train hat #3

This has been painful on more than one front.

In a “think of anything except a purple cow” scenario I was trying to settle on anything other than a red-beret for nameless-woman-whose-name-I-must-find-out and properly failing.

What goes with long straight hair that isn’t a beret or a furry Russian hat (still actually quite fluttery about train hat #4. I know, there’s something not quite right about me. Not news) ?

A cloche floated into (metaphorical) view. Yes, that could work, and has pretty much enough sophistication for the lady in question.

Plus, having done a brief Ravelry search, a simple free cloche pattern presented itself, and what’s more I had some appropriately coloured yarn in the stash.

I noticed the other day that mystery lady X has reddish hair (probably not naturally so, but as effectively a stalker, who am I to judge?) and so the colour which suggested itself to me was green. However, I have a friend who has (naturally) flame red hair (hi Vicki) but also has startlingly blue eyes, and so as well as looking stunning in green, looks _utterly_ stunning in cornflower blue.

So, the closest I have to this blue is some Aran left over from the poncho I made for Lily.

I won’t go on at length (hah!) but the first version of this hat didn’t go well.

half finished hat

This is taken late at night and granted, a bottom up half-finished hat is unlikely to WOW, but quite honestly it didn’t improve with completion. Whether I chose the wrong type of cast-on for the brim (which can’t be seen in the above photo) or it was just too small, it was a bit pants. Steve’s comment was that it looked unfinished.

So I unravelled it. I’m sure masterpieces of this pattern exist whose creators did something I didn’t. This version was Not Nice.

And in relating how the second pattern I’ve used came about, I have a confession to make. The stalking is not a new thing.

Getting on for a year ago I saw a woman at Oxford Road with a FABULOUS hat. So I kinneared her. Purely for her hat. See how I’ve obscured her features. When I told Steve he said it was Wrong and I shouldn’t have done it. I reminded him of his reaction this evening & he said that although he didn’t remember the conversation, he was remembering the uncomfortable “my wife is insane” feeling.


I subsequently found the hat for sale in Lakeland on Lord Street, but buying the hat is the defeatist’s way out. I wanted the creative challenge of recreating it. Months ago I swatched to see how the ridges might be achieved, and the slanty ridges at that. This is my chance.

I wrote some pattern notes. See – personal growth & professional development. It’s like I pay attention sometimes.

Given that I appear unable to follow printed patterns that have been tech edited and test knitted it will be no surprise that these notes were at best a guideline.

It has a double layer band at the bottom as first encountered in Joel’s pirate hat, but I tried a different provisional cast-on method. My gung-ho attitude here meant that some stitches came unthreaded so the inside of the band may not win any competitions other than ones which give out prizes for good recovery.

The rest I knit largely to plan during a trip to London so bizarrely this is the first of the train hats which has actually been on a train, and was finished late on Tuesday night.

I crocheted a flower-type feature and sewed on with a specially acquired button (acquired to go with the first pattern, while I’m being honest) – again, finished at the end of an evening in front of the telly. The film “United 93” features here, but be reassured that it was largely background noise, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it.

So I finished it, modelled it for Steve, and do you know what his verdict was on this original home-designed hat?

“Nice button.”

Yes, good work, Mark at Knit-wise, you picked out a good button for this hat.

(and the pictures were taken the next day with my new favourite model – I haven’t suddenly turned into Winnie The Pooh).

train hat #4

See train hats – the plan for the background to what I’m on about here.

See stuff about train hat #2 here.

The eagle eyed among those of you who are following this project will spot straight away that we’ve skipped a number. Train hat #3 does exist, but it played hard-ball (honestly I’m not even sure I know what “played hard ball” means but it feels appropriate here) so it got queue-jumped. Plus train hat #4 was SHOUTING AT ME from under my desk, so I simply went with the flow. Plus Ysolda, who was the designer for train hat #1, declared Monday “Knit Whatever You Want Night”. Admittedly by then I’d finished train hat #4 and was back onto #3, but never let facts get in the way of a good story and a serendipitous link opportunity with one of your favourite designers…

So. Train hat #4.

This is the hat I’ve had in my head for _months_ ever since Angie first asked, and before I’d even decided to make hats for the rest of them. It’s possible that it’s this hat’s insistence on existing that is driving me to do this whole silly damn project at all.

Diane, the intended recipient of train hat #4, is lovely. In the overall-explanation of who the train peeps are I used the word brash to describe her. I now feel this is overly harsh. She is clearly a lovely, gregarious person who is unfailingly considerate. A blind chap gets off at our station most days and she walks up the ramp with him, chatting and making sure he gets to his cab safely, every day since she spotted him miss the bottom of the ramp and be at risk of pottering off in the wrong direction.

Lovely. And I feel ashamed that I used the word brash at her.

Also, she is a Known Hat Wearer. Last winter she wore a crocheted urchin-style hat and was gently ribbed for it. Why there was ribbing I can’t say: she was the one with the warm head, after all.

So, as mentioned, I have given some considerable thought to what hat would be ideal for Diane. I apologise to her now if I’ve got this wrong, please forgive the whim of a busy-body. If nothing else, it will be warm.

The hatI thought would suit Diane, after much deliberation,  was something akin to a Russian fur hat – as seen in Dr Zhivago, which given the last winter we had seems utterly appropriate – and I’m heartened by the discovery that Our Kate, Duchess of Cambridge appears to favour the look (scroll down to the 3rd hat).

I considered the novelty yarn known as eyelash for a while, but it never seemed quite right. Something was holding me back and it was my subconscious telling me to hold out for better.

Sure enough, I came across a yarn called “Sirdar Shaggy Scarf” which looked just like a stack of guinea pigs sitting on the shelf and thought “that’s my baby”. Yarn and contrasting yarn duly acquired, I brought it home and put it under my desk from whence IT SHOUTED AT ME for the rest of the day while I tried to work.

I cast on and it was everything I hoped for. Chunky, shaggy, fur-like. Clearly not like *actual* animal fur, but still pretty damn good. I was in love. And those near & dear know that these days I’m very much not one for the novelty yarns but oh my. This was properly The Thing.

Here are the first few rows. The rows are 8 stitches wide (actually this might be from attempt #1 where they were 10 stitches wide, but you get the gist. Not many). Those are 10mm needles – the biggest I could lay my hands on quickly.


There’s another post that needs to be written at some point about how the TV that’s on while something is being made gets woven into it a bit. This one has a documentary about how 3D imaging helped us to counter the threat of doodlebugs and V2 rockets during the war. Just as an aside.

The contrast yarn which Mark at Knit-wise picked out (he’s a very good salesman, you know) was parchment-coloured and so having knit enough for a standing up brim, I knit a lid. I increased 8 times per every other round which seemed to do the trick. Lid was then stitched into circular edge and hey presto, imitation romantic Russian hat.

Modelled here by the toy with the most appropriately sized head, and smile.

hat #4 #1

hat #4, #2

hat #4, #3

I really hope she loves it. I will have trouble parting with it. Although it looks as though I have enough yarn to squeeze another one out, at a push.

Enjoy, Diane. Think “From Russia With Love”. Except in Bolton.

train hat #2

See train hats – the plan for the background to what I’m on about here.

See stuff about train hat #1 here.

So, having sorted Bella, who’s next? Given that I had identified the yarn in the stash, it has to be Angie. So what do you give to someone who you barely know but see nearly every weekday morning, who has (some would say rather cheekily) asked you for hats for her & her friends?

Well, clearly it has to be stash yarn ~ preferably some which you haven’t paid for. I got a big bag of fluffy red & white plastic yarn from In Stitches some time ago intending to knit the overtop from Layered Skaters Top (ravelry link) and got to starting it the last week of August.

After knitting in the round from the bottom up for about 6 inches, I realised that in photocopying the pattern pages for ease of transport (to Wales & back) I’d obliterated the THIN RED LINE which indicates that you’re only supposed to repeat 7 stitches of the 13-stitch-wide chart, rather than all 13.

I wasn’t enchanted with this pattern so far, and frankly it turns out that knitting with red fluffy plastic isn’t My Thing, in spite of it reminding me of pomegranate seeds with its little white thread running through it.

So what I had done so far was mostly frogged. I got to about 2 inches down and it started to fight back, so what was left went in the bin. I hate to be wasteful, but it’s not like it cost me anything, and quite honestly it wasn’t playing the game.

So, the unravelled red fluffy plastic (now showing only slight signs of wear & tear) is now ready for an Angie Hat.

I wanted to use the pattern I’d used to make a hat just before last Christmas which ended up in Lily’s stocking (I’d made it intending it to be for my mother in law, but gauge and head size turned out to be incompatible. I could get it on my head for a bit, but when I took it off it looked like I’d had a rubber band round my head like you used to when you were a kid. No? Just me? Ok, back to the knitting…) – but I can’t find it. Anywhere.

So, I’ve improvised. It starts with i-cord, increase quickly 6 times on the first couple of rows and then settle into a nice 6-way increase of yarn-overs. When it appears to be “big enough” stop increasing (pair a yarn-over with a k2tog), then dink in a little bit more so it stays on in slightly windy weather, knit a bit of a roll-up, and then cast off loosely. Oh, and add some extra “feature” yarn-overs at the brim bit. I’ve put more detailed details on the rav page in case anyone’s so taken they want to re-create it.

red plastic hat

And so, red fluffy hat: train hat number 2.

train hat #1 – urchin

See train hats – the plan for the background to what I’m on about here.

A long, long time ago I knit Ysolda Teague’s Urchin out of some very expensive yarn from Stash in Putney. I didn’t mind that it cost a lot – it was beautiful yarn. It bobbled in a sophisticated way, included shades of blue & purple, and was just… beautiful. The pattern was ideal for the yarn.

So, I made it. Short rows were a new thing for me, and I wasn’t really au fait with how to “read” where you’d turned on a previous row, so ended up doing it quite quickly – according to Ravelry, about 4 days.

Then I tried it on, and like most hats those days, I thought it made me look like an escaped mental patient. Or an undiagnosed one.

So I offered it to my mother, who wears hats and has a smaller head than me (comments on a postcard, please). She wore it, and she wore it lots.


When she died 18 months or so ago, I took it off Dad’s hands and tried it on again. Strangely, it didn’t look that bad on me any more. Almost as though she had worn it in for me…

Not long ago I came across this project on Ravelry, and was totally inspired to have another go at Urchin.

So, when it came to making a train hat, I wanted to give at least one of them an Urchin – and it’s as much an excuse as anything.

Originally I thought Angie, but the yarn I found was more of a Diane/Bella colour scheme.


I made this in one looking-after-the-children day during the summer holidays. To be fair, it was finished quite late at night and had Australia not been quite such a long film I might have taken it to day 2…

All done, I couldn’t wait to take a picture straight away..


See? It doesn’t really work, does it?

Here’s the one my Dad took in better light.


I still have a plan for Diane, so this one is in the bag for Bella – I hope you like it!

train hats – the plan

Some of you will know that part of the attraction of my current job is that I get to travel 50 minutes each way to & from work on the train – during which time, if I have enough elbow room, I knit. In the morning I *always* have enough elbow room, so I always have a small project with me.

I’ve become known as the lady who knits, as a few of us travel in the same carriage each day. There is a group of 5-6 folks who sit in the same area as me and chat – through eavesdropping I’ve come to know them a bit, but don’t want to join in their conversation as then I’d lose the “me” time I’ve come to appreciate.

Some time ago, one of the ladies in the group, by means of “pleasante”-ness (I can’t think of an adequate English equivalent to the French “je pleasante” which is as succinct ~ I’m gently ribbing you by way of trying to be pleasant and making friends doesn’t really cover *or* cut it, frankly) asked was I going to make them all hats.

I confess, my initial reaction to this was “am I bugger!” but I smiled & responded appropriately.

However, over time I’ve come to think that there may be an interesting creative challenge here: working out what’s the right hat for someone who I know only through eavesdropped conversations, and then making it ~ and handing it over without giving offense!

So, I’ve decided to go for it. Target is the start of December, so we don’t hit the Christmas holiday period, and they get them before it gets truly cold. And we’ll see how many of them actually get worn!

The candidates are:
Angie, the ring-leader (who asked about hats in the first place) ~ a slightly older lady, she chuckles a lot. Her hair is curly and dark and frames her head like a halo.
Diane ~ is a bit younger, and is quite brash (but in a hold-your-own way rather than being-nasty) . She got a lot of flack for the hats she wore last winter, so could be approached two ways: go conservative as she may be sensitive about things or be a bit bolder as I know she can take it. I have a happy plan for the latter which I *really* want to try, so I think I will. Also, she usually washes her hair in the mornings so careful styling is clearly about as important to her as it is to me!
Bella ~ about the same age as Angie, and in my head I picture her wearing golden autumn-y tones. Her hair is straight & short, but always nicely styled. She will be tricky as when I had short hair I always struggled with which hat to wear without looking like a mental patient.
Other lady ~ I’m sure I should know her name, but can’t recall it.  She’s somewhere between Angie & Diane in age and has long dark hair worn in a bob. I keep picturing her with a red beret but am concerned that might be a bit of a cliche.
Chap #1 ~ again, sorry about the name thing. At the older end of the group’s age spectrum, he dresses like… someone on his way to work in an office job. Knowing how men like exciting hats, I’m going to go with a plain navy hat for him.

Optional extras (if I have time) – these guys sometimes are there in the mornings, and are usually there in the evenings. If I have time I’ll cast the net wider!
Chap #2 ~ I think he’s called Ian – drives a smart car & works in insurance. Time permittinghe’s getting a Wooly Wormhead Chevron made from cream aran with colourful flecks in. As a smart car driver, I’m pretty sure he can carry it off!
Tracy ~ When I grow up and start styling my hair, I want her hairstyle. For this reason she may not get a hat, but an elaborate scarf/neck-wrap. She’s very stylish. And smiles a lot.

Some of these are in progress or finished – will post some more presently…