I have a confession to make. I hate knitting hats; really, truly hate it. This is really silly. There is no way I should hate them. Hats are fast, only use a little yarn and can be as simple or intricate as you want. On top of that, hats make great gifts. So, why do I hate hat knitting? I hate it because, only once in ten years of knitting have I gotten a hat that fits.
All of my hats come out to big. Maybe if I had a giant bobble head my hats would fit. I could walk around with my head cheerily bobbling around and a slouchy hipster hat perched just right on it. It would be great. Just me, my giant bobble head and a whole array of perfectly fitting hats. But alas, it is not to be so. Instead I have a mostly normal sized head and lots of mega sized hats.
Now, I know that all of my hats are ridiculous monstrosities because my gauge is off. At first this was because I was a newbie and liked to live dangerously. I spent several years knitting by the seat of my pants. My name was Coyote. I was wild and free and I didn’t need a stinking gauge swatch. Then I started knitting things that used more yarn and cost more, like sweaters. So, I started to swatch but my hats still didn’t fit. The solution this time was that I needed to knit my swatches in the round. Turns out that my gauge is looser when I knit in the round. Now I knit my swatches in the round when I need to and I wash them just to make sure they aren’t going to grow, shrink, twist or self implode. And all of my projects come out very nicely except stupid hats.
Apparently, when I sit down to knit the hat I have very carefully swatched for, whatever part of my brain controls how I tension my yarn completely shuts off. I sit, my hands knit, my brain goes, “deedle deedle dee” and my hat is once again the size of a watermelon. What happens next is I look at my hat and think, “Hmm this hat looks kind of big. Maybe it will get better if I knit a little more.” So I knit to the crown decreases and say to myself, “Wow, this hat looks way to big but I did the gauge swatch and everything was fine. I’m sure the crown decreases will fix everything.” This is a great example of denial. Then I finish the hat, slap it on my head and am shocked to discover the hat could fit two heads and comes down to my shoulders. I proceed to call the hat a number of colorful names and vow to never knit a hat again.
Well, I am doing one better than just knitting a hat at the moment. I’m working on my own design for a child’s hat. I know, what am I thinking but in my head it is so cute. This morning I was working on the prototype for the hat and I was about three inches in when I started to notice the hat looked a little big, like it’s supposed to fit a two year old but looked like it was going to fit me. This time I did the smart thing and re-measured the gauge on the hat. Sure enough, they were different. The swatch was 4 1/2 stitches per inch and the hat was 3 1/2. Which means my 18 inch hat was closer to 23 inches. I pulled the whole thing out and I’m going to spend tonight reworking the pattern with the correct gauge. The moral of the story is; if your project looks to big or to small it is never a bad idea to double check your gauge even if your swatch was perfect. Also, the crown decreases of a hat do not magically shrink the whole thing. I think I’m going to go hunt down some handles and turn my monster sized hats into bowling ball bags.