Basic Striped hat (aka.This should not have been this hard)

Simple striped wool cap in grey and greenWHY GOD WHY!  Why do I agree to make things for other people?! Every single time I agree/offer to make something for someone else it instantly turns what should have been a quick and easy project into a behemoth of frustration. I’ve posted about this phenomenon on the Ravelry boards, and I am not unique in this. There are multiple theories as to why knit items for other people are so prone to mistakes and frustration.

– Making something for someone else we get much more focused on it being perfect, so small issues that we’d normally let slide get blown in to huge frog-worthy mistakes.

– Any sort of time crunch results in our normal knitting pace to be accelerated. This results in more mistakes, simply because we’re rushing.

– The added stress that comes with knowing the item is for someone else can affect tension, and that can cause all sorts of problems.

Whatever the reason, I never have more trouble with a project than when I am knitting it for someone else.
Take a basic striped hat, for example. Top down, simple, no complicating design elements like cables or fancy colourwork… I could do that in my sleep and it should have taken max two evenings to complete, right? Well, that would be the reality if I was knitting it for me.

This time, however, I was asked to make a hat by my friend Ryan who was starting a new job and moving to a different city. He wouldn’t let me pay for his sushi lunch as a farewell gesture, but he did mention I think three times during that lunch how he would love a knitted hat. Well, fine. How hard could a basic hat be? Hell, I had four days before his last day of work to finish it and give it to him which would be plenty of time, even with a buffer for “knit for someone else” screw ups.

Yeah, the damned thing took me two weeks. Granted, most of that time was me actively avoiding knitting the hat because I was scared of making another mistake that would necessitate my frogging it and starting over, but still… two weeks! Here is what happened:

  • Got about half way through the hat doing a self-designed stranded pattern. After realizing how hideous the hat was looking I frogged it.
  • Restarted and got about 25% through it only to have my husband remark that the top of the hat was looking pretty nipple-like. He was right so I frogged it.

    Top-Down No Math Hat: The Manly Version

    This hat cast on/shaping method is really tidy and simple and the end result is a really nice looking hat… once I switched to an 8 segment hat. 6 segments resulted in a big knit nipple on top. 

  • Restarted and frogged 2 additional times for nipple-top issues
  • Switched to a 8 segment hat top to create a flatter hat top and restarted for a FIFTH time.
  • I got to the point where I was finished with the increases and liking how it was looking. This then led me to worry about noticing or making a mistake that would have forced me to frog and restart so I sort of ignored the project for a week.
  • Finally, on Sunday, I rage finished it while watching the Daytona 500 (during commercial breaks, and the multiple red and yellow flags)
  • I told Ryan that I am finally done the hat and have arranged for his wife to pick it up this afternoon. (I am also giving her a couple bottles of wine.)
  • Now I am going through the “It isn’t good enough, look at all the mistakes, it isn’t going to fit, why did I put yellow stripes, everyone hates yellow…” crippling self doubt.

I don’t know… I actually rather like the hat and am pretty happy with how it turned out, but I still worry. For example, it fits me great and I find it comfortable and warm without being excessive. I measured his head before I started and his head is only slightly smaller than mine, so I am praying that it fits him as well, but I’m still concerned. Plus, Ryan is so damned polite and gracious that he would never give me any sort of indication if he didn’t like it. Damn him!


Anyway, project notes…

  1. I used Paton’s Classic Worsted yarn in Jade and Grey Mix. Nice yarn to work with though I was surprised at how much dye came out when I blocked the hat. The yellow stripes were done in leftover fisherman’s wool that I had dyed myself.
  2. Size US6 needles were used for the body of the hat which resulted in a nice gauge. Switched to a US5 needle for the ribbed edge. Probably could have gone down to a US4 for the ribbing.
  3. I used the Top-Down No Math Hat: Manly Version method for starting the hat. Pretty brilliant and easy way of doing a hat, and I really like the subtle swirl the technique creates. I will be using this method again. HOWEVER! Doing it with six segments is what caused the nipple-y top problem and things didn’t normalize until I switched to an 8 segment hat, so when/if I make a hat using this method it will absolutely be an 8 segment hat.

    My jogless stripes are far from being jogless. I think it actually looks pretty horrible. :(

    My jogless stripes are far from being jogless. I think it actually looks pretty horrible. 🙁

  4. My cast off (Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast off) created problems. Rather than keeping the ribbed edge all snug and nice it sort of stretched the edge out. It looks fine when the hat is on, but just looking at the hat flat on a table it sort of curls up and out. It really drives me insane. I needed a stretchy cast off but apparently that one created too much bulk or something. Blarg.
  5. I really effed up my stripes. My jogless stripes are anything other than jogless. They are all misaligned and stupid looking. I showed my husband and he had no idea what the hell I was complaining about and didn’t see anything effed up, so maybe I’m overreacting, but I definitely see it and it bothers me.
  6. Speaking of the stripes, I tried really hard to keep them random looking,varying the repeats and widths and colour changes. I am pretty happy with how that ended up.