PATTERN: Northdale Hat
DESIGNER: Gudrun Johnston
YARN: Naked Wool undyed Shetland yarn.
VERDICT: It strikes me that there are three main ways of analysing things – the pattern, the wool and the overall feel and wearability of the finished garment. So, for an easy life, I’ll take things in order.
I have been wanting to knit the Northdale jumper from Gudrun’s Shetland Trader 2 for a while (I’m so desperate to own this book – the photography and styling are really dreamlike and beautiful. All in good time). I love yokes and all-overs in equal measure but yokes always win out on quick, portable knit-ability. I always feel that an all-over is an indoor project and not really suitable for train or car. It’s silly really, I spend plenty of time at home, so I shouldn’t be afraid of casting on one ‘home’ project and one ‘mobile’ project but I have this thing about monogamous knitting, so I force myself to work on one project at a time, no matter what. Anyway..!
Northdale dreaming aside, when I spotted the hat version I thought it seemed like a good chance to try out the pattern in miniature and use up my stash of natural wool at the same time. The pattern is easy to memorise, very satisfying to knit and I love the way Gudrun has varied the colours – it transforms a simple, geometric motif into something really striking. It has only fuelled my desire to knit the full jumper version, which can only be a good thing. The real question is: which colour-way?
I wanted to complete a project in some undid Shetland wool I purchased a while back. I loved the idea of the fleeces from native breeds and the natural tones, but didn’t have enough for a big project and no inspiration for anything smaller. It’s also a DK weight which is rarely called for, at least not in the patterns I covet. It actually created a sturdy hat of a satisfying heft. Joe road-tested it on a cliff top in Devon during a gale over the Easter weekend, and it performed admirably.
Hat knitting seems so simple. I love that you can try out a new skill (Fair Isle, cables etc) in a small but useful context, but knitting a hat that fits perfectly is no easy task. It turns out that, much like body shape, head shape is a very personal thing indeed. From previous attempts that I love, but need improvement (my Toorlie and Snawheid) I reasoned that I needed a little extra brim for something to fit as I want it to (I guess I have a slightly larger than average head!) To that end, I increased the ribbing from 12 rows to 18. I possibly didn’t need to, the weight of the wool means the hat is rather sturdier than some of my other attempts so the small amount of excess doesn’t have the pleasing ‘flop’ I was hoping for. However, I am optimistic that this will happen with wear, rainy days and being stuffed into my bag. And when it does, I’ll have my perfect hat.