Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Hats - Production Machine Knitting Method

Christmas 2008

Production Machine Knit Reversable Hats

This year I decided everyone in the family would get a hat. So I dusted off my notebook and thumbed through 25 years of notes and found an easy pattern from an '80s Bainbridge Island Bond Knitters Club demonstration (we had over 200 members back then). The club knit a lot of hats for the Caps For Kids program and one of the members showed us how to knit hats one right after the other saving the finishing for tv time in the evening. She used KP3 or KP4 depending on the yarn.

Since I've got a Knitking PC Bulky (aka Brother 260) I decided I'd change the pattern a bit to suit the machine and yarn, which is a large stash of Red Heart yarn a family member passed on to me when she quit knitting, and some Woolese, basically anything worsted will do. Plus since I had a lot of hats to make I decided to do it the production way.

I cast on 38 - 38 at T8.1 and knit one row plain, in other words no e-wrap or closed cast on method, you are going to unravel the first two rows anyway...I'll explain later in the pattern.

I hung the cast on comb with 2 large weights and proceeded to knit 130 rows. Make sure the yarn leading to the carriage is free of the hooks on cast on comb before you knit the second row.

Then knit one row of contrasting yarn, or ravel cord if you have it. Reset your row counter 000. Change colors for the next hat and knit a total of 130 rows moving the cast on comb and edge weights as needed.

You can also just start knitting with the next color which I show here. I just do an overhand knot (see edge where I tied black and white together) to join both yarn ends together so they stay snug but are easy to undo later if I need to.

Then I knit another row of contrasting yarn or ravel cord to seperate each hat or just change colors and keep knitting hats. In the picture below you can see the brown, peach, and black hat all joined together like a long scarf piling up under the knitting machine.

Then I take this extraordinarily long piece of knitting and sit down in front of the TV to do some hand finishing while I watch the news or another football game or even better Extreme Loggers, or Deadliest Catch (knitting gives me something to do when hubby has the remote).

Here is what I do to finish the hats:

(when starting on the second hat you start again from the ***)

***I first unraveled 2 to 3 rows and then picked up all the sts on a suitable circular needle (I think I used size 8 or 9, and you can easily use straight needles I just prefer circulars).

Row 1: K2 tog, all across the row (decreasing by knitting two sts together all the way across).

Row 2: Purl one row.

Row 3: repeat row 1.

((the above can easily be done on the machine by using the garter bar, but you have to increase sts on one end of each hat and decrease sts on the other, so it's tricky and I prefer to have hand work to do while watching tv in the evening))

Thread end of yarn onto a double eyed bodkin (yes that is what I'm using) or darning needle and push through all sts on knitting needle (you are gathering all sts), take out knitting needle and then pass darning needle through all sts one more time and pull tight.

Keeping yarn end on darning needle seam up the side using the mattress st, you are sewing a tube that is gathered at both ends.

Before you can finish the seam you have to seperate the hat you are working on from the rest of the hats, pick up sts with your knitting needle in the 3rd or 4th row down from the next color. Then you have to pull out the row of ravel cord, or just undo the last row of knitting by pulling out the first row from the color above the one you are working on. In the picture below I am pulling out the first st then I will go to the other end and snip the last sts in the row and then pull that row of sts out by pulling on the yarn tail I loosened up first.

Then I unravel the rows of sts above the knitting needle and repeat instructions from *** above, but this time you are going to sew up the seam going in the opposite direction leaving at least 3 to 4 inches clear so you can turn hat right side out before completely closing seam.

Here you see the hat turned right side out and I'm starting to close up the seam using the mattress seam and keeping edge folded inside. If the seam is showing the hat isn't reversable.

What you have now is a tube that is gathered at both ends.

I grab the long tube in the middle and pull....

...and then grab one gathered end and push it inside the hat and pull the edges so they even out....

You put the two gathered ends together and pull the edge straight and then fold up brim, I also sew a few sts in the two gathered ends to secure them so they don't come apart in the wash, stops your hat owner from calling you asking what the hell happened to the hat!!

The top of the hat looks like a flower with 4 petals...

You can see the finished peach/white hat below, it's a cool reversable hat with an all over peach look, or a white top with a peach brim...very fashionable...ok, I confess, I ran out of peach!! I'm just using up bits and ends of yarn so occasionally I don't have enough for a whole hat and I have to invent a design element!

If you have questions just ask!! Perhaps I can get an extra shot of something that will help you see what I'm talking about.

Oh - I almost forgot. I did some fancy knitting by inserting some variagated yarn in the middle of the hat on the green one (middle right in picture on very top of this entry), and used some left over variagated green scrap yarn and a punch card to put some color in the other fancy one (middle left same pic).

See black hat on the left with the fancy fairisle brim is the reverse of the red hat on the right....didn't have enough black!

I divided the rows by 3 and came up with 43 rows black, 43 rows fairisle MT+2, and 43 rows burgandy. It's the same hat with a black or burgandy crown and a fairisle brim, but it's reversable.

Sometimes I only have enough yarn for a hat if I combined colors, but this time I got creative and inserted a punch card and knit the middle rows using fairisle at two tension numbers larger (remember to consult your manual before trying this, I forgot to push in the MC button and wound up with two rows plain and no patterning...I forgot!).

Happy Knitting!

PS: MT+2 means Main Tension Plus Two, or T8 plus 2 = T10 (fairisle requires a little looser knitting to stretch over the head comfortably)

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Hidden Brook Farm said...

Very nice! Especially like the black with the silver metalic thread.

Miss Mac said...

Those came out beautifully!!!
I will have to remember this for next winter.