Monday, March 29, 2010

Lovebirds Earflap hat for mom's birthday

Last month I asked mom if she wanted a reindeer hat like the US athletes wore during the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. (The pattern can be found on Ravelry, and there's a long thread in the Patterns folder where people talk about their modifications.)

Cute hat. Our model is my favorite Olympian: Johnny Spillane of the US Nordic Combined team!

Mom declined the offer, but admitted she could use an earflap hat to keep her ears warm at football games. What does she have against reindeer? Anyway, I figured an earflap hat would make a good birthday present, and it was the perfect opportunity to play around with a chart I've been wanting to use.

Of course I accidentally took a photo of the BACK of the hat, oh well (you can see the jog, it goes right down the center of the heart, between the tails -- I didn't bother to hide it because it's something you have to look for in the busy pattern)

Cascade 220, size 6 needles

The hem and earflaps were taken from the Danish Earflap Hat in Charlene Schurch's "Hats On!" book. I altered the hem slightly by using a provisional cast-on, so when it came time to attach the hem to the body I simply released the stitches and knit those together with the body stitches -- instead of picking up 120+ stitches from a cable cast-on edge. This makes the hat comfy and stretchy around the head, it's awesome. I'll be using this hem again for sure.

Schurch's earflaps are perfect, I've never added earflaps to hats before because I wasn't happy with the way they looked but this double-thickness earflap, knit much like a simplified sock heel, is exactly the way I want an earflap to look and feel. I say simplified because there's no need to wrap stitches and fuss with holes, the gaps don't show on flat earflaps the same way they do with sock heels.

The love birds are a version of something I charted up a few years ago. This photo caught my eye in a German knitting book:

Sadly, the chart is not in the book, so I charted out what could be seen and guessed on the rest. In the above photo you can see a swatch I knit up at the time with fingering weight Shetland wool.

The pattern above the birds (the crown) had to be shortened and simplified so it'd fit on a hat, eventually I'd like to use my original chart for mittens with fingering weight yarn.

original chart (mitten) // new chart (hat)

I had to rip back when I realized the stylized leaves on the side looked like big ugly blotches of green when mirrored on the hat. The leaves were changed into hearts and it looks a lot better.

Next time (if I knit this hat again) I'll shift the start of the chart so the two birds face each other at the front of the hat. Right now the tails are the center focus and the over-all effect of the repeating birds and hearts is pleasing but it'd be that much better if the beaks instead of the tails were centered above the forehead. Why can't I figure these things out before I start?!