Red Hats, Regulations . . . and a Giveaway, Too

     At the end of last year, I had to give several North Carolina high school final exams.  Each semester, before state-mandated tests take place, teachers receive training on a variety of administrative protocols, or rules.  For instance, teachers are not allowed to engage in any type of “distracting” behavior during testing, including reading, grading papers, knitting (not mentioned in any formal handbook but I’m sure not permitted, even if an individual was able to demonstrate that she can knit with her eyes closed), or using any form of  electronic device. 

When I administered an earth science test to a group of ninth graders, I spied a pristine stack of graph paper on a table in the instructor’s classroom.  Teachers aren’t allowed to give tests dealing with the subject matter that they teach—in my case, English—so I was in another teacher’s room (more precisely, trailer) at this time.  While not a distraction to students in the class, all of whom seemed to work industriously on their exams, no matter where I walked, this paper seemed to be within my line of vision—peripheral or dead on.  To most humans, save a few incomprehensible math types, a stack of graph paper represents unpleasant memories of actual graphing experiences (something to do with angles, if I recall correctly) from high school or college, but to anyone who has dabbled in knitwear design—especially folks who enjoy Fair Isle or lace knitting—a ream of this type of paper represents alluring, yet-uncharted waters. 

Of course, I didn’t break any regulations and take pencil to paper during the exam, but my mind did roam, unfettered by bureaucratic protocol.  Dreams of romantic landscapes and potential projects flitted through my brain.  By the end of the testing session I had an idea of the type of hat I wanted to create, and, amazingly, probably because I’d thought so long and hard, I didn’t have too much difficulty charting a design.  Of course, there were some stumbling blocks.  My first pattern resulted in a miniature child-sized pancake attached to a ribbed band that would comfortably fit Hagrid.  (I really need to swatch more.)  Thankfully, hats knit up quickly.  So I took my original design and tweaked it a bit and now have a hat I’ve worn quite a bit during this infamous week of the “Polar Vortex.”

The bottom photo shows the actual color of the hat (Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted
in Nitrox Blue). The top photo shows stitch definition better.  The hat is divided into
seven triangles of chart repeats (maybe I should have called it a good luck hat?). 

I’d like to make up one of these toppers in red for Valentine’s Day, but Vogue Knitting Live is next week, so if the weather holds I’ll be spending six hours in a class focused on how to design a top-down sweater, and another three in a class taught by Louisa Harding dealing with designing with variegated yarn.  The red hat might have to wait, therefore, as I will be spending quite some time swatching and sketching—both in preparation for and, I assume, during the actual courses. I’m not sure if I want a red hat, either, as I associate this color of headwear with the Red Hat Society, a group made up of flamboyant senior citizen women who proudly flaunt garish red and purple clothing.  I'm not critical of these spirited ladies, but I’ll be turning 50 while I’m on my trip to the Big Apple and don’t need anything right now to remind me of that fact.  

I’d love to see someone knit up this hat and post it on Ravelry, though.  Be the first person to do so, and I’ll send you a skein of Universal Deluxe Worsted to make a companion hat.  Maybe in red?

Click HERE for the hat pattern.  



  1. What a fabulous hat Liz! you are so clever to have thought up the design and then managed to transfer it from your head to paper and then yarn after the exam - I'd need to scribble down he idea immediately or it would have gone! Hope the polar vortex has not been too bad where you are - we've only had floods and mild weather so far but Oxford has been hit rather badly - you would not believe your eyes! I've been making you something for your birthday but it may be a wee bit late - hope it does better than my Christmas parcel though and actually arrives this time! E xx

  2. I would love to win this yarn!


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