Monday, March 28, 2011

Newsboy Hat

I have a few newsboy hats that happen to look really nice on me. I'm always sad every year when it gets too cold for me to wear them any more. I was flipping through the pages of cabled hats on Ravelry when I came across this hat, its called a cabled chapeau, but in my opinion its a warm newsboy hat. I resolved to make it despite my misgivings about the brim.  In the comments and forums there was a lot of discussion of the brim on this hat. Dozens of people seemed unable to figure out how to make it, several people were suggesting alternate directions and a few were suggesting alternate patterns.

Cabled Chapeau:
Circular Knitting Needles: 5 mm [US 8] 16".
Knitting Needles: 5 mm [US 8] straight.
1 Set Double-Pointed Needles: 5 mm [US 8].
Cable needle, stitch markers, yarn needle, sewing thread and needle, 2 buttons 1" diameter, empty whipped topping container or other round piece of plastic for brim.
GAUGE: 18 sts = 4";24 rows = 4" in pattern stitch.
Special Abbreviations
4/4 LPC: Slip next 4 sts to cable needle and hold to front, k4, k4 from cable needle.

It took me six tries to cast on in a way that left a tail that I was comfortable with, I'm not used to judging how much of my tail 96 stitches are going to use.
So I started following the pattern:

With circular needles, cast on 96 sts. PM for beginning of round and join, being careful not to twist sts.
Cuff Ribbing
Rnd 1: * K1, p1; repeat from * around.
Repeat Rnd 1 twice more.
Next Rnd: Begin Cable Stitch Pattern. Work until hat measures 7" from beginning.

Cable Pattern Stitch (multiple of 12 sts)
Rds 1-7: * K8, p4; repeat from * around.
Rnd 8: * 4/4 LPC, p4; repeat from * around.
Rnds 9 and10: * K8, p4; repeat from * around.
Repeat Rnds 1 - 10 for stitch pattern.

 Shortly before the third cable I decided that it looked like crap and ripped it out. On my first attempt I cabled to the front as the pattern calls for, but this left big messy loose stitches that wouldn't go away. No matter how carefully I knit, it looked like I had no idea how to cable. I also decided that I wanted a more definite ribbing to my hat. When I started the second time I changed the rib from k1 p1 around for 3 rounds to k2 p2 for 5 rounds. I also changed the cable to the back which entirely fixed the messy loose cable problem. I think my cabling problem stems more form the yarn I used than the pattern. I made this hat in Plymoth Galway worsted weight wool. The wool was not easy to work with and was on the thin side of worsted weight, but I figured and wool hat would be both warm and hold up well in the weather. With my two modifications I followed the pattern and knit until I had 7 inches and then did the decrease, I also cabled in row 3 of the decrease because it would have looked odd if I hadn't continued the cable pattern.

Shape Crown
Rnd 1 (dec): * [K2 tog] 4 times, [p2tog] 2 times; repeat from * around–48 sts.
Rnds 2 and 3: * K4, p2; repeat from * around.
Rnd 4 (dec): * [K2tog] 2 times, p2 tog; repeat from * around–24 sts.
Rnd 5: * K2, p1; repeat from * around.
Rnd 6: * K2tog, p1: repeat from * around–16 sts.

I bound off and put the hat on my head. I was so excited to finish the hat part, but all that excitement turned to disappointment the moment I got that hat on. I was a full inch too short to cover my ears, which as I want a spring/fall billed hat for Minnesota, ear coverage is crucial.  I spent three hours unpicking the bind off and unkintting the entire decrease. I even managed to unknit that cabled row without losing a single stitch. I knit the hat another inch and a  quarter and repeated the bind off. This time I didn't have to cable because the cable would have come on the bind off row. So now I have a hat that looks like any other hat:
Now comes time for the brim.  As many people stated in the comments the instructions for the brim are nearly nonexistent.

With knitting needles, cast on 40 sts. Begin with a right side row, work in St st and work short-row shaping as follows:
Row 1: Knit 25, turn.
Row 2: Slip 1, p12; turn.
Row 3: Slip 1, k15; turn.
Row 4: Slip 1, p18; turn.
Continue to work in this manner, working 3 more sts at center each time until all 40 sts have been worked. Work 6 rows even in St st. Bind off 2 sts at beg of next 10 rows–20 sts. Bind off 3 sts at the beg of next 4 rows–8 sts. Bind off.

Short rows....yep, never heard of them before, but the way these instructions are written you better have an idea of what you're doing because there is a lot implied. I called my handy dandy expert knitter mom who told me to watch a video on you tube. I ended up watching this one and used this wrapping method on my brim every time the pattern says slip 1.  Before I did the brim I did this knitting exercise several times. I actually kept my first attempt at the brim. You could see a few of my wraps pretty obviously, but overall it was decent if very curly. I blocked the brim overnight:
Now this is where the directions get really fun:

Fold brim in half with knit side to the outside. Cut plastic to the shape of the brim. Slip plastic inside brim and sew edges together. Sew brim to center front of cap. Pin strap above brim as shown and sew to cap while sewing on buttons. Weave in ends.

That is as much direction as they give you, it does not even begin to encompass how challenging this is to do for the first time. So step one fold the brim in half:

 I looked at this and decided to repin it on top of a piece of paper and trace my brim onto that before I took it to the cool whip container. Be sure to actually stretch your knitting when you pin it, you don't want your knitting to sag when you sew it around the brim. This is the tracing I got:
 I took the shaky outline and drew a smoother one just inside it small enough that the yarn would be able to be sewn over it. I cut out on the smooth line, folded it in half and trimmed it to make it symmetrical. Then I pined it to the cool whip container.
I tried to get it on straight, but I was not so successful. I traced it in sharpie.  After looking at many finished projects on the Ravelry site one thing that I noticed about a lot of people's brims is that they were very short and were placed more like the visor on a knight's helm than as a brim on a hat. Those were two things I wanted to avoid, so I got the large (extra tall) cool whip container and my roommate made a 9x13 pan of apple crisp.
I'm pretty handy with knives and have had several art classes that relate to carving things, so I just carved this out with a box cutter. If you're not so steady of hand or experienced with knives I'd recommend scissors.
So now I've got a brim insert and it actually looks like a hat brim, yay. I went and checked this against my favorite hat and it was a bit shorter on the edges and slightly more curved, but overall a pretty decent match.  I don't have the fancy ring clippy things that people use to sew things together so I just used safety pins to wrap my knitting around the brim
I used the tail from knitting it and started in the middle with a whip stitch. Here's the brim halfway sewn up
Unfortunately when I cast on I did not leave a long enough tail to sew up the other half of the brim, so I had to add an extra piece of yarn to do the other side.

With the brim all sewn up I tucked in the ends and put on the hat. I used the mirror in the bathroom to pin the brim on where I wanted it.
I whip stitched the brim on and checked before tying off the ends. It was crooked ( the plastic had bent oddly while I was sewing) so I ripped back to the halfway point and resewed it on straight. Once I had the brim on the hat I made the last piece, the strap.

With knitting needles, cast on 7 sts.
Row 1: K1, *p1, k1; repeat from * across.
Row 2: P1, *k1, p1; repeat from * across.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until strap measures 8". Bind off in pattern. Weave in ends.

Once again I started the pattern and quickly realized that it was not what I wanted.  To make the strap I cast on 8 stitches and k2 p2 k2 p2 on all rows. To decide the strap length I kept holding it up to the hat and knit until it looked like I wanted, which turned out to be 10.5 in. I pined the strap on while wearing the hat and used the tails to sew it on. I couldn't get my tapestry needle through the holes in the buttons I bought so I ended up sewing those on with black thread. I tucked in the last of my tails and it was done.  
Today was the perfect weather for this hat, bright sunny and hovering in the 20s all day. I was well satisfied with how warm it kept my ears and stayed in place. The brim worked well when the sun was directly in front of me, but offered practically no protection near sunset when the sun was from my side. Overall I'm quite happy with my hat (a brim is so much better than no brim at all), but would probably attempt the change the shape of the brim to offer more side protection if I make it again.

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