06 September 2006

Survey: Future of the Hat

First, the good news.

The Fair Isle sweater continues to go along swimmingly:

It gives me endless color-joy, and never fails to provide a much-needed respite following upon either the diss, or the lace.

That said, however, the lace has also been behaving itself lately (knock wood):

It grows so fast, and now that I've got the pattern down to the point where I can tell where I am at a glance and can get that hmm,-something's-wrong-here feeling when I make a mistake, it's actually quite easy. Now I can relax enough to enjoy how wonderful this yarn really is (rowan kidsilk haze, of course). It's my first time using it, and now I can see what all the fuss is about.

But you knew there was bad news coming. Hard as it is to believe, it was the red hat. The simple, stockinette-stitch red hat that I was knitting for therapy during my early issues with the mohair. Look what happened:

Sigh. I'm getting really good at frogging.

But I have to ask - has *anyone* made anything from the Handy Book of Patterns without running into trouble? This is only the second project I've done from there, but the previous one, a mitten for Hubbster, came out all wonky and out of proportion THREE TIMES until I finally gave up and stuck the yarn back in the stash. I thought I couldn't go wrong with the plain tam, and indeed it seemed to go along swimmingly until I got to the decreases at the top and realized that if I followed instructions it would take something like 8 inches, instead of 3.5, to get down to 6 stitches. I figured my row gauge (which is not specified in these patterns, and that's major problem in just such a case as this) was way off from what Ann Budd got, and I adjusted accordingly. This worked out fine, but by the time I got near the end and tried it on, as you can see, it hit home that the main part of the hat was also way off. I knit it shorter even than the pattern said to, and it was still at least an inch too long, not to mention too wide.

So I'm taking votes - please tell me in the comments what I should do:

1. Start over, doing the same thing but just casting on fewer stitches

2. Start over, making a tam but making up the measurements as I go along because it would probably work better than this

3. Make something else with the yarn
3a. If so, what?

I have two full hanks of Peace Fleece worsted weight. I did the tam really tightly, on US4 and getting about 5 sts/in. On US5 I got 4.5 sts/in. It's a chunky worsted, though, so in anything other than a hat I'd knit it at a looser gauge. The tam seemed to only require one hank, so I was thinking of making a pair of fetching fingerless gloves with the extra, using a little scrap Peace Fleece in blue for accent color on the cuff if I ran out. Maybe I should make the wrist-warmers first, and if there's still yarn left, then I can worry about a hat?

I already have a red scarf, in gorgeous cashmere, so I'm not going to go that route. I bought the yarn in red for me and blue for Hubbster when we got engaged (it's half-Russian, half-American yarn, nudge-nudge, get it?), and I already made him a hat-to-order with the blue, so that's kind of why I wanted to make a hat out of the red. Anybody have any favorite sure-fire hat patterns out there? Preferably not stocking caps or skull caps, as they make me look hideous. I need a hat with body.

In other news, the finishing up of my chapter has been slightly derailed by a migraine, but I expect to send it off to my professors tomorrow. Ura!! Thanks so much for all your support, guys, and I'm so glad you liked the excerpt! The Purloined Letter cracked me up, pointing out that more people have now read that excerpt than are ever likely to read the diss, which is so true. If only I could write the whole thing about knitting! Sadly, the misguided faculty at my venerable institution of higher learning don't give out PhDs for that. Even though the diaries that provide one of the main sources for my diss mention knitting on almost every page!! I promise I will gather that material into an article sooner or later, though, because it's too wonderful not to expose to the widest audience my writing will ever have!

Glad you all liked the pictures, too. I absolutely fell in love with that village in Russia -- the manor house still exists, too, and is being used as the village school -- and when I learned you could get a house there for about US$1,000 (a little house, NOT the manor house, alas)....well, we're keeping the idea in the back of our heads, let's say that much!

The yellow leaves, though, was a shot taken in the wilds of New Hampshire last year. We're going again this year in a few weeks, by which time I hope the foliage will again be spectacular. I adore New England!

In other news, despite a very excellent suggestion from Beth about transport, I think I'm not going to make it to Rhinebeck. Even if I could get there, and could also justify the hotel, I really don't think I could trust myself amongst all that fiber not to go on a spending spree! We're on an extra-small stipend this year because I'm not teaching, so I can finish the diss, so I'm really trying hard to keep myself on-task. My husband pointed out that once my PhD is done and we get jobs, I can spend all my time and money in the pursuit of fiber, for many long years to come. It's a good point. That said, I'm SO going to be at the Knit-Out in Union Square and I'm going to see the Yarn Harlot in person, wa-hoo!!! And I'm totally going to at least some of the knitty-related events at The Point. So if you're going too, let me know, and let's find each other!

Speaking of harlots. Just this morning, I happened to say to my husband (in the context of talking about how education should be free and Canadian schools), "You know what The Yarn Harlot said?"

...and my Soviet-born husband cracked up, and said, "you know, that sounds just like, 'You know what Comrade Stalin says?'"

Hm. He may have some small kind of a point. I tend to quote the Harlot a lot, and sometimes, like this instance, it's not even about knitting. What can I say, she's a wise woman.

I'm going to take advantage of having to wait anyway to edit my draft with a red pen for Hubbster to return from campus with the print-out (at 97 pages, I'm not about to print it at home on our little Dell McPrinter) , to knit for a while and fully recover from the migraine. Absolutely justifiable, n'est-pas?


Marianne said...

So...how big around (on the tam) is the band? Because a tam is supposed to fit around the head and then be big, not like a stocking cap....am I just being an idiot here? It's beautiful though...also the fetching fingerless gloves are gloriously easy to make, they're oh so very easy on the eye and that yarn is incredibly soft...but beware...I'm the second person I know (yeah hahaha) that have made them and although it calls for one skein... we both ran out, not terribly much but at that point....and I was being very frugal with ends, this after the heads up from my friend who made hers first. The sweater is so beautiful, can't wait to see it completed.

Marianne said...

oops, sorry, do it over and figure out your own count, (I went back and re-read) I'm usually not that flighty.

Kate A. said...

The band is okay, though if I re-do it I'll definitely cast on a few stitches fewer there too. I measured the band, and calculated the stitches for zero ease, when it should have been a small amount of negative ease. It's big anyway, though, because I wanted it to rest around my lower forehead and most of my ears, as I don't see the point of a hat that doesn't cover your ears (and don't like the look of a tam that's worn more like a graduation-day type hat anyway). But the straight part, between the increases right above the band and the descreases for the top, is so high and so stiff at this gauge that it pushes the whole hat down.... I think the brim would have been okay, if when the top was resting on my head, the main body of the hat was just long enough to reach the point where the brim *should* sit, with just a little bit of poufing to make it look like a tam rather than a stocking cap. Does that make sense? I'm terrible at explaining anything in the physical world... Maybe part of the problem is the weight...

But your comment it sorely tempting me to just make the wrist-warmers, take up some of the second skein if necessary, and skip the hat. Who needs a hat?

Dharmafey said...

Well, I would totally felt it into submission. Maybe by hand if parts fit nicely and you want to keep them close to the current size. That would make an even warmer hat.

Beth said...

I think you need to rip it. At first glance I liked the idea of felting but I think even if you just did one cycle it would then be too small AND not felted enough AND too late for anything else.
I made mittens for my 5 yr old from that book using her guage and measurements and they were WAY too big. I gave them to my 19 yr old.
I'm sceptical of the calculations in there.

Kate said...

I have made mittens and hats successfully from the book, but I had a terrible sweater experience. The directions for the decreases on the children's raglan are wrong so instead of decreasing 8 stitches every other row I was only decreasing 4. It was my first raglan, what did I know? The result was the longest yoke ever and a neck that didn't fit. It was horrible.

Bliss said...

I would frog the hat and reknit it backwards, from the top. That way you won't have to worry about gauge - just increase until it's the right size, then add some length, then do the border. Barbara Walker's Knitting From the Top changed my life when it came to hats!

Rebecca said...

I'd definitely reknit it, but use your own numbers. I've had problems with the book as well making socks. My size turns out too small, The socks for my son, however turned out huge. The pattern instructions seem to be ok, but I'm going to have to give up on the blind faith thing with Ann Budd's measurements. (This also leaves me still having to do math, exactly what I was hoping to avoid when purchasing the book.)

The sweater is gorgeous, by the way. Absolutely beautiful.

The Purloined Letter said...

You could felt it slightly, dry it over a plate (to take up length), and string the edging with elastic thread if you still needed to. Or give it to someone with a big head?

I am totally in AWE of your colorwork, as usual. (I just started my first colorwork mittens and they look all wonky. NOT an easy thing! Give me lace or cables any day!)