And now it's time to work the decreases and bind off... and BLOCKING! Yep, that's part of it too.
So, about that decreasing...
If you're working the fitted beanie, and you're not already using double-pointed needles, you're likely best to switch to the double-pointed needles now when you've finished with a knit round. If you're working the Magic Loop method you can pretend this little bit doesn't exist. If you're working the slouchy hat, you can work rows 1 thru 3 of the decrease section before switching to the DPN's.
So, why switch needles?
If you're working with a 16" fixed circular, you're going to find it more and more difficult to get your ends of round to meet as you decrease stitches. The best want to manage this, in my opinion, is to work until it's getting a bit snug and then switch over.
I prefer to actively move all my stitches from the needles rather than knit them on to the new needles (as we saw in the first KAL post) so I can make sure all the stitches make it relatively evenly over the 4 needles. I also prefer to do this with an all-knit round to avoid having to move YO's. They're tricky buggers on the average day, why mess with them?
For the Fitted Hat:
The fitted hat has 81 stitches and that's about the fewest stitches I would want on a 16" needle. This, of course, is open to your own opinion so move the stitches when you feel comfortable but here's why I recommend doing it now. On the decrease round 1, you'll go from 81 stitches down to 63. 63 will likely be pretty tight on your fixed circ's so why not fight the battle before you get too few soldiers, right? At 81 stitches, divided evenly over 4 needles, that's 20 stitches on 3 of the needles and 21 on the last.
For the Slouchy Hat:
I prefer to work on the fixed circular for as long as I can as I tend to get ladders when I work on DPN's so for this project I worked rounds 1-3 of the decrease section on the fixed circ's. Then I did some basic math and transferred 20 stitches to 3 of the needles and the remaining 17 to the 4th needle. And here's what she looks like now:
If you look carefully you'll see that I have my stitch marker one stitch in on the needle rather than right on the end. Simple reason: I don't want it to fall off. Then as I work each round I move one stitch to the next needle to avoid the laddering affect. It's far less noticeable on a project like this where "holes" are part of the design but that's a little tidbit you can take with you for future projects worked on DPN's. You're welcome!
One thing to point out, when you're working round 5 of the decreases, you'll note that you need to (K1, K1tbl) into the double YO instead of (K1, P1). The reason for this is so that all of your stitches are knit stitches so you have a smoother looking crown.
Once you're done working the decreases you'll end up with either 5 or 7 stitches on your needles depending on whether you're working the fitted hat or the slouchy hat. I find that the needles flop around a bit when there's only one or two stitches on a needle so be careful one doesn't spin - you don't end up with a twisted stitch.
Unlike most projects where you work a bind off row to finish the project, the Penpal Hat doesn't require a bind off. Score 1 more point for awesomeness on this hat! We're just weaving in ends right off the needle. Easiest way to finish a project. EVER!
Cut your yarn with about a 10" tail so you have lots of yarn to use to thread through the live stitches. Grab that tapestry needle and start picking up your live stitches starting with the first stitch following your stitch marker, i.e.: the first stitch of the round (make sure you don't accidentally thread the stitch marker too of you'll have a little decoration on the top of your hat).
Thread the needle through each of the live stitches once, purl wise, and slip them off the needles as you go. Once I've picked up all of the live stitches, I like to go through the first stitch one more time to make sure it's well and truly closed up. I really don't like gape-topped hats.
Look at all those live stitches so carefully taken care of!
Now we're going to gently pull the tail on the tapestry needle to close the hole up a bit but before you do that, push your tapestry needle through the hole to the inside of the hat to prepare to finish the crown.
Once you've got the yarn pulled through, turn the hat inside, make a knot, and weave in the ends a bit. Cut the yarn.
Now turn it back right-side-out and look at your beautimous hat crown!
And guess what? Now you only have ONE tail to weave in since we took care of that pesky little joining issue in Tuesday's post. Weave that in and BOOM! You have a hat.
Don't you dare put that on your head yet!
You're not quite done yet, folks! Gotta block that puppy out so it stays looking great. Blocking is the best way to lock in your stitches and even out any little stitch imperfections you may have along the way.
The easiest way to block this hat is to put about a gallon of cool water in a sink or large bowl, add a drop or two of SOAK wool wash in with it, and let it sit there for 10 or 15 minutes. I use the "Lacy" scent and it's Mmm, Mmm, good. Makes my knits smell nice!
**Just a note with any wool wash - it's going to get bubbly like any soap would so resist the urge to rinse the soap out of your project before you dry it. Also - read the instructions carefully on the soap to water ratio. The first time I used SOAK I thought it said 1 TBSP to 1 gallon of water. It's 1 TSP. I had bubbles for days.
Ok, back to blocking. When the fibers of the hat are fully wet through, about 10 to 15 minutes later, drain the sink/bowl and squeeze out the hat. Be careful not to wring or twist your knits. Just squish it up in your hands and squeeze out as much water as you can. Then lay it out flat on a towel, roll up the towel, and stomp all over it. This will help get any remaining water out of the hat and will speed up the drying time.
Now just find a flat place for the hat to dry. I have a blocking mat but it's not necessary. Because we don't need to pin the hat to block it you can just lay it out flat, push it into shape a bit, being careful not to stretch the ribbing, and just let that baby dry. All the way dry. Not just mostly dry. All. The. Way. Dry.
Once it's dry you can wear it, love it, and rock it!
As you wrap up your WIP's and turn them into FO's, continue using the hashtag #PenpalKAL on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And if you've got questions or comments you're welcome to leave them here or connect with us in the Ravelry group.
Keep in mind that we're doing a prize giveaway next Tuesday, February 18th. Complete your Penpal Hat using Wooly Worsted yarn by Valentine's Day (that's tomorrow!!) and you'll be entered into the drawing. What do you win? A skein of the not-yet-released Ewe So Sporty yarn along with a pattern to go with it! How do you get entered? Just show us a photo of your FO using #PenpalKAL on our social media sites linked below, or email us a photo at email@example.com.
Please note: all entries must be received by 11:59 PM PST on February 14, 2014 to qualify for the giveaway. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, February 18th.