A while back, I tried making a hat. This Easter weekend, I got to finish it. In the process, I learned how to reduce and end a hat; and how to transfer knitting from working on ‘circular needles’ with a cable between the left and right needle, to four double-pointed needles. Im sorry to say that my efforts to make a hat resembled something rather more like a floppy Frisbee cozy — more suited for covering a pie plate than a hat. The dome structure we associate with a beanie or slouch-stye knitted cap was almost entirely absent. As you can see, it was not an ideal construction. It comes together nicely in the middle— but the outer edge, where one starts, is simply flat.
What went wrong?
The essence of the trouble is that I simply didn’t take the time to establish ribbing around the base of the hat. I should have begun with the end in mind — and started by establishing the defined edge.
The ‘defined edge’ that begins something like a hat is called 1×1 ribbing, and it’s done with a series of knit and purl stitches.
I did some investigation, and found several patterns from Tin Can Knits — not just hats, but also patterns for scarves and sweaters, shawls and socks. It seems to me that this is the core of a knitter’s repertoire, so I’ve printed out their patterns and I’ve been following along at home.
- Let’s knit a hat
- Knitting Socks
- Knitting Mittens and Handwarmers
So I’m starting again. This is actually take four — I put the ribbing on the circular needles for a pattern and discovered that my needles were too long for the hat pattern I’m trying. But the ribbing works. And in the process I’ve internalized the hand motions that need to happen when attempting to learn the purl stitch.
Which is not a minor accomplishment in itself — I don’t think I genuinely understood what the purl stitch did before today. Yet now I do, sort of: it ‘digs a ditch’ in the yarn pattern, either resulting in cabling that stands out or recessed patterns that allow shadows to catch. This is Tin Can Knit’s language, sort of, not mine. Yet now it has a purpose, a reason for being in my knitting tool-kit, so to speak: ribbing.
I’m kind of hoping this hat fits me. I expanded it beyond the top TCK pattern size, in the hopes that it would fit my head… I like the idea that the first hat I make is for me.