FO: Tweed Hat for Knit Aid

This past spring I really enjoyed getting into charity knitting.



Pattern: Improvised. My project page is here.
Size: Adult, approximately 22″ diameter
Yarn: Regia 6-f├Ądig Tweed (discontinued) DK weight, 70% wool / 25% nylon-polyamide / 5% rayon-viscose, in colorway 70; I used about 1 skein, approximately 50 grams, 136 yards/ 124.4 meters
Needles: Size 7 (4.50mm) circular and DPNs
Modifications: n/a

Started: April 24, 2017
Finished: May 10, 2017

I started this hat right after finishing the neckwarmer I made last April, and I worked on it at the first Knit Collective meeting.



I finished it while overlooking the Statue of Liberty, which felt somehow fitting and symbolic for a gesture of solidarity and love for refugees.



I kept within Knit Aid‘s requirements of dark, gender-neutral colors, but I thought it would be nice to use a soft, luxurious-feeling washable tweed. I had originally bought this yarn with the intent to make either slippers or gloves as a gift, so I knew it was squishy and nice against the skin.



The pattern was improvised after working out the gauge and trying it on a few times to figure out where to start the decreases. I worked the crown in quadrants, which gave it a neat, tidy fit.



I recently saw Ai Weiwei’s incredibly moving documentary Human Flow at a screening in Manhattan (trailer below). It was such a heartbreaking, profoundly emotional film that showed the refugee camps and the spirit of the people living in them at the scope and scale of crisis it truly is.



I already felt strongly that I wanted to do something to help, but after seeing the stories and experiences shared in the film, I am more committed than ever to bringing some warmth and love to people’s lives. I donated this hat in May, and I hope that it has found an owner who it is warming and protecting by now, or that it will soon. And I especially hope that whoever owns this hat will feel the love and concern that went into every stitch.

FO: Pink Cat Protest Hats

I realize I am terribly remiss in the usual year-end blog housekeeping, like posting the Christmas gifts I knit for my family this year, a summary of the projects I knit in 2016, or even taking pictures of the things I knit and have been wearing for months now.

2017 Knitting Resolution: get back on track with photographing my projects.

I did have occasion to photograph a very special project, the pair of pink hats I knit for the Women’s March on NYC, a sister protest of the Women’s March on Washington that the NYC Mayor’s office estimated at 400,000 strong.



Pattern: Official Kittyville Hat by Kitty Schmidt, published in Stitch n’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook and archived online. My project page is here.
Size: Hat size, for larger adult heads
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft Solids, Aran weight, 100% acrylic, in Rubine Red; I used less than 1 skein for both hats, approximately 144 grams, 267.8 yards/ 244.8 meters.
Needles: Size 7 (4.50 mm) 16-inch circular and DPNs
Modifications: Omitted ear flaps, ties, and pom-poms; increased stitch count overall (see notes below).

Started: January 16, 2017
Finished: January 18, 2017


Still / again fighting for what's right #WomensMarchNYC #WhyIMarch @nycwomensmarch

When discussing our plans to march, my mother and I were each initially hesitant to wear pink cat-eared hats because we worried they could be infantilizing or too cutesy for such serious issues. The more I read about the Pussyhat Project, the better I understood the real power of the hats as a unifying symbol. This article discusses it from an interesting perspective. I was particular drawn to the idea that these hats were nearly all hand-made, individualized, creative expressions of solidarity, an important antidote to red hats mass-produced in China. I loved the idea of knitters and crocheters making practical hats donated for other marchers, and I wish I’d made time to knit more than the two hats I did.



I have knit this pattern before when making a Hello Kitty hat, so I knew it made a comfortable, cute hat. I also knew that if we wanted to, we could unravel the ears and have a “normal” hot pink beanie to wear or donate to charity after the march. Although in truth, we’re both so fond of our hats I don’t see us parting with them anytime soon.



We both have fairly gigantic heads. I joke that it’s an Irish thing, but it’s also possible we have quite average-sized heads and are abnormally sensitive about the way hats fit around our ears. Either way, I wanted a slightly looser-fitting hat, so I cast on 100 stitches and knit a little longer than the pattern calls for before beginning the crown decreases. It resulted in a slightly slouchy fit, which made them very comfortable, and I just placed the ears at the bottom of the decreases so they’d sit nicely on the top of the head.




My sign, quoting Hillary Clinton: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

In addition to our hats, we had a little pizza and painting party at my apartment the night before to make our signs. This too was an equally cathartic and therapeutic focusing of our energy into good intents and wishes for the future that we could carry out into the world. A surprising amount of people commented on how much they liked our hats and signs and asked to take photos, so I was pleased that we’d put the effort into making them as engaging and attractive as possible.




My mother’s sign: Complacent Is Complicit / Strong Women Stand Together

I was reminded yet again of why I knit, as an extension of why I am an artist. Making things with your hands gives you the chance to make something so unique it is the only one of its kind in the world. The vast diversity of pink protest hats that I saw echoed the individuality and particular expressions of all the knitters and crocheters who put their hearts and souls into them, each choosing a slightly different yarn, gauge, or style that reflected their personalities.



Just as each stitch is essential for creating a knit fabric, so too is each individual’s experiences and contributions essential to the fabric of society and democracy. Looking at the seas of pink hats like ours in march photos from around the world, I felt more connected with humanity than I ever have before, just by doing something small with my two hands. I am so grateful I could be a part of that.

Making good on an old promise

My big brother is one of my heroes, and I could go on and on about what an amazing human being he is, as well as his specific accomplishments in siblinghood – and to him, I do – but for the purposes of this project, I think it mostly suffices to know I love him dearly. I’ve also been promising him a hand-knit hat for an embarrassingly long time. I think most people don’t really need super-warm hand-knit hats, but my brother is a fishing boat captain, an avid hunter, and a general rugged outdoorsman who is frequently to be found in the woods or on the water in freezing, wet conditions, gleeful as could be.

My first attempts at hat-knitting for my brother were destined for failure, I can see on hindsight (I actually have a third attempt about 80% complete in my knitting basket, which doesn’t even fit me). I used a cotton blend yarn, needles that were too small, didn’t cast on enough stitches, and I attempted colorwork for the first time despite knowing it would cause additional tightness. I seem to come across the description “fat Irish head” a lot, and for my family, this description does seem particularly apt. My brother’s head is 24″ in circumference (I think mine is around 22″), yet I continued to knit standard “adult-sized” hat patterns, with all the gauge problems one could ask for, as if I would somehow stumble into a hat that fit. Spoiler alert: I did not.

I finally broke out the cone of oiled wool I had purchased years ago for a pair of shooting gloves for my father (still have to fix one thumb of those – jeez, I’m awful with gifts). I decided for a ribbed hat, to make it stretchier, and I found a really stylish and terrific pattern. Predictably, I had to go through a few failed attempts at this pattern, too, before I acknowledged that my yarn was thinner, my target size larger, and so on.

In a way, it’s good that all this fumbling delayed the finished hat because it gave me time to really think through this thing I was making. I wasn’t just gratuitously knitting my brother a hat – I wanted this to be the hat, the warmest, snuggliest thing he owned, which would keep his brilliant brain toasty even when it’s snowing on the ocean and remind him that his sister loves him every time he wears it. I started to think about the experience of wearing oiled wool next to the skin, and it honestly did not sound comfortable at all. I may joke about him being part Viking and a pirate, but my brother is also a stylish guy in his thirties, who has nice skin that he probably doesn’t want scraped raw with each wearing.

Fleece lining, I thought, will be the way to make the hat soft and comfortable, super duper warm, and give it structure. But boy do I hate sewing, and I didn’t even know where to begin with hat-lining. Here is where I blundered into what I consider one of the most brilliant ideas of my knitting career to date: to line a hat with fleece, buy a pre-made fleece hat and sew it in. Structure? Done. Seaming? None. Super weather-resistant, pill-resistant, washable fleece? In the bag.

The hat is blocking as we speak, but I’ve learned from my experiences. I’m going to make absolutely sure that the big Carhart hat I bought for a song (the Amazon comments of which extolled its virtues for fitting large-headed construction workers and outdoorsy men of the world) actually fits my brother before permanently sewing the hand-knit oiled wool part to it. I know the hat I’ve knit is finally big enough, and it’s the right style and feel, after all these years. It’s not his main birthday gift, or in fact being presented as one of this year’s gifts at all, since it was meant to be his gift way, way back in 2008, but I will be giving it to him when we celebrate our birthdays in a few weeks (mine is Nov 1, his Nov 3). I really hope he likes it!

My first Fair Isle

I’ve attempted colorwork haphazardly before, but this is my first real Fair Isle project. As long as I’ve been knitting, the concept of stranded knitting has eluded me, seeming closer to wizardry than a fairly easily learned skill. It turns out there really isn’t any great mystery: you knit with one color, then the other, and you gently float the yarn you’re not using across the back. That’s really it.

Of course, maintaining an even tension that results in neither floppy stitches or excessively tight strands is its own gamut, but so far, I’m cautiously optimistic about my ability to do so.

As this is a beret (specifically Kate Gagnon Osborn’s exquisite Selbu Modern), I have some concerns about it fitting my gigantic Irish head. Looking at the many projects on Ravelry, I was charmed by all the color combinations. It took me a while to come up with these two together, but it really shouldn’t have, as lately I’ve been obsessed with magenta and yellow in everything I do.

Learning Fair Isle opens up a world of possibilities in multi-color knits. I am also utterly delighted by these tiny, lovely little stitches dancing together. This is a very joyful project, which is exactly what I needed in the middle of winter.

FO – Lotus Hat

To interrupt my spate of sock posts (I’m going to put another pair up today), I thought I should share this little lace hat.

While knitting it, I wondered about the purpose of such a hat, and then I found the perfect day to wear it, when it was sunny and almost warm, but still cool enough to want to cover my ears and (still wet) hair while walking the dogs.

Oh hi, I have thesis face and look like hell. But don’t you like my hat?

Pattern: Lotus Hat by UptownPurl at Third Base Line; my project is here on Ravelry
Size: one size, women’s beanie-style hat
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Worsted 10-ply, in color B990 Creme Brulee, 75% Pima cotton / 25% acrylic; I used 44.9 grams, which was approximately 97 yards/ 88.7 meters, just under one ball
Needles: size 6 (4.00 mm) 16″ circular and set of 5 size 6 (4.00 mm) DPNs
Modifications: added one chart repeat to lengthen

Started: January 17, 2010
Finished: January 17, 2010

I haven’t really worn this style of hat before. If it’s cold enough to wear a hat, I generally go for something thick and wooly. If I want something prettier, I’d go for one of several traditional tweed caps or felt cloches I have (is it in any way surprising that I love hats?). So this was a departure, and one I’m glad I took.

Do you do this? Contorting and torturing your poor photographer (thank you, Mom!) trying to get a shot of the top of your head? There were actually some comical out-takes from when I tried to do it myself, and my mother mercifully intervened.

What initially drew me to this pattern was the lotus flower shape made by the crown decreases (hence the name), and I think it’s beautifully written to take full advantage of the transition between the lace and this shape. The cross-hatch lace itself is lovely and very enjoyable to knit. It’s an intuitive, rhythmic pattern, and I liked watching its organic development. I knit this hat in just a few hours, and I’m sure part of the speed was how much I enjoyed working the lace.

I am head over heels in love with the yarn. It is heavenly soft, with just enough squish and bounce to have excellent stitch definition. It feels great to work with and even better to wear. While knitting this hat, I thought I should try to use this yarn whenever possible in future, especially for baby and children’s garments and anything that would be worn against the skin.

This project felt nice and serendipitous. This ball of yarn was leftover from a camisole I knit last summer (yeah, I should probably get around to photographing that too…), and I’ve been going through one heck of a yellow obsession, so it all came together nicely.

I was sweating the yardage the whole time, which is why I didn’t add yet another chart repeat, but I decided that if the hat were much longer, it would start looking silly for a spring cap, and I didn’t want it to be puffy on the top of my head.

I can’t explain it, but I have a bit of a compulsion to wear my hair in braided pigtails with this hat – I’ll have to let you know how that works out.