Posts Tagged ‘hat’

First Helix Stripes

January 3, 2019

The latest in my ongoing quest to learn new knitting techniques (and, at least once so far, crochet techniques) has been helical stripes — sometimes called “helix stripes.” They’re single stripes in the round — and at first glance, look like regular stripes — but they don’t have the usual “jog” that appears when switching colors. 


The lovely Shibui Staccato leftover from the color block mitts seemed like the perfect combination. 

Helix stripes aren’t really stripes; they’re spirals. Each color is knit partway around the circle, then the next color is used (without twisting the strands), then the third. And so on. 

The spirals are easiest to see at the crown. Pick a color and follow it down from the crown. See?


I found this video by Pepperly helpful in explaining how to knit helix stripes. She was a bit more concerned about avoiding tangling the three yarns than I was. My solution was to occasionally do a big untangle rather than taking care not to get tangled in the first place!

I quite like the finished project and most definitely like that I’ve learned a new technique.

However, as with the fingerless mitts made with the same yarn, I don’t know who I’ll give the hat to! Anyone looking for a matched set?

What knitting technique or pattern have you learned recently? Or what’s on your list?





Exuberant Girls with Yarn & Needles

February 10, 2018

Have I mentioned recently how much I enjoy teaching knitting? Oh, I have? Maybe a couple or few times? Well, I’ll say it again.

Every Thursday afternoon since early January, I’ve been teaching fourth- and fifth-grade girls from a local after-school program how to knit. There’s never a dull moment in what is definitely the fastest two hours of my week. Think knitting is a quiet, calm craft? Think again.

Only two students were complete novices; the others had learned in my class last year. Like all knitters, each developed her own style of holding the needles and working the yarn. One had to adapt since her arm was encased in a bright purple cast.


Our sessions were interjected with regular fits of laughter, occasional shrieks (“Aaaaaah, I messed up! Help! Fix it!”), dancing or floor stretches, and spontaneous bursts of singing. They rehearsing for the fifth grade production of Peter Pan (the junior version — who knew? not me!).

Three projects were finished at the session’s last class this week. A fingerless mitt that will someday have a mate:


What started off as a neck warmer was turned into a headband because time was short and finishing is key to a first project:


And a slightly too-large but still beautiful and pom-pom’d two-colored hat:


Their delighted pride at their accomplishments is everything!

Feminism + hockey + knitting

January 14, 2017

As I sat down at last night’s college hockey game, my phone pinged with a text from Karen, Sister-in-Law Extraordinaire. She and daughter C were sporting their Pussy Hats, ready for next week’s Women’s March in Washington, DC.


Isn’t that the BEST?! As the organized and thoughtful woman she is, Karen generously had secured two additional hats for me and Hannah. She, Chris, and family are hosting us, too. As luck would have it, I’d just cast on my second Pussy Hat.


I’m making this one with two strands of Cascade Heritage in Cotton Candy. This one will be knit in the round so no seaming will be required. Earlier in the day, I’d bound off the first hat, but I’d left that one at home. What kind of a knitter seams a hat at a hockey game?!

As I pulled the yarn and needle out my bag, the woman next to me said, “You’re knitting a hat for the March, right? Where did you get the yarn? I haven’t been able to find any.” Apparently there’s been a bit of a run on pink yarn recently with many LYS and craft stores reporting shortages of the color. Knitting activists are a powerful, collective force, indeed!

Judging by the progress so far, I’m pretty confident I’ll be finished with both hats by January 21. Hannah hasn’t let me know which one is her preference. Stay tuned.


Going Pink for #PussyHatProject

January 9, 2017

It’s decided. I’m heading south in a couple of weeks for the Women’s March on Washington. On their first full day in office, I want our new president and vice president to have a powerful reminder that they work for all the people of the United States and that we are paying attention to their every action.


I’m joining with thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of knitters to make a visual statement at the March by knitting pink hats, one for me and one for Hannah. It gave me a good excuse to visit a new LYS, Uncommon Yarn, to see what they had in pink.

The Pussy Hat Project was launched after the election as a way for the fiber community to make a powerful collective statement and as a way for people to participate in the March remotely by making hats and sending them to DC for distribution to March participants.

You can read about the project — and get a free pattern (also on Ravelry) —  on its website. Go ahead now…

“wearing pink together is a powerful statement that we are unapologetically feminine and we unapologetically stand for women’s rights”

As event organizers have built a coalition of supporters, this woman-centric statement has been broadened to explicitly encompass a much wider range of humanity, including the LGBTQ community, women of color, people with disabilities, and more. Pretty much everyone since, well, we’re all in this world together.

I’ve started the first hat using The Yankee Dyer‘s Yankee Dreams in “I Love Ewe,” a delightful blend of red, pink, and white.


There’s still time to knit a hat and send it to the March. Read how here. Or make one for yourself and wear it at one of the dozens of Sister Marches scheduled in cities around the country and across the globe. Just imagine all those handknit pink hats…. Almost makes a knitter giddy.

Two Girls, Two Knitted Tubes

June 1, 2016

Longtime readers have heard how much I love to teach knitting. This year, I’ve expanded my students to include three marvelous pre-teen girls, each a Fearless Knitter in her own right.

At our most recent class, L finished the garter stitch hat that she’d knitted with a rainbow of Noro. She had declared her previous garter stitch hat “too short” and was determined to make this one longer so that it’d droop in back.The last inch or so was completed and careful seaming commenced.


The result is a tubular “stove pipe” that is gathered at one end.


A big green pom pom was the finishing touch.


I wasn’t surprised when B declared that she wanted to design her own striped leg warmers. Having decided partway through her first garter stitch hat that she’d really prefer to make fingerless gloves, she’s a girl who has an image of a finished product in mind. Leg warmer #1 was seamed, ends woven in (you’ll have to trust us on that since they’re on the inside), and modeled.

Being a dancer, B was particularly proud of her pointed toes in this shot.


And she thought the sparkly sneakers were a great accompaniment to the leg warmer. Don’t you agree?


Class time

March 22, 2014

I’ve said before how much I enjoy teaching knitting, and my current class is no exception. Once a week, these six intrepid women gather around the table, needles in hand, patterns laid out and personally annotated, and they dive into their projects. Chatting, whispered counting (34, 35 — damn, I’m supposed to have 36!), an occasional curse, and laughter abound.

Everyone gives a little update and has a question or two about how to proceed (dropped or added stitches are common). We break after about a half hour for a brief lesson — how to join yarn, how to bind off, different ways to cast on, common pattern abbreviations — and then it’s back to the individual projects.

Rachel announced that her tween daughter turned up her nose at the North Face knock-off hat — with cables! — that her mother had created. We admired the hat and commiserated over the fickle fashion tastes of children.


She’s also working on a luscious infinity scarf for the same daughter. If she doesn’t like this one, I’d invoke the “two strikes and you’re out” rule. Although, given my soft heart and love of knitting, I probably wouldn’t implement said “rule.” I don’t know what yarn she’s using. I’ll check and let you know.


The highlight of the past week, at least for me, was Erin’s first finished project — a small cotton washcloth (or dishcloth) in a variety of stitches: garter, stockinette, seed. She cast on, tinked back to correct errors, switched stitches every once in a while, learned that starting or ending with garter stitch will keep the edge from rolling, and bound off.


She’s justifiably proud, don’t you agree?



Back to Class

October 14, 2013

I’m so pleased to be teaching again! For the past two Wednesday mornings, a group of 8 intrepid women has gathered around the table and dived into knitting.  The two hours fly by — at least, for me.

Most of the students have knit before — some many years ago, some intermittently, some just starting. Nearly all want to learn how to fix mistakes since that’s why many of them stop a project. They realize they’ve done something wrong but don’t know how to remedy and move on. Reading a pattern is also high on the list of goals.

Seema had never held a pair of needles, so her task for the first two weeks was to become familiar with the feel of the needles and yarn: holding them without gripping, working yarn in the fingers of her right hand, shoulders relaxed. Explaining and demonstrating for her made me realize how much of this is second nature to someone who has the “muscle memory” of the craft.

By the second class, Seema cast on an entire 30 stitches and was moving on to her second row of what would most likely become a cotton washcloth.


Amy arrived at the second class with a nearly-finished hat, but she needed to switch to double-pointed needles (DPNs) for the top of the crown. DPNs can be daunting since there are several (4 or 5) and full of points (8 or 10!). But once you realize that you still only knit with two needles at a time while the other needle(s) are holding places for extra stitches, you can focus on those two needles and not get too freaked out about what’s hanging out on the other needles.

Amy had no trouble making the switch and decreasing to her final five stitches. A few minutes later, after cutting the working yarn and running it through those final stitches, tightening, and weaving in the ends. Lo and behold, a lovely multi-colored, rolled brim hat!


Third Time’s a Charm

January 5, 2012

Recognizing your mistakes and know how to correct them is one of those things you need to do if you want to succeed — with knitting and pretty much everything else in life.

And so it was with the Brattleboro hat. The pattern, in the copy of  New England Knits  that I borrowed from the library, caught my eye  — a ribbed band and a moss stitch crown. Add a button for flair and you’ve got a lovely headcovering, one you can pull snugly over your ears.

Take 1: As I’ve said before we are a large-headed people, so it didn’t take me long to realize that the crown I was making just wasn’t going to fit. See how I’d already been decreasing for a few rows (line of stitches near marker) and it was only about as wide as the ribbed band?

Even though I didn’t know who the recipient of the hat would be, chances were it would be a member of my extended clan and that meant Big Head.* So I ripped back to before the decrease and started again, fully intending to modify the pattern. That’s when I discovered that I hadn’t followed the pattern correctly. That pesky “every other row” had escaped my notice.

Take 2: Flush with the excitement of discovering that the error was mine and not the pattern, I moved quickly to reknit the crown. A bit too quickly it turns out. It’s easy to get overly confident when you’re knitting moss stitch in the round, giving the piece a quick glance every now and again.

mismatched moss stitch

Note the seismic shift in the moss stitch. Seems obvious, yes? Well, it took me several inches to notice it.The second ripping ensued, ready for the next attempt.
Ripping out crown of knit hat

Take 3: It really is a lovely hat. My dear niece Nora (even more lovely) approves.

Nora in Brattleboro Hat

*When my kids were younger, they and cousins Ben and Nora (she of the hat) would play a game that entailed hiding from their parents, as they sat around the supper table, and tossing the occasional stuffed animal, sock ball, or other soft item toward the parents. Giggling and scampering were involved. They dubbed this game “B.H.” It was only after several years of observing (secretly, of course) this game that we parents discovered that B.H. stood for Big Heads. Yup, that’s us!

A lovely wee hat

October 11, 2011

When my now-teen children were younger (three under the age of five), a wise neighbor encouraged me to reignite my love of knitting. When I explained how I didn’t have a moment to spare and couldn’t possibly find the time for such an indulgence, she waved my cares away. “That’s exactly why you should knit. You’re at a time in your life when you’re doing the same thing over and over again — making meals, doing laundry, changing diapers — all of it. You need to finish something. Finishing something is a wonderful feeling.”

Once I got over my pique at her complete disregard of what I accomplished in my professional life, I realized she was right. You’re never really finished raising children — at least, not for a decade or two. And finishing a project at work, while an accomplishment, doesn’t always bring a sense of completion because the next item on the to-do list is waiting.

Enter baby hats — endless variety of patterns, made with any variety of yarns and colors, and able to be finished in several hours (or so).

Tomato hat for baby

My dear sister-cousin Meg recently picked up her needles after many years and created this beautiful wee tomato hat for a soon-to-be human.

Seasonal hats are great fun. Babies grow so quickly they’ll only get one season out of any item of clothing, so why not go all out?!

Baby flag hat

Baby pumpkin hat

Knitting Reacquaintance

August 5, 2011

“I’d like to take some time during our visit to get reacquainted with knitting,” my dear cousin Meg wrote in advance of our getaway weekend in Chicago. Her words were music to my ears because there’s nothing a knitter enjoys more (this knitter, at least) than sharing the joy of knitting with others.

I know, I know. It’s not all joy, especially when you discover a dropped stitch 5 rows down or realize that your attempt to “join without twisting” was unsuccessful. But it’s mostly fun and oh so satisfying, especially when you can say “I made this.”

Meg decided on a baby hat, a good choice for a first project since it meets criteria #1 on my list of good first projects : you can finish it. She chose a wee tomato hat — red with a leafy green crown & little stem.

She lives in Toronto, so I sent her to the good folks at Lettuce Knit , which happens to be right in her neighborhood. I know they’re good folks because the Yarn Harlot regularly sings their praises and, well, she wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.

Over the course of our 2.5 days together, she cast on, knit a swatch (important to establish good habits early), figured out her gauge (same as the pattern so no recaculating needed — huzzah!), cast on the hat, divided into 4 double-pointed needles, joined without twisting (no mean feat that), and was well on her way to the 25th round when we had to part.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a single photo of these wonderful accomplishments. But I’ll see her very soon and perhaps will have one then.

This shot of Meg (with me in the background) at the amazing Cloud Wave sculpture (aka “The Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park will have to do:

Cousin Meg reflected in Cloud Wave metallic sculpture

More Cables

January 17, 2011

The more I knit, the more I learn about myself. Occasionally, I’m surprised. I tend to think of myself as a generalist,
someone who likes to learn about lots of different things without going far into depth in any one particular topic or
discipline. I’ve long marveled at friends who’ve completed their doctoral degrees and dissertations, thinking, “there’s
nothing that interests me enough to spend all that time and energy.” I love to learn something new, really understand
it so that I can explain it to others, but that’s usually the extent of it.

As I approached the end of the Every Way Wrap, with its intricate cables along the length of one side, I thought I’d take
a break from cables for a while. Been there, done that; time to move on to something new. But apparently I hadn’t done enough cables because the very next project I cast one was full of cables. In response to a “what’s on your needles” question to friend Laurie, she sent me a pattern for a cabled hat. I was smitten and knew I had just the right yarn in my stash — a red wool with occasional flecks of blue, yellow, and green.

close-up of cable hat

Alas, the brand and color remain a mystery since there were no labels. No doubt they’d been lost by my niece during one of her sessions with my ball-winder. It was a relatively easy pattern to memorize and a pretty quick knit — helped by several extended sessions of sports-watching, on the couch and in the stands.

“Who’s it for?” people would ask, and I’d have to confess that I didn’t know.  Sounds ridiculous, I know, but I was knitting just for the pleasure of creating.  However, as I began the decreases, I realized that I needed to find a head
worthy of such a lovely cabled hat.  By the time it was blocked, I knew just the person: lovely niece Nora, who declared, it “fits like a dream.”

Wee Pumpkin Hat

October 21, 2010

There’s a new life in the neighborhood, so the Every Way Wrap has been cast aside in favor of a hat for the newborn. I chose something seasonal because, well, it’s fun.  (We won’t speak of the two not-fun times that I had to rip back the green on top because I hadn’t read the instructions carefully enough. Baby hats can make a knitter cocky.)

Pattern is from LabPuggleChi; she’s got a host of free patterns for your personal use.

orange infant hat with green stem, leaf & vine

So what if he’ll only be able to wear it for a few weeks?!  His head will grow quickly.

Making a baby hat is like a palette cleanser — a short, sweet break from a more complex experience (like the cabled wrap). Plus it feels so good to finish a project even a small one.  Kind of like including daily basics, like “brush teeth” or “put in contacts,” on your to-do list.

Perhaps a snowflake hat will be in order in December….

Boy Wonder

July 8, 2010

The longer I’ve been a mother, the more I side toward Nature in the whole nature-vs-nurture debate. My primary, completely unscientific data are my three children, each with a distinct temperament, each of which was pretty much discernible shortly after birth.

Case in point: my dear Kevin, who turned 15 yesterday. It’s a pleasure and privilege to watch him become more fully who he his.

A remarkable human being in nearly every way, he’s unafraid to throw his arms around me, in front of his teenage friends no less, and say (after planting a kiss on my cheek), “how’s your day going, Mama?”

He’s energetic, empathetic, creative, smart, funny, and plays some mean guitar. Through him, I’ve been able to rediscover the music of my teens, listening to AC/DC, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd.  While driving to or from hockey games, we listen to classic rock, quizzing each other on bands and songs. He’s handsome, too — can’t take total credit for that myself, of course.

His wonderful kindergarten teacher enlightened me to his “tactile nature,” which explained his propensity for deliberately bumping people and things, for being unable to fall asleep unless he wrapped himself tightly (“cocooned”) in his covers.  Instead of reprimanding him for not sitting still while trying to read, she had him sit in a bean bag chair or lie on his stomach on the floor, “grounding” his body so his brain could focus on the task at hand.  Brilliant woman!

He’s long possessed leadership qualities, but they’ve become more evident since he — and his friends — have entered their teens. He has no qualms about telling a friend to stop being rude or to clean up his language around younger kids or to wash his own dishes (after the gang has made and devoured a pound of pasta & cheese).

I’m not naive enough to believe that this quality will ensure he makes safe decisions when it comes to alcohol, driving, drugs, and all the other dangers that make a parent’s breath catch in her throat.  But he’s got a strong enough sense of himself that he can say, “Nah, I’m not gonna do that” and not really care what others may think of him. For that, I’m grateful.

He knows how to knit — made a scarf for his 2nd grade teacher, his favorite teacher of all time.  And he’ll even ask me to make and then wear — and be photographed in — his own hat.

Happy birthday, sweet boy!

What We Celebrate

July 2, 2010

I had occasion to read the Declaration of Independence earlier this week.  While packing some glow-in-the-dark necklaces and red-white-&-blue tattoos to send to Hannah, Kevin, and cousin Phoebe who are away at overnight camp, I was struck by a wave of motherly geekiness.  Perhaps it’s the New Englander in me or maybe the lifelong learner, but I got the urge to send each of these wonderful kids (ages 16.5, nearly 15, and nearly 13) a reminder in what we celebrate on the Fourth of July.

There it was: the announcement of the birth of a nation, in beautifully crafted prose.  A well articulated and supported argument for why those colonies should be able — indeed, had the right — to govern themselves.  Thank you very much, dear monarchy, but we’ve got this one covered.

National Public Radio continued its tradition of reading the Declaration aloud.  Just beautiful, really.  Give a listen and read the text here.

Speaking of birth, Michael’s favorite teacher of all time — the wonderful Niles from the after school program — became a Daddy last week.  Michael designed a special hat for wee Aria, something seasonal.

A very simple cotton hat.  All stockinette, 56 inches around, with evenly spaced decreases to create the lovely swirl on the top.  The brim, such as it is, curls up as stockinette does (which is why all-stockinette scarves don’t turn out right!).  I added 50 “stars” on top — at least, I think I did.  I counted about 4 times and got 50 three times and 48 once.  I hope Alaska and Hawaii don’t feel slighted.

Let’s start knitting

June 23, 2010

I get great joy from teaching others to knit. Pure and simple. There’s something very rewarding about watching someone create something they’ve envisioned and finally be able to hold it in their hands.  All from a very long piece of string (well, yarn).

Earlier this year, I taught a beginner knitting class through the local community education program.  We had a terrific group of women, about 6-8, the maximum number that’s manageable for a class with one teacher.  They were fun, adventurous, warm, and persistent — one cast on the stitches for her hat 4 or 5 times until she got it right. THAT’S a fearless knitter!

Learn a bit of open-work (lace) and make a poncho for a lovely niece:

Knitting in the round with circular needles to make a baby hat:

Garter stitch baby bonnet with banded edge (learn how to pick up stitches).

How about a golf club cover?  Basic stockinette stitch in the round with some decreases, yarn changes if you like, and a pom-pom:

One student completed a baby hat and started another in between two classes!

Adult hat in process:

Lovely lilac baby hat:

What’s your favorite first project?

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