29 October 2007

Beret ole -- all the way to the desired diameter

The Borjana beret is ready for its close up.

It started life as a swirl pentagon in Heirloom Yarns Alpaca and then shifted to a circle in Plymouth's Baby Brushed Alpaca.

I knit a similar hat in Lang Time in what turned out to be a way too big -- yes there is a trend there for me and knitting hats -- proof of concept for altering increase ratios and points to change the underlying geometric shape.

The Lang Time version, being a much larger gauge yarn wasn't terribly practical for a garment but would work well as a pillow or other bit of knitting.

With this hat, when I moved from pentagon to circle, I didn't hedge my bets and take the pentagon out to a stitch count that would match a comparable circle. Instead, I did a catch up round of increases to get to a good stitch count to begin increasing for a circle.

I went to the target/bullseye increase scheme rather than the radiant, and although the reverse stocking stitch in the brushed alpaca doesn't emphasize the increases, in a production/publication version I would use the latter scheme.

A traditional tam/beret would stop increasing before the desired diameter and rely on blocking to transform the no increase segment into a flat hat. That method allows insertion of Fair Isle bands, cables, and other knitting that gets complicated, if not impossible, with increases in the mix. Down side? That method means you must be working with a fibre that will block out.

Although my material will block, I didn't use traditional tam/beret construction. Instead, I increased all the way out to the desired circumference, did a few extra non-increase rounds and then, shifting gears to stocking stitch, began decreasing down to my ribbing.

I did the ribbing in the Heirloom alpaca because while both yarns are alpaca and it has some issues with memory, the construction of the Heirloom is more of a cabled yarn and I felt that it would hold the ribbing better than the Plymouth.

As a just in case measure, I not only went down in stitch count but also in needles size for the ribbing. I also knit the ribbing twice as long to allow me to tack/hem it up to the body of the hat long enough to .be doubled back and give a nice finish and extra stretch.

The colour of the two yarns isn't as near a match as I might like but it isn't a real clash. In a perfect world, it would be a dyed to match story of two different yarns in the same dye bath but imperfect as it is, I think it works.

I'm not going to try to do the pentagon morph mittens but I will be doing mittens to match. The good news, given the fact that I had to tap into that second yank of the Plymouth, is that Borjana's hands are small like mine so I don't think another yarn purchase and dye lot mix is required.


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