Tag Archives: hat

Take Heart in Neon

I just realized that this blog title is something of a double entendre.  Take Heart is a pattern by Fiona Alice, published in both Pom Pom Quarterly: Issue 7 (Winter 2013) and Fiona’s book, Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey, but if you’re in the same mood I’m in these days, you could also interpret the the title as a positive, motivational announcement, as in “take heart in these difficult times by enjoying some hot pink!”  I’ll take it.


While this color (Ella Rae Superwash Classic in Maroon Flush, a worsted weight) encapsulates the #pussyhatproject, it’s also a favorite color of mine.  At some point in my life I discovered that certain shades of bright pink and raspberry can be flattering to my pale olive skintone, and since that moment I’ve been in love with all varieties of pink.  There’s also something really fun and empowering about wearing a typically masculine garment (a blazer, or silk button-down shirt, for instance) in a typically feminine color.  While I wouldn’t exactly call this a masculine-style hat, the foldover brim is very classic and reminiscent of a casual beanie, so I thought that aspect kept it from being too “precious” in the pink, and hopefully wearable in the future.


The pattern does call for aran weight yarn, so I held this worsted-weight yarn double, threw caution to the wind, and cast on without checking gauge.  While I’m pretty happy with the finished object, it did turn out a bit big, mostly lengthwise, although again, my small head-size comes into the discussion here, since it’s a little bit loose around the brim.  I added the cat ears specifically for the Women’s March by picking up 13 stitches, knitting in garter stitch on smaller needles (a US 6, I think), decreasing every other row at the edges, then finishing it off with a centered double decrease (CDD) once I had three stitches remaining, and binding off the final stitch.  If I’d had a little more time I probably would have reinforced them with pipe cleaner or felt, but I’m planning on pulling these out and replacing them with a pom pom anyway, so it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Despite my use of photoshop, these are clearly iPhone photos and not quite up to par with my nicer camera.  They’ll do for now – I just wanted to share while I remember all the details.  Ravelry Project Page here.


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A few weeks ago I was stuck in a rut, going around and around in circles about the #pussyhatproject.  By December it had become a well-known fact that knitters around the globe were creating piles of these things to be worn at the Women’s March, planned for January 21st, the day after Inauguration Day here in the United States.  Day after day I was seeing them pop up in my Instagram feed, on Ravelry, and on Twitter, but I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.  There were concerns that the hats would take away from the seriousness of the issues at stake, or that they were too infantile and silly, or that the purpose of the march was vague, unclear, and unlikely to force any policy changes.  Or, and maybe this was just an issue in my own mind, that it would be silly to make hats for people that they would never wear again.  (I apologize, it’s just the pragmatist in me.)

Then I decided I would make hats for a few of my friends, just as a gesture of support in a political climate that may soon see some disappointing policy changes for women.  Then I thought, “Well, I do like pink,” and then I found myself at my local yarn store (LYS) wandering the rows in search of anything pink that would knit up in a flash.  


Ultimately, I ended up knitting three pussyhats, all in super-bulky yarns, and one almost-pussyhat for myself.  (I’ll leave the details of that one for my next post, but it’s the darker hot pink one in the picture above.)  I had come home with a skein of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. in Beach Bonfire (pink with black speckles) and Malabrigo Rasta in Porrinho (pink and purple variegated), and immediately jumped on Ravelry to find patterns to suit both.  I used the Super Cat Hat for the Malabrigo Rasta version since I was pretty confident in 40 stitches around being a good fit (having just knit a Vermonter with the same stitch count), but for the Madelinetosh version I went with 52 as my cast-on number (stolen from another free pattern for a simple super-bulky hat called Calzetta), because it was clear that not all super-bulkies are made alike.  In addition to knitting up at a smaller gauge, the Madelinetosh was much bouncier and had quite a bit of drape, while the Malabrigo had a ton of structure.  


All three hats in action (from L to R: Madelinetosh A.S.A.P, striped version, Malabrigo Rasta)

I fussed a lot about getting the fit right on all these hats, which was probably not necessary, but I was so determined to give these ladies gifts that were worth wearing again, or at least cherishing as a nice memory.  After knitting the two versions with a single yarn each, I had scraps leftover, so I eeked out one more by knitting the brim with Malabrigo, and then striping the two yarns until I ran out.  Since the Madelinetosh was thinner, I held it with a strand of Cascade 220 in a dusty pink to keep the gauge fairly even.  The colors were actually such a good match that you can barely tell it isn’t just a slightly more variegated colorway of Rasta.  


Documenting the day to avoid “alternative facts”: from L to R: striped version, Madelinetosh

As I was barreling through these knits, it occurred to me that the Pussyhat Project was an extremely smart and clever idea – the pattern is unbelievably simple, especially if you do the version that’s in the round (see the KitKat hat, not officially the pussyhat pattern, but essentially the same thing).  Cast on, knit 2-3 inches of ribbing, switch to stockinette, knit to a length of 7 or 8 inches, three-needle bind off.  I think the original pattern was written to be done flat and seamed, but I honestly think in-the-round is better for beginners, and although some patterns called to kitchener/graft the top, I preferred the three-needle bind off method, both for quickness of execution and for the extra structure, which helps the ears stand up.


March/Block Party in Spokane, WA

The sister march in our little city was calm, peaceful, and jubilant; in fact, it felt like a block party more than a protest.  If anything, it was giant support group for those of us who are unhappy with the outcome of this election, and are gearing up to become more politically active than we’ve been in the past eight years.  Obviously, a march like this is more about building momentum than accomplishing anything specific, and I think it was extremely successful in that respect.

Mostly I loved spending the afternoon with my ladies, and watching them march happily with pink hats atop their heads.  It’s always rewarding to knit for others (especially when you get the chance to see the gifts in action), but for this purpose it felt even more significant.  


Me (on the far-right) and my ladies

I’ll be back in the next post with details about my own hat.  Oh, and if you haven’t read the book in the first photo, We Should All Be Feminists, check it out!  It’s adapted from her TED talk, which can be found here and her novel Americanah is on my short list of upcoming reads.


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Malabrigo Vermonter

Hats. They are taking over my world.


In truth, this hat should have taken me an evening to knit, but the combination of a too-loose gauge and lack of a 16″ circular needle made this project slightly maddening.  I chose the Vermonter pattern (free on Ravelry) by Abi Gregorio for its simplicity.  Initially I attempted the Amelia Slouch Beanie, but the yarn was so heavy I scrapped that idea halfway through and tried again with this pattern.


The yarn is Malabrigo Rasta, a superbulky yarn that seems to even outdo other superbulkies.  It’s almost like knitting with pencil roving (not that I’ve tried that, but I’m using my active imagination here), and ultimately I had to take out 4 stitches from the written pattern so that the hat would fit my head without toppling off.  I probably knit this hat about four times trying to find the right stitch count, and all of that knitting time was spent on US 11 and US 13 double-pointed needles, so I can’t say I particularly enjoyed myself during the process, but at least I finally found the magic number (40 stitches around). It is worth mentioning that I have a smaller head and a looser gauge, so that might not be necessary for others.  The slightly altered stitch count meant that I had to improvise my decreases at the crown, but it seemed to work out fine (sorry, I don’t entirely remember what I did!).


Making the pom-pom was hilarious; it started out crazy gigantic and I kept giving it haircuts and trimming as evenly as I could, aiming for a reasonable size that was close to uniform, but it’s still pretty enormous.  The first time I wore this my husband pointed at the pom-pom and asked “what is that for?”  I told him it served no particular purpose and was just for fun, which only encouraged him to bat at it like a tennis ball.  Boys.

Having said that, this hat has already gotten a lot of compliments and I love wearing it, especially in the middle of this brutally cold winter (please, can we have some more degrees out here? more than 10 F? also, are you serious with this freezing rain?).  Malabrigo colorways, particularly the variegated ones, never disappoint, and this hat screams “handmade” in the best possible way.

More hats to come.  Specifically, pink hats.


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