Sunday, September 09, 2012

I've been slowly working at finishing my yearly quota of hats for Arkansas Children's Hospital. Every year I try to make 50, and the one I just finished is #43, with 3 more on the needles, so I am well on my way to meeting this year's goal. I make some that are plain and some that are fancy and some that are plain with fancy yarn, so there's a variety. I mostly make larger hats that will fit an adult because there are plenty of people who make infant and children's hats. I like making them because they're small and get finished quickly, and I like that they're going to kids. So I make hats.

But after a couple hundred hats, the plain vanilla, ribbed brim, stockinette body, spaced decreases for the crown, gets a little boring and I start looking for ways to mix it up. Textured stitches work well, although I mostly avoid lace because those don't disguise hair loss quite so well. Sometimes I do a wide band of ribbing so it can be folded up and worn doubled. Sometimes I mix up the way I do the decreases. Sometimes I do just plain knitting but with something like fun fur.

A couple weeks ago I was watching an episode of Knitting Daily where the presenter showed how to make pleats in knitting. I wasn't particularly interested in putting pleats in my knitting, so I watched mostly out of idle curiosity. Then last night as I was trying to sleep I had an idea. Making pleats decreases the number of stitches very quickly. What if I made pleats at the beginning of the crown decreases, then finished off the crown in more or less the usual fashion.

Here's the result:
The self-striping yarn isn't the best for illustrating the idea, but I didn't know I was going to do this until I did it, and this was the hat that was ready for a crown. 

There are any number of tutorials on YouTube that describe how to knit pleats. This is the one I looked at to remember how to do them: There's too much time spent watching the guy knit ribbing, but the instructions for how to make the box pleat are clear, so it will work. 

For my hat, I had 80 stitches, so I worked in multiples of 16. To work the crown I did:
  • Round 1: k2, sl 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, sl next 6 sts onto right-hand needle, sl next 3 sts onto cable needle, sl 6 sts on right-hand needle back to left-hand needle, knit through 1st st on cable needle AND 1st st on left-hand needle at the same time (as if you were doing a 3-needle bind-off if you are familiar with that), do the same for the remaining 5 sts on the cable needle, k2; repeat 4 more times to complete the round (50 sts remain).
  • Round 2: k4, k2tog, k4; repeat 4 more times to complete the round (45 sts remain).
  • Round 3: Knit
  • Round 4: k3, s2kp (centered double decrease), k3; repeat 4 more times to complete the round (35 sts remain).
  • Round 5: Knit
  • Round 6: k2, s2kp, k2;  repeat 4 more times to complete the round (25 sts remain).
  • Round 7: k1, s2kp, s1;  repeat 4 more times to complete the round (15 sts remain). 
  • Round 8: s2kp around (5 sts remain). Break yarn, thread through a large blunt needle, pass yarn through all loops on needles and pull tight (I usually make a second pass through the loops for extra security. Weave end yarn tails and enjoy your new hat.
 I really like the way the pleats make a gathered look at the top of the hat. And the 5-pointed star looks good too. Give it a try the next time you want something different in an otherwise plain hat.