On the needles : none of these things are like the other OR failure at its best

The magic of knitting is that one can take the same size yarn, the same size needles and make things of all different sizes. The consternation of knitting is that one can take the same size yarn, the same size needles and make things of all different sizes.

One can easily see how this is a problem with the picture below. 


You see, my goal was to make my husband a hat to fish in. I had been so busy with my other projects that the, "Where's my handmade knit?" question was happening all too frequently. So when I came across the Hill Country Hat in The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes.

I went for it. It was interesting without being dainty, and having read 5/6 of her books, I officially consider myself a fan. Why not make her stuff?


So I did. But I messed up.

I'm not even going to try to explain the "how" except to say that I started it the evening before Christmas Eve after 10:30.

While it was definitely a "quick knit", I obviously should have taken the time to

  • A. knit a swatch
  • B. measure my husband's head
  • C. wait until the morning... or maybe until after Christmas
  • D. all of the above.

It was actually finished before we left for my in-law's the next day... and it didn't fit my head. Let alone his. Fortunately, it's something that Sam can grow into.


Having failed at a new pattern I went back to an old reliable. This pattern is The Regular Guy Beanie by Chuck Wright and it was the second pattern that I ever bought. {Back then: I was newly married. I was a new knitter. I NEEDED to knit for my man.}  And having knit this project at least three times {no exaggeration} I knew this would work.

Except it didn't.

That same Christmas Eve day, my sister-in-law pointed out that this second project didn't look big enough either. But I knew better. I was the knitter. Not her.

I knit on... But it didn't magically grow in width.


Sure enough, it was ridiculously small. As in, too tight for the two year old's head.

{I realized, after the fact, that I must have used larger needles previously.}

On to the next.


I had previously finished reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules In it she talks about the power of the swatch AND how one can transform a swatch into a hat. Having just worked through the TKGA's Basics, Basics, Basics {link} class I had a swatch in the same yarn. And this pattern {the Scarf Rescue Hat} was easy.

Garter stitch. Simple flat knitting. This was as brainless as this stuff comes. By this point is was past Christmas and I needed a husband hat pronto. This was the project that needed to happen.


And sure enough this was a brainless knit.

So much so that I didn't pay too much attention some time and would miss the fact that I dropped a stitch... and I'd have to rip back to the dropped stitch, pick up that one stitch, and start over again.

Add that to the fact that garter is a notoriously slow stitch {those ridges compress together... instead of grow} and this was not the quick knit I was searching for.

But I was determined. Plus I was already past my deadline... I would surely finish this before next Christmas. Maybe.


As it turns out I finished the knitting in three weeks. Definitely not as fast as the first two.

Then came the finishing. The concept of this hat is that it's basically a short scarf that one connects into tube that is then gathered up at the top.

So I learned how to connect everything with garter stitch grafting. {This took approximately 10 hours. Not really, actually closer to two. It was just ridiculously tedious.}
And then I gathered up the material... only to discover there was still a hole at the top. {Hashtag : frustration.} So I gathered more and figured out how to close it up.
And then I wove in the seven loose ends. {More tedium.}

But I liked the finished product. And it fit me with plenty of extra stretch for my husband's larger head. And I was done!!

Except... once the gift was gifted {imagine me presenting it to my husband at the end of the day, "It's done. Yay."} we both realized it wasn't going to work.

Yes, unlike the other hats so far it was wide enough, but in my exuberance {i.e. "PLEASE LET THIS BE DONE."} I had made it too tall. And my husband is not a hipster. A somewhat slouchy hat is not his thing.  And, it just wasn't cute on him.


I've read that the reason that lots of new knitters quit is because the things they make don't fit. And after this experience I most definitely understand this frustration. 

Luckily, I've got enough positive experiences behind me to not get too wrapped up in the minor tragedy of the husband's fishing hat experience. He will most likely throw the largest hat in the boat and layer it with other hats when he goes fishing for striped bass {i.e. in the middle of winter, brrrr...}. The fish don't seem to mind his fashion, or lack thereof.

As for me, I've learned that, like any creative project, knitting often works best when it has some restraints.  In the future, I will plan ahead {no more last minute projects!}, swatch {they're fun! and quick and beautiful}, and measure {because "big" isn't always an adequate description}. 

And until I have these rules firmly established Sam will have a plethora of hats of various fit.