So, I said yesterday that I’d tell you about the hat I started as a gift for my sister. I decided she needed a slouchy hat. More by chance than by design, I remembered that the latest copy of Yarn Forward had just such a pattern: Elsica Hat by Wooly Wormhead. As luck would have it, the recommended yarn for the project – Wollmeise “Molly” – has exactly the same “wpi” (i.e. wpi 9) as my planned yarn – Adriafil “New Zealand Print” . So far, so good.
I cast on for the largest size – we tend to be big-headed in our family. You’ve noticed it, haven’t you? This is as far as I had got last night – the brim. I really like how the colours in the yarn are coming out – there’s a subtlety to the colour-changes that I had not anticipated. It’s like the knitted equivalent of comfort food or swinging in a hammock in a warm summer’s breeze (I’ve heard rumours that some countries have warm summer breezes – they may be just rumours).
However, I’ve a few comments to make about the pattern:
- If you knit in the round to avoid purling then this isn’t the hat for you – three out of every four stitches in the brim are purled. Luckily, I haven’t got Purlophobia so I’m happy to keep going.
- If you want a super-quick gift that will knit up in an evening then this isn’t the hat for you – the stitch pattern involves cabling two stitches in every six, which slows progress a bit. Lucky for me, I’ve a super-fast way of making the cables – more about that later – so I’m happy to keep going.
- The stitch-pattern in the brim is a slipped-stitch rib but doesn’t seem to specify whether to slip the stitches knit-wise or purl-wise. I always go on the basis that you slip purl-wise unless otherwise stated. However, I noticed one inch into the brim that the slipped-stitches in the photograph were tight and possibly twisted. If you wish to make this pattern, you might consider slipping your stitches knit-wise. As it turns out, I like my sloppy-big slipped-stitches so I’m continuing on. Plus, I haven’t time to rip back and start again.
- The pattern calls for “M1P” but the notes and chart legend only describe “M1”. I took the “P” to mean “purl-wise” and so I purled into the back of the lifted horizontal loop, rather than knit as the notes and legend says. This was PITA to do so perhaps it makes no difference, either way.
- It seems to me that there’s a jolt in the transition from the brim to the body. In the photograph, the slipped-stitch rib of the brim flow into right-leaning knit stitches in the body, forming swirls. In the pattern, the first round of the body starts with the instruction “T2B” i.e. the first stitch (the slipped-rib stitch) would be sent to the back and purled while the second stitch would be knit over it – breaking the flow. In order to get the slipped-stitch to begin travelling right-ward, without interrupting the flow, I would suggest the following change (and this won’t make sense unless you already have the pattern):
- Last round of the brim – the increase round – reads: “*K1, P1, M1P, P2, M1P; rpt from * to 2sts from marker then P2. 125 (143, 161)”
- First round of the body – a set-up round – reads: “S1, M1P, P4; *T2B, P4; rpt from * to 6 sts from marker then T2B, P3, RSM. 126 (144, 162)”
- Round 1 of the body as written can then be repeated as required.
- The notes and chart legend describe making the “T2B” using a cable needle. My heart goes out to any novice knitter who may attempt to complete this pattern while using a cable needle to form a single “cable” stitch every six stitches. I think I’d sooner eat it! In recognition of this – credit where it’s due – the designer gives a detailed tutorial on how to form cables without using a cabling needle. Glancing at the photographs I was expecting this to be akin to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s description of a right-leaning travelling stitch in her Almanac – because that’s essentially what a single “cabled” stitch is. In fact, it involved grabbing the second stitch, dropping the first off the left needle and doing a quick switcheroo, before continuing on. This method is quicker than using a cable needle (and it’s how I’m making my “C4F” in Glenvar) but for two stitches it’s still very fiddle-y. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- With yarn to back, knit into both sts as though to K2tog. Don’t drop sts off left-hand needle;
- Bring yarn to front, purl first stitch and drop both sts off left-hand needle.
- Et violá – a right-leaning “cable” a.k.a travelling stitch – E.Z. as always!
I hope this doesn’t come across as me finding fault with the pattern itself; I suspect a lack of editorial control rather than errors by the designer. I’m loving Wooly Wormhead’s design. It’s working so well with my yarn choice, but that’s just down to sheer luck. However, I know if I’d tried this pattern a two years ago I’d be stumped. I’d be frantically scouring d’Interneh’ for answers as to “whyeeee is it not like the effing picture!!!” and DH would be herding the children into a different part of the house because of the thick blue fog that enveloped me.
But I’m a different knitter now. I’ve learned a lot over the past two & 1/2 years – mainly because of trawling the Web. I’ve been exposed to so many new methods and techniques that I know how to knit my way out of, or around, a problem. I know how to “read” my knitting now, so I can anticipate issues like differences between the photographed sample and the pattern as written. Most of all, I’ve gained the confidence that doing things my own way may be better – for me at least – or if nothing else I’ll learn something in the process.
I’ve learned through reading other people’s blogs and learning from other people’s experiences. I’m hoping you find this post because of a late-night, last-minute, frantic trawl and that the light that goes on in your head is: “It’s not you, it’s the pattern. Go to bed and sleep on it. It will all be fine in the morning”. If this is you, you might like to come back again later because I’m still working my way along the body and I haven’t got as far as the crown yet. Perhaps, I’ll have more comments for you then.