Monday, November 13, 2006

Modifying the pattern for a DQ hat in smaller gauge

So, having made a first attempt last week at making the Elizabeth Zimmermann Dairy Queen Hat, using worsted weight vs. the bulky/superbulky yarn the pattern was written for, the first instance came out just a little small. This was the red one posted yesterday morning. When measured, its bottom width is 6.5 inches, so that makes a rough circumference of 13", which, according to the Craft Yarn Council of America Sizing page, is between a preemie and a baby size head. The hat is rather tall for such a small head.

Late yesterday morning I decided to fiddle with the number cast on at the bottom, starting with 45 stitches, but keeping the same total number of stitches in the hat (hot pink instance). Still tall proportionately for its base, this one is 7 inches wide, roughly 14 inches circumference. If the base were a ribbing, it might be counted on to stretch more, but the garter stitch really has only so far it can go.

As the saying goes, yes, they will fit someone, but....

On the subway home this evening I started thinking seriously about what I would need to do to modify this basic shape to work in a worsted weight yarn, because it's a cute hat and works up quickly. As you can see in the photo on the left, the stray skeins (worsted weight) shelves, while emptier than last year at this time, still have a ways to go in the reduction effort (like me). The top shelf is mostly Lamb's Pride Worsted, and its twin cousin, Wonderful Wool from Steadfast Fibers (which doesn't seem to have a website, but, I have it on good authority, they take the LPW and color it up). The ulterior goal is hats for the Mind's Eye Mitten Tree, which get donated to the Somerville Family Network, but no, I am not going out and buying superbulky when the intermediary goal is to stashbust and make room (for fresh?).

Clearly, I need to make the bottom opening larger. Casting on more stitches, though, will change the proportions of the top of the hat. The hat works by doing a static stitch count up so far while shaping the swirl, and then continuing the swirl while decreasing the number of stitches in each third. Having larger thirds will make the decreases take longer to get to the end number. The hat is already probably as tall as it needs to be to span almost any head, it's just the circumference of the base that needs changing. Therefore, I should probably start the decreases earlier.

I'm also going to use 3 double points and knit with a fourth, soon as I can lay hands on the size 8's or 9's. Using two circs., particularly on the pink one, really distorted the end of needle stitches when it got toward the end and things got small. Since the hat is a swirl done in 3 sections, it makes sense now, (having tried the other ways) to just put each 3rd on a needle and go.

Could you simply double the worsted yarn?

p.s. The Knittyboard suggests I try the tiger stripes using double knitting instead of intarsia in the round. The techniques seem similar, though I don't need reversibility. Your thoughts?
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