« There's a cat picture at the end. | Main | Springtime in Los Angeles »

April 6, 2006

The Brangelina Hat: Thick 'n Quick to knit!


I knitted a prototype of this hat first (using grey yarn, you'll see some of the 'how-to' pics are from the prototype) and I discovered along the way that when using a super chunky yarn like this, you don't want to do quick decreases or you get weird puffy areas on the top. (I am not a fan of weird puffy areas.) (heh) So, this pattern decreases over a big area. Much of the crown is gently shaped, and even with this very thick yarn it lies fairly flat to the head ... no puffing. Because puffy head was not the goal, folks!

The skyline shot, with stuffed model:

Me in my Brangelina wide-ribbed brim knitted hat:


The Brangelina Wide Ribbed Brim Knitted Hat Recipe

Materials needed:

• One skein Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick 'n Quick in black ($5.99/Michael's)
Note: I managed to get by on one skein ... just barely. I think I had about four feet of yarn left over. So buy two skeins if you can, just for piece of mind!
• Size 10 circular knitting needles, 16" length
• Size 11 circular knitting needles, 16" length
• Size 11 double-pointed needles of death (not that scary)
• Maybe some Friends re-runs to offset bad Brangelina karma
• wine (optional)
• cat helper (optional)

Things you may find useful when knitting this hat:
• The easy roll-brim hat pattern, the basis of all my hat recipes
Working with circular needles
• A little diatribe on decreasing stitches
• Where I got the idea for this hat
• My regular ribbed-brim hat recipe

Step 1: Using the smaller (size 10) needle, cast on 64 stitches.

Using a smaller needle on the ribbed area keeps the ribbing from poufing out and makes the final hat look more finished. Also -- remember that in circular knitting, you cast on exactly the same way as in straight knitting. It's easy! You can do it. I use the long-tail cast on method which Annie describes here, but use any method you are comfortable with... it's a hat, not world peace. Mistakes are no biggie!

Step 2: Place a stitch marker on the right needle. Look at your stitches: all the knotty parts are smoothly pointing in the smae direction and nothing is twisting around the loopy part of your circular needle.

Step 3: Join the stitches into a circular tube of knitting happiness by knitting into the stitch on the left needle (your very first cast-on stitch). This starts your first row of ribbing!

Step 4: Make the big ribbed hat brim:
Knit four stitches, purl four stitches all the way across the round (rows are called "rounds" in circular knitting. They're still rows. But I'm going with the lingo, yo yo.)

And that's it!

It's easy. Knit 4, purl 4 all the way around and round until you have knitted up approximately 4 1/2" of ribbing. (That's obviosly more ribbing than gets turned-up for a brim on this hat, but I like to have more ribbing than I need so if I adjust the brim while I'm wearing it, I don't get a piece of stockinette sticking out.) (I'm crazy that way.)

Measure the ribbing by lying the hat on a flat surface, smoothing it with your hand and checking it on a ruler. This portion took me approximately one and a half hours to knit, but I was knitting on the bus and I am a slow knitter. Your mileage may vary.

Step 5: Switch to your larger circular needle (size 11) for the stockinette body.

Switching needles isn't as hard as it sounds. You have completed your last ribbing row. This part of the hat -- where the ribbing meets the road -- will not be visible when you wear the hat, because the brim turns up about three inches into the ribbing, so don't worry if your knitting gets a little weird on this one row.

So -- first, knit ONE stitch on this row with your size 10 needle just like normal to "seal" the stitch marker in (I hate having a dangling stitch marker hanging off the end of that small size 10 needle as I'm swapping to size 11s.) (Trust me, this will make sense when you do it.)

Next, using your bigger size 11 needle, begin knitting the remaining stitches off the left-hand size 10 (smaller) needle like so:



Step 6: Now everything is on the bigger needles. Knit every single stitch on every row until you have three inches of stockinette. Isn't knitting in the round awesome!! Perfect stockinette from the knit stitch! I love it!

Step 7: Decrease stitches!
Once you have three inches of stockinette, begin decreasing. On my prototype, I only decreased over six rows of knitting. It made a poufy decrease because the yarn is so bulky. And ya'll know by now how I feel about poufy knitting -- not loving it! I adjusted the decreases on this recipe so we decrease over a much larger space, and there is less poufy.

So, once you have 3 inches of stockinette, start your first decrease row: Knit 14 stitches. Then knit two together. Continue this (Knit 14, knit 2 together) all the way across the round. You will end with 60 stitches.

TIP: Definitely put a stitch marker right after your knit-two-together decrease. This helps because we're going to decrease on every single row for the next 13 rows, and if you place a marker after each decrease, you'll always know when you're supposed to be knitting two stitches together -- knit the two stitches before each marker together.


Next row: Knit 13, knit 2 together all across the round. You will have 56 stitches on your needles when you finish the round.

Step 8: Switch to Double-Pointed Needles
Right about here you will want to switch to double-pointed needles. It's not that hard, if a goofball such as myself can figure it out, so can you! You use the dpns (lingo, yo) in place of a circular needle because that loopy plastic part of a circular needle will be too long once you have fewer stitches. You can also do crazy stuff with two circular needles, but this is the way I do it. Makes me feel like an extreme knitter with all those sticks!

Using one double-pointed needle, knit the stitches off your left (circular) needle in the same exact way you did it when swapping out the size-10/size-11 needle after your ribbed brim. Same! Easy!


Knit about 1/3 of the stitches onto the double-pointed needle (keep up with your decreases!) I never worry if I have the stitches in exact even numbers on each needle, because I am a lazy and freewheelin' knitter. I am the knitter your mama warned you about. Luckily, this weird "guestimate" trick works wonders, preventing any weird gaps when using dpns, because I always have to scoot stitches from one needle to the next to get my "knit two together" to work out.

Just knit all your stitches onto three or four double-pointed needles. Then, with the free dpn, begin knitting as if you were straight knitting. Cool, huh? Every time you free up a needle, use that as your new right-hand needle.

You can do this. Here are some images of my progress getting the stitches onto dpns, click for bigger images:

And so, you are on the dpns, and you just decrease on:
Knit 12, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 52 stitches.
Knit 11, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 48 stitches.
Knit 10, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 44 stitches.
Knit 9, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 40 stitches.
Knit 8, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 36 stitches.
Knit 7, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 32 stitches.
Knit 6, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 28 stitches.
Knit 5, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 24 stitches.
Knit 4, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 20 stitches.
Knit 3, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 16 stitches.
Knit 2, knit 2 together all the way. You end with 12 stitches.

Step 9: Finish up!
Cut the yarn tail, leaving about 10 inches of yarn. Thread the yarn through a large-eye needle and pull it through all the remaining stitches on your needles like this:

(OK, in the interest of full disclosure, you'll see that picture above is on grey yarn, which was the prototype hat. Yes. Well on the final, Real Brangelina, I forgot my large-eye yarn needle, and had to improvise with a ... uh... large-eye yarn paperclip. I do not recommend this mad MacGyverism if you can avoid it, since it was a snagalicious mess. But whatever. It worked!)


I sometimes run the needle through the stitches twice because I am a paranoid neurotic knitter. Draw the top closed, bring the yarn to the wrong side of the hat, turn your hat inside-out and weave in your ends. I sometimes tie a knot, too, because see "paranoid neurotic."

Step 10: Wear hat, pose everywhere for paparazzi. Brad optional!


Posted by laurie at April 6, 2006 9:55 AM