Monday, March 9, 2015

better fit through shrinking

My hat project met an unhappy setback today. I was within ten rows of being finished with it, but somehow the decreases at the crown, far from reassuring me that it was getting smaller, only seemed to emphasize that it was too big.

It wasn't just a little too big, it was a TON too big. Irreparably too big. So out it all comes, with the hope that it can be cast on again tomorrow, with a significant reduction in stitches. The basic design is definitely a keeper, it just needs a little reworking.

Erika had asked about felting it to make it smaller. Two important reasons why it wouldn't work in this case:
  1. This is cotton yarn, so no help there in the felting department. Shrinking would have been a possibility, if it weren't for...
  2. This is a hat pattern that I hope to offer to other knitters, so it's imperative that the pattern work correctly.
It was a great suggestion, though, because felting does work really well on wool/animal fiber yarns, as does the less drastic process of shrinking. Two Christmases ago, I made this hat for Primo, after he was accepted to Princeton and it seemed reasonably sure that he would go there. I never got around to sharing it at the time.

Those colors, and that chevron, are all over the campus. They even use the chevron in lieu of an arrow on the campus directional signs. The hat is double-knit, and so reversible depending on whether the wearer felt more black with a little orange or more orange with a little black.

When something is double knit, you work both sides of the hat at the same time, in alternating stitches. First stitch = knit = black = front of hat; second stitch = purl = orange = back of hat, third stitch = knit = black = front of hat... so on and so forth. In essence, you are knitting two hats, one stitch at a time, producing a double layer. The pattern is made by switching the colors from one side to the other.

I made a video (which I just re-discovered) about how I hold both yarns while double knitting to make it easier to switch back and forth. It isn't great, but it gives you an idea of how double knitting is worked.

Imagine my dismay, then, when it turned out just a wee bit too big, and fit him about as well as a bucket. 

This problem was moved to the backburner when Primo started to waffle about which college he wanted to attend, and I worried that I might have to knit an entirely different hat in another color scheme, so would address the problem at that point. He eventually did end up choosing Princeton, but it was April, and so nothing needed to be done for a while yet.

Around December of last year, when the temps dropped, he reminded me that something still needed to be done. I was loathe to reknit it, for obvious reasons. Since it just needed a little off the top, not a drastic reduction in size, I didn't put it into the washing machine to agitate. I just wet it well, put it into a laundry bag, and tossed it into the dryer with some damp clothes while keeping a close eye on it (until I became distracted and forgot). Because of the double knitting, I flipped the orange side out and repeated the process.

Voila! A slightly smaller but better fitting hat.

Just wish I had managed a better picture of it, and him, but I could barely tear him away from the texting. 

Unfortunately the best shot didn't have him or the hat in frame, though it is an excellent illustration of how he has given up shaving on a regular basis.


  1. This is great, and a lovely series of photos.

  2. This is great, and a lovely series of photos.