Hat Addict

Did you ever read this book as a kid, Caps for Sale?

Hats are like potato chips...or M&Ms...or other easily poppable snack foods. They're quick to knit, low-commitment, and a satisfying way to try a technique, style or color you don't want to commit to in a sweater. My coworkers and I were talking recently about how many hats we have. No matter how many we knit, there are still more hat patterns in our queue! I decided to photograph my hat collection today and I felt like the man in the illustration above when I pulled them out of their drawer.

This & successive photos taken with my Nikon D3200

This & successive photos taken with my Nikon D3200

I decided to take things one step further and lay them out in order from oldest to newest, starting at the top row and moving from left to right. Let's meet the gang!

Top Row, L to R

  • Gretel by Ysolda Teague in Malabrigo Worsted: Ysolda was one of the first designers I found online once I learned how to knit, and Malabrigo was the first 'cult' yarn I'd ever read about. I hadn't discovered any local yarn stores at that point, so I ordered it from the internet not realizing how the hand-dyed color would look knit up. I was also too lazy to block it over a plate for a beret shape like Ysolda suggests, so it's a sad, awkward beanie instead.
  • Grace Lace Beret by Loop Knits in Adrienne Vittadini Martina (I think): I found this yarn in the warehouse at Webs. Like Gretel, I failed to block it properly so it's a weird and unflattering shape.
  • Acorns by Melissa LaBarre in Madelinetosh Vintage: I made this right after I started working at Webs. Melissa worked there at the time and I remember being awestruck that I knew a famous designer! She gifted me this pattern which I thought was so cool of her. This was at the beginning of my Madelinetosh craze. I had just bought enough Tosh DK & Tosh Vintage for two sweater projects but wanted a smaller Tosh project right away. I purposely didn't block it because I love the nubbly texture.
  • Brambles Beret by Amanda Muscha in Berroco Ultra Alpaca held with Rowan Kidsilk Haze: I started noticing my coworkers knitting 'normal' yarns held together with Kidsilk Haze and I loved the soft halo effect. I chose my favorite shade of pea green!

First Middle Row, L to R

  • Ida's Kitchen by Kirsten Kapur in Madelinetosh Sport: I had started to get really into Ravelry at this point, and joined a Madelinetosh group. We wound up doing a swap for this hat where each person bought a skein of sport, broke it up into mini skeins and sent it to other people in the group. I got to try all kinds of colors I had never seen in person before!
  • Little Whiskers Hat by Kirsten Hipsky in Valley Yarns Greenwich: My very first pompom :) This hat got famous in the Sh*t Knitters Say video!
  • Free Cecily Hat by Emma Welford in Cascade 220 Sport: Ah, the beginnings of my design career. I was so proud of myself for making up my own cable panel for that hat.
  • Striated by Emma Welford in Malabrigo Chunky: Another early design. This was the first pattern that I worked with Lindsey on (my current & forever, ride or die photographer), and the first time I did my own pattern layout. I've tweaked my layout style a little since then but it's still the same basic format!

Second Middle Row, L to R

  • Wolfbait by Alex Tinsley in Schachenmayr Bravo Big Color: Free yarn, free pattern, enough said. Alex looked SO COOL in her hat photos but I looked SO DUMB wearing this myself, so I don't actually wear it.
  • Rhinebeck Bus Hat in Berroco Lodge: I knit this on the bus to Rhinebeck one year and made the pattern up as I went. I wear this one a ton, even though it's plain. The color goes with a lot of my wardrobe and the amount of slouch is perfect.
  • Goshen by Amanda Keep Williams in Berroco Brio: Technically I did not knit this exact hat. My best friend Kerry and I did a hat swap. She knit this Goshen for me, and I knit her Goshen in the colorway of choice, then we swapped! But since I don't have a photo of her hat, this is the closest we're going to get.
  • Tamborim by Emma Welford in Gynx Merino DK: From my yarn & pattern club collaboration with Gynx Yarns. I love Laura's yarns, they're so great to work with. My only regret on this one is that I didn't do a bigger pompom. Maybe some day I will make a new one for it!

Bottom Row, L to R

  • Random made-up hat in handspun from Etsy: I bought this handspun before I learned how to spin. I tried making legwarmers from it and that didn't work out. I frogged and made this hat, but I was so impatient I didn't really do a proper gauge swatch and the hat got super big when I blocked it. I need to rip this out, un-kink the yarn and give it the respect it deserves!
  • Shock Star Slouch by Emma Welford in Spun Right Round Squish DK: I love this hat. One of my current favorites.
  • Equal Measure (hat only) by Emma Welford in Anzula For Better or Worsted: Sensing a trend in my hat making as of late? All designs!
  • Fidra by Gudrun Johnston in Valley Yarns Valley Superwash Bulky: So this was a not-on-purpose knit. We were doing a Superwash Bulky review video at work and wanted a hat to be worn in it, but there weren't any existing store samples. I volunteered to make Fidra since I secretly wanted to make it, but needed an excuse! I know, boo hoo hoo, life is hard. Forced to knit ;)

Of course, there are more hats I've knit over the years that aren't pictured. My first ever hats, hats I've given as gifts, or hats I've lost in some box somewhere and forgot about. And I know my little hat family will get bigger...there are always more hats to knit!

Cirriform Cardigan Notes

I'm sure that you caught the Deep Fall issue of Knitty and with it, my Cirriform Cardigan. I wanted to share some tips for those of you planning on knitting it. Let's begin!

Photos by  Lindsey Topham

Photos by Lindsey Topham

Front Lengths

User sheilatoy on Ravelry knit up a modified version and noted that the pattern schematic shows the fronts as being asymmetrical when they are actually the same length. I wanted the schematic to show the front lengths as they look when being worn to help illustrate how one side hangs lower due to the bias of the fabric. But she is totally correct--each lace front has the same number of rows! For reference, I'm 5'3" and the longer front hits about knee length on me (see above photo.) The yarn you use will either enhance or change the effect of the hang, which brings me to my next point...

Yarn Substitutions

I've been flagged in several Ravelry discussions about yarn choices for this project. Berroco Kodiak is a pretty unique yarn but unfortunately it's discontinued! You can still find it on closeout at Webs, and one LYS owner wrote to me that she still had stock in her store. User foodieknitter on Ravelry pointed out that Kodiak is closer to an aran weight than a bulky, and seeing as I knit it up at 4sts/inch in this project, I'd tend to agree. Kodiak is a tube style yarn similar to Blue Sky Alpacas Techno. I know Techno is created by forming a silk tube and then blowing the alpaca into it, so I imagine Kodiak is formed similarly but I don't know for sure. It's super weightless, which is what really makes this design work. I hesitate to suggest traditionally spun alpaca or wool yarns for Cirriform for a few reasons. Most bulky 100% alpaca yarns I see are 2-ply and actually quite heavy with a tendency to sag and weigh themselves down over time. I worry that the extra fabric on the fronts of this cardigan, combined with the natural bias of the lace pattern would give you fronts that reach your ankles by the end of the day! (Ok, slight exaggeration.) A tightly worsted-spun merino, on the other hand, is so springy that I don't think it would add that lovely drape the Kodiak provides.

Aside from the yarn suggestions listed in the pattern, I think your best luck lies with a brushed alpaca or a lofty woolen-spun wool yarn if you must have wool. I'd suggest generous swatches, plus hanging your lace front swatches to dry (perhaps even with weights added) to ensure the best representation of how the final fabric will behave. However, if you plan to wear it closed with a shawl pin or belt, or if you want to add a button or two at the top neckline, you don’t have to worry as much about the drape because those will hold up the sweater fronts. Not to mention they are fun and very valid styling choices to switch it up!

Front Lace Patterns

Both the very talented tech editor at Knitty, Kate Atherley, and knitter Kerstin (who emailed me) pointed out that the left front lace pattern is not a true diagonal lace pattern like the right front. That's how I designed the pattern, since I found the left front lace pattern biased enough on its own to create a cheater diagonal effect. But you are totally welcome to adapt it to create a truly diagonal lace pattern! Kerstin adapted it to a 4-row repeat like the right front, as follows:

Row 1 (RS): K1, *yo, k2tog; rep from * to end.

Row 2 (WS): Purl.

Row 3: K2 *yo, k2tog; rep from * until 1 st remains, k1.

Row 4: Purl.


The sizing on this pattern is a little unusual because it's designed to be worn with a lot of ease. The official finished bust measurements of the finished garment are 35.75 [40, 44.5, 48.75, 53.25, 58.75, 63.05] inches. However, as you can see in the above photo, the fronts overlap each other quite significantly when held closed because the cardigan is intended to be worn open with excessively large, drape-y swaths of fabric acting as the fronts. My full bust measurement is 33" and I'm wearing the 40" size in photos--that's 7" of positive ease!

As you can see, the cardigan fits across my upper back and shoulders which is really the key here for this style. The back width after all raglan increases are finished (aka in line with your bust) are as follows:

16.75 (18.75, 20.75, 22.75, 24.75, 26.75, 28.75) inches

Based off that, my personal recommendation is that as the wearer, your personal full bust measurement should be about 30 (34, 38, 42, 46, 52, 56)" in order to have the intended amount of positive ease. If you prefer a slightly more fitted look, match yourself up with a size based on your back measurement and go down rather than up if you are between measurements. The fronts will still be drape-y and excessive even if you go down a size!

(One final shot for atmosphere because I'm obsessed with this gloriously vine-y wall!)

Got any further questions on the Cirriform Cardigan, or want to show off your own modifications to the pattern? I'd love to hear from you!

Cats Cats Cats

As promised, the second sweater from the caboose photo shoot: Cables 'n Cats!

IMG_1215 (2)smPhotos by Lindsey Topham

This sweater has no particular inspiration, which is how I work sometimes. I was playing around with juxtaposing various cable and texture patterns together and fell upon this combination which I really liked. It's a classic, simple shape overall but very flattering thanks to the waist shaping and the large cables which sit at a princess seam orientation. And then you turn around to buttons!

IMG_1353smestThe sleeve cuffs are also buttoned and each button features a different kitty! I love this style of buttons--I used them in my Brooklyn Bridge Mitts, and I have robot buttons in my stash waiting for the perfect sweater.

blogThe construction is a little interesting towards the end, but nothing crazy complicated. The body is worked in the round until the armholes, then the sleeves are worked separately (also in the round) and joined together with the body to work the yoke in one first! Once stitches are bound off at the center back for the button placket, the yoke is worked back and forth in rows. Then as the neckline shaping begins, you work back and forth on one side of the body at a time (going from the front neck across the shoulder to the center back.)

You can snag Cables 'n Cats on Ravelry now for $7.00.