might be fired at you.