Friday, December 17, 2010

We Call Them Pirates

As of 9AM today, the second installment of 52 hats is 100% finished! I'm a bit behind my personal deadline, but a whole week ahead of the BIG day. We had nice, bright light in the morning today, but I was home alone. If this blog ever acquires a blooper reel, I will put up some of the pictures I tried to take of myself wearing this. My pride is still a bit wounded at the moment.

A hat is a tricky thing to photograph without a head in it. Especially one that refuses to lie flat. I'm seriously looking into head mannequins. Is that creepy?

My husband graciously volunteered to model when he got home from work. As to whether I made any threat to his safety or the integrity of his limbs, I plead the fifth.

I finished the fun part of making this over a week ago and dragged my heels a bit on the finish work. The hemmed band looks pretty neat though, right?

128 tiny live stitches, painstakingly tacked down-- my eyeballs are still throbbing

Project Notes

Yarn: KnitPicks Telemark (and a smidge of KnitPicks Palette for the hem). There are two great things about this yarn: the price and the color selection. I used slightly less than a skein of each color, so this cost less than $5. While it is neither soft nor luxurious, and it's a tiny bit splitty, I'm pretty sure this is going to wear like iron. The recipient, a famous destroyer of knitwear, will have his work cut out for him.

Pattern: We Call Them Pirates by Adrian Bizilia. I have some history with this pattern-- version 1.0 was my Christmas gift in 2006 to my (now) brother-in-law. It was my first ever colorwork project. I didn't even know it was called colorwork back then, nor did I know how to hold my yarn properly. That it came out at all well is a testament to the genius of this pattern.

Techniques: Many. How about a list?
  • Stranded colorwork-- I could probably write a whole post about the techniques that fall under this broad category-- and maybe I should-- but to be brief, I hold both colors in my left hand and try like gangbusters to keep the floats loose. I am not entirely thrilled with my uneven tension, but we all need room for improvement.
  • Provisional cast on-- This is my all-time favorite method-- chaining directly over your knitting needle is infinitely easier than trying to knit up stitches into the back of a chain. Ask me how I know.
  • Stitched-in hem-- TECHknitter has an amazing series of tutorials on edges-- if you have never visited her site, it is EXTREMELY helpful. I didn't use her method exactly, but I bow before her. Some knitters recommend using thinner yarn or fewer stitches or both to avoid the dreaded hem flare. I used thinner yarn, but I didn't bother decreasing the number of stitches. This made it a bit more straightforward when it came to tacking down the live stitches to the inside of the hat. Again, I could write a whole post about this, and that would be silly since TECHknitter already did it.
  • Chart reading-- not exactly a technique, but a skill needed for following the pattern. I am a very visual person and I happen to love charted patterns.
  • Blocking-- absolutely essential for getting this hat-- and any stranded colorwork project-- looking its best. I pretty much wet block everything, but I did attempt to steam-block the hem before I stitched it in place. My iron, it turns out, does not have a steam function. I resorted to a spray bottle. Now that it's finished, I may wet block it again. I have a whole week, after all!
The Bottom Line: I had loads of fun making this hat. I was actually kind of excited when I heard my brother-in-law had lost the original. He wore the s#%t out of it, and it's nice to know that version 2.0 will be equally well-loved. So often finished objects do not attract quite as much appreciation from their recipients as befits the hours of hard work that went into making them. This is perhaps not the best sentiment to motivate myself-- or anyone else-- to finish those piles of Christmas WIPs...


  1. Great job. The hat looks very nice.

  2. Yay for a finished (and awesome) hat! The hemmed band looks beautiful, and I loved reading your techniques list---the fact that I don't knit, myself, just makes it seem even more impressive! I'm glad this is going to a wearer who you know in advance will love it, too. (And I think I'm going to have to look into some Knitpicks yarn...)

  3. Your hem looks very impressive! What a great looking hat. And it's nice to know that it will be going to an appreciative person.

  4. It's so nice to know the handknits will be well appreciated. Especially one that requires more attentions like the Pirates hat. Yours looks absolutely perfect!

  5. An awesome hat. I have the pattern in my queue, it is waiting for me to master colourwork and to find a suitably piratical recipient

  6. I knit this hat as well but yours is much nicer. =)

    I bought a head mannequin on eBay. I think it was all of $12.00. Really, if you're going to be photographing a lot of hats, they're indispensable.