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my blog for cooking, crafting, thrift store finds, and more!

The Million Stitch Hat

on January 25, 2013

I’ll admit I’m a knitting novice. I can make scarves, or scarves, or… cowls ( as long as their made as rectangles that you stitch together at the end). I wanted to do something in the round. Something different. I looked and looked for a hat pattern that was simple, but nice. I wanted to make it for my guy, so I let him look at the top 5 patterns I found and choose from that. He chose this basic hat. (it’s been so long, the pattern is no longer there, but at least there’s a picture of it.) At any rate, I then asked him to go to the store with me to pick the yarn he’d like me to make it out of . He decided on Caron’s Country in charcoal. Looks good to me!

Ok, we’re all set, right? Sure. I pick up my thrift store double pointed needles and do a test swatch. The gauge is off. I pick up another pair of needles and try again. Lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. I finally found a pair of old circular needles that would give me the right gauge (or so I thought) so I went to the next step; casting on and figuring out how to knit in the round. I found a tutorial for magic loop and started in. It took a couple of re-starts to actually get rolling, but I was still having a hell of  a time. The cord on my needles was so unforgiving it was making it really difficult to work in magic loop. Part of the cord would always be in my way or going in a weird direction. I fought through it, and got past the 2 inch ribbing. I thought the width looked small, but decided it must be right since the pattern told me to cast on that amount of stitches. I figured that I wouldn’t be able to know for sure until I had more done, so  I forged on. A  few inches of stockinette later, and it was undeniable. The hat was for a toddler. Frog, frog, start again. But where? How? I looked at the yarn label again. Nothing said worsted. Holding it up to a skein or worsted yarn I realized that my hat yarn was something less than worsted. 4? Sport weight? I looked for different patterns that called for sport weight or dk, but wasn’t happy. I still wanted to make (and Tim still wanted to wear) that original hat. Never having decreased (or work in the round at all for that matter) i didn’t feel that I should dare re-invent any wheels, since I hadn’t ever created a wheel on my own in the first place. Help!

We stayed at Tim’s mom’s house over Thanksgiving weekend, and I brought my knitting kit along to show her the mess I had gotten myself into. I figured if I could be helped at all, she’d be the person to help me. She told me that part of my problem was that inflexible cord on my needles. She had me try out some of her needles to see which ones I liked. I must have knit swatches on at least half a dozen different needles that weekend, and I let her know what I liked most about each one, and which ones I liked more than others. “I would hold off on that hat project for a little while” is something like what she said to me that weekend.

I had a feeling I might be getting some new needles for Christmas. Sure enough – all the beauties from my last post were from her. I just happened to bring the caron yarn with me to her house Christmas weekend in case I was lucky enough to get some shiny new needles, and I can’t tell you how glad I was to have it in hand. Over the next couple of days, she helped me figure out what needles to use (“try the 8s, now try the 7s. I think you’ll be happier with that stitch size, don’t you?”), and how many stitches I’d need to increase the hat by to fit Tim’s head. The pattern called for multiples of 8. I figured it’d take 104 stitches, but she said that she had never heard of a hat that needed that many, so she suggested that I cast on 96 stitches.

sidenote: at that point I didn’t know how to fix a dropped stitch or frog a project partway and pick it back up again. I was deathly afraid of either. You should have heard the colorful language I’d use if I even almost dropped a stitch. It was not pretty. I would’ve rather start a project all over again than figure out how to fix it. Looking back I realize just how silly this was, but that’s where I was at the time.

Where was I? Oh yes, I cast on and started the hat. About an inch into the rib and I realized that I had made a mistake. I can’t even tell you what I had done – I just knew that something was wrong. Tim’s mom took some time and some dp needles, and she fixed it for me. She knits much more loosely than I do (maybe because she wasn’t afraid to drop a stitch?!), so when she handed the hat in progress back to me, she commented on the fact that I might not be happy with the difference in tension. I thought it looked great, and thanked her so much for working her magic.

When we got home, I continued on. And I dropped a stitch. I wasn’t even done with the 2 inch ribbing yet! After getting all of the expletives I had in me out of the way, I looked for a video tutorial on how to pick up a dropped stitch. then I got a crochet hook and tried it myself. Was it really that easy? Was that all there was to it? After all this time of being afraid, I realized there was never anything to be afraid of at all! With new found confidence, I kept knitting.

progress

I got the 5 inches of stockinette done rather quickly. Then it was time for the decreasing. The first time I tried it I thought if it said to decrease every 8, that it must mean k8, then k2tog. When I ran out of stitches in the row I realized something wasn’t right. What did I do? Continued on. Seriously? Yet another Mensa grade move there. After a few rows I began to understand that the hat wasn’t going to have that pretty decrease swirl a hat gets because my decreases were all over the joint. I set out to tink back the 3 rows I had just knit, but I started to see how much of a pain it was going to be with all the decreases. The dropped stitch wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, how hard could frogging it be? You know what? Not hard at all! Certainly not as hard as tinking it would have been. Another lesson learned. Before I continued on, I had Tim try the hat on with the needles in it. The fit was great! A little snug, but still comfortable he said. I tried it and agreed.  I took another look at it:

amiss

I know it’s not the best picture and it’s been cropped in a weird way (no, Tim’s eyeball in the corner was not intentional), but it’s the only one I have to show what I saw. Can you see the ribbing? Do you see how wonky it looks? I did. I think I blinked a few times and looked at it again. The whole time I was working on it the ribbing was slack, never stretched, so I must have missed what Tim’s mom had meant at Christmas. Her tension is different than mine. Guess which area she fixed for me. The one where the rib takes a bend. I never thought twice about it. Until now.  I really thought I was getting close to the end on this hat. After a few moments of denial, I knew what I had to do: start again.

Basically, the hat went off without a hitch that time. I finished it a couple weeks ago, and we’ve both been wearing it since.

hat1

hat2

I really must take better pictures. But, there it is! The finished hat! I might have hit a million stitches before I started over that last time, but I’m really glad I never counted. I am really pleased with the way it finally turned out, and I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned along the way. Now, what should I try next?

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