Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adventures with Visors

My friend, K, is my hook-up for tasty treats from Durango, CO, where I lived for about 2 years. I babysat for her two older boys while living out there, and have knit several hats for her youngest. I get the best selection of coffee, honey, chocolate, etc in exchange for knitting things. Not a bad swap in my mind. Several months ago (okay, okay, it was probably late summer) I emailed her that I'd run out of the last of my Durango Coffee Co. coffee and had a craving for more. Shortly thereafter, coffee beans arrived in the mail, and email arrived in my inbox that she wanted a hat for herself, and she'd send me some ideas.

She decided on a visor beanie (pageboy, newsboy, etc), and sent links to two hats from REI: a cute visor beanie (Pistil Jax Visor Beanie) and a fun stripey beanie (prAna Multistripe Beanie). I hadn't make a visor beanie before, although I'd seen a few friends make them. I figured I was up for the challenge - especially the challenge of making the hat without a pattern. I can follow patterns, no problem, but always end up changing them so for this hat I figured I could just wing it.

I promptly bought a bunch of colors that were similar to the stripey hat - brown, green, blue, natural, lavender. And then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what to use for the brim. I went so far as to borrow visor beanies from various friends and students in an effort to get a sense of how stiff the brim should be. Upon the ultimate advice of my mom I went with plastic mesh that is used in cross-stitch. I even lucked out by finding some at the swap shop on the island - it was even the mesh size I needed, and nearly a whole sheet (it still had the price tag, 59¢ from Ben Franklin's. Not too many of those around anymore). I love the swap shop.

I did spend a bit of time trolling the web and various knitting books for a pattern that I could use - mostly for figuring out how to work the plastic visor into the brim. I like to do as little finish work as possible when it comes to knitting, so I was certain I didn't want to have to knit a separate brim and attach it at the end. I ended up finding this hat, Visor Beanie, which was the closest to what I was picturing. The visor brim is essentially tucked into the hat itself and because of the shape of the hat on the head, it fits like a proper brim hat when being worn. This hat has the visor added at the end; I essentially knit the visor in while working the lower part of the hat. For the brim template I borrowed the hat (read: nearly took it off her head) from a woman I ran into in a friend's shop (don't worry - I knew her!) and traced the brim on scrap paper.

I started K's hat with a rib pattern and made it double the length of the widest part of the visor. To keep the visor in the hat, I folded the brim of the hat in half over the mesh and knit the cast-on edge together with the next row I was working on. This also created a thicker bottom for the hat, nice for extra warmth for the ears!

mesh visor knit into the ribbed brim
The brim almost immediately started to shape itself; the pins are marking the edges of the visor and serve two purposes: 1, keeping the visor in place so the fabric wouldn't slide around, and 2, so I would know where to sew it in place later on. The rest of the hat eventually fell into place. Like all my knitting, I ripped it out at least half a dozen times, including once when I was nearly done (or so I thought). Most of those times I wasn't quite happy with the sequence of colors, and at least once I didn't knit the cables quite right. Yes, to add to the excitement, I gave the hat cables. Note to self - taking cables out is less fun than knitting them in.

before sewing visor into place, cable detail is mostly evident
FINALLY, I ended up with a hat I was pleased with. It was probably one of the more fun things I've knit in a while. It had just enough challenge to it (from figuring out how to knit the visor in, to including cables, to fighting the yarn from catching on the visor when I arranged the brim in place) that made me think I should make another one, maybe even for myself.

Side view, with visor doing it's visor thing
I'm not sure I can rock the hat like I know K can, but it might be worth a shot sometime down the road . . .

December 17 follow up: she loved it! Yay!

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