Lee Meredith is the innovative (and prolific) designer of the stunning (and all-gender-friendly) hat- Meridian. In the following entry (cross-posted from her blog), she takes us inside the playful process of designing a hat with unusual construction.
Here it is being modeled by me, but you can head over to the Twist Collective page to see their shots (or to ravelry). This was a huge deal for me, as I’d submitted design ideas to them multiple times before this one got picked up – I love Twist Collective so much and am so happy to be a part of this amazing issue! And, I am super duper happy with how this hat design turned out!
This is pretty different from most of my accessory designs – if you are very familiar with my patterns, you’ll be surprised to hear that this hat has a set gauge (well, three different gauges for three different sizes), no short rows, no variations beyond choosing either a crochet edging or a ribbed front (both of which will take care of the hat front’s urge to curl up). It’s a straightforward seamless construction – start flat, increase out a bunch, then join around and decrease in a bunch.
And let me tell you, it’s a fun knit! It works up fairly quickly, considering that slip stitch designs always take longer, and it’s constantly changing row to row, keeping it from ever getting boring, but always easy to follow the intuitive striping pattern. Just when you start feeling like it’s going slowly, it’s time to join around and then the decreasing begins and it’s almost done!
So hey, want a big glimpse into my design process with this one? It started out with a sketched out concept of a hat that’s knit starting flat in the back, worked up around the back of the head, then joined in front and decreased in at the top of the head…
That idea turned into this original prototype pictured below, worn as I’d planned it out in my head… Well, damn, I thought, design fail. This hat looked terrible.
All that work and… wait… let’s play around with it for a minute……what if I put it on backwards? Hey! Much better!
And my design prototype was born – very similar to my final design! Because of the way I had thought about the shape as I made it sort of backwards the first time, and just because it was my first try, this one had some major size/shape issues. Mainly, the height was just about right, but the width was way too large. Also, that front curling up issue was something I’d have to deal with. But, there it was, a pretty cool design, I thought. And so it was submitted, got accepted (woooo!) and I went on to solve the problems…I started out with some spare yarn in approximately the same weight, just as another prototype attempt. As you can see, I changed it quite a bit, and it ended up looking much worse than the original…
But, as these things do, creating this super failed hat version taught me what needed to be done to make the design work. It was too short, lumpy, and came together all wrong in the back, but I used it has a learning tool and moved on to my next try, using my official yarn (Sunflower Yarns Windham, which was great!), this is how that next attempt turned out:
Wow, right?! It doesn’t even look like a hat! Because of the weird construction, it was just really tricky to get those increases and decreases to make just the right shape. Obviously. So, several partial froggings and reknittings later, and I finally got that shape to curve just right, and Meridian was here!
In case any aspiring designers are interested in this aspect, I’ll tell you, as I did all this knitting, reknitting, frogging, reknitting… I was keeping track of everything in written pattern form, saving copies of old tries as I made changes, in case I needed to go back and reference them later. Once I had my successful version, I kind of finalized that written pattern, then charted the whole thing. Then I knit up my second example from the finished pattern, to double check everything.
The pattern pdf includes both the complete written pattern and the entire hat charted, so you can use whichever your brain prefers.
As mentioned, there are 2 ways to prevent the front from curling up – above, you can see the crochet edging option; below, there’s no crochet needed because the first front bit is ribbed, which is hardly noticeable but does the trick. The other difference between these two is that the top is size small, which just barely fits my head, and the bottom is size large, which fits me loosely and is a good man-size. You should be able to make a child size by dropping to a finer weight yarn, but I couldn’t tell you the exact gauge you’d need…
And as for yarn variations – I really liked that self-striping combo in my failed attempt, so I frogged that and am making the yarn into a new hat for myself!
You’d think after all that work in creating the design, knitting and reknitting these hats, I’d never want to make another, but now that some time has passed, I’m really looking forward to knitting up a new Meridian! If anyone wants to join me, perhaps we can put together a casual knit-a-long in the leethal ravelry group!