I’ve never been a test knitter before…at least, not for someone else’s designs. So when Sara (sunnyspirit23) in the go fast. knit left. group on Ravelry asked for test knitting volunteers, I eagerly signed up. Turns out she was entering a design contest for Malabrigo junkies (seriously–I think that’s the name of the group), and she had to design an item that used one skein of Malabrigo Chunky.
When I got the pattern, I was pretty excited–it was a cowl that used a cable pattern with no purled stitches. The pictures in the pattern had me pulling out my yarn to cast on right away. I didn’t have a ready source of Malabrigo Chunky, but Sara was okay with us substituting a different yarn (which actually proves the flexibility of the pattern), so I was knitting mine with Uruguay Chunky from Queensland Collection, which I got on sale at a steal from Little Knits. I did have to go up a needle size in order to get gauge, but the end result was beautiful.
With the cables able to shape themselves and no purls to interrupt their flow, the cables assumed a very organic look. Rather than the usual regimented forms, these seemed to grow almost like ivy, stretching from one end of the cowl to the other. I loved the look so much I knew this was going to be a key part of my cold weather gear for the Christmas trip back to Pennsylvania.
There was only one, minor, problem. I needed a hat too.
While I’d been knitting, Jeffrey had been insisting that what I was knitting was a hat. It made sense for him to think so, since everything else he’d seen me knit in the round of a comparable size had been hat. But that got me to thinking–what would it take to alter the pattern to make it a hat? It was time to find out.
Of course, I’d used up all of my yarn on the cowl (it took 2 skeins of the Uruguay Chunky, since those balls had less yardage), and wouldn’t you know it–Little Knits no longer had any of the olive green. It took a lot of online searching to find another store that did: Birds-n-Yarn. The price wasn’t as good as Little Knits, of course, but it was certainly reasonable. I knew I wouldn’t have a chance of matching dye lots, but I did hope the colors wouldn’t be too different since the items would be right next to each other. The yarn arrived promptly…and it was the same dye lot. What are the odds?
I took that as a good omen and dove into my new project. The first thing I tried was dropping down a needle size, to the size called for in the pattern. I also took away a pattern repeat, but found that made the hat much too small once I started cabling. Amazingly, the change in gauge made for the perfect hat size as the original cowl pattern was written. So I just started knitting, following the cowl pattern, until it was long enough to start the decreases.
Theoretically, this was the tricky part, but it went more smoothly than I had any right to expect. Without any real plan, I decreased some, knit straight some, tried it on, decreased more, knit straight more, tried it on…and eventually, I had a hat.
What amazed me most was how different the cables looked when stretched out on the hat. They looked like…well, real cables. I loved how fat they were and how they blended in to the cable next door, thanks to the lack of purl stitches. If I had to choose, I’d say I liked the cables on the cowl better, but they make a pretty spiffy hat too. And a nice set that coordinates without being identical.
Of course, now I was in a bit of a quandary. I had a nice little design that I really wanted to share with the rest of the NASCAR group…but it wasn’t really my pattern, and somebody might well want to knit it themselves. So I sent Sara a message telling her what I’d done and asking if she minded if I shared the pattern–with the caveat being that the first part of the hat (basically everything up to the decreases) would not be written out in my pattern. Instead, it would refer the knitter to her pattern and only tell them what rows to knit until they reached the decrease stage.
Sara loved the hat–and was quite willing to have the pattern shared the way I wrote it up. And since she’d already received the first request from a NASCAR knitter to work up a matching hat pattern, it saved her a bit of work! So, for anyone interested in this pattern, you’ll first need to obtain Sara’s Un-Purled Cables cowl pattern, available as a free download on Ravelry. Then you can start the Un-Purled Cables Hat, also a free Ravelry download, or available here: Un-purled Cables Hat.