Work With What You Got

The August Civic Holiday is a lovely blank slate sort of holiday – a long weekend with no particular expectations about gifts, costumes, religion, family togetherness, patriotism, etc. that goes with most other holidays. This year, I celebrated with hats. (Also with canoeing but no photos of that. I didn’t bring my camera, therefore I didn’t drop it into Lake Ontario.)

While fishing through my yarn odds and ends for linen stitch scarf colours (yeah, I cast on another) I found a lot of worsted weight and began musing about what to do with it.

Obviously, fair isle hats.

Now, some people pick their colours based on the colour wheel or shades from nature or whatever. Here, I’m using the Work With What You Got approach:

Dump your yarn onto the floor.


Pick out some colours that you like.  Consider how they go together. Line up lights and darks.


Remember, contrast is key for fair isle. Colours that melt into each other are delightful but you need the pattern to show up.

Decide it will be fun to make two hats in different colour schemes. (Your idea of fun may involve more rollercoasters and/or liquor, in which case you can stick with one hat.) Get out your coloured pencils and graph paper and make yourself some charts.

Start knitting Hat 1. Change your mind about half your colours. Rip. Swear. Knit some more. Knit Hat #2.

Admire Hats From Nothing.


In the spirit of Civic Holiday, here’s a pattern.

Yarn: Worsted weight odds and ends. Think Patons Classic Mernio or Cascade 220. I find non-superwash less slippery and more forgiving.

Main Colour (MC): I used about 100 yards for the red hat and 70 yards for the grey hat

Other Colours: 30 yards should be plenty.

Needles: 4.0 mm, 4.5 mm and 5.0mm 16″ circulars,  4.5mm DPNs (I use small for ribbing, medium for plain and big for stranded sections) or needles that give you gauge.

Gauge: 21 sts = 4″ in stranded pattern using 5.0mm needles

Size: About 18″ around

Okay, Start Knitting:

Using small needles, CO 96 sts with MC. Join and mark beg of round. Work in K2 P2 rib for about 1″

Switch to big needles and work Rounds 1-31 of chart. On Round 9 inc 2 sts evenly (98 sts.) On Round 24 dec 2 sts evenly (96 sts.) You need to do this to accommodate different repeats in the patterns.

When chart is completed, switch to medium needles. Using MC, *k 8, PM, rep from * to end of round; you will have 12 groups of 8 sts.

Round 1: K to 2 sts before marker, k2tog

Round2: Knit

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 another 6 times changing to DPNs when necessary; 12 sts remain. K2tog 6 times; 6 sts remain.

Break yarn and thread through sts. Weave in ends and block.

Dance around wearing your new hat (optional.) Or snap some pictures.


Red and Grey Charts:

(Click to embiggen)

FairIsleHatRed FairIsleHatGrey

(In the grey chart, I used alternating colours on Rounds 9 and 23 to soften the transition. If you’re going for harder lines or if increasing/decreasing in pattern makes you anxious, work these rows plain.)

Plain Colour Your Own Chart:

Take a look through your scraps and pick your own colours.


I was totally right to keep all that yarn.

This entry was posted in Knitting, Patterns, Victory is Mine and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Work With What You Got

  1. Pingback: Luminosity | Stitches & Marginalia

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