Canadian-Winter Hat coda

Although the deadline for the charity knitting project came and went, that didn’t mean I’d worked through all the colorways of Lamb’s Pride Bulky that had caught my eye. Yes, back in June I’d knit that first successful one in red (“Wine Splash” to be exact—and can I just say that I love that Brown Sheep still gives its colorways actual names and not just alphanumeric codes?) and had meant it for myself. But as my pile of pretty hats grew, I told myself that if I really wanted one in another colorway, I’d donate the red one to charity as well and then make another one for myself in the new color. Which is exactly what happened. When I stopped by my LYS to pick up some more yarn for the charity hats, I saw a colorway that hadn’t been there before: Frosted Periwinkle. Telling myself that it would clash less with some of my coats than the red one did, I sent the latter off to someone who genuinely needed it, and made a last hat for myself out of the new colorway.

Canadian-Winter Hat (Frosted Periwinkle)


Hats galore

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have now successfully performed charitable knitting multiple times. I will never know how well these hats work for their recipients, so I’m focusing on what I can know, namely, how all these various Lambs Pride colorways played out. Prairie Goldenrod is still my favorite of the colorways, but I discovered some other ones I liked as well. I was surprised to discover I really liked Cafe au Lait. Usually I think of brown as a fairly boring color and I chose it for a hat mostly in case someone really wanted a hat that didn’t call attention to itself. I’ve now decided that it isn’t boring, it’s subtle, and I get along with subtle just fine. Meanwhile, Royal Purple Flutter was just fun to play with, and I hope whoever gets that hat gets as much pleasure wearing it as I did seeing it come together. On the other hand, while I found Ocean Waves to be attractive, I could barely see its shading until I’d finished the hat. Silver Streaks at Nite was another practically monotone hat. But then, this was one of my “compromise” hats. Hats for the Homeless said that men prefer plain hats. I couldn’t bring myself to knit a 100% plain hat, so I chose this yarn, hoping that it would have enough variegation to keep me interested and yet still be within a man’s comfort range. Although again, I won’t know.

Canadian-Winter Hats
Clockwise from top: Prairie Goldenrod, Cafe au Lait, Royal Purple Flutter, Dreamy Nite, Wine Splash, Ocean Waves, Silver Streaks at Nite (center).

So there they are, in all their glory. The pattern had optional tassels, which I tried out on a couple of the hats. It made a change from just tying off the last eight stitches. You can’t tell from the photo, but in real life, the tassels are sewn down a bit so that they’ll fall to the back of the hat and not dangle in the wearer’s eyes. And even after all these hats, one after another, I’m thinking about making another one for myself. Wow.

Knitting and networking

Most of the time, I am a knitter who knits for herself. I miss getting feedback with charitable knitting. When I knit for myself, I know how I feel about the finished product. When I knit something for someone I know, I get to see their reaction to it. But when I knit for a good cause, I never really know what becomes of my knitting. It’s like tossing it into an abyss, and the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing I’ve done good in the world has never been quite enough to make up for that. I end up donating money to charitable organizations and keep my knitting for myself.

Well, I am finally doing a bit of knitting for others. A professional librarians organization I belong to has several members who knit. This fall, they’ve decided to knit winter hats for charity—they’re donating them to Hats for the Homeless—with a goal of having 15 hats by December 1. I’ve been interested in joining them before this, but it’s never worked out. But last week they decided to meet at a yarn store not that far from my home. Given this rare opportunity to both knit and do some networking, I decided to go. And in keeping with the spirit of the gathering, I decided to add a hat to their collection.

Thus my third Canadian-Winter Hat was born. I’d enjoyed making one successfully for myself and figured that it would make a good charity project because it’s easy (now that I know what I’m doing), economical (it takes just one skein of Lambs Pride Bulky), and the hat really is thick and warm (excellent for our nasty northern winters). Plus I finally had an excuse to knit something in “Prairie Goldenrod,” a Lambs Pride colorway I’ve adored for years, but which I really can’t carry off with my coloring.

Canadian-Winter hat (yellow)
Canadian-Winter Hat

The gathering was small—6 people besides me—but fun. I now have faces to go with some of the names I’ve seen in emails and the newsletter. They were organized enough to have tea and cookies: quite the civilized affair. And of course networking is much easier when you can talk about a subject you’re all interested in (knitting, that is—very little was said about librarianship!). The only part that didn’t work out was that I didn’t have time to explore the yarn store itself in any depth. But while there were a number of finished hats and several on our needles, the total was still noticeably less than 15. Oh dear. I mean, I’m sure other people out there are knitting winter hats for donation, and people will also buy hats from stores to give away, but it seemed sad that this group might not be able to make even this modest a goal.

And so I’m planning to add a bit more to the hat collection, although I admit that my motives are not entirely generous. For one thing, now that I’ve got my Prairie Goldenrod obsession stilled for a bit, there are other Lambs Pride colorways just begging to be knitted, and the Canadian-Winter Hat does a great job of showing them off. This hat is also good for near-instant gratification, since I can whip one up in about 3 days. Plus, it’s a wonderful excuse to procrastinate working on the really boring sleeve of my current sweater project. So I went off to my LYS this weekend to pick up a few more skeins and we’ll see what I can pull off by December 1. I’ll probably end up being known as the woman who never actually does anything library-related with the organization, but who will send them knitting every now and then.

Lucky guess

I’m kind of astonished that this hat has worked out. I made Sally Melville’s Canadian-Winter Hat for the first time a number of years ago. The simple term for that first attempt is “failure.” I actually managed to make it too big, both in circumference and in depth, which takes some doing since I wear a 24″ hat.  Certainly the project was educational: this was the project in which I learned that it’s a struggle to frog knitting from the bottom edge. I eventually just got so tired of trying to make it fit that I gave up, patched it up, and donated it to charity. Hopefully some guy out there has been wearing it happily.

Canadian-Winter Hat

With that history, I’d probably be forgiven for never trying the thing ever again, but I do think the pattern is attractive, and anyway, I hate being defeated by a comparatively simple pattern. So I tried again. Frankly, it’s amazing that it worked out, because I did it all “wrong.” I only had a single skein of Lamb’s Pride Bulky to work with. It had 125 yards and the pattern called for 114 yards. I remembered from knitting a sweater in Lamb’s Pride Worsted a few years ago that this yarn grows after its first wash. This is definitely the sort of yarn where you should not only knit a gauge swatch, but wash it as well—except to do that, you should have more leeway than 11 yards of yarn. So, no gauge swatch. Instead I hoped that making the hat one size smaller would make up for the yarn’s inevitable growth. It was a little nerve-wracking knitting something that was clearly too small, just as it had been when I knit that sweater. But it did grow in that first wash, and now fits me just fine.