now that you know the basics of knitting (if not, see my first tutorial here), we will move on to some other techniques.
but first, let's talk about gauge, which is for me is the trickiest part of knitting.
simply put, gauge is the number of stitches per inch. usually it will be expressed by telling you how many stitches the pattern writer wants you to get per four inches. you usually measure over more than just one inch because it tends to give a more accurate gauge. then they will tell you what size needle they got it with. this does not mean that you will get the correct gauge with that needle because you might be a tighter or looser knitter. that needle size is just a good place to start out.
gauge is important on any project that sizing is important, usually things that are to be worn. if you are knitting a purse, you would want to get somewhere close to the right gauge, but if you were a bit off, then it wouldn't be a big deal. but, if you were knitting a sweater, you would want the fit to be precise, so you would want to be right on with your gauge.
i am a bit sloppy about my gauge. i don't always worry being spot on, but then again, i am not a perfectionist. sometimes, i just go for it and use the needle that the pattern suggests but i would not suggest this if you want something that you are knitting to fit perfectly.
gauge is the one thing that drives me crazy about knitting. usually, you are trying to get a certain gauge on a pattern, and it can involve some trial and error. but today, we are going to take control of gauge! we are going to find our gauge and adapt the pattern to it. it's so much easier than the other way around.
now onto our project,
1. gather your supplies. you will need:
- tape measurer.
- yarn. anything that you wouldn't mind be right up next to your skin. you could go with acrylic, but if you are wanting 100% wool, cascade 220 is a great, economical option.
- circular needles (an example). when you get your yarn, if you look at the label, on the back it will give you a suggested needle size to go with. make sure your circular needle is within that range. you need to also buy a certain length. go with a length that is slightly smaller that the intended wearer's head. plan on making one for an adult head, sometimes it is difficult to find a circular needles small enough for a baby size hat.
here is example of a label and the suggested needle size by the manufacturer:
i'm not using this particular yarn, but if i was, i would use a size 7 or 8 needle.
- double pointed needles (4-5 total, if you can, i would recommend finding a pack of 5) in the same size as your circular needles. (an example)
- a blunt end tapestry needle.
- stitch marker. (you can buy a real one, or you can easily make one out of yarn.)
note: i will be using cascade ecological yarn, which is a bulky yarn which suggests using a needle size of 9 or 10, and i will be using a size ten needle.
2. knit a swatch.
to make sure that your hat will fit, you will knit a swatch to find out how many stitches per inch that your size needles and size yarn will make when you knit. for every project where gauge matters, you will always knit a swatch so that you know that you are knitting with the right size needle and getting the right stitches per inch.
to make a swatch:
cast on 30 stitches. (you can knit this flat using your circular needle, when you get to the end of the row, just slide your stitches to the other needle and knit back and forth like you would on straight needles.
when you come to the end of a row, it will look like this:
just slide the stitches to the left hand needle and knit as you would with straight needles
(**edit**: a kind soul pointed out this doesn't make any sense. instead of sliding the stitches, just take the needle that was in your left had and switch it to your right hand. thank you andrea!)
(note: being able to knit flat and in the round on circular needles make them a really economical option, considering that you can only knit flat with straight needles. they even sell kits that have snap on ends so that you will have every size needle without needing to go out and buy them all individually.)rows 1-6: knit the first 6 rows.
row 7: the next row you will knit the first 3 stitches, and then you will purl 15 stitches, then you will knit 3 stitches. (this will be the wrong side of your swatch)
(learn how to purl here)
row 8: knit across the entire row. (this is the right side of your swatch)
row 9: repeat row 7.
row 10: repeat row 8.
keep going until your swatch is about as long as your pointer finger.
then do 6 more rows of garter stitch.
(in knitting pattern lingo, purl is abbreviated as p, wrong side is abbreviated as ws, right side is abbreviated as rs, and stockinette stitch is abbreviated as st. st.)
divide the number of stitches by however many inches you counted, and that my friends, is your gauge, or your stitches per inch. i got 11 stitches over 3 inches, so my gauge is 3.5 stitches per inch. (round to the nearest half inch, or if you want to be even more accurate, you could round to the nearest quarter of an inch).
4. measure your head and do the math.
measure the head of the intended wearer. this is what you want the circumference of your hat to be.
my head measures 22 inches. so i take the number of stitches per inch, which is my case is 3.5 and multiply it by the number of inches i need, which is 22. i get 77, so this is the number of stitches that i need to cast on for a hat that will fit me perfectly.
(if i wanted a snugger hat, i might go down to 70 stitches, just that i ensure that it has a nice, tight fit)
5. cast on.
now, take your number and either round up or down so that you have a number that is divisible by eight. i will explain the reasoning for this later.
cast on the number of stitches that you got for your measurements and make sure it is divisible by eight.
i casted on 72 stitches for my hat.
6. join the the round, knit some ribbing.
first you will join your knitting in the round. really make sure it is not twisted at all. place your marker where you joined the stitches, that will be the beginning/end of one row. learn how to do that here
joining the stitches in the round, taking the left needle and inserting it into last stitch on the right needle
taking the working yarn, and making a stitch. after i make this stitch, the stitches will make one continual round.
(note: i forgot to put a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round, but you mark yours, like they do in the video. you can use a plastic stitch maker, or usually i just take some yarn, and knot it into a loop and use that.)
for the first part of the hat, we will knit some ribbing. to do this, you will knit two stitches, then purl two stitches across the entire row. learn how to do that here.
you can see the different stitches, the one the furthest to the left is a knit stitch, and the one to the right of it is the purl stitch, with the little 'bump' in front
knit the ribbing until it is a length that you like. maybe that's one, two, or three, (or more?)inches, it's up to you. that is the beauty of being your own pattern maker, you decide what it looks like based on what you like.
7. knit in stockinette stitch.
( i won't be posting pictures for the rest of the instructions, the videos are very thorough)
now, you will knit in stockinette stitch for a while.
when you were knitting flat, you needed to alternate between one row of knit stitch and one row of purl stitch to make the stockinette stitch. but, when you are a knitting in the round, you will only be knitting on one side of your work, so all you have to do is the knit stitch. over and over. and over. and over.
knit however many rows it takes you so that your hat measures 5 inches from the cast on edge.
8. work the decreases.
now we will start our decreases. this gives our hat some shape and helps it become slowly more and more narrow. there are many decrease stitches and for this hat we will be knitting two stitches together.
as you decrease stitches, you will have less stitches on your needles. as some point, the circumference of your work is going to be too small for your circular needles. you will need to put them onto your double pointed needles. you will knit them from your circular needles to either three for four dpns, and then use the one left over dpn to knit with.
you will split the stitches evenly over your three or four needles. change from your circular needle to your dpn (double pointed needle) on one of the rows where you just knit. you will take a dpn and knit a third (or a fourth if you are using a total of five dpns) of the stitches onto that needle. repeat with the two other needles.
learn how to do that here.
i am going to write out the following decrease rows in knitting shorthand:
row 1: *k6 k2tog* (k2tog means knit two together, learn how to do that here), repeat the *k6, K2tog* until the end of the row. (you will be doing an eight stitch repeat and this is why your number of cast on stitches is the divisible by eight.)
row 2: knit.
row 3. *k5, k2tog*, repeat * until end of row.
row 4: knit
row 5: k4, k2tog, repeat * until end of row.
row 6: knit.
row 7: k3, k2tog, repeat * until end of row.
row 8: knit.
row 9: k2, k2tog, repeat * until end of row.
row 11: k1, k2tog, repeat * until end of row.
row 12: k2tog, repeat until end of row.
row 13: repeat row 12.
now break your working yarn, leaving a 4-ish inch tail. using your tapestry needle, weave the tail through your remaining stitches on the wrong side of your work. pull snuggly.
weave this tail into the stitches on the wrong side of your hat using your tapestry needle.
you are done! enjoy a nice, warm head.
although gauge is tricky, it isn't too bad, especially when you are the pattern writer.
i hope that knitting is starting to make more and more sense.
have any questions? feel free to email me. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
'til next time!