Caps are a wardrobe necessity, especially in winter, but here in Maine knitted or crocheted caps can be worn at least three seasons of the year. They keep heads warm and make a fashion statement, too.
Most handmade caps fit snugly and usually stretch enough so that one size fits all. A cap is a one-skein project and works up quickly in an evening or two.
Make a special cap for yourself or a loved one, or make many caps to donate to homeless shelters or other worthy causes. Make the cap look like a strawberry or a pumpkin. Give the hat a rolled brim, no brim or a lacy edge.
In the cold months, choose yarns that are warm — wool, alpaca, mohair or cashmere. In warmer months, choose cotton, linen or silk. Consider buying yarn produced by local sheep or alpaca farmers.
These days, color choices for yarn span the spectrum and half the fun of making a cap is choosing the perfect yarn in the perfect color for the project.
A visit to your local yarn shop will yield a wealth of choices. Those choices are so interesting it may take more time to choose the yarn than it will to make the cap.
I crocheted a cap recently, making up the pattern as I went along. Here are the directions — more or less, I guarantee nothing — for making the cap:
• 1 ball of knitting worsted weight yarn. I used a 50-gram ball of Missoni wool yarn by Filatura di Crosa in ash blue from my stash. Don’t ask me how many yards because I have no idea.
• Contrasting novelty yarn. This could be eyelash or ribbon yarn. I used a wool blend that sports a gold thread running through it. The yarn varies from blue to green to orange. You won’t need an entire ball of the contrasting yarn, so yarn leftover from another project will do. It should, however, harmonize with the main color.
• Aluminum hook size “I.”
• As near as I can calculate the gauge is 4 stitches per inch and 3 rows per inch.
To Make the Hat:
Chain 4, join with slip stitch to from a ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, work 8 sc in ring, join with a slipstitch on this and on all subsequent rounds. Place a small safety pin to mark the beginning of each round.
Round 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in same place as slipstitch and in each sc around — 16 sts.
Round 3: Ch 1, 2 sc in same place as slipstitch and in each sc around — 32 sts.
Round 4: Ch 1, work 1 sc in same place as slipstitch and in each st around.
Round 5: Ch 1, sc in same place as slip stitch, *2 sc in next stitch sc in next stitch,* repeat from * around— 48 sts.
Round 6: Ch 1, work 1 sc in slipstitch and in each st around.
Round 7: Ch 1, work 1 sc in slipstitch and in each of next two sts, *2 sc in next sc, sc in next stitch,* repeat from * around — 60 sts.
Round 8: Ch 1, work 1 sc in slipstitch and in each sc around.
Round 9: Ch 1, sc in slipstitch and in each of next 8 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 9 sc,* repeat from * around — 66 sts.
During this process, whenever you feel inspired, crochet a round with contrasting or novelty yarn.
Continue working on these 66 stitches until the piece measures 7 inches or desired length from center of cap. End off. Attach contrasting or novelty yarn, ch 2 to begin picot edging, sc in next st, *ch 2, sc in next st, repeat from * around. End off. Cut yarn and weave in yarn end.
If you like, add a pompon or secure a few 6- and 8-inch lengths of yarn to the crown. Or crochet a flower to sew to one side of the cap.
I also made this hat with Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair in the color Glacier Bay.
• Knitter Sue Snow of Greenville e-mailed to say that those interested in hemp yarn and silk yarn made from recycled saris may be interested in her daughter Nicole Snow’s Web site at http://darngoodyarn.com/.
• Fridays are Sew Free days for quilters at A Straight Stitch in Brewer. Those who sew are invited to work on UFOs — unfinished objects — or to soak up inspiration from other quilters. Call 989-1234 if you plan to attend.
• The Backroom Stitchers quilt group meets at 6:30 p.m. second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at A Straight Stitch. The group is a chapter of the Pine Tree Quilt Guild and is open to quilters of all levels. Drop in on a meeting or call 989-1234 for more information.
• For an array of crochet and knit hat patterns, visit www.headhuggers.org. The patterns are free.
• Free crochet hat patterns also are at www.straw.com.
• Those who enjoy filet crochet will find free graphs at www.nezumiworld.com. These graphs also work for counted cross-stitch. I especially like the mermaid design.