Ravelry has about a million patterns that I want to knit. Many of those are free. I tend to gravitate toward hats when looking to do OPP, “Other Peoples’ Patterns”, since as I’ve previously mentioned, a hat is not a huge time or yarn commitment, especially since I usually don’t gauge swatch for something so small.
I know this is an incendiary admission, since working a pattern without doing a swatch first is a huge “no-no” of knitting. Some think of it like taking a road trip without GPS, painting a wall without a drop cloth, coloring your hair without doing a strand test ( I do all of these things on occasion… ), but let’s be honest, who wants to take the hour to swatch for a hat that is going to take a couple of hours to knit? A decent-sized swatch will be half the hat, so I say, let the hat itself be your swatch – start the pattern and see what happens, adjust as you go. Rip out if you have to, ie, the pattern as written produces a hat so small or large that it cannot be fixed with the addition of some well-placed increases or decreases ( More on this in a later post… ). Doesn’t that just make more sense than doing double work??
Of course, if the hat in question is a complicated stitch pattern or construction in fingering-weight yarn on tiny needles, it might make sense to knit a swatch, to see if you even really want to knit something that might end up to be more frustrating than enjoyable.
Back to Rav’s free patterns. Carina Spencer’s Regina has directions that specifically state “no gauge swatching allowed”. It was published in 2011 and I’ve always admired the fan pattern on the band that gives it a very 20s-30s feel. This was the first OPP I chose to knit for my September hat project, actually starting it on August 31 at my in-laws’ Labor Day Sunday barbecue. Yes, I was able to cast on and work most of the brim while chatting with relatives and watching Baby Girl run around with her cousins. Wow did it go fast and was it fun to knit! The beauty of this hat is in the details, achieved with i-cord, a sideways ribbed brim that flows into the fan embellishment, and a pretty crown shaping. The pattern can be found on Ravelry here:
I used a chocolate-colored chunky weight yarn for the body, and a worsted weight wool blend in a pale aqua for the brim and fan:
I liked this pattern so much I did a second, smaller one that Baby Girl can wear:
For this one I used some project leftovers of an everyday worsted-weight acrylic and a wrapped multicolor nylon blend I had on hand, and did some reworking of the pattern to effect a color change at the crown.
I’ll probably end up making a few more. And I wonder why I waited so long to try this one.