Knitting Diary: Improvised Slouch
When I first started knitting, I couldn't help comparing it to my guitar playing. The reason I gave up the latter was that even after two years, I felt that I was completely blind--or perhaps I should say, deaf--when it came to the theory behind the music. I got as far as noticing that different songs can have very similar chord structures (and appreciated what a music writer meant when he said that going from G to Em is a "musical cliche") and was able to strum along to a bunch of the simpler ones on the radio . . . and I learned all about scales, which helped me to pick songs apart note by note . . . but that was it. What I wanted more than anything was to understand how to write a bass line for a song, but I never figured out how to read the chords and notes of a melody and to fit them into a new arrangement with some bass--and none of the articles or video tutorials I found really helped me out. It was frustrating and sad, and it sapped me.
Knitting is a whole other world. Within a couple of months, I had figured out how to use knits and purls (both regular ones through the front loop and "twisted" ones through the back loop) to create all sorts of patterns; and today, I can look at most knitted projects and know exactly what to do to reproduce them. (I'll be off here and there, of course, but my approximations will be close!) I can even design my own stuff. And last week, I took my first baby steps in that direction by attempting an "original" hat.
the Picadilly wrapped pompom beanie, hood and cowl on the left. The catch was that the pattern wasn't free, so I had to figure it out from the photos--very much as I used to figure out chords and strumming patterns by listening to tracks. And I got sneaky about it, too, reading the project notes of those who had already made it, to work out the stuff that I couldn't tell just by looking--very much as I used to stare hard at other guitarists hands in their YouTube covers of the tracks that I wanted. And after I realised that the Picadilly is supposed to have short rows--a new technique that I hadn't tried yet--I got extra excited about making it.
About six inches later, having messed up about eight rounds of short rows and continuing to mess up although I had started changing things up so as not to, I gave up and unraveled what I had. The short rows will have to wait for another project.
I Heart Pompoms hat on the right, which is very similar, except that it has wide "beehive" ridges instead of the subtle texture of scattered short rows. Well, what I couldn't figure out from either the photos or other knitters' comments was how much to increase by after the ribbing--and six ridges later, I realised I had a tight beanie rather than a slouch on my hands. =P This design being much simpler, I was willing to unravel it until the ribbing to try again . . . but as I was doing so, I knotted up the yarn so badly that it's still a huge tangled mess in one of my knitting boxes right now. I may have to take scissors to the most Gordian of the knots. =(
Seed Banded Slouch Hat, which you see now. That is, I "stole" the instructions for its seed band to use in a hat that would look nothing like it.
Instead of the three bands that you see on the brim of the hat on the left, I wanted some ribbing. I also thought that the wide stockinette areas were a little boring, so I planned to gussy them up as well. Finally, I was still all about a hat with a drawstring and pompoms--and not just because making an i-cord for the drawstring and the pompoms themselves would be a new skill to add to my collection. Indeed, if I had known in advance that both my yarn store and I would run out of the yarn I was using and that I wouldn't be able to add those two dear details to the design, I would have abandoned this idea for another or stocked up on another kind of yarn before starting. But I hadn't known, and that's why I now have the following "slouchy beanie" in my life . . .
And those of you who have hats of your own and recognise that mine is on a laptop are now wondering just how huge my head is. I mean, you knew it was big, but in that other non-literal sense. =P
These days, I seem to make all my hats bigger than they should be . . . because of the first two I made, which are smaller than they should be. (I made them for myself, but would now like to palm them off on some newborns. =P) So enormous is this latest one, that it seems reasonable to believe that if I had cast on a mere eight fewer stitches at the beginning, I might still have had my drawstring and pompoms at the end! (If I could go back in time and talk to myself, however, I'd go for sixteen fewer stitches on the cast on and fewer ribbed rounds on the crown.)
But perhaps the saddest bit is that the hat doesn't look good at all with the ribbing down, which is how I had always intended to wear it. So I have to roll the ribbed part up a bit, which means that I end up concealing those raised diagonal stripes that I took the trouble to add! But at least it's more stable on my head that way. =P
No, I'm not going to unravel it and try again. Not when there are even bigger "oversized" hats out there. I'm going to make it work, as they say on Project Runway. I've already found that when I have my hair down or put it in two big braids, it helps to balance the hugeness of the hat. Indeed, that's exactly how I wore it last Monday, when I showed up at the airport to wish Pope Francis farewell. And that's why, if I had to give this project a catchy name, the way all new patterns seem to have these days, I'd call it the Ambivalent Ultramontanist.
Image Sources: a) Picadilly hat, b) I Heart Pompoms hat, c) Seed Banded Slouch hat