I decided at a very late stage to knit hats for my parents as Christmas presents. My original plans had fallen through, and I was at a loss for what to do. It was a challenge, to finish two projects in a few days and to find patterns that I liked and could follow.
I took this as an opportunity to buy expensive wool that I would not normally allow myself, since it was for presents and because not much is needed for a hat. For my father I found the pattern in the Rowan Colourscape Folk brochure because I wanted to use Rowan's Colourscape yarn with colours chosen by Kaffe Fassett. I bought the mainly navy shade as suitable for my father, and with luck and some planning I managed to avoid the pink and burgundy sections.
The pattern called for 7 mm needles, but I thought it produced very loose knitting, so I used 5.5 mm, and I preferred to knit on double pointed needles. To compensate, and because I wanted a largish hat - as the ribbing would pull it together - I added an extra pattern repeat. After a few cms I thought it was still too loose so I added a strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe - also with Kaffe Fassett colours. The colours in the two yarns were roughly similar, and I really liked the result. It made the hat softer and the colours more interesting. I decided to knit it on the wrong side so that I could knit instead of purl the k1p3 pattern. It worked well until I got to the decreases in the crown, where I had to be inventive.
The pattern was an easy rib pattern, with decreases at the crown. I made it longer than the pattern, so that the edge could be folded up. I knitted it in two days, and I am very happy with the result. It fits, and it is snug and warm, and looks OK.
The second hat, for my mother, was more complicated and more interesting to knit. I found the pattern in Vogue Knitting Fall 2009, Norah Gaughan's Blossom hat. That issue has a number of interesting hat patterns. For this I chose another Rowan yarn, Creative Focus Worsted. The most difficult thing with this yarn is the name. What is wrong with a snappy name like Tapestry, Lima, Savannah? I knew the yarn was thin for this pattern, so it was for this that I bought the Kidsilk Haze Stripe, and together they produced the right tension. Not that I knitted a tension square.
The pattern has bobbles at the crown - not so visible in the pictures - and then four leaves leading down to the ribbed brim. It was fun knitting it, ticking off the rows as I knitted each. This one took me three days, but the result is lovely. The two yarns produced a soft fabric. I was not that happy with the colours. Kidsilk Haze Stripe has very long colour runs, and I was surprised to see the dark purple emerge when it came to the ribbing, but I had no choice but to continue. I am very happy with this hat, and I would gladly have kept it for myself.
Now that I was on a hat run, I cast on a third for myself after Christmas, but I have yet to photograph it.