Tag Archives: hat

New pattern: Lake Merritt

I released a new hat pattern the other day! World, meet Lake Merritt:

Lake Merritt
It was Cristina’s first time modeling, so we were still working our way up to not having her hide behind her hair.

Lake Merritt is a real, live lake (well, estuary) right in the middle of my town, Oakland. I’ve lived within a mile of the lake for six of the years I’ve been here, so I’ve had plenty of time to get acquainted with its sights (and smells — it can get sort of brackish sometimes) throughout the year and at different times of day. I’ve climbed its trees, played pétanque near its shores, picnicked on its lawns, jogged its circumference a zillion sweaty times, startled its geese, gawked at a pelican in the bird sanctuary turning his throat pouch inside-out for cleaning, had cocktails on its piers, watched gondoliers pole across its surface, seen jellyfish swim in its waters, stared out at it from a window seat at the restaurants that face it, watched the sun set over it — everything but wade in it. (It’s very shallow and very full of bird poop, so that would be a terrible idea.) Once I even saw someone taking their six-foot albino ball python for a walk its the lawn.

And like a lot of people, my favorite is the look of the Necklace of Lights reflecting on the lake at night. They were installed in 1925, went dark in World War II and have been back up and glowing since the late ’80s. At night when the water is still, its surface throws back light from the Necklace and from the streetlights, traffic lights, headlights and houses surrounding the lake. It’s pretty gorgeous.

Oakland Localwiki: The Necklace of Lights
Photo from the Oakland Localwiki.

Since the hat is based on such a beloved local feature, I wanted to pick out yarns for the samples from my favorite local dyers: A Verb for Keeping Warm and Pigeonroof Studios. (Unfortunately, it took so long for me to get this pattern out, Pigeonroof up and moved to Portland by the time it came out. Ah, well.)  The colorway I chose for the dark version of the hat above, “Railroad Stake,” comes the closest of any yarn I’ve ever seen to the dark but colorful shimmer on the lake at night.

Lake Merritt hat
See what I mean about the colors?

As for the nitty-gritty of the hat: The hat is double-thick, with a lining for the colorwork section and the crown worked with two strands of yarn, so it’s warm for a sock-yarn hat. There are two cast-on options that make the hat either medium-easy or medium-difficult, depending which you choose. The medium-easy one uses a provisional cast-on and is super quick. The more difficult one is a a sideways double i-cord cast-on I came up with; I call it a “centipede” cast-on because it’s got live stitches on either side of it that look like little legs. And I know I’m not exactly subjective, but it is awesome. I’ve spent a really long time trying to find a truly polished-looking hat edge that’s stretchy and won’t flip or curl and doesn’t stick out all funny like a traditional i-cord trim, and this one finally, finally fits the bill.

You can check out Lake Merritt on Ravelry, or for five bucks you can just jump in and buy it now.

The echo chamber

I struggle with avoiding the echo chamber. If I’m not careful, I end up listening to the same music, reading the same news, hearing the same friends and, of course, browsing the same knitting patterns. I’m hardly a novelty freak, but it’s important to not cut myself off from new things completely.

There’s some work involved: raw piles of data aren’t helpful, but over-filtered information gets kinda samey. I try to get around it by finding other people to do the work for me: For music, I follow music blogs and have a handful of friends who report to me with the names of bands that OMIGOD I HAVE TO CHECK OUT, and occasionally google phrases like “the Vietnamese Tom Waits” to inject some unfiltered noise into my comfortable habits.

On Ravelry, I watch my friends’ activity like a hawk, and I obsessively check test-knitting groups. It’s a great way to scope out new patterns, and I like occasionally signing on for a test knit and donating a little extra time to proofing patterns.

Me in my hat
New hat!

Hence: This hat! It’s brioche stitch, which I love; the cables are awesome; and with bulky yarn, I cranked it out in no time flat. It’s warm and plush and RED. The test pattern was already pretty polished, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time counting and double-checking. Total cakewalk. And as an inveterate indie-rock hipster-wannabe, it’s like getting into a band before they’ve even released their first EP: total bragging rights.



Just as I decided that what I really needed a hat with earflaps, someone on Ravelry posted a call for test knitters for a hat with earflaps.


Instead of doing the quick braids the pattern called for, I spent almost as long on the i-cord ties with tiny contrast-color stripes as I did on the rest of the hat. It was worth it.

I’m starting to develop a taste for tiny, meticulous finishing details, especially after seeing a bunch of vintage and contemporary sewing projects with incredibly gorgeous (and finicky) stitching and accents. Striped i-cord is kind of a bitch to get right, but man, the results make me happy.

The black vertical stripes are actually cabled owls. They’re kinda hard to see, so I’m considering embroidering French knots on them, because I just learned to make French knots the other day and I’m so excited about it that I want to cover everything I own in French knots. Maybe if I make enough French knots, the embroidery gods will smile on me and fix my wobbly chain stitch!

And maybe the knitting gods will smile on me, too, for spending almost as much time on the embellishments as I spent on the rest of the hat. Anyway, the results are on Ravelry if you’re interested.

A new knitting record

I appear to have broken a knitting record: casting off a project and misplacing it in less than a single day.

Less than an hour, even.

Honestly? It didn’t even last five minutes.

I’m retooling and rewriting one of my hat patterns, and made yet another hat from the pattern to make sure everything worked. I painstakingly grafted together the edges of the tubular bind-off, wove in the ends, and with a huge wave of satisfaction, declared it done. Then, in a move I really ought to know by now never ends well, I put it somewhere special to make sure I wouldn’t lose it.

Now, the problem with “somewhere special” is that “somewhere special” isn’t a certain place; it roughly translates as “somewhere that isn’t one of my usual places, and I’ll remember where because it’s special.” If only my brain worked like that. Instead, as I firmly think to myself this is where I am putting this thing right now in case I need it, my brain nods its metaphorical head, solemnly promises to cherish this information forever, and immediately jettisons it overboard, leaving only a tiny sensory trace in its wake. Very many clothes, drugs and important papers have disappeared this way, only to surface months or weeks later when they’re no longer needed.

So no, I don’t remember where the hat is. I only know that it’s somewhere special, it’s in my room, it was nighttime when I put it away, and that the place I jammed it so I wouldn’t lose it was soft and felt like fabric. Which is why I was up at 1 a.m. the other night, emptying my entire clothes drawer onto the floor and sifting fruitlessly through my million t-shirts, hoping that maybe, just this once, I hadn’t outsmarted myself again.

No dice, of course. I didn’t find it. I think maybe I scared it away.