Last weekend I took a break from everything else and knit up a Winterlude Hat ™ from this archived Alpaca Earflaps pattern. I used just over half of the yarn that I spun during the Tour de Fleece from a sampler of Jacob roving that I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival back in May. I’ve been enviously eyeing the fair isle hats with earflaps at Winterlude for years now, and then refusing to buy something that I could knit myself. Well, now I’ve made one to keep my head and ears warm when I visit my sister the Ninja for Winterlude in February!
I’d been concerned that the two darker colours were a little too close in value for the colourwork to show up well, and knitting the middle section of the hat as the pattern was written proved me right. So I changed colours a little bit for the top of the hat and the earflaps, but I wasn’t going to go back and reknit the middle part. It’s easier to see the colour changes at a distance; looking at the hat close-up makes the swirls disappear. I may embroider around the swirls in that section so they stand out more, or I may just leave them as-is.
Oh, and the coolest thing! The best thing ever about this hat! I learned a new skill! The pattern called for a crocheted edging, and I’ve never crocheted anything before. So after I watched a couple of instructional videos, I picked up my now-trusty hook and set to. It took a couple of tries to get the hang of it but the finished edging is neat and quite pleasing. I wouldn’t say I’m anything like “a crocheter” just yet, but I’ve definitely leveled up in the fibre arts skills. How awesome is that?
Other than swapping the colours around a little, I made another couple of changes to the pattern. Some comments and reviews had complained that the earflaps came out to be too far back on the hat, so instead of knitting the earflaps first as the pattern was written, I knit the body of the hat first and picked up stitches along the edge in exactly the right spot for them, measuring against my head and then counting stitches to make sure they were even. I followed the earflap chart upside-down, and reversed it for the second earflap so that the hat would be perfectly symmetrical. Also, instead of knitting i-cord for the ties, I’m going to make a braid of the three yarn colours. And instead of doing the double crochet edging, I used single crochet because I thought it looked better.
So the hat is done – well, the knitting part of it, anyway – and I am happy with it! It needs a good strong blocking to even out the fair isle and stretch it a little bigger before I line it with polar fleece. The lining will have three purposes: one, to make the brim stop rolling so badly. The pattern was written without any ribbing at the brim, and as a result is curling up. Cute, but not what I want. Two, to make it a warmer hat. If there was ever such a thing as a too-warm hat for me, this hat is going to be it. And three, the fleece will keep the slightly itchy wool off my forehead.
Knitting with yarn that I spun myself is a wonderful thing. It’s a mostly even two-ply – there are some thick underspun blobs, and a few thinner sections, but overall it’s great yarn, and the slight inconsistency will only make this particular project look better. There’s something really satisfying about having taken a project from fluff to finished product.
The only problem I’m having now is, what do I block the hat over? I haven’t got any balloons. Maybe it would be easier to buy a packet of balloons than to try to find something else that’s round enough.