It’s been a busy few months.  Between the osPID and my day job, it’s been pretty hectic.  Somehow, in the middle of it all, I decided to learn how to knit.

I needed a new scarf, and what I wanted I couldn’t buy. With a borrowed set of needles and some helpful internet videos, I cranked out a scarf in a couple of weeks.

Then something awful happened:  I enjoyed it.  For me, that means that I would have to keep doing it at least until I felt proficient.

This part of my personality can be really annoying sometimes, but I’ve learned it’s impossible to fight.  The quickest way to get stuff out of my system is to challenge the hell out of myself to quickly get to that proficient feeling.

So I decided I would make a hat. A difficult hat.  One that I definitely couldn’t buy.  It would be a multi-color hat with a custom pattern, allowing me to show off my love of oshw during the winter months.


My first attempt at multi-color was using the fair-isle technique, whereby the unused colors are carried behind the knitting and occasionally wrapped in place.

I was ambitious, and went for a 3-color test pattern:

It turned out pretty well for a first try, but I didn’t particularly like the process or the end result.  Keeping track of 3 colors and wrapping was not enjoyable, and the final product felt pretty stiff.

Double knitting, Attempt #1

For the actual hat, I dropped my pattern down to two colors to improve the readibility of the image. I also settled on a different, double-knitting, technique. One of the benefits of double knitting is that it produces a reversible fabric, which you don’t see all that often.

Armed with my pattern and a 16″ circular needle, I got to work.  Once I got past the pattern I switched to double-pointed needles and reduced the hat by 6 stiches/row.  I was really happy with how everything turned out:

…until I tried it on.  It was too small, both in diameter and height.  I was able to make it fit on the dog though.

Double Knitting, Attempt #2

God I was pissed.  I added some length and width to my pattern.  To make sure I didn’t screw up the size on my second try I also got a 40″ circular needle.  I still used a 16″ for the main part of the hat, but I periodically threaded in the 40″ so that I could test-fit.

On the reduction section, a 40″ magic loop proved vastly superior to the double-ended needles.  I started by reducing 3 stitches a row, testing the fit every few rows.

Once I was near the top of my head I switched to 6 sticthes a row, closing off the hat.

I am very happy with the results:

And the good news is I don’t feel like I have to knit anymore.  I’ve found it to be a great activity while flying or riding in the car, so I might still dabble.  That crazy urge to get decent, however, seems to have been satiated.

A note about the pattern

For the fair isle pattern I was all proud of using various tricks in mspaint to make it. Then I discovered this method by Becky Stern:

It’s embarassingly better than my mspaint crap. For the double-knit pattern I used her method.  One thing I did differently was to use 10×6 pixel rectangles instead of squares.  I had found during a test swatch that my stitches were Wider than they were tall.  This modified grid ensured that the knit pattern would carry correctly.

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One Response to “Knitting”

  1. Sam says:

    hey dude,

    met you at Sprout the other night, I was the guy with the big red button. your PID article is indeed linked to off wikipedia! awesome! very well written by the way.

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