TKGA Report: Level 3 Hat

Now that I am finished with the required Level 3 swatches and written responses and reports, “all” that’s standing between me and the designation of “master knitter” are two projects: a hat and a sweater, one of which must be in the Fair Isle style and the other in the Aran style, and both of which must be designed by me.

Saying “all” is like saying, “all” that stands between Southampton, England and New York City is 3,400 miles of ocean.

I have decided to tackle the hat first. After much dithering, I decided to make a Fair Isle tam. My reasons for this are that I think these stitch patterns look best when knit at a very fine gauge (7-8 stitches per inch). Just the thought of knitting an entire sweater of heavily patterned colorwork at such a gauge gives me a headache. The doubled yarn makes for a lovely dense fabric, but here in Los Angeles, we don’t really have much use for such a heavy sweater. However, I always have a knit hat in the pocket of my “winter” coat (which would make most people laugh because they would think it fine for the first few weeks of fall) and use it frequently for my wintertime walks. Mostly though, I love the look of a tam.

So, a lovely tammie. But where to begin? I chose the colors and ordered the yarn a month ago. Then we moved back into our house after having been away for 9 months during a major remodel. The re-entry was pretty rough, but I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that there was not much knitting going on for the first three weeks.

But things are settling down, and I have been diligently working on this hat for the past week. It seems like I am not really getting anywhere. I am making invisible progress because, although I have charted and knit several swatches, I have ripped them out almost as soon as they were finished because I was just not happy with them. I am swatching in the round, which means that I am using cut lengths of yarn for each row. In order to save yarn as I work out my design ideas, I decide which parts I think are working and which parts are not, then rip it back and start all over again. Each time I start a new swatch I think, “This is going to be the one.” But as you can see, so far I have worked out only the corrugated ribbing and the first band. In the process, I am learning a lot about how these patterns and colors work, but it has been slow going.

I have worked out my knit and row gauges, and the math that goes with them, so I have a preliminary idea of how many stitches and rows I will be working with. I used this yarn to make my Level 2 wristlet project, so I know that the gauge doesn’t really change that much with blocking, but this will all have to be confirmed by knitting the final swatch with fresh yarn and blocking it. Whenever I decide I have gotten to the final swatch. Which will be soon, I hope. Or maybe not. I may take a break from this and work on something else for awhile. Sometimes that helps. Or I might just keep bashing away at it. We’ll see.