Monday, December 2, 2013

The Very Vintage Bias Ribbed Hat

A long time ago, back before there was much in the way of the internet, let alone a rich online knitting community, I came across an interesting hat in the shop of an alpaca ranch.  The owner told me that it was an old pattern.  She graciously shared it with me.  I scribbled the directions as fast as I could while she described how the hat was made.  I ended up with a quickly drawn schematic on a torn scrap of paper, with two or three sentences to clarify small details.

Eventually, I shared the pattern in private e-mails with friends.  Somehow, my pattern description ended up on the internet, or at least on one of the knitting-related mailing lists that were in their heyday over a decade ago.

Here it is again, preserved for posterity.  Well, posterity by internet standards, whatever that might mean.

This is a vintage pattern.  I do not know its origins, only that it was considered an old pattern at least twenty years ago.  I've formalized the schematic from my quick sketch of long ago so that it looks prettier for the blog.

I re-knit it quickly to get some photos and also to make sure that the directions were adequate.  Yep.  They're adequate.  I didn't pay much attention to details and variations.  I'll discuss a few ideas after the basics.

Classic Bias Ribbed Hat

One of the nice things about this pattern is that gauge does not matter as long as you get a fabric you like.

Here is the schematic:

That's all you need, really.

Here is the pattern in words:

Cast on 3 stitches.  You'll be working in a k2p2 rib, so always stay in pattern.

Start by increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of each row.

When the sides are 12" long (the already knitted sides, not the side of active stitches on your needle), you'll be alternating increase rows with decrease rows.  On one side, you'll continue to increase one stitch at the beginning of the row.  On the other side, you'll decrease one stitch at the beginning of the row.

When the long side (the side with only increases) is 22" long, stop doing any increases.  Instead, decrease one stitch at the beginning of every row.

When you are down to 3 stitches, cast off.

Sew the short ends together.  Gather one of the long sides to close the top of the hat.  Hide the ends.  That's all there is to it.

You can wear it with the brim up or down.  If your finishing is relatively neat, it is quite reversible.

I used worsted-weight alpaca for the hat in the photos above.  It can be done in any yarn and any gauge, of course.

I didn't pay any attention to selvages or increase/decrease methods.  I increased/decreased in the first stitch of each row.  It looks OK.  I'm sure one could play around with different methods if desired.  Although I left the edges plain, I could have added a row of crocheting to the bottom of the hat, or otherwise decorated it up a bit.

If you want to make this hat seamless, the easiest way I know is to cast on the full number of stitches using a provisional cast-on.  Increase at one side and decrease at the other until the hat goes around your head (22").  Then graft the end to the beginning.  The advantage of this is that it is seamless.  The disadvantage is that you need to know your gauge and also need to know how deep you want the hat.  You also need to know how to do provisional cast-ons and grafting in pattern, both of which are quite common now, but which were considered somewhat more esoteric several decades ago.

Enjoy this vintage pattern!  If anyone knows more about its history, please feel free to add some details in the comments.

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