I know a lot people that find that they lose interest with knitting a jumper – they start out with good intentions, but then realise that constructing a sweater stitch by stitch is actually quite a time-consuming process and they get bored, and the sweater never gets finished 😔 (or it gets palmed off to a friend or family member to finish off 😂)
I’m not one of those people, and I actually really enjoy knitting sweaters – but one thing that’s sometimes recommended to those quitters (😂) is to make smaller things like hats and gloves instead. A quick win, if you will. Not quite instant gratification, but certainly possible within a weekend. I like knitting winter accessories not just because they’re quick(er), but actually because winter in England can be fierce and my hands are always cold. And just like you should never be without your towel (if you don’t understand the reference – what have you been doing with your life? Go and watch/read The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy nowwwwww), in winter you should never be without your hat. Even if it’s just to keep your hair under control on a windy day (which is what the husbeast uses them for 😂).
Despite actually having a fair few hats already, I seem unable to stop knitting them. You can never have too many hats, and they are very much like all those other things that you have loads of but can never seem to find one when you need one – they get shoved into coat pockets, or lost at the bottom of the shoe storage crate, or simply vanish into hat oblivion – or the same place that odd socks go to. Knitting a hat is super portable too – for flights or other travelling – and if you fall in love with a super-expensive yarn, you can just buy the one skein of it and make a hat rather than bankrupting yourself for a whole sweater. See, hats even support good financial decisions 🤑
I am particularly fussy with hat patterns though – I can (and do) spend hours on Ravelry, only to pass up on the vast majority of them. I like cables, and I like a good ribbed brim. Although I like the look of lace patterns, I don’t want them on a hat because what’s the point in wearing a winter accessory that has holes in it? The wind is gonna bite at your scalp and your hair’s gonna get wet. I also don’t really like the look of reverse stocking stitch, or garter stitch – don’t ask me why, but I just don’t find them visually pleasing. So that rules out hats that have cables which are thin on the ground, because usually the rest of the hat is reverse stocking stitch and that just looks a bit ick to me.
LoveCrafts – a brand that I have bought from many times in the past, including to buy the yarn for my Volt Sweater – kindly reached out to me with a £20 yarn voucher to spend on their site which I, of course, said yes please and thank you very much to! I was planning on knitting replacement hats for me and the husbeast anyway (the ones I made last year have bobbled a fair bit, plus who doesn’t like a new hat?) so the £20 would go most of the way to covering the yarn for those. There was no requirement to write a blog post, but you’re gonna get one anyway!
What I actually really like about the LoveCrafts website – and is one of the main reasons that I tend to buy from them – is the ability to filter your search results.
It’s all well and good browsing, say, the DK or worsted yarns, but when you’re substituting the recommended yarn for a pattern – which I do, like, 99% of the time because they don’t produce the colour I want or it’s just ridiculously expensive – it helps to be able to filter all those yarns down to ones that have a similar gauge (so you don’t have to faff about with needle sizes) or the same length of yarn per 100g (so that you know how heavy the yarn is in relation to the suggested yarn). I also use Yarnsub to help me identify good alternatives (which also highlights ones that LoveCrafts UK stock, as most of the yarns tend to be US made and therefore expensive/difficult to find), but then you’re left trying to source places in your country that stock it. So between these two tools, you’ve got a much easier job on your hands than back in the day when I first started knitting and t’internet wasn’t yet a thing 🤓
Anyhoo. The hat’s journeys started on Ravelry, as always. I’m quite happy to scroll through page after page, looking at hundreds of cabled hats, trying to find the right one. The husbeast is another matter – he hates it when there’s an overwhelming choice in anything so I have to shortlist options that I think he will like and then he picks from those. That process applies to yarn too – I have to show him the suitable individual yarns that I’ve found, and he will make his choice. To be fair, I’m pretty good at choosing patterns and colours that he likes, so we don’t tend to have to go back to the drawing board too many times, and I kinda like browsing all the pretty things 🤩
Yarn-wise, I settled on two different shades of the Yarn Collective Hudson Worsted, a range which is curated by Michele Wang – a designer that I first stumbled across through her designs for Brooklyn Tweed.
Pretty, huh? You can check out all of her designs here on Ravelry. A word of warning though: a lot of her designs use the Shelter yarn, which although gorgeous, is VERY expensive.
I bought one hank of pumpkin (pictured) and one hank of Amorino – luckily there was a 30% promotion on at the time, but in all honesty, this yarn is TOTALLY worth the full price tag. You can tell that it’s really high quality, and it feels gorgeous. It’s 85% merino and 15% yak – I’m not completely sure of the yak qualities, but the yarn is not hairy or itchy. It’s squishily soft and a nice plump yarn.
In a way, I wish I’d never bought it because now all I can think about is having a sweater made out of it. The burnt orange colour is just *so* me (although very similar to the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn I used for my Peabody Sweater – note to self, try other colours or you’ll have a wardrobe full of orange jumpers), and I don’t mind the burgundy one I got for the husbeast either. It would look good on him as a sweater. A lot of the other colours are a bit too ‘cool’ for me (as in tone-wise, not popularity-wise 😂), so it would be good to see some warmer shades – DK, sport, 4ply and lace weights are also available, but they seem to be variegated yarns rather than solid, which isn’t really my thing.
With the yarn bought, it was time to decide on patterns – we (and by we, I mean I) whittled down some options for the husbeast’s hat, and a choice was made – the Field Guide Hat and Mitts set by Plucky Knitter.
Mine, however, was taking a little more effort to find something I liked the look of – but then I stumbled across THE ONE. The Vanns Tavern hat by Rebecca Kerstin which I realised, slightly later when I fell in love with and immediately bought the Sorrel sweater, that both those patterns look remarkably similar. Which is probably a good sign, because it confirms that I really like the stitch design.
I made the husbeast’s hat first because I’m nice like that 😂 As there’s no gauge listed on Ravelry for the recommended yarn for his design, I just had to assume that the yarn I’d got would be fine. It sort of was, but I did less rows than instructed and it’s still a little on the large side. It’s more of a slouchy hat than a fitted beanie – and he prefers a fitted beanie. But meh. It’s still a cool hat, and the yarn isn’t itchy at all – and he’s proper sensitive to itchy yarns.
It was a pretty quick knit – admittedly I didn’t measure the time spent on it, but it felt quick. I love the way the design tapers down into a cool little star at the top of the hat 😍
The edges of the diamonds are somewhat pointy, so a yarn with a smidge more drape (a silk or bamboo blend, perhaps) might not have been a bad idea 🤔 But, I’m pleased with it, and it gets a lot of wear. I’d like to make him the matching mitts at some point as well, but… well, join the queue mate.
My hat is also a firm fave – the colour is just YAS 🧡
(and the stitch definition is 👌🏻)
I used the Chinese Waitress cast on (tutorial on that method here), which I almost gave up on because after a few attempts I still hadn’t quite got the hang of it. But – I persevered, and eventually nailed it (or, nailed something that resembled an acceptable cast on edge).
I thought that getting the tension correct on those dipped stitches might have been rocky ground – but I soon found out that so long as you’re not pulling the yarn too tight, you’re likely to be okay. I’m pretty sure that the variations in tension across the hat are enormous, but you can’t tell 👀 (thankfully!)
The pom on mine looks a little malnourished – I blame the husbeast for that, because he made it 🤨 I did think about leaving the pom off, but it looked a little plain without it.
So, this yarn threw up an interesting scenario for me. When I knitted my Volt Sweater (and indeed the Camaro sweater that I’ve just finished as well), one half of each stitch is nice and plump (the right-hand side, ALWAYS) and the left side is more tightly twisted – I have absolutely ZERO clue why this is, but it didn’t happen with this yarn.
Check out how even the stitches are on the rib of the hat:
And now look at how the left-hand side of each knit stitch was twisted on my Volt sweater (it’s slightly easier to see on the stocking stitch as that’s such a tiny little rib band):
Weird, huh? I’m totally open to thoughts and opinions on why this happens, btw. The Volt (and Camaro which has the same issue) were DK weight, the hat is worsted. The hat and the Camaro were knitted in the round, the Volt wasn’t, but they all used the same interchangeable needle set. Is it the squishiness of the yarn which plays a part? 🤷🏻♀️
Anyway, the hats were a success, and I’ve since bought a few more hanks of the orange colour (with a discount code 🤑) to make the Migration cardigan by Stacey Gerbman, which – as fate would have it – is designed for the Shelter yarn that I love so much but can’t afford. Howeverrrrrrr, we’re off to NYC in a few weeks, and the yarn is (slightly) cheaper there, so I might treat myself 💁🏻♀️
In other knitting news, I’m currently blocking the body of a sweater for the husbeast (sleeves are still in progress) and I’m unsure about how it’s going to turn out – it’s been on the blocking board for dayyyyzzzz and it’s still not dry. The yarn is seriously heavy when wet, which I worry is going to make the sweater grow out of control. It’s already a little big, because I couldn’t get it small enough to fit the recommended blocking dimensions. The yarn was used up from stash so it’s no biggie if it gets designated as a ‘comfy house sweater’, but it is making me pay more attention to how heavy the yarns are that I choose.
So yeah, watch this space on that one – you might be seeing the husbeast in an oversized sweater soon 👀 😂
That’s it from me… happy Sunday guys, over and out ✌🏻
On the blog next week – I’m shamelessly stealing the ‘one year sewn’ idea from Vicky at Sewstainability, reviewing my makes from a year ago and seeing how many worked out and are still in rotation 👀 Subscribe below to have the post drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻