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Little fair isle hat

February 5, 2012

It all seems to be learning about new skills and techniques this year. My last project (the Chevron lace fingerless mitts) required me to learn all sorts of new things, and since I was feeling quite adventurous after that, I thought I’d try something I’ve been coveting for years but not quite daring to have a go at — fair isle knitting. I always thought of it as something for people with far more skill and experience than me — and more patience too.

Once I found the pattern for this little hat I was so keen to get started that I couldn’t wait to get the right size needle. See what I said about having no patience? Both Baby D and I have been under the weather here for most of January and were too ill to venture out to the yarn shop (which is a good half hour’s drive away and not really large enough to take a pushchair into anyway, and Baby D is now too heavy, wriggly and grabby for me to try to carry him in there!).

The pattern calls for a 3.5mm 40cm circular needle — all of mine were far too long — so I went with the next best thing I had to hand, which was 3mm DPNs. Even though I made the hat in a larger size to counteract the smaller needles, it still turned out way too small — probably the right size for a newborn or even a premature baby.

The size really was the only big problem though. It turns out that fair isle knitting really isn’t as scary as it looks. I think I made life harder for myself by using DPNs — going around the “corners” where you change needles without pulling the carried yarn too tight took some getting used to, but since I knit all of my socks on DPNs it wasn’t completely strange and it only took a slight adjustment to get it right.

The pattern really is gorgeous. As well as the fair isle pattern I particularly love the little i-cord loop on the top — I’d never heard of i-cords before and I love them. So clever!

It only took a couple of days to complete, and — you know what I said about patience? — I couldn’t wait to try again to make one that would fit. I realised that even the largest size would still turn out too small, so I adapted it by adding a couple of extra pattern repeats (I cast on 140 to start). This time I was mostly worried about running out of yarn (the yarn I used was left over from making this striped hooded jacket a couple of years ago. Do you remember that?), but it worked out perfectly.

It’s just the right size that it should last Baby D the rest of the winter. With the snow arriving today, he’s certainly going to make good use of it!

Pattern: Little fair isle hat (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply

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