Silky ears

No better way to start the new year than with a wonderful new hat!

(Though I technically finished it in 2006, but who’s counting?)

Pattern: Kristen by Bea Ellis Knitwear, generously gifted to me by Ashley.

Yarn: Dale of Norway Heilo, 100% wool, 1 skein each of 0020 (natural) and 4227 (cranberry); lined with scraps of Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple 100% silk.

Needles: US 5 Susan Bates 16″ circular and Boye dpns.

Finished size: about 20″ in circumference and 7.5″ deep.

If you can believe it, this is my first ever Fair Isle hat. In fact, I haven’t knit too many hats in general, and this is only my third go at Fair Isle (the first two being a pair of mismatched socks).

I’m not sure what I was waiting for – what a gratifying project! I loved working with the woolly goodness that is Heilo. For the first time I had absolutely no fear of dropped stitches – the furry yarn grabbed on and would not let go.

True to its nature, the red yarn bled during blocking, but I don’t think it tinted the white too much.

As you can see, my tension is still a bit wonky – in many places the red recedes too much. I should note that in addition to my inexperience, two factors made the peaks and valleys more evident – first, I selected white to be the dominant yarn. Second, the red Heilo was just a teensy bit thinner than its white counterpart, allowing it to further sink into the background. I figure everything will even out with a bit of wear.

The pattern was easy to follow, though I found two mistakes in the chart. I’ve contacted Bea Ellis to let them know, but I don’t expect to hear back until after the holidays.

Worked up quickly, too! Would be even quicker if I omitted the 13 Papal rounds from the very beginning. But the surgery was successful, so it’s water under the bridge:

You can see some imperfections in the very first two-color round. That’s because I had to knit the white stitches (well, the bottom halves of the white stitches) through the back loop. However, chopping off those few extra inches was a whole lot easier than reknitting the hat, and all the loops have been secured, so this technique proves handy once again.

My favorite part of this hat has to be the lining.

So slinky and smooth, heaven against the delicate skin. Also, I get a little giggle knowing that only a select few are privy to the explosion of color inside my hat.

Using chain stitch to attach the lining was pretty easy, though I had to force myself to keep the stitches loose in order to minimize any puckering.

You can see where the lining ends, although I think it’s mostly due to thickness added by the silk, not my attaching method. In any case, a small price to pay for the way my ears feel when I wear this hat :).

48 thoughts on “Silky ears

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  1. Kai

    Hard to believe you haven’t been doing fair isle for a long time.. I understand about the hats though!!

    I get ‘hat-hair’ not pleasant at all.

    I love the idea of all that silky niceness against the ears!! :)

  2. Rebekkah

    I also just finished a fair isle hat, with a contrasting hem. And it also makes me happy that that bright red hem will mostly be a secret to people who see the hat being worn. For the record, I also got that little blip where the hem was sewn down. I think it’s inevitable, but doesn’t look bad or out of place in either your hat or mine. But boy was it a pain to tack that down while dealing with a sea of floats getting in my way. Worth it in the end, but much more trying on the patience than tacking down a hem on a non-stranded knit.

  3. Laritza

    I called and talked to the owner of Nordic Knits. She told me that in order to even out the stitches and brind out the “true looks of the yarn” you have to press it and steam it. Do NOT iron, just press with a cloth and lots of steam. Since it is wool it should be ok. Have you worked with KnitPicks Telemark? I wonder how it compares to Heilo. Anyone out there that can tell me?

  4. Sarah

    I love the idea of a hidden lining for the ear band. I agree that the seam show is inevitable, you just need to think of it as adding to the hat’s charm!

  5. Karma

    What a lovely hat! The decreases on the crown make for such an interesting design. I can only imagine how yummy that silk lining feels on your forehead! (I hate that itchy wool feeling on mine when I wear hats.)

    Happy New Year! I look forward to the beauties you’ll share in ’07.

  6. lisa

    Your hat, my dear, is so wonderful. It is hard to believe that you of all this seeming knitting knowledge and experience are new to fair isle. I, too, love the secret lining, its color, what I imagine it to feel like, that it is secret…

  7. Laura

    “only a select few are privy to the explosion of color inside my hat.” Yes, only the few thousands of your loyal readers!

    Wonderful job. I don’t think your tension looks bad, but then I always imagine huge issues with my fair isle that no one else can see.

  8. Marlena

    I was just thinking today about how I’ve done more frogging and cutting with my knitting this year. Reading this entry made it click that I also started reading your blog regularly in 2006! Your complete willingness to do whatever it takes to make your finished project just right is truly inspiring.

    That hat is awesome. A vast improvement!

  9. aj

    The hat and the lining are both stunning. Kudos to you on getting to successfully complete the Fair Isle! It really is simply beautiful.

  10. margaux

    lovely hat! and the lining looks (and i’m sure feels) fabulous… now if only the weather cooled down a bit to make you truly want to wear it!

  11. Ebony

    About the red bleeding. I’m a quilter as well as a knitter, and when I started trying to dye my own fabric I learned about Synthrapol. It’s a product that you wash your yarn with (a tiny bit goes a long way) and it takes out all the excess dye. Great stuff. Prevents reds especially from ruining other colors.

  12. carrie

    That is a truly beautiful hat. You’re right, it’s a great way to start the new year! I think the lining is a beautiful little secret you can smile about. How cool is that??

  13. Rebecca

    Gorgeous project! Fair Aisle is on my list of techniques to try in ’07 so I’ll be joining you soon. I really admire the way you put as much effort into the finishing as you do the knitting. It really shows.

  14. Mary Lynn in Cleveland

    WOW! Great hat. I love the idea that your ears are kept a tad warmer and the only people that would notice are those who are incredibly jealous of your WARM ears and the fact that their’s aren’t!

  15. Lolly

    I have this same kit, and seeing yours makes me want to cast on RIGHT now! did it use 16″ circs? Also, would you mind sharing the chart mistakes? I really do plan on starting it soon – you can email me if you get the chance.

    Best wishes, and happy new year!

  16. Katy

    I just got this kit, and I am wondering where the chart mistakes are. Were they super obvious or do I need someone to tell me where they are? If you don’t mind, send me an email with the mistakes, so that I can avoid them.

    I like your hat a lot, but I am going to make the Pope-ish version for my mother.

  17. Lois

    I read your blog regularly and love your projects. After seeing you working on a Bea Ellis hat, I sent for one for my husband. I don’t knit tight so my swatch on size 5 needles didn’t work. I took it down to 3′s and I got 23 stitches =4 in.instead of 24= 4in. Do you think I can use the 3′s for the hat? I worry that it might be too loose.

  18. Angie

    So beautiful I can almost feel the softness. We few, we simple few. What fun having a “secret” blog. Mine is too. Almost to everyone.

  19. Natalie

    You took a picture of the top of your head. That is spectacularly awesome, I comend you. Also, the hat rocks. The first hat I knit fair isle is big enough for a very small baby, so there was no fixing it for me….

  20. Ashley

    Oh so decadent, with the silk inside! What a great idea. Did you consider using a provisional cast-on and knitting the hem up? That’s what I did on mine and it’s fairly invisible.

  21. Lisa

    I made one of those hats for the Knitting Olympics and loved it so much I started another. For the second, I used a provisional cast on and then knit the hem up – even though it was a little bit of a pain, I liked it much better than sewing the hem up like I did on the first one.

  22. earthchick

    Wow. It looks really lovely – esp. without the papal rounds. These pics are making me really, really want to start on my Bea Ellis hat kit, but I have at least 5 other projects in line first. Waah.

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