My brother-on-law, Beau, asked me to knit him a skull hat way, way back in the day…and I would have knit one for him sooner, except I needed to teach myself how to do stranded color-work. Luckily for him, that was a technique on my list of 2010 Knitting Goals (along with sock knitting, mastering the kitchener stitch, knitting myself two sweaters, and starting holiday projects in June).
There was an article in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of Debbie Bliss Magazine that gave a tutorial on stranded color-work, which was extremely helpful. Basically, along the back of the work, I carried my main color (black) over my contrasting color (gray). These long, carried strands are called “floats.” It sort of reminded me of when you carry a color up the side of a piece of knitting, only this time you are carrying the yarn horizontally instead of vertically.
After finding this easy-looking-enough pattern on Ravelry, I dove in. Once I saw the pattern come alive with each row, I couldn’t stop! The hat was literally finished in two days. Here is a close-up of the skull repeat:
One of the cool things about this pattern is the clever ear band – the first 24 rows of the pattern are straight stockinette, followed by a purl turning row. This creates a flap which gets folded up and either sewn or knitted to the inside of the hat. The flap serves two purposes – one, it covers the floats of the skull pattern running along the inside of the hat; and two, it creates an extra cozy layer of warmth around the ears.
You could either use a provisional cast on when you start the project and then graft the live stitches with the stitches on the 25th row, or you can do what I did, which is a traditional long-tail cast on, and then lightly stitch the flap to the inside of the hat. Overall, this was a really fun project – I am excited to try more Fair Isle knitting, especially with more than two colors. This was the perfect beginner project for trying out this technique…
- Pattern: Skull Hat by Gina Doherty (free!)
- Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Black and Coast Gray
- Needles: Size US 8, 16″ circulars
- Size Made: Size 22″ circumference
- Helpful hints: If you are doing the long tail CO instead of the provisional CO, leave your CO tail very long, so that it can be uses to stitch the ear band in place. Also, I did not use the smaller size needles to knit the ear band – the whole hat was knit using the 8″ circs.
Today looks like it is going to be another gorgeous day – maybe I’ll do some knitting outside this afternoon… ~J