I have a few staples, a few things I do really well, and although I’m capable of reading a recipe, atm, my time and circumstance just does not lend itself to that much fanciness, which is a shame, because I’ve done some bitchin’ color work in my time, and cables as well. But that’s okay. Staples keep you fed and they keep your head warm too. So a lot of the things I’ve been sharing, both on the blog and when I’m putting patterns to go with the knitting stories, have been very very basic.
And people (that’s actually plural! I’m sort of mind-blown!) have been asking for the basic pattern of the Stanley Hat.
Now not everyone has read Knitter in His Natural Habitat but I know a few of you were around for the Family of hats, but the Stanley hat is really, just a basic stocking hat. In the book, it’s his second project, and he makes it to give to Johnny, and Johnny’s head is a little big so it curls around Johnny’s ears. (Which means try not to underestimate how long you should knit it–Stanley was knitting from my own experience there.)
It’s got two variations– ribbing on the bottom, or rolled bottom, and seriously, if I were going to teach someone how to make a hat, I’d start with this one. Nothing could be easier. (The hat you see in the pictures here is Big T’s, which is why it’s so huge, and it’s striped. The stripes are a different matter– pretend it’s all one color. The pattern is the same, swear!)
The key to making the Stanley Hat (as I’m going to call it– mostly it’s been the basic hat) is multiples of 8. If you are knitting approximately 4 stitches per inch, with worsted weight yarn– I personally use a size six or seven circular needle, because I tend to make my gauge really big!–you will knit a hat with a 20 inch circumference. Most adults run between 20-22 inches, and it stretches, so I cast on 80 stitches for any adult but me or my ginormous son. We get 88 stitches and a lot of length. My younger son, and even Squishy, who both have a sizable noggins for spawn so short, get 72 stitches, and if I were casting on for a toddler, I’d go for 66.
So that’s the first part.
Worsted weight, 4 st. per inch, circular needles and DPN’s for when the decrease gets too small, and you’re ready to go.
CO 80 stitches.
|Big T’s ribbed bottom hat. Ignore the stripes. They’re
another blog post.
The second part is the brim. If you want it rolled, uhm, just start knitting on the circs. Around and around and around and around and around. Stop when you want to shoot someone, measure it against the head in question (put it on–seriously. Put. It. On. The sudden decrease caused by the 16 inch circular span is offset by the extra length you put into the kind of decrease you use. It works!) Anyway, start decreasing when it reaches the earlobes. Stanley’s hat for Johnny rolled up because Johnny had a big, Italian head (and I know about those!) so although he probably knitted it until it went down to his earlobes, it lost that length when it was going around Johnny’s head. Remember that– if you’re knitting for someone with a watermelon that blocks out the moon, GO LONG! If you’re knitting for Mate, who has an itty bitty pin-head, or the spawn who bear his mark– Chicken mostly–take that earlobe thing very seriously or it will fall in your victim’s, er, recipient’s eyes.
If you want ribbed, you cast on the right number of stitches. A 2×2 rib works very evenly around that hat. Work that for about two inches–more if you want more–and then switch to stockinette.
Use the same gauge for when to stop– the bottom of the earlobe thing. (In the case of the ribbed brim, it’s better to stop early and let it ride up, because there is no easy way to get that thing out of your eyes.)
Now you’re ready to decrease. Remember, when the hat gets too small near the crown, use DPNs or two circs or whichever decreasing method works for you. (Sometimes, when I get impatient, I manage to keep all the stitches on the same needle, but it’s frustrating and makes me want to kill small animals. Better to just have the other needles on hand.)
I use what I call the “Octopus Decrease” because that’s what it looks like when you’re done, and because you may have noticed my aversion to math.
Note– if you’re using 88 stitches, start out by knitting 9 stitches and knitting the 10th and 11th stitch together, and follow directions as they’re written below.
If you’re using 72 stitches, start out by knitting 7 stitches and then knit the 8th and 9th stitches together, then follow directions in the pattern indicated below.
For 80 stitches:
The first round of decreasing, knit 8, knit the 9th and 10th stitch together, repeat around the hat.
Knit one round plain.
The second round of decreasing, knit 7, and knit the 8th and 9th stitch together: repeat around the hat
Knit one round plain
The third round of decreasing, knit 6, and knit the 7th and 8th stitch together: repeat around the hat
Knit one round plain
And I bet you can see where this is going, right? Continue to decrease in this way until there are 3 (THREE) stitches between decreases, so 4 stitches per section, and you’ve knit your one plain round.
Knit two together around
Knit two together around again.
|The Octopus Decrease|
You should have 8 stitches left! If you have 9 or 10 or 7 or 11, screw it and finish off anyway. Seriously– unless you’re totally anal retentive, (and I’m not, and I’m pretty sure Stanley isn’t!) no one who doesn’t knit will be able to tell. If it’s someone who knits, odds are, you will have made six mistakes by now anyway, and they’ll still appreciate the effort.
Break off the yarn with an 8 inch tail and thread the tail through all the live stitches, pulling them off of the needles, and pull the stitches shut like an adorable little sphincter. (I write m/m romance– I’m sorry–it’s an inescapable comparison. Ask me about the little man straddling the needles and why we don’t want his nuts in a knot sometime… seriously. Ask me.)
Finish off both the ends, block and wear on the noggin. Now, my friend Roxie (whom I love!) has one of those mannequin heads, and her hats always look amazing as they are blocking. I block MY hats on the couch, like Stanley, where my cats can make sweet lurve to them when I am asleep, and so nobody ever accidentally gets virgin wool, because, well, off of my needles, that’s just sad.
And that’s how you make a hat!