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New Project: Fair Isle Sampler Hat

I love it when I’m all excited about my knitting! And if you have been putting up with me in recent weeks and months, you know there hasn’t been a whole lotta glee goin’ on here at the House of Trish Knits. But then last week, I decided that I needed to WAKE UP my knitting. So, I decided to give myself a challenge.

I’m knitting the Fair Isle Sampler Hat by Mary Jane Mucklestone. Click the picture to see how pretty, and wonderful, and fun and quirky it is. All of the things I love most about a hat! You’ll have to click that link to see the picture; it doesn’t belong to me. (Or, if you’re on Ravelry, look here. If you’re not on Ravelry, WHY NOT? Go There! Sign Up! You will not regret it.) The pattern first appeared in Interweave Knits in the Winter 2004 issue. I was barely knitting crooked garter stitch scarves back then, and I certainly didn’t own any knitting magazines. But, soon I was attracted to a pair of mittens in the magazine and bought it as a back issue. I almost overlooked the pattern, when once again I pulled the issue off my shelf to stare at those mittens, and BOOM! There it was. That Hat. That hat I had to have.

By the way, Mary Jane says it will soon be available as a kit from her website. Which is good, since the issue seems to be sold out or gone from the back issues collection available from Interweave Knits.

I tried to cast on all those teeny tiny stitches using Magic Loop on a long needle, but for some reason when I Magic Loop with fingering yarn it always looks terrible when I start. I tried again, and it still looked awful. And to say that I HATE starting a new project, well the cast-on, anyway? THAT would be putting it mildly. Especially when we’re talking about a lot of stitches. It takes me, like, for-EVER. So, I got an idea.

The pattern consists of lots of charts. Each representing a band of a different design, with all kinds of crazy colors. It is knit, typically, from the bottom up, starting with the ribbing and working up to the point at the top. Casting on was driving me MAD. And it looked awful every time I tried to join the round, with a huge ladder in between the first and last stitch. I am usually pretty good at dealing with this, but usually with fatter yarn.

So, I contacted the designer for reassurance. If I knit from the top DOWN, instead of the bottom UP, and read the charts from top to bottom instead of the other way, would it matter? Doing this meant I could start with a miniscule 6 or 8 stitches (I fudged the designer’s original counts until I increased to the designer’s original band of 20 stitches). Would this work? Several members of my knitting mail list and the designer herself reassured me that yes! Why not? Knitting is all about what works for the knitter and makes her happy, right? And I’d had just about enough of the knitting unhappy. So, as of a couple nights ago, I have this:

Fair Isle Sampler Hat beginning
Fair Isle Sampler Hat beginning

I also had to take the original charts from the magazine, and scan them into my scanner, so I could blow up each one to a size I could actually see. I have eye tracking issues due to my disability and charts and I do not usually get along. So I blew them up to 200% and put each chart on a separate page. Then my daughter found a report cover for me and put them all into the cover so I have a whole notebook of charts. Charts that I can actually see and knit from with no problem, although with quite a lot of concentration. Still, I am loving the challenge!

Oh, but there is a bump in this happy tale:

darn that dropped stitch!
darn that dropped stitch!

See it? My first dropped stitch in this project. I’m sure there will be many! But, this being my first for this project I wanted to hurry up and snap it for posterity before fixing it. It’s a good thing I have great lighting on my new computer desk now; I’m going to need it.

I’m still loving the project, dropped stitches and all. Perhaps my knitterly brain needed a little exercise!


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One response to “New Project: Fair Isle Sampler Hat”

  1. mary jane Avatar

    how’s it going? it is so cute in the picture. happy knitting!

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