patterns are for pansies

but swatching isn’t.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book entitled Knitting Rules. I’ve gotten as far as the chapter about how to knit socks, but I couldn’t resist going back to the chapter on how to knit hats. I am very intrigued by her “no pattern” concepts throughout the book. I can read patterns all day long and not understand the principles behind what I’m doing, but she was able to break down the concepts for me so I felt ready to knit my first three dimensional project.

So I picked up my Susan Bates size 8 metal needles. (Blech, I know, but all my other good needles have projects on them.) I found my leftover yarn stash (from all those bibs) and got to work.

I wrote up a simple ribbing pattern, made a quick little swatch to figure out my stitches per inch (4) and even my rows per inch (6). I calculated how many stitches I would need to cast on for a baby hat, then I tore apart my swatch and started my knitting. What happened next would lead to my undoing: I slightly modified my pattern.

Instead of having a desired row of 14 inches, I ended up with a row just shy of 12 inches. By the time I realized this, I was committed to finishing my project. (Why I felt committed to finishing THIS project versus the other four I’ll never know.) I switched out my yarns every eight rows (I did that four times) and I ended with a hat that was 6 inches high. At the end, I had simply a rectangle without any shaping.

Determined to finish the project, I strung the yarn through the open stitches and drew them close for bunching. It was at that moment, I was able to visualize the hat. I sewed the sides shut and added a pom pom on top for flair (and to hide the bunching hole). I was not sure if the wee hat I created could even be worn by a premature baby or if it would be relegated to some lucky girl’s doll, but I was really excited with how it turned out.

With my finished project in hand, I walked to the neighbour’s house whose daughter I had in mind when I started the hat.  I had convinced myself entirely that the hat would not fit; it was inches smaller than I had planned.  But lo and behold, it fit!

If you look at the picture, it appears that Baby A is also surprised that it fits!  Sure, it looks more like a skull cap, but it fits!  I think I will knit more hats in my liftetime, and I know that I will be swatching the actual pattern on any project… I have learned my lesson.

Nota bene: I am not dismissing patterns. They are wonderful and useful in the creation of beautiful, intricate pieces. However, I wanted to point out the fun I had in creating a project without using one.


4 thoughts on “patterns are for pansies

  1. Pingback: knitter’s confession | Polly's Blog

  2. I like this post, but if I “like” this post, does it show up on Facebook? I think I’ll try it and see. I’ll let you know if you are revealed in that other world.


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