christmas hats

I’m not sure if you noticed, but the Northern Hemisphere is having some winter right now. I’m in Europe, so it’s no, like, a huge amount of winter – we haven’t had any snow at all where I am. But still definitely colder and darker than my family are enjoying in NZ (jealous) and that means hat weather.

(I am constantly astounded by the number of people wandering around sans hats in this weather. I used to be one of them, when I lived in Dunedin, but then I knitted myself this one great hat, and I have not looked back.)

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I arrived in Germany on Christmas Eve, and celebrated Christmas with my friend’s family that very evening. I didn’t really know in advance how many people were going to be there, and I had only met any members of her family very briefly seven years ago, so I was a little at a loss for what to give as gifts; until I realised that it is winter, and I am a knitter, and hats are easy and friendly and everyone needs one. So when I left on my trip, I packed five balls of yarn (I lost one in the airport, but still had plenty), and a set of needles to match, and aimed for a hat a week while I was in Uganda. I didn’t quite make it – it wasn’t especially knitting weather, though hats are small and the evenings were cool enough – but I got four hats in 5 1/2 weeks, which was enough for one each for Hanna’s parents, sister, and boyfriend. So it was plenty.

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The hats are four different patterns; the two single-colour ones are entirely invented patterns, and the two colourwork hats use patterns from Ravelry, but my own standard brim and shaping techniques (mainly because I knit while I’m doing other things, so I can’t be bothered looking up patterns if I don’t have to. I know what I’m doing, when it comes to a hat. (To me they’re the easiest kind of thing to knit – lots of circles, and then just a tiny bit of shaping at the end. I recommend hats to beginners. You also get to finish them, unlike a scarf!)

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The two most gratifying moments were one: going out for a walk on Christmas Day and three out of four people were wearing a hat I had made, and two: realising a week on that Hanna’s boyfriend had literally worn the hat I made every day since then. (A month on, he also walked out of the house wearing it this morning, which prompted me to start writing about them. As well as provoking a moment of pride – I did good with that one.)

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The cabled one took the most thought. I started it on the aeroplane on the way to Uganda, and fully intended it to be a colourwork hat with a pattern I had downloaded on my phone. However, I got onto the plane from Auckland to Dubai, got out my knitting, and… realised I’d lost a ball of yarn in Auckland Airport. Of all the things to leave behind in the airport before I even left NZ, it’s definitely not the biggest problem, but also not an ideal situation. (I’m pretty sure it’s the only thing I lost – I thought I’d lost my soap, as well, but I eventually found it more than three weeks into my time in Uganda, feeling fairly silly.)

I just did the number of cables that would fit around the number of stitches I had, and stuck in the narrow cables between heavy ones to make it add up right. When I came to the top of the hat, I considered carefully concealing my decreases between/within the cable lines, but I’ve done that before on another hat and it takes a lot of thought, so I decided to just keep the ribbing going and decrease with that pattern. I was actually away on a safari trip when I was planning that, knitting in the car, so keeping things simple was a priority.

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Knitting plus grasslands – no animals in this one.

The yarn was Ashford double knitting, and it made lovely crisp cables. I really like white cabled things – I started a giant white cabled thing yesterday – so this hat was a good, satisfying thing. (I don’t particularly like knitting cables – but I love how they look enough that I do it now and then anyway. By inclination I’m more of a lace knitter.)

 

This was also one of the first times I’ve done stranded colourwork – I’m very happy with how both colourwork hats turned out, not too complicated once I got going! So, I also learnt a technique while doing this. I like learning new things. There are a whole lot of colourwork sweater patterns out there that I absolutely love, and now I’m a step closer to making one! (The other step? Start wearing pants – most of them don’t suit my normal fit-and-flare dresses.)

I’m now four weeks into my placement in Germany, and in four weeks time I’ll be back home in NZ. (Asleep, about to begin my next placement in Wellington in the morning…) I’m only counting down a little bit. I’m really enjoying my placement here – I’ll be sad to leave it – but I miss my family, and my home. I do get to see my little sister in London and Bath for a few days before I get home – and my sisters are the people in all the world I’d most like to travel with, so that’ll be fun. But really, I can’t wait to be back home. I’ll also be reunited with my sewing machine! I have some fabric from Uganda that I can’t wait to sew into a dress, and a million other plans. Plus I’m going fabric shopping with my sister in London…

(space/weight in my suitcase is severely limited, so I can’t get too overenthusiastic about that one! Trying to work out if I can pack more of the heavy things into my carry-on this time)

I’ve been having adventures, so here’s a few photos!

(here we have my birthday, with multiple cakes; a castle I visited in the Black Forest; and a trip to France, because this is a continent and you can do that)

Happy knitting and/or sewing!

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