28 May 2012

How to make a perfectly fitting beanie hat.

Last week, on a night out, the boyfriend sent me a text message. "I think I've lost my hat!".

It was a sad moment. That hat had been with him for several years, and was the first thing I had crocheted for him, but after a moment's disappointment, I remembered that actually, he'd gotten years of wear out of it, had minded it, used it and loved it, and I couldn't be angry with him for allowing it to slip out of his coat pocket on a rainy night in Dublin.

But, it presented me with a problem.
Originally, he had asked me to make him a hat that would he his and his alone. He didn't want it to end up as a pattern, basically. A truly unique piece. I can see the appeal to that, and did at the time, too, so I took no notes, no calculations and no measurements.In retrospect, that was a bad idea, because now, I was left with the impossible task of replacing something that I had spirited together years ago.

I decided this time 'round I would take notes, and share my technique, so that next time (!) I'd not have to worry so much.



This technique will work with any weight yarn, so I have no idea how much yarn it will use as a result. I used a ball and a half of DK weight, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, a 3.5mm hook for the crown and a 3mm hook for the band. This is important; use a smaller hook for the band as the ribbing will stretch with wear.


The One-Day Beanie:
1. First, you need the head it has to fit on. Measure the head in question around where the band is to go.



Using the smaller of your two chosen hooks,
2. Make, say, 13 chains, and using BL-dc, work forward and back until the band is the same length as your initial measurement, and can by divided by 7. So, you should have, like 126 rows (126 / 7 = 18), more or less. If you need to add or subtract a few rows to make the band meet this criteria, I suggest you subtract. Break the yarn, but leave a 1 metre tail to sew it up later.



Using the larger of your 2 chosen hooks,
3. Starting at the tip of the crown, using a magic loop, make 7dc.
Note: This hat is created in one, continuous spiral to avoid having a seam, so be sure to mark the start of each round with a stitch-marker.

4.*[2 dc]*, 7 times (14 sts)
5. *[2 FL-dc], 1 FL-dc*, 7 times (21 sts)
6. *[2 FL-dc], 2 FL-dc*, 7 times (28 sts)
7. *[2 FL-dc], 3 FL-dc*, 7 times (35 sts)
8. *[2 FL-dc], 4 FL-dc*, 7 times (42 sts) 
9. *[2 FL-dc], 5 FL-dc*, 7 times (49 sts) 
10. *[2 FL-dc], 6 FL-dc*, 7 times (56 sts)  
11. *[2 FL-dc], 7 FL-dc*, 7 times (63 sts)  

Continue in this manner until you reach the same number of stitches as rows in your band.
In my case, that stitch number was 126.



From this point, stop increasing, and simply work round and round using FL-dc sts until hat is deep enough. Remember that the band will be sewn on afterwards, so take that into consideration when test-fitting the hat on the lucky person's head.



Using the 1m tail on the band, sew the band's ends together to create a large loop, and then attach to the crown, working 1 band row and 1 crown stitch together at a time. They should fit perfectly.

Soak the hat in cold water for 15 minutes, press gently in a towel to remove excess moisture, and, if the recipient is willing, block on their head. This will remove and stiffness in the fabric and mould it to their exact head shape. If they're not willing, use your own head. I find blocking hats is a great way to tame my frizzy hair, too. Odd, but true!


Abbreviations (ALL terms used are UK):
dc - double crochet
BL-dc - back loop double crochet. Work into only the loop farthest from you. This creates a great ribbed effect.
FL-dc - front loop double crochet - As above, but work only the loop closest to you. This gives a really nice line to the resulting fabric.
sts - stitches, but you knew that one, anyway. : )

23 May 2012

It's been a while, but I reckon it's never too late to get back on the horse, right?

I had a great time last week, teaching a 1/2-day workshop in This Is Knit, in the Powerscourt Centre, Dublin.


- me with my teaching face on

Working through Pax, my free shawl pattern, we learnt how to work linked-stitches, the different increases I use and when they're best implemented, and all the fancy lace techniques I use in Pax.


- towards the end of the class, we got into the nitty-gritty
By the end, I'm happy to report, everyone knew their way around the pattern and were ready to start into their very own Pax-es.

If you missed out on this workshop, never fear! I have another session coming up, in This Is Knit in July. For more info, click here.


23 October 2011

Dublin Bay extended

Having finally added the longer version of Dublin Bay shawl to the pattern, I'm celebrating with a few photos of the ACTual Bay of Dublin from a few days ago in the biting October winds.

I love that this is a sight I am greeted with often, and I count myself very lucky that I have such beauty within a short distance from the new Yarn Towers site. It really makes me pause for thought to think that people have been sailing in and out of this stretch of water for millennia, and that it was the gateway for the establishment of Dyflin, the Viking word for Dublin over 2000 years ago. It really humbles me to think of the sheer volume of lives that have been affected by this bite out of the land.


The first photo is looking north from Booterstown, on the lower end of the bay. The edge of Dublin City is visible in the lights to the left.



The second photo is again, from Booterstown, but looking south, towards DĂșn Laoghaire and Bray's pier beyond as the watery, winter sun slowly crawls into the sky over low tide. 

Dublin Bay is my first pattern to feature what I am calling Tunisian Lace techniques. If you can do basic tunisian stitches, or if you are familiar with crochet linked stitches, then it, and my other shawls, will be a piece of cake to you. If not, I've gone and added links to video tutorials on how to read my charts, and how to work the stitches, to be sure.

10 October 2011

A life of testing...

...appears to be ahead of me as a designer, but as frustrating as it can be at times, it is clearly the better choice for me.

I have spent the last year and a half on and off looking for an editor with which to start a meaningful relationship. Someone I can turn to, give money to, and in return be confident that the pattern text I get back is safe to publish, and clear enough that customers can read through it and understand what I meant to say without confusion.

It seems to me that this shouldn't be too difficult to do on the surface, but, as many before me have undoubtedly found, a good editor (especially in crochet) is as hard to find as hen's teeth.

So! I have decided after several heartbreaks, to go down another road. I'm relying on the generosity and sharp eyes of a wonderful group of testers. What brilliant people! In exchange for a free preview copy of a pattern (and the eventual fully-edited version), these goddesses are happy to work out the kinks in tandem, to ask pertinent questions, suggest re-wordings, and generally check spelling, stitch numbers and garment fit.

Now, naturally, there's a lot more work for me to do; I'm not just flinging text at a bunch of people and expecting them to "fix" it. I'm far more involved in the process, checking up daily if possible on everyone's progress, answering questions and explaining myself further, but they're so patient! I've been swallowed up in my own mathematics a few times in the course of the last few tests, but my testers have been so helpful in detangling me.






 I'm in love with my regular core group of testers at this stage, after they worked me through Ruadh, Dublin Bay, Solas and lately, Lop and Honeymeade. Now, a group of 9 are embarking on my newest pattern set: Liffey Swim: A hat, fingerless glove and mitten set, just in time for the weather to turn.



The bonus of this for me, oddly enough, is that I gain a much better understanding of the pattern in question, too. No longer do I find myself writing out instructions, only to have them fall out my ear while I sleep. Now, when a customer asks me why I did something the way I did, or if a pattern could be modified in a certain way, I'm much quicker off the mark. This pleases me, and I hope it pleases the questioner, too.

So, fellow budding designers, I cannot highly enough recommend the Testing Pool in Ravelry's groups. For us minnows in a sea of giants, it's the only way to go!

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