Here is another Christmas project. My stepfather feels the cold on his head in winter and likes to sleep wearing a warm hat. Much to my mum’s dismay, some of his night-time headwear falls into the ‘practical but unattractive’ category, so I thought I would knit him a new beanie for Christmas.
Ages ago, I bought Louisa Harding’s Knitting Little Luxuries book. Her Emilie hat seemed just perfect: I loved the cables, the yarn was not too far off what I had and the shape reminded me of a Wee Willie Winkie nightcap. I realised that a woman could wear such a cute, pointy hat during the day, but it would be trickier for a man to wear and be taken seriously. However, I thought I would be silly and make it as pictured anyway as it was just for sleeping in. Also, my stepfather has a sense of humour.
Of course, because I did not have the right yarn and had to substitute, I had to do some fudging. I am only just learning the American yarn weights, but I think 8 ply yarn is thinner than worsted weight, which I think is about 10 ply. Anyway, I added stitches to work around that and make it a bit bigger for a man’s head. All was proceeding beautifully – my casting on was nice and stretchy, and the circumference seemed about right.
It was only after I had bound off the end of the tail and shoved the hat on my own head that I detected a problem. On my version, perhaps because of the yarn substitution, the lovely draping point stuck up strangely on the top of my head. It looked like a nipple! That would not do!
While the beanie was on my head, a friend helped me by putting a pin in at the point where the shaping went awry. I thought about adjusting the stitches to allow it to drape better, but in the end I realised that a more traditional crown shape would be far better for a man. My Wee Willie Winkie idea was a bit silly. I still love the cables and am glad I used Louisa Harding’s pattern, but he will now have a hat he can wear at any time of day.
Along the way I had some other fun. As the stitches became fewer towards the crown, I realised that I needed to switch from the circular needle I was using to double-pointed needles, but I did not have the right size. However, recently when I was in a local op shop I noticed that they had a big drawer full of knitting needles. I was sure I would find what I needed there! On a day off work, I went to see if they had the right size. Oh dear. The drawer was a mess: hundreds of knitting needles not sorted or even grouped in sets. To find what I needed, I had to tip out the whole lot and sort them. The shop staff gave me a box of elastic bands, and I treated the mess as a game or puzzle to solve. Now the knitting needles at the shop are all bunched by size and type. It was worth the effort as I came home with about ten sets in different sizes and shapes, all at a very reasonable price, and two lovely second-hand needlework books.