A change

Following your much-welcomed advice, I have put the shawl aside for the moment. I’m sorry to break the hearts of all those who guessed I’d be finished on Friday the 13th ;). When I pick it up again, I’ll see about fixing HUGE #3.

Many of you have expressed your shock about such a mistake-ridden pattern, and are wondering what the pattern distributor and the designer have to say about this.

I want to let you know that I’m in touch with both, especially Sharon Winsauer, the designer. She writes, “As you are probably beginning to suspect, this shawl was not test knit, hence the number of typos.”

I don’t want to say anything else right now, because it’s sort of the heat of the moment. I have decided that the best course of action is to push this thing to its limit (completion or unquestionable abandonment), and only then reflect on the experience both here on the blog, and in a letter to Sharon and Beth.



I’ve never knit one!

When I started writing this entry, I initially typed that I had never knit a hat before, but then I remembered, there was that one time. Suffice it to say, no memorable impression was left by the experience, it was just sort of ‘blah.’

Well, now I have a reason to get into the action!

During the latest visit to my parents, I was fortunate enough to see my great aunt and uncle and their family. It’s clear that my grandma has been bragging to them left and right about my knitting, because they were eager and ready to ask for handknitted gifts :).

I have two little second cousins – Sarit is 3.5 years old, and Ori is 9.5. Those are both girls’ names, by the way (just in case you’re thinking, Ori? Isn’t that the bacterial origin of replication?). Their mom has asked me to knit them hats, and I’m sort of clueless.

I don’t even know where to start. I measured the circumferences of their heads (Sarit – 20.5”, Ori – 21.5”), and I noted their color preferences (Sarit – lilac/lavender, Ori – medium pink), and now???

Is it odd that I feel so completely lost about this, that I don’t even know where to start? I think knitting the shawl has brainwashed me.

Well, okay, I’ve thought a bit about the yarn, and most likely I will use Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (baby or aran). I’ve read many not so nice things about this yarn and Debbie Bliss yarns more generally (mainly people cite that it’s too pricey), but let me tell you one thing – I can hardly tolerate even the softest wool next to my skin, yet I’m as happy as a clam to wear the scarf Polly knit for me. It’s holding up like a champ, too. And that’s all the testimony I need.

As for the pattern… I’m a pattern monger, yet I do not crave hat patterns and always skip over them when flipping through magazines and pattern books. As a result, I do not have any hat patterns for my little cousins! I have some Debbie Bliss patterns (you’ve seen a few, you’ve seen them all), I have Hats on!, and that’s about it.

I do have one idea, though, for little Sarit, who’s a girly girl ;).

Remember those beaded cuffs I knit on the Mia Shrug? Many people have contacted me for the pattern, and I have been reluctant to disclose it for a simple reason.

You see, the shrug is knit flat and then seamed, while that cuff pattern is exponentially easier to knit in the round. I just haven’t bothered to explain how to knit the cuff, and then transition into Karen’s pattern.

But a hat… now that’s something you can knit in the round! And wouldn’t a cute beaded hat be just the perfect thing for a cute 3-year old?

I have to think about incorporating decreases before I even suggest that I’ll be able to come up with a pattern. Plus I know nothing about hat sizing and shaping… nothing at all… (You hear me? Don’t get too excited.)

Speaking of sizing, is it true that I should aim for about 2-3″ of negative ease? I base this by comparing the circumferences of my best-fitting hats (20-21″) and the circumference of that melon that sits atop my neck (23″). Plus this somewhat confusing webpage.


51 thoughts on “A change

  1. Carla

    I love the idea of the beads for the hat… and I can’t wait to see it. Hurrah for you!

    (Also, While peeking at the hat you made for little Nicolas, I noticed that your cast-on edge for the ribbing was remarkably neat and even. How did you do that? A specific cast-on? Blocking? Years of practice? Magic star dust?)

  2. Margot

    I always shoot for 2″ of negative ease when I make hats. Since you’re making them for people who are presumably still growing, I wouldn’t go any lower.

  3. Melissa

    I think that pattern might look nice as a pill-box type hat–just a flat top, though I guess it also looks like it would lend itself to a spiral pretty readily.

    I don’t plan on any (or much) negative ease in my hats–so I make them somewhat shallow. Don’t really have any problem with fit or falling off.

  4. Punkie

    there is the “live dangerously, don’t swatch hat” from the talented Susan of “I’m knitting as fast as I can” found here: http://ma2ut.blogspot.com/ Cute top down hat that you are instructed NOT to make a swatch for! Can’t beat that.

  5. Kat

    Your Sarit hat mimics a beaded hat that I saw on the T one morning and intend to attempt to replicate once I finish with my secret knitting project. The top wasn’t a traditional round, hat shape. It was more of a rounded point.

  6. trek

    Go visit my blog! I’ve posted several free hat patterns that I’ve written up. These all fit my DD who is 3 and has a 19″ head. The cabled earflap, one, though, is a bit big on her and I could fit it onto my 21″ head.

  7. Christina

    Instead of a specific measurement, I use 15-20% negative ease, based on who it is for and the pattern I’m using. -15% ease for babies/toddlers, since their skull will expand, -20% for brimless hats or pillbox styles.

  8. Jen

    Oh, you can do this. Knit a brim for about 2 – 2 1/2 inches, knit the body till the whole thing is about 6 inches, divide into something easily divisible like groups of 12 and decrease every other round by doing a k2tog at the beginning of each group until you have about 8 stitches left, draw the yarn through and close.

    Not that you needed my help, but that will get you a basic hat, and you can embellish on it any way you choose.

  9. Folkcat

    I was contemplating figuring out a basic hat pattern myself. Something simple with a ribbed cuff. I took a research trip to Target and went around measuring knit hats that they had for sale.

    I found that the children’s hats measured about 16″, infant and toddler hats 14 – 16″, and the adult hats were almost exclusively 18″ around.

    Obviously, whether these measurements will work can depend greatly on what sort of pattern you decide on, what yarn you choose, etc. I’ve been knitting K2P2 ribbed hats for my husband and myself with worsted weight yarns to the 18″ measurement with great success.

    Hope that helps rather than confuses things!

  10. MaiaPapaya

    I think the beaded spiraly hat will be super cute. Usually when I make a hat I just design it the way Christina already explained in her comment. For Ori’s hat though, you could just knit it straight up (w/o any decreases,)work a three needle bind off and then join those two corners together – makes a cute pillbox shape.

  11. Leisel

    Not. Test. Knit. I don’t know if you paid for the pattern or not, but I honestly cannot imagine SELLING a pattern that hasn’t been tested out. That’s just flabbergasting! (Okay, I know it must happen often, considering how often I read about people finding mistakes in patterns… I just find it incomprehensible).

    As for kids hats… a couple of ideas if you’re still looking:

    Wavy hat by nona of nonaknits (designed to match knitty’s Wavy scarf… I made a couple of these for my girls, and they’re rather cute… there’s a picture on my blog if you scroll down):


    I also wrote up the pattern for the mistake rib hat I recently finished. I do need to rewrite it (right now, it’s written in a bit of a conversational tone), but all the information is there… just a bit of blathering from me, too:



  12. Mari

    I remember seeing a cute hat in IK FALL 2005. I think it was called the Brioche Helmet Hat. The short row shaping seemed interesting.

  13. Tracy

    You might want to check with Sarit’s mom and make sure she’s grown out of the “put everything in my mouth” stage before adding possible choking hazards to her wardrobe. They usually stop that by 3, but some kids take longer to get the idea.

  14. Annie

    There is a hat pattern called Sophie’s Hat, (not sure of the designer), that works up beautifully in Debbie Bliss. It has a rolled brim, and then a 2 or 3 inch band where you’re supposed to put lazy daisies/french knots as flowers…very girly girl! Beads would be perfect in that band. Just a thought. Whatever you do will be great, as always!

  15. Pumpkinmama

    I second (or whatever) the Don’t Swatch Hat – its a great starting point to riff off of. I am also very fond of Knitty’s Tychus as its contructed in a fund way – short row wedges. All the model shots look very masculine (and use red heart!) but it could be easily girled up if need be.

  16. Sarah

    Since everyone seems to be commenting on the hat patterns, I thought I’d throw in my two cents about the yarn. I just finished a scarf knit entirely from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and I have to say that it feels positively dreamy against the sensitive skin of the neck (and I have very sensitive skin, so that’s saying something). Depending on what type of stitching you’re doing, it may not be the best yarn. I had some basic cables in my scarf, and I found the yarn to be a bit split-y at some points, but I loved the feel of it so much that I put up with it. It has a really nice sheen to it as well, so when it’s knit up it looks really luxurious (must be the cashmere).

  17. Chris

    I think that cuff pattern would make a great hat!

    *wonders if she should mention her ulterior motive of a February prediction for suggesting that Grumperina take a break from shawl and decides against it*

  18. Jes

    I’ve heard that negative ease of the hat should be more based on percentages. 5% for a snugish hat and 10% for very snug hat. That makes more sense to me than just assuming 2″ because head sizes are so different (especially on growing kids). If I made one for a child I would either go with a very stretchy pattern and do 10%, or more likely, a slightly stretchy one with 5%. That way it might fit for more than one winter.

    Btw, that sux about the pattern not being test knit. At least she owned up to it. Nothing worse than people that try to pretend there aren’t any mistakes and that it’s all your fault. I hope they fix it and republish it, for your sake, and everyone after you. =)

  19. Linda

    Sally Melville has a nicely shaped hat in The Purl Stitch, you could start from her shape and do what you like with the texture and embellishments.

  20. Colleen

    “…just in case you’re thinking, Ori? Isn’t that the bacterial origin of replication?”

    –Oh yes, that was exactly what I was thinking :-).

    This is a great hat idea.

    About the hat’s negative ease (hereafter NE)? Yes, and no. For a kid’s hat, I think that NE is the way to go. For an adult’s hat, I have my doubts. I usually like to knit my ribbing at the same size as my head. The ribbing pulls in just enough to keep the hat snug, but not enough to squish the coif.

    My latest knit was actually a little larger than my head circumference–but there’s a hem involved there.

  21. Sue

    Is the older sister a Harry Potter fan? If so there is a cute hat pattern called Hermoine’s cable-and-bobble hat that is downloadable for a nominal fee here:


    It is a replica of the hat Hermoine wore in the 3rd movie (it was red in the movie). I made one for my 13-year old daughter in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran yarn in the cranberry color (300611) and she loves it. It’s a little snug but I haven’t blocked it yet and the pattern says that would take care of the snugness. I didn’t find any errors in the pattern. For another fee there is a pattern for matching mittens.

    Don’t forget to consider Anne Modesitt’s Rasta hat pattern. It looks like a hat kids would love.

    Also, based on your choices of projects and patterns that you seem to take on you may find Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns very helpful in situations like this. It gives basic patterns in different sizes and gauges for hats, gloves, mittens, vests etc.

    Hats are fun and quick – a good remedy for that headache of a shawl you are working on.

  22. j a r e d

    I knit a few different versions of the Nautilus (Marnie’s Pattern) in Misti Alpaca Worsted, and they look great! I can send pics if you’re interested. I also really enjoy her Haley’s Comet hat (http://www.marniemaclean.com/patterns/Comet/index.html), especially the crown! I’ve seen a few versions for little girls and they’ve turned out wonderful. best of luck in warding off the hat addiction (or maybe thats just my problem…)

  23. joanna

    I don’t know if you want to bother purchasing a hat pattern, but there’s one at Knitpicks (here) that has spiraling columns of beads like your cuff. Not sure if it’s the same stitch pattern, but it could give you some ideas for the decreases…

    Also, I can’t believe a pattern was for sale that was never test-knit. WTF??

  24. Martha

    I for one would love to know how you made the cuffs. They add so much to the shrug! Couldn’t you do a provisional cast-on, knit the shrug, seam the sleeves and then knit the cuffs down? (I haven’t knit the shrug yet so I have no idea whether or not that would work).

    A beaded hat in that pattern would be the bomb. Sally Melville has a spiral-topped hat in the Knit Stitch (forget the name, Caddie’s hat? something like that, I can get it for you) that it might be applied to.

  25. Emily

    I never use negative ease in hats unless it is a stretchy stitch pattern. I find that they get itchy if they are too tight. Hats On! has a great explanation of how much ease to use.

    I love the idea of the beaded spiral pattern for a hat. To make things really easy, I would figure out how many stitches you will need for the main part of the hat, find a pattern for a hat that uses a similar number of stitches, and follow the rate of decreasing for that hat. I can think of two ways that you could decrease decoratively. First, you could just gradually make your two-stitch ribs into one-stitch ribs, etc. then just slip your working yarn through the remaining stitches. Second, you could pick a certain number of ribs (probably 5 or 6) that will be intact up to the top, and decrease before or after them every other row or so (whatever rate of decrease you decide will work well). This will make it look like the pattern is getting tucked under itself.

    Good luck.

  26. Kathryn

    I’ve made two baby hats using the cashmerino aran, and the babies love the feel of it, plus it’s super warm. I had no problem knittng with this yarn, of course I did use it for hats and not a larger project so that might make all the difference. (miss dashwood from knitty.com, probably too small for the 3.5 year old). As for pattern, I haven’t had to knit many girls hats yet, as my girl is only 5 months. Now if it was boys there are plenty of very boyish hats out there. kategilbert.com has some cute hats though. Good luck.

  27. Ruth

    One of the best baby hats I’ve ever made had a 2″ garter cuff, then was knit in the round for roughly five inches, and seamed with a three-needle bind-off. I added pom-poms to the ends, and voila! Cuteness. The pom-poms hung down like little ears. I think it was a Gifted Hands pattern.

    As for ease, yes, about 2″ of negative ease will be perfect. They are still growing, after all.

  28. Ellen

    That is just horrible about your shawl pattern. What were they thinking??? And on a similar note – do not knit the Brioche Helmet out of IK. The pattern has problems!!!!

  29. Melisa

    There is a hat in the first SnB book that is mostly stockinette roll brim hat. Every few stitches you purl to cause a seies of bumps that run on the diagonal. I think it would look really cute with beads on the bumps (the pattern shows large sequins). It is knit with lamb’s pride bulky, so you may be able to just sub the Debbie Bliss (depending on what your gauge is) and get the right size hat for one of the girls.

  30. Purly Whites

    I’ve got nothing that will help you, hatwise, since the only hats I’ve successfully knit have been for infants, so let’s move on to the yarn.

    I don’t get people’s problem with DB yarns. I knit myself a pair of socks out of baby cashmerino and they are actually holding up better than socks I’ve knit out of Koigu. So there!

    I’m still appalled and shocked at this designer.

  31. Laurel

    Hats On is a good book for cute hats (even though the cover would suggest no such thing). However, you will want to choose the hat with care and look at the pattern… there are a few with mistakes in them… and you don’t want to have to deal with that, too.

  32. Mary K.

    No comment about hats from here in Rockport, Mass., although I have made many – there are lots of directions available for sizing and ease, and you clearly are an inventive sort. My comment has to do with your cousins’ names – they sound Israeli? We’re well-stocked with Israeli family members even here in little Rockport. Just found your site yesterday and am enjoying it. Must stop reading and get busy with chores….

  33. Angela

    I’m confused–if that shawl wasn’t test knit, then where did the shawl in the photo come from?

    Barbara Walker has a very adaptable hat design in her book Knitting from the Top.

  34. Gail

    Chile con yarne has an adorable cupcake hat for the younger girl. As for the 9.5 yr old, I would go with something more classic. I have a daughter this age and she is very fashion concious. (Inlike her mother)

  35. wendy

    I wouldn’t put beads on a hat for a little girl. I can envision them ending up in her throat, her nose, or her ears. Stick with colors and patterns or her mother might never let her wear it. Just a thought…….

  36. Julia

    About 1-2 inches of negative ease. Cast on for the resulting circumference and knit between 5-6 inches even (for kids I’m guessing 5.5, since babies are 5 and adults are usually 6). For a worsted weight I usually decrease every other row approximately every 8-10 sts (divide the sts evenly around the hat – 8-10 is ballpark). Do this until your decreases are occuring about every 3-4 sts and then move to doing your decreases every row. At the end you’ll k2tog all around, until you have about 6 sts. Cut the yarn with a long tail and weave through the live sts and cinch tight. Voila! Hat! Now all you have to do is chart out the patterning to make it work with those decreases – have fun!

  37. Nancy J

    Beaded hats — oh fun! What about doing 2 basically identical hats with those aureleborealis beads and use mostly pink in one and mostly lavendar in the other, maybe a touch of fair isle.(Siblings usually decide the other’s hat, or whatever, is better than the one she/they got.) 20.5 and 21 inch heads are basically adult size. (Out of curiousity, check your head size, shouldn’t be much different than theirs!) Happy weekend!

  38. Jen S

    I am about to start a hat for my daughter, who is seven and pretty girly. She picked out the Hermione pattern – from the blog atypically knit or something?? (she hasn’t seen the movies or read the books yet, but loves the cables and bobbles). I am not going to allow for negative ease because I want to have plenty of room to sew in a light liner, which will make a warmer hat and eliminate the scratiness factor. Also, a looser fit will allow her to wear it next winter if she wants.

    I can’t wait to see what you knit for them. And, I love their beautiful names.

  39. Sue

    Beads on a hat for a child: it depends on the child. I would ask her mother about whether beads on the hat is appropriate for her. Also, if one sister gets beads the other sister might want beads. Some sisters are competetive that way and the only way to know if one will feel slighted if the other gets beads is to ask their mother….

  40. Kenny

    I think that I’m slow….. I don’t get it. What has this post/letter thingy got anything to do with the problems of the shawl?

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