While other people are hoarding toilet paper during these times of social distancing and isolation, try hoarding yarn. Knitting is a therapeutic way to keep your hands and brain active while creating beautiful, useful items. It also involves a lot of math!
There are kids learn to knit kit you can buy to get you started, but they really aren’t necessary. There is so much information on the internet to get you started, as well as Youtube videos. To begin, look for videos about casting on and basic stitches of knit and purl. I actually prefer images to videos, but there is a wealth of information you can find when you come to something in a pattern you do not understand. A good book like Debbie Bliss‘ How to Knit can be a useful reference as well.
Please understand that this post is written from a beginning knitter’s perspective. I’ve made three hats since the Coronavirus shelter-in-place order began. The first one is not very good and will be taken apart. Prior to this, my only knitting experience was making a sweater when my daughter was a baby. This project was never completed.
Knit a Swatch
One essential part of knitting I often skip is knitting a swatch to determine gauge. In a rush to begin the actual project and partially because I didn’t quite understand it (and am still a bit confused), I would just jump into casting on. When the size was off, I often would adjust the number of stitches once I’ve begun to size correctly, but this is much more difficult and often involves starting over. I’ve resigned to swatch knitting.
Knitting a swatch helps you determine what size needles to use for the yarn you are using and your natural tension. It’s best to use the pattern of the project, otherwise just use stockinette stitch. For example, the hat pattern shared below called for casting on 92 stitches. I knitted a swatch and found that the yarn I was using, Mirasol Huni as a carrier for Cascade Yarns El Cielo with the size US 10 needles I had, was actually four stitches per inch. Given that I wanted a 20 inches circumference for the hat, I cast on 80 stitches instead of 92. Sure this messed up the pattern a little bit, but it was hardly noticeable and the hat fit perfectly.
The first hat I made with this pattern I did not knit a swatch, and I thought I needed to double the number of stitches called for in the pattern. After a few inches of knitting, I realized it had a huge circumference and had to undo hours of work.
Knitting a Hat
This pattern is based upon Mirasol’s Tintiri Hat Pattern. I altered it a bit to knit in the round rather than flat like the pattern.
Size 10 circular needles 16” using Mirasol Huni yarn.
Cast on 92 sts or what is needed after knitting swatch to measure 20” circumference or adjust the needle size. Make sure stitches are straight before joining the round and use a marker.
4 stitches per inch gauge for Mirasol Huni Wool with El Cielo Alpaca cast on 80 sts. Numbers below refer to the original pattern with 92 stitches cast on. I don’t know the gauge with just the Huni, as I didn’t knit a swatch.
Repeat until measures ¾ inch from cast on edge
P2 tog, k4 [p2,k4] to last 2 stitches p2 tog (90 sts)
[P2, K4] to end for four rows
[K2, P2, K2] to end for four rows
[K4, P2] to end for four rows
Repeat until measures 6-7 in from cast ending with last row [K4, P2]
If not ending with the last row, adjust to shape the crown to follow the pattern. (I did not do this for the alpaca hat.)
1st row: [k2 tog, k2, p2] to end (75 sts)
2nd row: [p2, k3] to end
3rd row: [k2tog, k1, p2] to end (60sts)
4th row: [p2, k2] to end
5th row: [k2 tog, p2] to end (45 sts)
6th row: [p2, k1] to end
7th row: [k1, p2tog] to end (30sts)
8th row: [p1, k1] to end
9th row: [k2tog] to end (15sts)
Switch to double ended needles when crown is too small for circular needles.
Thread needle through remaing stitches to tighten crown. Tie off and thread end into hat.