Monday 11 January 2010

Test Knitting a Hat

Whenever I create a new pattern these days, I try to get it test knit.  I have found it to be an invaluable part of the pattern writing process.  Designing a knit, for me, is the easy part.  The hard part is actually writing it down in a way that is easy to understand and straight forward to read.  I think my pattern writing skills improve with each pattern I get tested.  This progress is not only because "practice makes perfect" but also because of the feedback I get from my testers.  I can't afford to pay people to test my patterns, mainly because I sell one-two patterns a week, so  I use the Ravelry Group, Free Pattern Testers.  The members of this group are very generous with their time and their knowledge and I have received a wealth of feedback that has assisted me not only in the basic structure of the patterns but also in the format in which they are presented.

When I have had a flurry of patterns tested I always feel the need to give back to the group, by taking part in someone else's pattern test.  My most recent excursion into pattern testing was the adult version of "The Little Windows Hat".  This pattern was originally published in Petite Purls, a free online magazine that focuses on patterns for children.  The designer Kristle Chester, decided to create an adult version of that hat, which is where I came in.

I decided to splash out and use Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and bought a ball of dark grey and one of purple.  My reasoning behind these colours was that they were fairly gender neutral, as was the style of the hat.

The hat has a cable edging that is grafted together and then stitches picked up to form the main body of the hat.  The hat is then knit with a combination of fair isle and cabling to produce the lovely lattice effect.

There were two methods of decreasing for the crown.  I chose the advanced version, because I was feeling brave and I preferred the effect on the crown.

It is a shame that most people never get to see the top of your hat, unless you bow a lot, which I don't. I then blocked it using a bowl that I taped to a rolled up piece of card, recycled from a cereal packet.  As a technique for blocking hats it worked quite well.  I may use it again.

This yarn is so soft and warm and it is wonderful to wear on your head.  Having a hat knit in fair isle with such warm yarn is very desirable for our current winter climate, however as I have just finished knitting a hat for myself which is toasty warm, I am planning on putting it aside for my Christmas 2010 Gift Stash.  Is that really really sad of me, or just good advanced planning?  I have to admit there were things I gave for Christmas 2009 that were knit in the January of that year, so maybe this is a good pattern to get into, especially as I have so many gifts each year to give.  I also think having emergency gifts on hand can help when you have poor health (like me) and are not always able to manage things like gift shopping at the last minute.

The pattern for this hat is available for free, but you have to subscribe to Kristle's newsletter to get it, which can be done through this link.

So this is it for my current testing, but I think I probably owe the group another one before I list some more patterns, which aren't written, or designed as yet.  I am having a little break from pattern writing for the whole of January.  I am enjoying the lack of pressure, with having no patterns in the works and no gifts with deadlines.  I think I probably pushed myself too hard in December and have paid the price in becoming very run down.  Hence the plague of colds and coughs I have suffered since Christmas.  So for now, I will just enjoy our new lounge and sit in front of the fire and knit randomly according to whim, rather than according to deadlines, it almost feels like a holiday!


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