Sugar’s Christmas Cap

YoursTruly: Sugar, what do you want for Christmas, besides peace on earth?

Sugar: A new cap.

(insert foreboding music)

YoursTruly: (quietly) What color?

Sugar: Gray. My favorite color.

YoursTruly: Sugar, I’ve already made you 5 gray caps.

Sugar: I know, you’re right. It IS time for a new one.

*****

Granted, 2 of them are gray tweed. But still. Gray.

*****

I have cap issues. More importantly, I have yardage issues. I can knit a cap from one skein, but I like to use it all up, because wool is a liar.

Why is wool a liar? Because you knit the size cap you think you need, and Sugar gently washes it, and it shortens a bit. (Do not believe wool’s rough draft. It is a lie.) This bitty-bit of shortening makes it fit his head like an acorn’s cap, smallish and tight-fitting.

The first cap I knit for Sugar was a few years ago, and it had a swirled decrease on the crown, because I love Elizabeth Zimmerman’s mathematical decrease, and I can always remember the formula for the decrease, even though I dislike math intensely. Things stick in my head, except I’m not sure of the exact location of the car keys, but I am for certain that the keys are somewhere in the RV, unless they are in my pocket, which still counts as inside the RV.

This first cap did NOT shorten because he did not wear it except for the trying-on phase after completion. He ‘fessed up later that he could not wear it. The swirls, even though gray on gray, were too girly. I pointed out that he was in touch with his feminine side, but he still couldn’t wear it. I pointed out that no one was looking at his head, but he still couldn’t wear it.

The next cap had a crown that took the medieval form of a helmet. Couldn’t wear it. Too medieval-y. People looking, and all that.

The next one was a gray tweed yarn that he selected himself. I knitted it in ribbing of knit two, purl two, even though the throwing of the yarn between the knit/purl and the purl/knit increases my hand motion 50%. Fifty percent, people! I cast on at the edge and worked my way to the crown, facing the uncertain moment when I have to decide when to start the crown decreasing and still have enough yarn to finish. It was magnificent. He washed that sucker. Acorn cap.

More gray tweed yarn, and another hat later. I had figured out how to take the YarnHarlot’s pattern and rework it to knit it from the top down, instead of the edge up. I almost lost my mind working out the knit twos and purl twos at the beginning increasing part. (I think I ripped out and restarted seven times. Cursing was involved.) As I approached the end of the skein, I estimated how much yardage I would need to bind off, and it was a thing of beauty when it was finished. It was super long to allow for a cuff to turn up over the ears, and for shrinkage.

But time has passed and a new cap is wanted.

I had a great idea. (I just heard someone groan. Perhaps it was I.)

Can’t I make this thing easy? Can’t I start with two stitches, then increase each stitch by knitting into the front and the back, on each round? It would be a super fast way of getting the number of stitches I needed for the body of the hat. No counting would be needed because I’d mark the beginning of the round with a stitch marker.

This is not a recommended method. There is so much knitted fabric at the crown that it has no place to go except to bubble up and down, like the bottom of a two-liter bottle.

I modified this rapid increasing by adding a few rows of plain knitting in between the increase rows.

It worked out something like this:

Knit in the front and back of all stitches on the increase round until you get to the total count of 128 stitches on the needles. Y’all already know that you need to start with double-pointed needles. I used a #5. I like to switch over to a 16″ circular as soon as possible.

Start with 2 stitches. Increase front and back, making 4 on the needles.

Increase front and back, making 8 on the needles.

Increase front and back, making 16 on the needles.

I knitted one plain round here.

Increase front and back, making 32 on the needles.

I knitted one plain round here. I should probably have knitted two, but I’m not mathematical and I learn things the hard way, if at all.

Increase front and back, making 64 on the needles.

I knitted another plain round here. I probably should have knitted three or more. See above.

Increase front and back, making 128 on the needles.

Start the pattern part (if you can call it that) by knitting two and purling two. If you are a clever increaser, you will end the round properly with no hiccups, and will continue to knit two and purl two until the end of time, unless you begin to mistake your needles for tiny knives with which to stab yourself occasionally as punishment for the mind-numbing ribbing.

Near the end, I measure off a couple yards and see how many stitches I can knit with them, which will hopefully give me a good estimate of when to start the bind-off.

The happy news is that the yarn was wonderful to work with (with which to work?). The bad news is that the bind-off was too tight, according to Sugar’s head, which DOES get the final vote.

So I ripped back a few rows. Rather than simply binding off as loosely as possible, I tried a super-stretchy bind-off technique. I mentally grouped stitches in sets of 8. Knit two, purl two, knit two, purl one, and on the last purl stitch, purl in the back and the front. This added about 16 stitches (notice I say “about” because I’m calculating in my head) to the round. This gives you 144 stitches on the needle (I got out the calculator). Clearly this is more than a 10% addition but it can’t be helped, unless you like difficult math. And it didn’t matter, because the extra stitches gave me enough to bind-off the cap with enough stretchiness that it didn’t cause compression fractures to the wearer. ‘Cause that would be bad and will not earn the pattern maker a 5-star rating.

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The top is still kind of Coke-bottle-bottom-y, but you can learn from my math. As opposed to a bottoms-up cap, I like how I don’t have to thread the yarn through the active stitches on the needle and tie them up tight. Breakage, and cursing, and all that. It’s a good, snug crown.

 

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The yarn is by Swans Island Yarn, the All American Collection, Color Flagstone AAW402, Lot No. 103. The recommended needle size is a 7 US, 4.5 mm. Won’t these folks be happy, nay THRILLED, to see that I used a size 5. It’s 75% USA Rambouillet wool and 25% USA alpaca. I found this at Creative Yarns in Macon, Georgia, only a three hour drive from where I live, but you know. YARN. (Actually, I was meeting the BabyGirl so that I could pick up her dog. BG is a college smartypants professor and needed time to assess and grade her classes, because giving all A’s is unacceptable, and said dog is NEEDY.) I also bought a new circular needle in size 5, even though the clerk said most people use a size 7 for hats, because I’m a rebel like that.

I paid full price for this yarn, which I never do because I’m like an old-time quilter making do with scraps to create a thing of beauty and function, because.

SUGAR NEEDS A NEW CAP. And y’all?? This is the yarn to do it with (with which to do it).

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “Sugar’s Christmas Cap”

  1. andipi Says:

    Well done 🙂

    It can be hard to improvise a pattern, but you’ve done well.

    Liked by 1 person

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