Olympic Hat Knitting: Compulsory Figures
February 12, 2006
While you’re sitting there mocking a nation’s aesthetic sensibility, I’m one of the 4000. The few, the proud, the 16 hats people. I’m on Team Dulaan. I’m knitting 16 hats in 16 days. Woo-hoo y’all! Du-LAAN!
Let’s cut to NBC’s row by row coverage of the Hat Knitting Compulsories.
Bob: Here’s Kay Gardiner, warming up with a double macchiato with extra foam. The story of this woman’s quest for Olympic glory fills me with the desire to talk without letting anyone else get a word in edgewise. Breathing fills me with that same desire. I’m chatty. I have an excellent vocabulary. But that is not to say that Kay Gardiner is not extraordinary. This athlete–for she truly deserves the description–is a rebel. She has shown up for the compulsory phase of the hat-knitting competition without having a clue how to Fair Isle. Here’s what she had to say about this when I interviewed her:
Bob: Why do you not bother to learn this technique, or any other technique beyond knit and purl?
Kay: I don’t get why the judges are so uptight about the Fair Isle. When I am supposed to change colors, I just change colors. I don’t think about it at all. I don’t do the mixed pick & throw, I don’t make a fuss about not twisting the yarns, I just change colors–BAM! The crowd loves it. Can I say hi to my mom? HI MA!!!!! Mwah!
Bob: [Bob is not talking. Bob is speechless. His hair gel goes wobbly for a second.]
Bob: [recovering]. I am amazed. I wonder how you qualified for the Knitting Olympics at all, let alone made it onto the prestigious Team Dulaan.
Kay: Dude. I sent an email to the Harlot. That was IT. She let everybody in. Isn’t that awesome?
Bob: I’m not sure how long Kay Gardiner is going to last, but on the third day of competition, she in fact has turned out 3 woolly hats for Dulaan. Even more impressive, they are all from certified stash. For a kid who’s allergic to wool, she seems to have quite a bit of it.
(These hats were photographed in the Italian Alps aka a rock in Central Park.)
Hat Number 1:
Noro Transitions. Pattern freelanced with the help of Ann Budd. Here we see, right from the start, Kay’s signature move, the roll brim. Expect to see plenty of roll brims over the course of this event. Kay can pretty much blow away the competition when it comes to rolling brims. When she rolls a brim, it ROLLS. There is an elegance and an ease, a grace about Kay’s brim-rolling.
With her second hat, Kay proves that she is not as dumb as she looks. Hat 1 taught her that a even a chunky multi-beast fiber like Noro Transitions could use a little oomph to withstand the winters of Mongolia. Kay kicks it up a notch by fair-isling the Noro Transitions into a background of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky. This hat is a winner. As magnificent as it is on its own, the Noro looks even better against the olive Lamb’s Pride. On day 2, it’s probably too early to use a word like ‘genius’, but this color combination — remember it’s from STASH — is not far from it.
On Day 3, Kay hunkered down and stopped showing off. For this humble hat, she achieved double-thickness the old-school way: knitting 2 strands together. One strand of Lamb’s Pride Bulky, and one strand of Noro Kureyon. When she ran out of Kureyon at the top, she just carried on with the Lamb’s Pride. The judges did not fail to note that by Day 3, Kay has cured the pointy-headed look of the Ann Budd hat pattern, by spreading the decreases out a bit. A solid, if pedestrian and somewhat garish, performance.
And now we leave you with scenes of a historic snowfall in Torino, aka Manhattan.
P.S. With two days left to go, the auction to benefit Afghans for Afghans is going great guns! Thanks to all who have bid, and to the generous, anonymous souls who are still in contention.