Monday, February 27, 2012

Free: Basic Adult Hat Knitting Pattern

I have been very busy making hats! Specifically, I have been making hats for my husband and his co-workers at  Anvil Tattoo. While making these hats, I thought it would be nice to share how I make a basic adult size knitted hat.

Basic Adult Knit Hat Pattern:

Yarn: Any worsted weight yarn. (the yarn in the sample photo is Vanna's Choice)

Needles: US size 8/5mm 16” circular and DPN

Gauge: 4” x 4” = 17sts. x 26 rows

Finished Measurements: hat height: 8 1/2”   circumference: 19”  (not stretched, laying flat)

CO 84 sts. Onto your circular needles, place marker, and join for working in the round.
R1-5: 1 x 1 ribbing, *K1, P1* repeat around
R6-41: Knit

begin decrease rounds:

R42: *K12, K2tog* repeat around =78sts
R43: Knit
R44: *K11, K2tog* repeat around =72sts
R45: Knit
R46: *K10, K2tog* repeat around =66sts
(note: if it is becoming tight to knit, now would be a good time to change to DPN)
R47: Knit
R48: *K9, K2tog* repeat around =60sts
R49: *K8, K2tog* repeat around =54sts
R50: *K7, K2tog* repeat around =48sts
R51: *K6, K2tog* repeat around =42sts
R52: *K5, K2tog* repeat around =36sts
R53: *K4, K2tog* repeat around =30sts
R54: *K3, K2tog* repeat around =24sts
R55: *K2, K2tog* repeat around =18sts
R56: *K1, K2tog* repeat around =12sts
R57: * K2tog* repeat around =6sts

Cut tail long enough to string the remaining 6 sts through with a yarn needle, tie off, and weave in ends.

Whenever I sit down to make an adult hat, I often start here, with this basic pattern. This simple pattern fits most adults comfortably and is easy to modify to suit my needs. To make a hat larger or smaller increase or decrease in multiples of 6. For stripes just change yarn color at the appropriate time. A folded brim can be made by adding more rows of ribbing. Making a more decorative brim is as easy as using seed stitch or different proportions of ribbing. When using finer yarns or smaller needles, simply knit a gauge swatch and adjust the pattern accordingly.
A long time ago I came across this excellent online resource for average head measurements according to age. Bev Qualheim and her friends were kind enough to compile size charts for head measurements as well other useful size charts.
 These charts can be found at I love these charts because they are easy to follow, very straight forward. When designing your hat, keep in mind that the hat height measurements on this chart include a folded brim, if you don't want a folded brim be sure to make your hat height 1-3 inches shorter than the listed height.  Also, the hat circumference should be a few inches smaller than the head circumference listed, depending on how stretchy your hat is.

Another thing that I like to do, especially when knitting a gift, is to personalize the item in some way. I love to add details that are most meaningful to the person the gift was meant for. On my next blog post I am planning on sharing one technique I like to use when personalizing a knitted item.

As Always, knit long and prosper :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Knitting Method for my madness

I read my CYC knitting Teachers Handbook from cover to cover and I found it very thought provoking.  I know that sounds incredibly nerdy but it's true.

The 1st of many thoughts that came to mind:
When teaching a knitter to knit, you have to start with the basics and a good place to start would be the method.  How do you hold your yarn and needles?  Do you Pick or do you throw?  Do you control the working yarn with your left or right hand?  How do you tension the yarn to make your stitches even?

People have been practicing the craft of Knitting for centuries and as a result it has been elaborated on quite a bit and we humans, as crafty as we are, have come up with countless ways to go about it.  The most popular methods of modern knitters are Continental and English, or some variation of those.

 When I first learned to knit I would notice demonstrators using a seemingly unique knitting method and I would try it in hopes it might be faster or more comfortable.  Some methods I liked, some I didn't, and some I only liked under specific circumstances.  As a result, I am, for all intents and purposes, a Continental Knitter.   I control the working yarn with my left hand index finger and I pick rather than throw; however, I purl with my thumb, except when ribbing.  When I purl for ribbing I swing the yarn through to the front of my work with my index finger, swinging it over the needle, pressing the yarn down horizontal to the stitch, in one motion; simultaneously, I bring my thumb up to take over and complete the stitch. (I just had to go knit some ribbing and pay attention to what exactly I did in order to explain it.) I don't know the name of this technique, or if it is named, but I imagine most knitters, as they gain experience, will find their own way of manipulating their strings that is comfortable for them, just as I have done.

I am pretty comfortable with the way I knit, it is what works for me, but would it work for my students?  Maybe, maybe not.  So, I gave myself a little homework assignment, research knitting methods.   I think that this assignment will not only help me to become a better teacher, but also a better knitter.  Although I am comfortable with and have knitted in my usual fashion long enough that the motions have become automatic to me, I am still open to trying something new.  I like to be pleasantly surprised and perhaps I will discover a new method that might work even better for me in both speed and quality.

I decided to turn to my brand new copy of The Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt to begin my research.  I have to say I am impressed by the thoroughness of her book.  I especially love that she includes so many historical tid bits and trivia facts about knitting throughout her text.  In order to truly understand something, it helps to understand the origin from which it came.  My only criticism of the book so far is that sometimes her terminology is hard to follow because she does not always use the more commonly known terms in her text.  Instead of using the terms Continental and English, she uses "Left-Hand" and "Right-hand".  Although her terms are more literal, they are not the terms most commonly known.  At first glance I thought these listed methods might be alternative methods, then I read the description and realized what she was actually talking about.  I felt this was far to thorough of a book to exclude such well used terms, so I turned to the Index to find both Continental and English sited.  They were sited with "see Left hand method" and "see right-hand method".  I think that it would have been more clear had she just stated that in the actual text.

Despite this little pet peeve, I found the text rich with explanations of various knitting methods.  I read the entire chapter, which led me to search online for video demonstrations.  I am a visual learner and needed to see some of these methods in action in order to truly grasp them.

One method that really peeked my curiosity was the "Knitting Belt" method.  In the text the method is described as "fast and extremely efficient."  The dream of all knitters, the speed to squeeze in a few more projects (but when you are addicted enough is never enough).  The author also states, "Knit and Purl are done with nearly identical motions and facility, and there is no difficulty in working any stitch technique."  Wha-what???  easy and fast??  I had to see this for myself; there must be some kind of catch, otherwise it would be a more well known and popular method.  So I consulted the almighty internet and found this video on You Tube.  It is  a video of Hazel Tindall, the Worlds Fastest knitter, and sure enough, she uses a Knitting Belt.

In my research I found that one major reason why this method is not more popular is that the belts are extremely hard to find, unless, of course, you know how to work with leather and steel to make your own belt and specialized needles.  In fact, I only found one place, located in the UK, that sells them, Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers Ltd. .  The belts were probably even more inaccessible before the internet came to be.  Why is this method not more widespread?  June Hiatt offers and interesting explanation, Victorian middle class women might have thought it less refined and wanted to distance themselves from the crafts working class origins.  Possibly, the industrial revolution and the invention of machine knitting might have also contributed to making these belts obsolete, making speedy hand knitting less necessary.  

Never the less, I really would like to try this someday.  I have bookmarked the webpage and added it to my knitting wish list.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My new knitting books!!!

I recently got a much anticipated package in the mail!  New Books!  Up until now I relied solely on my local library for knitting reference books, but I decided it was about time I had some of my very own.  I love new books, especially knitting books!  I just love the shiny newness; the crisp, glossy, untarnished pages; the way the spine makes a cracking sound when you first open them; the new book smell.  Have I told you, I love getting new books!  The only thing that compares to getting a new book is getting new office supplies, but I will save that topic for a later blog.   The only thing I like more than getting new books, getting new yarn and needles!  After receiving them, I spent a few hours admiring them in all of their glory.

I got Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book , The Knitting Answer Book , The Principles of Knitting , and Finishing School: A Master Class for Knitters .

 I have only had a short time with my new books, but I can tell you The Principles of Knitting is like the bible for knitters.  It has well over 600 pages of solid information, just about everything you would ever want to know about knitting in one convenient location.  The author of this book, June Hiatt, is well known in the world of knitting and was kind enough to compile much of her knowledge into one convenient book.  Her book has been around for a long time and has recently been revised and updated, and now I am the proud owner of her revised edition!  Yayyy!!  

Vogue Knitting has great, easy to follow illustrations, which is helpful if you are a visual learner like me.  I think that the detailed body measurement charts and Knitting Worksheet will prove very handy for designing.  Browsing this book has inspired me to get a little more organized.  I now have reason to revisit my giant folder of tiny scrap papers and notebook full of chicken scratch and attempt to make sense of it all.

Finishing School is a book I have been looking forward to getting because that is an area I really want to improve.  I really want to learn how to make my knits look more professional and good finishing techniques can make all the difference in the world. The first section I turned to when I opened this book was the section on blocking.  I have read and heard so many conflicting opinions about blocking.  When you should or should not block?  Which method is best?     Many knitters swear by blocking and will block anything and everything they knit.   Secretly, I had held the opinion that not everything needed blocking.  I had kept that opinion to myself for a long time, not wanting to hear the gasps of dismay from other knitters, but so far this book has helped to reassure me that my opinion might  not be as blasphemous as  I thought.  On the very first page of the chapter on blocking Deborah Newton states, "I believe less is more when it comes to blocking."  Now that I know there is an expert in the field that shares my opinion on this I am no longer ashamed to say, "I don't block everything!"  Now that my dirty little secret is out, I want to shout it from tree tops!  

I ordered the Knitting Answer Book for one simple reason, when I am in a knitting bind I want a quick solution to my problem.  We have all been there, up all night trying to finish something and then you realize you have made a terrible mistake and do not have the time to undo hours of work and start over.  I really hope that this book will have the answers I need to get me out of trouble in a hurry.  

I love my new books!  I have a few more I want to get, but I think these will keep me occupied for a while. And the best part is, they are all mine!!  I don't have to return them to the library; I can do whatever I want with them.  I can highlight, write in the margins, fill them with bookmarks that I never have to take out, and I don't have to panic if I spill a little of my morning coffee on them (not that I would ever let that happen!)