Friday, 3 October 2014

The mad hat

"The truth is this: for alarmingly large chunks of an average day I am a moron"
(Nick Hornby, "Fever Pitch")

Back in Brighton last July, I bought this wonderful skein of Lush Worsted from The Uncommon Thread:

Beautiful, isn't it?
I knew the universe would be deeply unbalanced if I didn't buy it (so I bought it! You can thank me later, universe); and I knew I had to turn it into a hat (so I knitted it).

I bought the pattern for a hat by Robin Ulrich, called Greyhaven.
As I enjoy swatching and the pattern had info for gauge both in stockinette stitch and in lace pattern I swatched them both. I then proceeded to wash and block the swatch: it turned out that this yarn lets go a little after washing, and this was something I was happy as it meant my tension was at that point perfect without me needing to alter anything. 

I quickly started the project and knitted the hat in less than a day; I didn't try it on: I was just too caught up in how quickly the hat was growing before my eyes and how soft the yarn felt in my hands.
It truly was growing fast and it looked so nice and... and big, but hey, I got a big head, so that's fine!

Binded off the hat, washed it and updated the Ravelry page as the hat was drying. Everything was perfect when... ("Jaws" music cues in)... tragedy! Tragic tragedy!!!
This hat is huge even for my Charlie Brown, very round, XXXL head!
How on earth?!?! WTF!?! I called for help and moral support from some fellow knitters, some of whom had their fair share of gauge drama recently. 

I googled for possible explanations and solutions, while in my heart I knew what was going to happen to me and to the hat. I tried to put off the inevitable, but then I had to give up and admit I had to frog and reknit the whole hat.

So I started frogging the hat, while still trying to understand how my tension managed to change within 2 days. Because obviously the hat must have been bigger than it should have even prior to washing and blocking. Or my head shrunk to the size of an apple. But I checked and no, my head is still closer to the size of an Halloween pumpkin than the one of an apple.

It was puzzling and unnerving. I couldn't understand why: the swatch was ok, I followed the pattern, I didn't cast on more stitches than needed, I used the right needle.... and that was the moment. The moment when I started to doubt myself, the moment when I started connecting the dots, the moment when I went back to the knitting bag and checked the needles. 

The moment I realized I'm a moron, a moron that used the wrong knitting needles for the hat!!! 

Instead of the 4.0 mm I knitted the swatch with, I picked a 5.0 mm circular needle and happily knitted till the end of it as if nothing mattered. What's the difference between a 4 mm and a 5 mm needle after all?
Just a little tiny inconsequential single millimeter, right?
Wrong! It's the difference between knitting a hat for myself and knitting a hat for a Dalek!

I finished the hat yesterday evening, washed and blocked it again and now its dimension are back to normal levels. 
This story taught me that no matter the attention I can put to every single details of a knitting project there's something that will always prevail: my innate capacity of abso-fucking-lutely messing it everything up. Even though now I can do it while wearing a very cool hat!

The right size for my big head


  1. Il mio mega testone blu!!

    1. Caspiterina nn si vedono i disegnini simpatici argggghhh