Monday, April 14, 2014

KALs

I have been slowly chipping away at my 100 hats in 100 patterns.  I am now on #66 so I am almost 2/3rds of the way to my goal.  Yay!  I am getting a little tired of being restricted to new hat patterns especially since we are having monthly KALs over on Ravelry.

If you haven't checked it out then take a look at our Ravelry group and the KALs we have done so far. Each month has added a new technique that we have not tried before.  We are learning together and having fun while doing it.  I had already knitted some of the patterns so know the technique but I am learning a lot from the other knitters and modifying my own approach to make it better.  We have a new KAL starting on the 1st of each month, so click on the link on this page to our Ravelry group and think about it joining us.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hats in General

The Ravellenic Games are over and I have now completed 64 hats.  Almost 2/3rds of the way there.  While I was frantically knitting for the Games, I thought a lot about hats in general and about my personal preferences.  I doubt you are interested in my minor, personal preferences but for those of you who are just starting to knit hats, I thought I would share the general things I have learned.

General Observations:  Almost all of my hats are knit with worsted or light worsted weight yarn (most commonly Cascade 220 superwash).  I always use a 16" size 6 Addi Turbo circular needles.  I don't notice a significant change in gauge if I just go up or down one size needle.  I knit a little loosely, I think.  I do change the needle size when the type of yarn I use changes significantly.  I will go down to size 4 for DK weight or up to an 8 for Aran weight.

I generally cast on between 88 and 120 stitches.  DK weight on 4's would be closer to the 120 and Aran weight on 8's would be closer to the 88.  Usually with worsted on 6's I cast on 94 or 102.

The pattern can change the number of stitches I need.  Patterns that pull stitches closer together mean I will probably choose 102 and with another pattern or with stockinette that doesn't pull stitches together I would choose 94.  A complicated pattern that requires even more stitches means that I would add them in on the first row of the body.

Most of my hats are between 8 1/2" and 9" in length.  This is generally made up of 1 1/2" ribbing, 5 1/2" of body and 2" crown decrease.  I usually don't knit a hat with a fold up brim.  That would change these measurements.

These are all my personal preferences.  I am sure many of you have other needles you prefer, or you like hats in a different size or length.  I am just describing what I do because all of these things change the outcome.  If you want them wider or longer, then you would need to make adjustments.

Hats in Sections:  Hats are generally made up of 3 sections and they are Ribbing, Body and Crown Decreases.

Ribbing:  This section is usually k1, p1 or k2, p2.  One variation of this is the twisted rib and it is k1tbl, p1.  There are lots of other variations and some hats without any ribbing at all.  But these 3 will carry you through a lot of hats.  Most of the time my ribbing is between 1" and 2".  That varies by how much space I need for a pattern in the body or just that I am sick of ribbing and want to move to the body of the hat.

Body:  This can be anything you want, including stockinette.  My body is generally 5 1/2" long so that I begin my decreases at 7" in length (again not with a brim).

Decreases:  I divide my hat by an even number of stitches.  That's why most of my stitch counts are divisible by 8.  I'm not sure I will describe this well, so I will give an example after the explanation.  I divide the total number of stitches on my needles by 8, markers can be handy.  I knit until 2 stitches before each marker and then k2tog.  On the next row I just knit.  I continue this 2 row pattern until about half of the stitches are left on the needles.  At that point, I decrease on every row.  I decrease each row until I have a small number of stitches, usually 7-12.  Then I cut the yarn and use the tail to pull it through the last stitches twice and tighten up the hole and weave in the end.

So, if I had 88 stitches when I want to start my decreases.
Row 1: k9, k2tog
Row 2:  knit
Row 3:  k8, k2tog
Row 4:  knit
Row 5:  k7, k2tog
Row 6:  knit
Row 7:  k6, k2tog
Row 8:  knit
Row 9:  k5, k2tog  (48 stitches)
Row 10:  k4, k2tog
Row 11:  k3, k2tog
Row 12:  k2, k2tog
Row 13:  k1, k2tog
Row 14:  k2tog
Run the yarn tail through the remaining 8 stitches and pull tight.

Knowing the basics of hat construction means that I don't need a pattern to knit a hat.  Your results may vary as your gauge will be different from mine.  But trying a few different hat patterns and noting your gauge and the end result will help you tweak a pattern or create your own and get the results you want.

Knitting so many different patterns and understanding my knitting and the structure of a hat means that as long as I have yarn and my trusty #6 needles, I can knit a hat.




Thursday, January 30, 2014

#52

I finally finished the hat I started in December.  The pattern is Seaman's Cap by Brenda Zuk.  It is a great basic pattern, simple and straight forward.  I used Cascade 220 superwash for the ribbing and then switched to Liberty Wool for the main part of the cap.  I have a lot of Cascade in my stash so it is a good way to make my Liberty Wool stretch further and I like the way it looks.



I have slowed down my hat knitting and am focusing on knitting some other projects.  But I am in training for the Ravellenics.  We have Team Hats for Sailors and I am on the Team.  During the London Olympics, I knitted 7 hats.  I plan to exceed that number this year.  It will be a little bit more complicated.  During the London Olympics, I could knit the same, simple pattern over and over again.  This time I need to knit a different pattern each time which will slow me down.  I am currently mulling over my pattern choosing strategy.  Do I choose simple, quick patterns that are basically the same hat?  Do I choose only patterns that have been sitting in my queue?  Do I choose patterns that are interesting and keep me going?  Do I choose them all in advance and just live dangerously and choose one at a time?

How ever I decide to approach it, I really have to tamper down my eternal knitter's optimism and be realistic about what I can accomplish.  I have to admit that I can't just whip out quickly a very complicated cable pattern with a 12" brim!

If you aren't already on Team Hats for Sailors, think about joining us.  Your goal can be anything you want it to be.  All we ask is that it be a hat for a Sailor.

Monday, January 13, 2014

#50

We now have a web site Hats for Sailors.  It is still under development, but that will be the new place to go for information and news in addition to our Facebook and Ravelry pages.

We have a great KAL on our Ravelry site.  Each month we will knit a different hat pattern. We are still looking for volunteers to lead KAL's throughout the year.  No experience necessary.  Just pick a pattern and invite our members to knit along with you.  Easy Peasy!!!  Check Ravelry to sign up.

I have passed the midway point in my quest to knit 100 different hats from 100 different patterns.  The month of December was chaotic and hectic and I was not sure I was going to make it.  Somehow my knitting brain (that thinks I can do amazing things in no time at all) seeped into the rest of my life!  I planned and hosted a Christmas at home in California and then flew to London with my husband and sons to meet my daughter for another Christmas.  No problem, I can pull off two Christmas's in two countries.  And all that extra time to knit on the airplanes, I can make even more gifts than I had planned!  I had to finally admit that my plans were too ambitious and I needed to scale back.

It is funny that even though I scaled other things back, I was able to meet all my knitting goals (sometimes only by minutes)!  Maybe being confined on airplanes for long periods of time with nothing to do helped.

My hat goal was to finish #50 before the end of the year.  I had posted a picture last month of #50.  That hat still isn't finished, but two other hats skipped in front of it.  They are both watch cap patterns and very similar, so it was interesting to knit one right after the other.

Both are great patterns and easy to knit.  The length was determined more by the amount of yarn and time I had than exactly what the pattern called for.  In both cases, I was sure that they were long enough and tested them others to be sure.  I would happily knit either pattern again and they will be my "go-to" patterns for watch caps.  I used the same yarn for both hats, Cascade 220 superwash.  Lorne's Hat was knit on size 4 needles and Sandoval Hat was on size 6 needles.  Lorne's hat was tighter, more dense and probably a little warmer.  Sandoval Hat was wonderfully squishy, stretchy and soft.

One pattern was Sandoval Hat by Robyn Devine (#50)



The other pattern is Lorne's Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee #51


After all the chaos, I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu right after I returned home.  I am so lucky that I could recuperate at home in my own bed!  But now I'm a little behind on my 2014 hat knitting.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

#50 On The Needles


#50 of 100 is on the needles (barely).  My goal is to complete the 100 different hats from 100 different patterns in two years.  That means that I need to finish the 50th by the end of this month to stay on track.  It is on the needles but my hat knitting has come to a grinding halt as I frantically try to finish my Christmas knitting in time.  It is a plain, simple pattern with a cascade 220 superwash brim and a liberty wool body to the hat.  That should be fast?

But, I have a chronic problem when it comes to knitting.  I always think that I can knit much faster than I actually can and that I have a lot more time in my life to devote to knitting than I do.  It happens every single time and yet I never learn!  You would think that I would at least have a second of hesitation, but I don't.  I am so deep in denial this Christmas, that I won't even take stock of what is left to knit because the answer scares me.  So, we'll see if #50 actually gets finished in time because it is at the bottom of the priority list and that list is long…too long.

My holidays have been turned upside down by family changing plans.  It is all for the better and will be a lot of fun.  Everything is crammed into a smaller time line, with more people and more locations.    It makes panic bubble up inside me periodically.  I keep trying to remind myself that the very best thing I can do is spend time with people I love and all of the rest really doesn't matter.  If I keep that attitude (and I hope I do), I'm afraid #50 may have to wait until 2014.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 Picture of 528 Hats


Announcing the Ships for This Year

This message from Lynne…

Great news ... with Shanti's assistance, we have selected two frigates that are currently deployed. The USS Rentz is off the coast of South America and the USS De Wert is in the 5th and 6th fleet areas of responsibility (Middle East and Mediterranean). Both ships have 220 - 240 sailors on board and are very excited about being our ships of choice for 2013. These numbers mean that we have just about the right number of hats available this year. 

Great job everyone. You are going to make a lot of sailors happy this year.