Who’s ready for a fun hat KAL?

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Yesterday, the yarn company Knit Picks released its 2015 Spring Accessories Collection, and I’m proud to say that I have a hat design (pictured above) in this lovely, 26-pattern book.

The hat is called the Bloccare Cap (direct Knit Picks link / Ravelry link). The name comes from the Italian word for block, since the overall effect is of color blocking.

This is a really fun knit that involves a number of interesting but not complicated techniques. The main body of the hat starts with a provisional cast on and is worked flat and sideways, using short rows to shape the crown. You join the whole thing by using a three-needle bind off and then pick up stitches from the bottom edge to work the ribbed brim.

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Does this look and sound like something you’d like to try? I’m getting quite an enthusiastic response to this pattern on the various social media, so I thought I’d schedule a knit-along (KAL) to begin March 1 (ending April 15).

Why join a KAL? You’ll be able to …

  • show off photos of your hat-in-progress (and admire others’)
  • ask questions if any step of the pattern confuses you
  • get links to tutorials that can help you with any unfamiliar techniques
  • enjoy the camaraderie of other knitters working on the same project you are
  • potentially win a prize if you finish by the closing date and your name is drawn!

What will you need to participate? Gather these things by March 1, and you’ll be ready to go!

  • A copy of the pattern. It’s available as an individual download on the Knit Picks website and on Ravelry, or as part of the 2015 Spring Accessories Collection (available in PDF or print format).
  • Sportweight wool yarn in 5 different colors. The photographed samples use 1 ball in each of five colors of Wool of the Andes Sport. For the largest size, I used about 110 yds of the main color (gray in the sample above); about 70 yds each of the 3 contrast colors that are used in both the hat body and brim (burgundy, blue, and yellow above); and about 50 yds of the last contrast color that is only used in the hat body, not the brim (white above). Knit Picks makes it easy to order kits if you order the pattern from them (and the entire project costs less than $25 including shipping).
  • 16-inch circular needles in US 3 (3.25mm) and US 2 (2.75mm), or the size you need to get a gauge in garter stitch of 21 stitches and 45 rows = 4″/10cm in garter stitch worked flat, blocked.
  • A Ravelry account and membership in the Dark Matter Knits group, both of which are free and fabulous. 🙂

I’ll leave you with a final photo of me wearing my own prototype of the hat. As you can see, there are near-infinite color possibilities. For more variation possibilities, I include instructions on how to make the hat fit more like a traditional beanie instead of as a slouchy hat as shown here. The sizing and styling make it possible to knit this for just about anyone, male or female, child or adult.

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What colors will you choose? Come play with us!

Best laid schemes

My schemes, they gang aft agley.

I plan out these knitting designs of mine with care. I sketch. And I think. And I walk and think. And I mess around with yarn.

And then I actually knit these things I’ve schemed. And they end up looking completely different from what I had intended.

Case in point: my new Prosecco Hat. Here’s what it was supposed to look like. It was going to have a hem at the bottom, and was to have a two-color bubble motif whose color scheme reversed about halfway up the hat.

Neither one of those things worked out exactly. Problem #1: The internal part of the hem would have had to have been ridiculously long in order to play nicely with the color pattern, so it got jettisoned. Now I was stuck on what to do with the brim of the hat. Plain ribbing seemed dull. Corrugated ribbing is lovely but I feel like it’s almost become a cliche for a color-work hat.

I finally found a slip-stitch pattern (what you see on the finished hat above) that gave the brim of the hat some interest without detracting too much from the bubble pattern I’d worked so hard to chart out. Problem #1 solved.

On to problem #2: I was designing this hat for Malabrigo’s Quickies program. Believe me, that part in and of itself is not a problem. They have been great to work with.

The problem was the yarn. Well… no wait, not really the yarn, because the yarn is the luscious new Arroyo, Malabrigo’s sport-weight, superwash merino. It is scrum-diddly-umptious. No, the problem was that the two colors that I chose (VAA and Arco Iris) didn’t quite contrast with each other as much as I thought they would. Changing the two colors mid-way up the hat, so that the foreground color became the background color and vice versa, just made the hat look garbled and confused. Like a cake that you frosted before it cooled off completely.

So the dark green VAA colorway would now stay the background color all the way up the hat. Not quite as much bubblicious fun as I had originally intended, but still, plenty of colorful fizz to go around.

And then there was the photography. As I fall further down the rabbit hole of professional knitwear design, I’ve realized that I need to at least occasionally hire another pro to do my photography. I’m really only reasonably competent with a camera. I’ve got a LOT to learn.

Recently, I learned that a former student, Carlos Barron, had become a professional photographer, and I loved what I was seeing of his work. Mere days before I needed to get the Prosecco Hat pattern to Malabrigo, Carlos and I were finally able to schedule a photo shoot for this hat and a few other goodies.

And that’s when the entire middle column of the country got besieged with 100 tornados. So we had to postpone the shoot, but I still needed photos, and that meant heading for the trusty brick wall on the side of my house — the backdrop for so many of my knitting photos.

My husband took one of the above photos and my seven-year-old son took the other. See if you can guess who took which. (Hint: look at the angles.) They both did a pretty good job, but… well, none of us is Carlos.

In the end, I’m left with a hat that I really like and photos that I may need to replace. Not a bad outcome, all things considered. Just a little agley.