Knitting Notes, Project Ideas

Knit A Hat

Hats seem to be the answer to all sorts of knitting questions and problems.  For example:

Q: I wound up this yarn and decided not to use it for that project.  What should I do with it?
A: Knit a hat with it!

Q: I need to make a gift and I don’t have much time.  What should I make?
A: Make a hat!

Q: I want to learn this technique but I don’t know where to start.  What can I do to learn?
A: Make a hat that uses that technique!

So when we started this discussion last week and the answer was “You should make a hat” – Carrie quickly quipped “Make a hat for the holidays” and the idea has stuck with me since.  I have since made 2 hats and asked a handful of the Wool & Grace team about their preferred hats and why that like making them. 

Those questions listed above help answer the question of why we like making hats so much.  They are relatively quick projects and are excellent for using up leftover yarn.  People almost always need them and therefore make great gifts.  Being small projects, they are a great way for us to introduce ourselves to new knitting techniques on a smaller scale.  Now let’s talk about store favorites while we continue this conversation.

the Vermonter ©Abi Connors

Lori could knit a Vermonter in her sleep.  She’s made so many of these and coached our knitters through that many more, it’s no surprise that this is her favorite hat.  It’s not just her familiarity with the project that makes her like it so much.  Lori pointed out that because it’s such an approachable hat (easy to make, cute to wear) that new knitters gain a huge amount of confidence in banging out one (or many!) of these.  Made with a super bulky yarn, it knits up quickly and with gorgeous results.  In the meantime, knitters learn to knit in the round, read their stitches and their pattern.  Plus, the crown shaping requires a few rows of work on double-pointed needles.  These seem daunting to new knitters, but make a Vermonter or two and all the sudden you’ve conquered this knitting feat.  Our knitters love to make their Vermonters with Malabrigo Rasta, Cascade Spuntaneous and Loopy Mango’s Merino No. 5


For similar reasons, Alex loves the Mega Rib hat, and she especially loves to knit it in beautiful, hand-dyed Rasta.  Because it’s a quick knit, she tends to make a handful as gifts, and she always ends up making one for herself!  Another new hat she loves is the Icehouse Hat from Blue Sky Fibers.  Watching a few knitters make it, she decided to knit it, as well.  This basic ribbed beanie is distinguished by its contrasting color brim and its beautiful crown shaping.  Ribbed beanies are always in style and this one’s novel brim shaping is visible enough that it lets us see how specific decreases shape your fabric. It’s super soft in Blue Sky’s Baby Alpaca, but you could choose any number of sport-weight yarns to make it, including HiKoo Sueño or Edition 3.  

Turn a Square
Turn A Square © Jared Flood

Patty points to Turn a Square as one of her favorites. This free pattern is a classic, and has been around since before the days of Brooklyn Tweed.  Not only do knitters get to dabble in stripes for this hat, but it’s a fantastic project to use up small bits of worsted-weight yarn.  If you go to the project page you’ll see how much freedom and creativity exists for this little hat.  Mix yarns and colors, work with solids and/or hand-dyes or variegated yarns. 

Chunky walnut
Chunky Walnut © Katrin Schubert

Chunky Walnut is another one of Patty’s favorites, and it just so happens to be one of Carrie’s favorites too!  It look tricky and complicated, like they’re some brioche stitching in there or something like that – but it’s actually pretty easy!  It’s just a ribbed hat with thoughtfully placed increases and decrease that make for a very cool looking hat. Knit up in a bulky yarn, it’s a quick project, too.  Chunky Walnut is another confidence booster.  When you wear it out or gift it, prepare to impress others.  Then think back and remind yourself that “Yeah, I did that.  I guess I am pretty awesome.”  Most of us have made a Chunky Walnut using Brooklyn Tweed Quarry, but you can also use Blue Sky Extra, Cascade 128 or even Juniper Moon Fourteen

Regular Guy Beanie
Regular Guy Beanie

Carrie also loves the Regular Guy Beanie, and she makes a lot of them.  We love recommending this straightforward pattern.  Knit up in a worsted-weight yarn, it’s as basic a hat patterns they come.  Since it truly is the Regular Guy Beanie, it’s a wonderful gift for all those amazing regular-guys in your lives.  Pick from any of our favorite worsted-weight yarns to knit up this fantastic hat, or raid your stash and put together a mishmash of worsted-weight yarns to knit this up.

Hilltop Family Hat
Hilltop Family Hat © Blue Sky Fibers

I could write a book on my favorite hat patterns, but for today, I’d love to point out the Hilltop Family Hat as a new favorite.  I knit this up last week as a sample for the shop and I did it in a matter of hours, using Blue Sky Fibers’ Organic Worsted Cotton (I used the prints).  For one, this yarn is incredibly soft.  Since I never get tired of a ribbed beanie, I enjoyed the knitting immensely – but there’s a versatility to this one I can’t ignore.  Wear it slouchy or with a folded brim, watch cap style.  If you’re careful weaving in your ends, it can be reversible.  Also, it’s sized for all members of the family, so make it for itty-bitty babies and people with huge heads or a ton of hair.  I also enjoyed finishing off this hat.  The method is something I’d never encountered before, but it gives a nice, tidy top.  There are beautiful colors of Organic Worsted Cotton to choose from, but you could also make it up in some of these favorites: HiKoo SimpliWorsted, Madeline Tosh Vintage, Malabrigo Rios, Juniper Moon Fourteen, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter… to name a few. 

If you need a quick project or something to distract you from a mammoth knitting project, knit a hat.  If you need to make a quick gift, knit a hat.  If you feel like knitting for the pure joy of it (and want something useful at the end of it all), knit a hat.  There’s no wrong answers in knitting, but somehow a hat is always the right answer.

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