Thursday, February 22, 2018

K'done: Barley hat

A hat for him, modeled by me.

Pattern: Barley, by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed DK, in Obsidian
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

I've knit a few hats for Mister before, but none of them are really ideal. The first one ended up being a bit too short. (I feel compelled to point out that it is as short as it is because he got nervous about it becoming too big as I was working on it.) For the second one, I swung too far in the other direction, so it's a little long, and he expressed dissatisfaction with the colour - where my eyes see grey, he sees what he calls girly grey. (I think there are some purple/mauve tones in there that he is more sensitive to.) The third one has honeycomb cables on it, and I think he likes it, except the wind can blow through the gaps in the cable crosses if the angle's right, and he noticed this when wearing the hat on a walk shortly after receiving it, and mentioned this as a quality one should perhaps avoid in hats. That hat is also currently lost in our house - he packed it up for a trip a long while ago, and somehow it never resurfaced after he unpacked his suitcase. I know it came home with him, because I saw it in the suitcase while he was unpacking, but I haven't seen it since.

Either way, I thought a new hat might be appreciated, so I dug out some yarn, checked that he approved of the colour choice (incidentally? When this yarn first arrived when I ordered it back in 2015, he didn't like it. I guess it just needed to ripen in the stash for a couple of years?), and wound it up. Then came pattern selection time. I knew to avoid cables, and I was also thinking he might like to add a not-ribbed hat to his collection. Pretty early in the process, I remembered this particular hat pattern, and thought the garter panel and stockinette might make for a pleasing texture shift in the tweedy yarn. I was going to knit it as a typical beanie, then one night, about a month ago, he was pulling on a hat to go outside to clear snow off the driveway and walkways, and he looked in the mirror by the door and wondered out loud if perhaps beanies weren't the most flattering style of hat for him. I suggested he might like to try a different hat shape, perhaps something with a bit of slouch? He laughed. Like a hipster hat? Knowing his disapproval of hipster fashion, I said, No, not quite that slouchy. He offered up a dubious Maybe, and stepped outside.

I took that as my cue to get a little experimental with hat shapes. Like I said, not super slouchy, but not a straight up beanie either.

This pattern is really written for worsted weight, which I wasn't using, so my gauge is not the pattern's gauge, which means I had to mess with the stitch counts to get something in the right size. If you need to do this too, all you need to do is make sure that whatever you cast on is a multiple of three - the garter texture panel is worked over one third of the stitches, and when you get to the crown decreases, you'll need to be able to divide your stitches up into six sections. I worked the ribbed brim a bit longer than written too, so that if he wanted to, he could fold it up for a doubled brim on a less-slouchy hat.

I wove in the ends last night, and presented it to him, unblocked (I was impatient), and at first he balked. You made me a hipster hat?!

I put in on him, with maximum slouch. He presented me a face full of doubts. I suggested that if he didn't want the slouch, he could fold back the brim. He did so, which made the hat more beanie-like, and he warmed to it more at that point, but then said, It feels pretty thin.

I told him that I hadn't wanted to knit a very dense fabric, in the interest of giving the fibres room to fluff up and trap air for insulating value. (Yes, I realize it means this is probably not a super wind-proof hat. Oh well. We'll see how it does.)

He wore it last night on a brief jaunt out, mostly in the car, but the car had been outside and was therefore cold, and he expressed appreciation for the hat - he likes the way it feels on his head (so I got the sizing right), and called it a nice hat. When we got home again, he pulled it off, then popped it back on again and was dismayed to see the fabric puffing up on top of his head. I pointed out that all he needed to do was pull the crown back down towards his neck, and the weird pouf would then be a nice slouch. I'm not sure he was entirely convinced of the appeal of slouchiness, but he did seem to be moving in the right direction. (He does look good in a slouchy hat.)

We'll see how much wear it gets. In any event, I quite like the way it looks on me, so I may end up making myself one, or I may end up inheriting his. Or, you know, both.

Tech specs: I did an Italian tubular cast on, which I tend to default to when working 1x1 ribbing. One of these days I'll have to experiment with this cast on for 2x2 ribbing - I know that all that needs to be done is a bit of rearranging of the knits and purls once the cast on has been worked, but I have concerns about loss of stretchiness once you effectively cable all along your cast on edge. I won't really know until I try it on something, though.

Also? I very nearly didn't knit this one because I was worried that knitting a hat pattern called Barley for a man with a gluten allergy might be wrong or sinister on some sort of cosmic or karmic level. (Barley grain is not gluten free.) Clearly, I got over it - I reminded myself that really, I'm not a superstitious person, and I have no control over what designers decide to call their patterns, and so should not let other people's naming choices affect me. If I meet a wonderful person who had the bad fortune to be given a horrible (to me) name, I'm not going to decide we shouldn't be friends simply because I don't like their name. Shouldn't that logic apply here too?

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