Cool-cat cable beret
Hats are not my thing but I am fond of berets. Here is an irresistible 1970's two-tone design - the original in two glaring shades of gold and yellow. Consider also making it in orange with a strawberry or coffee contrast - I can vouch for this as a popular contemporary combination and you can view it as part of Southwest airlines hostess uniforms from the same period (although the colour of the uniforms is possibly not as striking as the hot pants and knee boots of the period...).
Alternatively just stick with more reserved single colour in traditional white Aran, understated and letting the pattern speak for itself.
Row 1: P3, k6, p3.
These 10 rows form the pattern.
Special note: Wind 5 small balls of yarn in each colour. Use a separate ball for each cable and panel, and twist the colours where they meet to avoid gaps in work ("intarsia method").
Using No. 10 needles and medium colour (M), cast on 106 stitches, and work 9 rows k1, p1 rib.
[Editor's note: If you work the beret in 2 colours then work over 2 needles as described. If you work in a single colour, you could work this in the round, reversing knit and purl sts on wrong side rows.]
Next row: (p1, p into front and back of next st) twice, * p2, p into front and back of next st, p1, p into front and back of next st; repeat from * to the last 7sts, (p1, p into front and back of next st) 3 times; p into front and back of last st. [150 sts].
Change to No 7 needles.
Next row: (right side) *
k22 in M; join in light (L), k2, (k into front and back of next st) 4
time, k2; repeat from * to end. [170 sts].
Continue in stocking stitch and cable pattern, until work measures 5½ inches from beginning, finishing with right side facing for the next row.
Shape crown as follows:
Next row: *
(k2tog, k7, k2tog tbl) twice in M; pattern 12 L; repeat from *
to end. [150 sts].
Next row: K3, *
p6, k2, (p2tog) twice, k2; repeat from *
to last 11sts; p6, k2, p3tog. [60 sts].
Break off wool leaving end. Thread end through remaining sts and draw up tightly. Fasten off securely.
Making up - Press lighty on the wrong side, using a warm iron and a damp cloth. Join seam, using a fine back stitch. Press seam.
Original pattern calls for 3oz of medium colour and 1oz light in an Aran
One pair each of numbers 10 and 7 needles.
20st and 25 rows to 4 inches (10cm) on No 7 (4½mm) needles.
Instructions to fit an "average" head (!).
A word on the wool.
I used Phildar yarns Oxygene (a DK) which knits 23st to 4 inches; and Frénésie (a heavy DK) which knits 19st to 4 inches.
1970s and colour
Yet another object of my admiration is Southwest airlines. They don't really have any visibility outside the US, so I was suitably surprised on my first journey with them. (It was the night of October 31st flying to Tucson in 1994, and they sure had some fun with us passengers...). I have also been impressed at their impromptu organisation of party games to try and occupy a hot and fractious plane load of souls during an hours delay at LA. (See the wikipedia entry: "Southwest is known for colourful boarding announcements and crews that burst out in song. The singing is unusual, and is quite popular among customers, but has been noted by some travel critics as being offensive and intrusive." huh - what do they know?!)
They had their 25th anniversary in 1996, and had an exhibition that I must have caught somewhere (perhaps a magazine article) which showed their uniform designs over the years. Sadly I can't find any trace of this on the web now - just these photos: