Monday, October 19, 2015

Modifications and Tips for the Baa-ble Hat by Donna Smith

Hi, Knitters,
First of all thank you to my wonderful future daughter-in-law, Miss Molly, for her modeling talents and my son for his keen photography for today's post. Molly is beautiful and young and energetic and generous. She glows! And I think she has one of the cutest profiles I've ever seen. Miss Molly has cast on for her own Baa-ble Hat and is using the following modifications. I'll share her version when it's done.

Now for Baa-ble Hat knitting!

I've knitted a couple of Baa-ble Hats by Donna Smith and I am planning on a couple more. I think they will make the cutest gifts for the holiday season ahead. It is too fun and fast to pass up. The pattern is written and designed by Donna Smith for the Shetland Wool Week. In order to get the FREE pattern you have to sign up for the Shetland Wool Week newsletter and then the newsletter is emailed directly to you. The newsletter contains the Baa-ble Hat pattern. If I remember correctly it took at least a couple of days to receive the email with the newsletter and pattern.

I posted a couple of photos of my Baa-ble Hats on my Instagram and said that I made some modifications to the pattern that I will share here today. I've had people ask me about getting the free pattern. I guess some have had some trouble getting the pattern emailed and I'm not sure why. I do remember that there was a delay from the time I signed up to the time I received the email. Other than signing up on the Shetland Wool Week website, I don't know anything else about how to get the pattern. I've been getting emails from knitters about getting the pattern sent to them from me but I'm not distributing the pattern. You'll have to go through the website. I'm pretty sure if you're patient it will show up in your inbox. Also, check your spam folders to be sure it isn't in there waiting for you!

If you go to the Baa-ble Hat Ravelry page to see and read the comments about the almost 800 hats that have been knit already one common issue is that the hat has turned out too big. The pattern is knit in an aran or worsted weight yarn at an unusually tight gauge, 5.75 sts per inch. The numbers in the pattern and this gauge do work out fine to give you a 20-inch circumference hat which is an average and good measurement for an adult-sized hat. My feeling or guess is that many may not be getting this dense gauge exactly and so the hats are turning out on the large side. 

I saw Martha Healy, goldybear on Ravelry, knitting several of these hats at the Maine Knitting Pipeline Retreat. I told her that I had that pattern waiting for me to cast on when I got home. Martha warned me that it was on the big side and that she had made modifications. Martha's hats were turning out so perfect and adorable that I took her modifications to heart. I give her the credit for coming up with these general modifications and then I added a few things of my own.

Martha's hats are so cute and inspiring. Thank you, Martha, for sharing your modifications with me.

Here is how I knit the Baa-ble Hat. You will still need the pattern to knit the hat! These are just tips and modifications.

Quince & Co. Osprey ~ Aran weight 100% wool
Version 1: Peaks Ferry, Egret, Belize and Storm (red and blue version)
Version 2: Crocus, Egret, Kumlien's Gull and Honey (purple and mustard version)

Needles: US size 7/4.5mm and 8/5mm, 16-inch circular and US size 8/5mm dpns OR size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 4.5 sts per inch on the larger size needles in stockinette stitch

Note on gauge: I changed the gauge from the original pattern quite a bit! Achieving the correct gauge is very important for this hat. The fabric is supposed to be on the dense side, thus the smaller than normal needles on the aran weight yarn. Be sure to check your gauge.

Finished measurement: 20-inch circumference

~ With the US size 7 needles, I cast on 88 stitches and completed the rib as the pattern suggests. This will give you a long folded brim (cuffed) OR the long rib could be worn unfolded for a slouchy-style hat. You could make the rib section shorter (1 or 2-inches) if you don't want to cuff the brim and want a fitted hat.

~ On the first round of the chart I switched to the US size 8 needles and I increased 2 stitches for 90 stitches total. I just did a kfb in one stitch at the beginning of the round and a kfb in one stitch about half-way around.

~ The chart has 60 stitches. If you look closely the repeat is 30 stitches (I drew a line down the chart to keep track). I repeated the 30 stitch repeat three times. So I completed the chart once all the way across and then I repeated the first 30 stitches again.

Since I had a different number of stitches I did a slightly different decrease sequence and I needed to continue the colorwork. I fudged around with the colorwork repeats and wrote it down for you if you are interested.

Here is what I did using the top half of the hat color or the main color (MC) and the white flecks or the contrast color (CC). The decrease rounds in the pattern start on Round 26. Since I am not using the chart I am starting the Decrease Section numbering below with Round 1.

Decrease Rounds:
Rnd 1: (K8, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 81 sts.
Rnd 2: (K2 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.
Rnd 3: (K7, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 72 sts.
Rnd 4: Knit in MC.
Rnd 5: (K6, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 63 sts.
Rnd 6: (K2 in MC, k1 in CC, k3 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.
Rnd 7: (K5, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 54 sts.
Rnd 8: Knit in MC.
Rnd 9: (K2 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.
Rnd 10: (K4, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 45 sts.
Rnd 11: Knit in MC.
Rnd 12: (K4 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.

Cut CC and work in MC only to the end of the hat.

Rnd 13: (K3, k2tog) repeat to end. 36 sts.
Rnd 14: Knit.
Rnd 15: (K2, k2tog) repeat to end. 27 sts.
Rnd 16: Knit.
Rnd 17: (K1, k2tog) repeat to end. 18 sts.
Rnd 18: (K2tog) repeat to end. 9 sts.
Cut the yarn and pull the end through the remaining stitches.

For a baby-size hat you could cast on 60 stitches and go to town repeating the chart one time through.

~ Pom Pom ~

For the pom-pom I used a Clover Large Pom Pom Maker (click here for information). If you don't have a pom pom maker use a cut piece of cardboard that is about 2 1/4-inches wide to get a similar size. I held two-strands of the top two hat colors together while wrapping the pom pom maker. I like to cram as many wraps as possible on the pom pom maker so it is super-full and round in the end. I can barely get the sides closed before cutting.

~ Floats ~

One last point to make is about the floats which are the loose strands being carried across the inside of the hat. In the red and blue version I trapped the floats here and there and not often, in the sheep section. I did this because some of the floats cross maybe 12 stitches or something like that. The rule of thumb is to trap every 5 stitches or so. This is technically what you should do but since the sheep are white and the floats are red the places I trapped the float showed through a little bit on the right side of the fabric. It looks fine but it's just something I noticed, no one else would probably notice. I also think the traps showed through more because of the aran weight yarn which is a heavy weight for colorwork. 

~ Tips for relaxed floats ~

1. The second time I knit the hat I didn't do any trapping of the floats. In the sheep section of the chart, I would stick the tip of my pointer finger in between the stitches on the right needle and the long float going across the back of the work while I was knitting to ensure that the float was going to be loose enough to accommodate the long stretch of stitches. This appeared to have worked out well and I will do this again if (when) I make more of these hats.

2. Make sure when you are doing colorwork that your floats are not too tight. This is imperative. I have seen some hats where the sheep are looking puckered because the floats have been pulled too tightly. It won't block out if your floats are pulled too tight, unfortunately. I suggest the finger trick I mentioned above and also make sure that the stitches on the right needle are spread out as you work. This really helps. Really make a concerted effort while you are knitting to spread the stitches out so there is space in between the stitches on the right needle. 

3. Another trick is to turn your knitting inside out and knit on the inside of the circular needle. The floats then have farther to go around the outside of your work. I generally don't do this technique because it feels strange to me to be knitting on the inside of the work, but I've seen others do it very successfully and it really does help.

Okay, Knitters, I hope this helps if you are going to modify the amazing and fun Baa-ble Hat pattern. Donna Smith has really done a great job with this pattern. It is a huge runaway hit!

Congratulations to Donna!

I'm not able to field a lot of questions about this hat and besides it's Donna's wonderful pattern and design. This is all I've got for this one! If you have other questions about Donna Smith's beautiful hat design I'm sure she would answer you either on her Ravelry or Instagram accounts, or on her blog/website at Donna Smith Designs.

Thank you for understanding. 

I will be back later this week with a huge Little Skein Luxe Kit giveaway worth $110! You won't want to miss it.

I hope you are having a wonderful fall season, Knitters.
xo ~ susan