I made this one for my Christmas 2011 gift pile-- but it appears to be growing on me...
Project NotesYarn: Fibre Company Canopy Worsted. I want to have babies with this yarn-- it is the softest, most luminous, deliciously drapy thing I have ever had my hands on. It has lovely stitch definition AND a fuzzy halo AND knits like an absolute dream. And-- undeservedly lucky girl that I am-- it was in the 30% off bin at KnitWit. I'm now cursing my yarn frugality that I didn't buy the lot. Fortunately, I have enough left over to combine with another skein of Canopy for a fair-isle hat... stay tuned.
Pattern: Autumn in Garrison by Kate Gagnon Osborne. I have to hand it to the ladies at Kelbourne Woolens-- they sell fabulous yarn and they write excellent patterns to go with it-- many of them free! I love the vingtagey feel of their designs-- not surprising that there are several others in my queue-- and the fact that they provide charts. I heart charts.
Techniques: This was my first top-down constructed hat and it won't be the last-- I liked getting all the fiddling with DPNs out of the way first. I had a few missteps casting off, but in the end I learned an excellent, excellent new technique-- Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind-off. My first thought for a stretchy, non-binding edge was a tubular cast off, which I have used successfully for a sweater neckband. However, it's just not stretchy enough for a top-down hat. A sweater neckband has to stretch to fit over your head, but it doesn't remain stretched during wear; a hat band needs to stretch to fit around your head, so any tightness at the edge will be felt during wear. My next thought was Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind-off (tutorial here, near the bottom), which is super stretchy, but I dislike two things about this method: it requires cutting the yarn and using a tapestry needle, and it makes the edge flare out-- at least when I do it. The Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off is a godsend-- no tapestry needle required, and it leaves a neater edge than the sewn bind-off. My only caveat is that it uses a lot of yarn-- make sure you have four-five times the stretched circumference of your object before proceeding.
The Bottom Line: This is one of those magical projects that you never want to end... maybe that's why I dithered so much over finishing it. In terms of posting hats, I'm still trying to find balance between frantic and negligent-- I'm going to try to get a bit ahead of the curve this weekend by knitting up a storm. I almost wish there was snow in the forecast, though an angry mob of Mainers might tar and feather me if my wish comes true... there is nothing like being cozy inside with a pile of knitting while the winter howls.