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Archive entry for December 2010

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December 2010

Winter Wonder Hat


This is a very flattering hat - speaking as one who has difficulty with hats, which always leads to sartorial dilemmas in weather such as we have in the UK at the moment. However, not only flattering and warm, but amazingly speedy to knit, which can be very useful at this time of year. I completed it in one afternoon.


The main part of the hat is a simple six-row pattern where you increase at the beginning and decrease at the end of every alternate row to create the diagonal effect. At the same time you alternate 3-row bands of stocking stitch and reverse sticking stitch.


Cast on 20sts.
[Editor's note: I cast on in waste wool, and when I had completed the 12 patterns (see below) I grafted the sts together instead of seaming.]

1st row: Knit
2nd row: P2tog, purl to the last stitch, purl twice in the last stitch.
3rd row: Knit
4th row: K2tog, knit to the last stitch, knit twice in the last stitch.
5th row: Purl
6th row: K2tog, knit to the last stitch, knit twice in the last stitch.

These 6 rows form the pattern.
Continue until 12 complete patterns have been worked from the start. Cast off.
[Editor's note: I did not cast off but grafted the sts to the cast on row by removing the waste wool and unpicking my first knit row, using this yarn tail to graft. This makes a perfect join.]


With right side facing, pick up and knit 72sts along one edge of the side piece - that is 3 sts to each knit and purl stripe.
[Editor's note: As I had already seamed the side piece into a tube shape, I used a circular needle to pick up the 72sts and knit the brim.]

Work 10 rows in k1/p1 rib, and then cast off in rib.

Join side piece and brim neatly with a flat seam.
[Editor's note: If you have not already grafted the side together.....]

Press seam lightly.


Cast on 14sts, and work in stocking stitch, starting with a purl row (this is right side of work), and increasing at each end of the first and every alternate row until there are 28 sts.

Knit one row.

Then continue, decreasing at each end of next and every following alternate row until 14sts remain.

Cast off.

To Make Up

Pin crown in position to side of hat on wrong side, so that purl side of crown is on the outside. Back stitch in position very neatly on wrong side with a tailored seam
Press seam lightly on the right side using a damp cloth.

Fold ribbed brim in half to wrong side and slip stitch in position round lower edge.

Place on head.

Wrap in Christmas paper. Put under tree.


Original materials called for: 2 (2 oz) hanks Patons Big Ben Knitting in white.
Sample shown uses some handspun yarn.

A pair of No 2 (7mm) needles.


12 sts to 4 inches.

Size matters

To fit an average sized head.


Increase: increase by knitting into front and back of the next stitch.
k2tog: (decrease) knit 2 sts together.
p2tog: (decrease) purl 2 sts together.

A word on the wool.

Big Ben was quite a novelty bulky wool in its time. There were no substitutes short of knitting several strands of thinner yarn together to make the right tension (as I did with my handspun).
These days we have a number of bulky wools to try; the hat is fairly forgiving as the knit and purl stripes are stretchy like ribbing.


In transposing any pattern it is always a risk that errors will be introduced, in spite of dedicated proof reading.
If you have any problems with this pattern, please and I will try and assist.


Handspun Yarn

I bought some Spelsau fleece at Woolfest in 2009; there was a workshop on knitting direct from the fleece but I intended to spin my sample. I made a 2 ply yarn which was softer than I had expected, but kempy (as I had not attempted to remove the coarser fibres). There was only a small amount - I did not measure the yardage, but I started with 100g, the yarn was chunky weight, and I knitted 2 strands of yarn together by combining it with an aran-weight handspun merino/silk blend to achive the bulky weight required. As you can see, the fleece was a lovely combination of natural grey tones.
The 100g sample was sufficient to knit the side and brim of the hat, but not the crown - I spun some of the coarser fibre from my Leicester Longwool fleece and combined that with the merino/silk as before to get the right yarn weight and drape, (quite a firm knitted fabric).

The description of the Spelsau fleece is as follows (taken from the reference above):

The Spaelsau is a direct ancestor to the Old Norwegian Sheep.They were tough sheep supplying their masters with meat, milk, wool, skin - even the sails that carried the ships over the oceans were made of their wool. Today, a thousand years later, the wool of the Spaelsau still consists of a rough cover to protect against the wind and the rain, and under this a much softer layer close to the skin as protection against the cold.
The rocky Norwegian west coast is Spaelsau country. On a few isolated isles among the skerries off the coast you still find Old Norwegian Sheep living wild.

© Christina Coutts 2007

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