Great new knitalong starts today over at Fringe Association. We are IN on this thing.

The Power of Not Having a Clue

Dear Ann,
This afternoon I was sitting around with chums from all over who had gathered in New York to celebrate the precocious retirement of one of our number. The milestone had been marked, the previous evening, by indulging in the mass humiliation known as Old People Dancing. We want your ugly, we want your disease, and we can write a bad romance, as much as the next person. (Yes we can. Shut up.)
Anyhoo. As old times were revisited, the topic quite naturally came up of When Did Kay Start Up With All The Knitting, Again? And Katherine said, ooh-ooh! I was cleaning out a closet the other day and I found That Hat!
What hat?
That Hat she made for Annie when she was a baby, and gave it to us all wrapped up like a Precious Relic, and we put it on infant Annie and it covered her entire head, down to the shoulders, like a grocery sack—THAT hat.
[Hoots all around. Good times.]
[Hat fetched by the all too willing Katherine.]
annieshat.jpg
Now I ask you: is there anything funny about this hat? Is this hat not to be admired, especially when one considers that it is probably among the first 5 things that I knit in my life? This would have been the mid 90s (Annie was born in 1994).
The pattern is in Debbie Bliss’s catchily-titled book, Kids’ Knits for Heads, Hands and Toes. (Now sadly out of print, this book lives on, on Ravelry, where it continues to generate FOs.)
debbieblissbook.jpg
Look–it’s the cover hat.
I was new to knitting, and wildly enthused. I saw the hat, I loved the hat, I knitted the hat. The yarn store didn’t have the specified yarn, so I just picked out another yarn. I had no clue what that “tension” business meant. This was a detail that did not trouble me at all. I bought the yarn, I bought the needles the Yarn Store Lady told me I needed for the yarn. I cast on. I squinted at the charts for the reindeer and the pine tree, and kept picking up one color of yarn and dropping the other, by any means necessary. Innocent of all knowledge of Fair Isle or intarsia, I sort of “fintarsia’d” the thing, and it came out just fine.
Or so I thought until we put the hat on wee Annie’s head. Whereupon Katherine laughed, harder and longer than could be considered good manners.
I don’t mind telling you that I’ve been mad about it since the mid-90s. Hell hath no fury like stranded knitting scorned.
annieshat2.jpg
But hey–Annie grew. The hat fits. Katherine saved the hat.
All is forgiven.
Love,
Kay

61 Comments

61 Comments

  1. I think it’s a very impressive early effort. Maybe you meant for her to save it until she was 16. Sometimes it’s useful to give baby clothes in sizes other than newborn. ;)

  2. Awwwww, she looks so sweet in it now…. ;-)

  3. What a great hat! I love the tree. That would be a great fair isle pattern to start with.

  4. For those who dare to scorn stranded knitting:
    No More hats for you!

  5. Great hat! My first (and only) excursions into intarsia did not look as good, let me tell you. You go girl!
    LoveDiane

  6. I am SO glad this tale has a happy ending!

  7. Fantastic! And now Annie can rock the retro like nobody’s business. I mean it. That is a cool hat, if the teen has any sense of comic irony a-tall.

  8. A great story!
    I like how you didn’t even shy away from the coloured bobbles, in your innocence. Oh, to be young and fearless again!
    But you didn’t show us the inside, so we could admire your fintarsia!

  9. That particular DB book was one of my first pattern purchases (along with a Rowan book that was waaaaaay out of my league). I like how she has scaled back the detail on the baby clothes, with time (hey, it was the ’90s, I know! but embroidered cables!!!). What a great designer. Love the hat.

  10. This may be my favorite post ever, because I have done exactly the same thing! Remembering my knitting in the beginning is a great way feel good about my abilities now. Thanks for the big smile on my face.

  11. There is so much I love about this post. Old people dancing. Fintarsia. Stranded knitting scorned. All of that. I can relate to all of that.

  12. I love that story!

  13. The fearlessness in this post has inspired me to do something big today. or at least live with abandon. Thank you!

  14. Love it!

  15. Neat post. Neat story. Neat hat!

  16. This should go down in the “why gauge matters” hall of fame. Can you find a picture of Annie as a baby with the hat covering her entire head? It’s a wonderful lesson we have all learned, but are not usually brave enough to document!

  17. Any post that open with Old People Dancing and ends with legacy knitwear modeled so adorably is all good.(wait is it legacy if you give it to another family? I guess its THEIR legacy now. Maybe I mean heirloom or Knitting History). Anyway, great story.

  18. Love it! My first kniting project was a scarf, also with subsitute yarn, that turned out to be about 11 feet long. I proudly gifted it, oblivious to what I was actually doing to my giftee. I thought it was beautiful and so special!

  19. Excellent story, we can all relate. Except some of our knits don’t have such a happy ending.
    Janice in Southeastern WI

  20. Total snowboard hat. Rock it, Annie!

  21. The hat was not too big; the baby was too small.

  22. Great post! Reminds me of an acrylic reindeer sweater story in my knitting past…thanks for the memory. ;-)

  23. Wow! I didn’t think about how huge that really meant the hat was until you showed Annie all grown up and wearing it. That’s amazing!

  24. I love your story. It reminds me of the 1st and last sweater I knit for my daughter when she was about 3 yr. It was a henley style that I chose cotton yarn. I had never knit with cotton. Had never made a sweater. Only thing I had made was an afghan. The sweater was too wide and the seaming, well, was terrible. My daughter is 25 now and the sweater is worn proudly by her 20 year old teddy bear.

  25. Lovely story!
    ‘Tis why knitted things should be kept, right?

  26. You know I am not a knitter, but I LOVE your writing. Just that old ladies dancing crack…so precisely whacko.

  27. Tension matters? No way. BTW was that Kay Gardiner I saw at the Gaga show?!

  28. I’d say you were actually quite clever. Everyone else gifts the new baby with clothing to fit then. It’s better to have some things to grow into for later.

  29. My mother taught me to knit, but never mentioned gauge. She had knit for the Red Cross during WW2 and gauge didn’t matter – if the sweater was small, it would fit a small soldier, and if the sweater was large it would fit a large soldier. It wasn’t until years later that this concept was brought to my attention.

  30. That hat has terrific tension, no puckers, how many can say tha for a first stranded piece? And it looks great on the very grown up Annie!

  31. I love it! A hat for a baby to grow into. (RILLY glad her mom kept it).
    Now I have to think about that idea for my niece’s baby to be…

  32. How can you not love a knitting story that has a happy ending?
    (And I still have my copy of that book.)

  33. my mother knit a hat for my daughter, dorothy when she was about a year old…this was not the first hat knit…there had been lots others before. but this one, was enormous, and when worn by her little one year old head made her look like Mush Mouth from the Cosby cartoon. We unearthed it during our move and 5 years later, the hat fits perfectly. not a Mush Mouth in sight!

  34. Great story!

  35. That’s fabulous! What a happy ending! and an impressive hat regardless of the gauge.

  36. I love the hat, love the story. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Every knitter worth her weight has a few stories just like this. That’s the reason “TAKE YOUR TIME AND MEASURE THE GAUGE” is in bold and at the top of every pattern. But alas, we knitters are a stubborn bunch … it takes awhile to learn to do this … sometimes even years!

  38. I laughed and laughed and LAUGHED! Lordy, I love your blog! :)

  39. The hat is perfect. She just had to grow into it. Good planning.
    I took a jogless fair isle class with Meg Swansen many moons ago. We knit hats. She said not to worry about gauge for this project; hats always fit *someone*!

  40. HAAAAAA haha ah ha ha hahhahahahha….can’t quit laughing!

  41. Mwaaaeeeeeeeeeepppp! This is beyond excellent.

  42. What a great story for a February Monday. It’s a splendid hat!

  43. Ahh–when we were young knitters we naively took on color work that now has us rethinking a project–what if I don’t get the tension right and it is bubbly!!. How do we get back that naivete?

  44. What a great story — one we all can relate to! Fits like a dream now, doesn’t it? :)

  45. In about 1980 something I found a similar hat pattern in Folk Knits but didn’t see the part where you are supposed to use 100 percent wool and felt the thing. I knit it out of some yarn you don’t want to know the content of for a baby present and made a hat that three babies could stick their heads in. I jumped into the natural fiber/felting party sometime in the early 90’s and learned the error of my ways. Glad to hear that the great Kay had a knit that was way too large story in her past. Good to see it come out in the open too. It’s a lovely hat BTW.

  46. I like it better on the teenaged Annie than on a baby.

  47. An old friend of mine was recently surprised to learn that I “still knit”. She laughed, thinking it would be a hoot to tell me how much she hated the mittens I made her a few years ago (which were FABULOUS by the way). She threw them out…
    …she won’t be getting any more hand knit items from me.

  48. Awesome hat. I made a hat for a small one that was too big, but in this case I gathered it via needle and thread in the back and sewed a big button on the front.
    Now my little person wears it. :)

  49. A little like the hat I made to go with the scarf (which was perfect) I made for the honey. Which was ribbed, and stretches to the right size, but then… slowly works its way up and pops up. And off. Made years ago (long before Children, and I turned it up in a recent closet cleaning and HEY! I said, it will totally fit a 3-year-old. And it does. Except that it still sort of works its way up and pops up. And off. But slower!

  50. Perfect. Thanks for sharing the story (and the laugh about the Old People Dancing). I wish I’d kept the garments I first knit.

  51. I have a very simmilar story but with a cabled hat with the same square shape and two pom-pom’s. I loved the pattern and so did my friends. I went to the store and bought yarn that looked like the one in the book. Only the yarn I bought had no loft, and it turns out the yarn called for had lots and lots of loft. The hat turned out way too big. They all still make fun of me about it. I feel your pain.

  52. So, So funny. We have all been there and done that!

  53. Ah, old people dancing. Thank goodness we’re still permitted to do it. The two young gentlemen I work with just discovered Moby today. TODAY. And I had thought that really, I was dancing to Moby only a couple of years ago.
    Anyway, I like your very 1994 hat, and the way you plunged right in with the color and whatnot. Very brave!

  54. Love the Lady Gaga reference sis! I remember singing that playing cards with Joe last summer in S. Hampton. Just don’t bust out the disco stick lyric. He will surely correct you as that is inappropriate! :-)
    xoxo,
    Van

  55. gaudeamus igitur

  56. I love the hat and it’s just in time for these kind of hats to come back in style! Great story; I love your writing too.

  57. >>We want your ugly, we want your disease, and we can write a bad romance, as much as the next person. (Yes we can. Shut up.)
    Feeling old, Kay. Need an explanation about this part.

  58. That’s a great story and a cool kid.

  59. Too funny for words!!

  60. I especially love the poignant reindeer/moose/other hoofed ungulate!

  61. The Hat absolutely made my day…thankyou.