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yellow hat

Yellow rib beanie hat

Just before this year's first snowfall in London, I finished knitting an extra-large, yellow hat for my daughter. The hat is very large, so it is holding its pointy shape. Personally, I prefer it when the top droops but the wearer has other ideas. I love knitting for family and friends but I have knitted this hat design three times now and I think is time to start something new.

Page from Khaki Knitting book

The first and second time I knitted this hat design, it was for a commission from a friend who wanted a hat just like the one Jacques Cousteau wore. As a small child, I had watched Jacques Cousteau films, and I thought I knew exactly what I would be knitting – an old seaman's cap or balaclava, in blue. Furthermore, I would be knitting it from an early 1940s' knitting pamphlet or a Red Cross leaflet – I couldn't wait. You know what is coming, don't you? First, I discovered that Jacques Cousteau famously wore a red hat. I blame my false memory on the fact we had a black and white television when I was a child. And then, I discovered that Jacques Cousteau had many different hats (why wouldn't he), all slightly different and none of them looked as if they were folded helmets. Nevertheless, armed with the measurements, I started knitting a top-down rib hat.

If you are ever looking for vintage knitting patterns, there are several useful websites, but The Vintage Knitting Lady is always a good place to start. The image left is a page from the Khaki Knitting Book, published in the US in 1947, to provide knitting patterns for garments for the Allied troops.

I have knitted several top-down rib hats in my time, but for this one, I wanted to experiment with the rib pattern and the increase placement. I wanted a hat with a peak. So, after studying some more Jacques Cousteau images and knitting a hat for a doll, I decided on four columns of paired increases, cast on 8 stitches and increased every round to the required number of stitches. The shape was perfect, but I didn't like the look of the make-one increases – they distorted the stitches either side too much. They would have been a design feature if the project was for a book or magazine but not for a friend who wanted a Jacques Cousteau hat. The second hat was worked using left and right slanting yarn overs which were then twisted to face the other direction on the next round. By this time Autumn was in free fall, and it was a relief when the second hat was finished, and it could be delivered – but not before my daughter had tried it on. She liked the hat's generous proportions, she wanted a change from the animal hat she has been wearing for years and, as I hadn't explored the rib stitch pattern, we went yarn shopping.

The first two hats were knitted in twisted rib [k1tbl, p1tbl] from the first stitch to the last but the plan had been to work a [k1tbl, p1] rib. This produces a twisted rib on one side of the fabric and a rib that looks like [k1, p1] on the other side. My daughter's hat was knitted in [k1tbl, p1] rib to the brim, a short-row wrap worked around the next stitch, the hat was turned inside out so that the stitches on the left were the stitches just worked, and knitting continued in [k1tbl, p1] rib to the end. The hat looks as if it was knitted in [k1tbl, p1tbl] but it was worked in the easier and loftier [k1tbl, p1].

Hat stats: fingering-weight yarn; 2.75mm needles; 208 stitches/round; 3.5 rounds/cm; 56cm unstretched circumference; 35cm from cast on to cast-off edge.

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