Since my last post on this project, I knitted and blocked a smaller swatch to confirm gauge and then got busy knitting the tam. After all of the angst that went into the design, the actual knitting went fairly quickly and uneventfully. I made a couple of mistakes in the pattern, but a little duplicate stitching fixed that.
A few notes on the design and execution:
I found this beret calculator by Lucia Liljegren to be very helpful when planning the stitch counts and shaping directions.
I decided to use the Old Norwegian Cast On (aka German Twisted Cast On), which is recommended for use with corrugated ribbing by Cap Sease because it is elastic and firm, yet less likely to curl. I wanted the cast on edge to be in a different color than the ribbing, and I discovered from my swatch that it looked better if I knit the first row of ribbing using the cast on color, and then switched to the ribbing colors. The edge does lift up just a little bit, and if the other colors are joined without that intervening row, the light-colored floats can be visible. Plus I liked the way it gave the edge color a more substantial presence.
With a 13.5-inch diameter, this is a very large tam. Perhaps it dances on the edge of being too large. I wanted to have a large canvas to work the stitch patterns in, and I think that smaller tams eventually start looking like a toque or watch cap as they lose their blocking through use. I suppose this is in danger of turning into a slouch hat when it loses its blocking! Most patterns will tell you to use a dinner plate to block a tam, but this one is too big for that. Luckily I had a plastic cake board with a 14-inch diameter that was perfect for blocking. The fabric pulled in a bit after I took it off the board to reach its final diameter.
It was a bit challenging to measure the gauge because it changes a bit, depending on where you measure it. Close to the headband and the increase row where the stitch count changes from 172 to 300, the fabric has a subtle gathering, and close to the area where the edge of the board was is off by a stitch or two per four inches from the count I get on the top side, which is itself complicated by the fact that the wheel decreases make it difficult to find a four-inch section of stitches that are not affected by the decreases. Still, the average gauge is what I was getting on my swatch, so I am happy with that.
I am happy with the fabric, and I feel that I did a good job with the float tension. The fabric is elastic and smooth; the floats aren’t too tight. There were a few places where the floats had to span more than 8 stitches, so I had to trap them. Those spots don’t show through to the right side. Whew.
There were a lot of ends to weave in, but I just sat down and powered through them in one afternoon. Not too bad, really.
Finally, I thought it needed one last thing to add a little zip. I had bought these Celtic knot buttons from Robert Gilmore for another project, but ended up not using them. It turns out that this tam is the perfect place to use them, so all’s well that ends well.
In all, I’m quite happy with my tam. I hope that the TKGA committee will approve it. It will be several months yet before I am ready to submit my binder, so I will not know for a long time. I have to finalize the pattern for this tam, which I have given myself until the end of the year to do, and then it’s on to the final piece of my Level 3 submission–the sweater project.