Tissues.
Vitamin C.
More tissues.
Tea with lemon.

Not to go on about subjects we’d all like to avoid, but by this point in my life, I have learned how to be sick. I’ve learned that when I get a cold, I am not good for much other than bad movies and uncomplicated knitting. That I’m always going to have more trouble breathing at night, and need to stock up on something other than non-drowsy cold meds. That the more fluids I drink, the better I’ll feel, and so to keep plain decaf tea in the house always. The better I understand how I feel when I’m sick, the better care I can take and the sooner I feel human again.

Knitting is, in certain ways, similar. I had to knit all kinds of things that didn’t work for different reasons before I understood how a particular item was constructed and could manage to make versions that did work. Hats show a very clear learning-curve for me, and so here are a few that I’ve excavated from over the years I’ve been knitting them.

cable-owl hatHere is one of the earliest hats I knit. It’s out of a bulky yarn that I’d never be able to find a ball band for if I tried, since I never used to keep them when I was a baby knitter. I was clearly obsessing over the owls-made-from-cables that were all over Ravelry when I made this, and I’m sure I pulled all the free patterns with cable-owls, compared them, and made the best version I could come up with that matched my gauge.

You can also see from the picture that I didn’t quite understand the construction of hats. I could measure gauge and multiply to figure out how big around a hat needed to be – but I seemed to stop knitting straight and start decreasing for the crown way too soon! I don’t wear my pink owl hat anymore because of how little it does to keep my ears warm, but I think it’s a cute effort even so.

ear flap hat Here’s a hat I knit before I learned my lesson about gauge. It’s a tweaked version of the Fanciful hat, without the flowers over the ears or the seed stitch portion. I didn’t believe that even the largest size would fit my head (which is wider than the average size head listed in patterns for women’s hats), and didn’t take negative ease into account. So it’s pretty huge, through no fault of the pattern.

I used Misti Alpaca Chunky in gray and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in dark blue, and striped them. The stripes are okay, but the yarns themselves are two different weights, and I used a needle that was too big for either of them. The ear flaps should add to the coziness, but on the days when it’s truly windy and I’d reach for a hat to cover my ears, this one flutters and lets in the chill and threatens to blow away.

Lettuce Leaf Hat

With this hat, which I can’t help referring to as my Lettuce Leaf Hat, I’d finally begun learning, thanks to how well written the Bea hat pattern was. Some lace, a pretty color yarn, a hat that’s only a little bit short instead of comically so, and you can see how things were finally starting to make more sense for me. I love this pattern, and think the giant leaves are super cute, even if they let in more of the chilly winter wind than they would without the decorative yarn-overs.

Pom HatAnd here’s one knit this winter. The entire reason I knit this was to a) get this mystery acrylic yarn out of my stash, and b) make a huge pom-pom. I designed this myself, with a long brim that would fit snugly whether put on as is or folded up to shorten the hat into something closer to a beanie, alternate section of stockinette and reverse-stockinette to slouch nicely, and the requisite giant pom on top. I don’t love it – the colors are totally not for me – but it certainly covers my ears. Pom-pom achievement unlocked!

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