|No seriously, I am obsessed with Alpacas.|
When I was 22 I hiked the Inca Trail. I thought that maybe out there in the middle of mountainous Peru I could find some great truth, get some life changing meaning, take a trip that didn't revolve around drinks with tropical fruit granish...and I did! Almost like a stone tablet/burning bush combo coming out of a brutal rainstorm, the greatest thing I learned, that turned my life around was this;
Wool is the most important thing on earth.
In order to save money I went the very first week of the trail hiking season. It was cheap because it coincided with the end of rainy season (a fact I did not learn until my sleeping bag and tent slid down the mountain side in a torrential mudslide). As they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch...or a discounted adventure. 12 hours into the hike I was already thinking of it as my own personal Trail of Tears. Blisters abounded, leg muscles were burning, and every inch of me was dripping in sweat, rain, mud, and tears. It was a journey that even my Ipod and the magic of Madonna combined couldn't give me the motivation to power through.
Besides embarking on this test of physical endurance, for which I had no training (no seriously....I thought 45 mins on the stair-master the night before would do the trick), the arduous journey was further enlivened by a never ending shower of freezing rain. I felt like a human tea bag climbing up the side of the mountain, like the soggy coca tea leaves they kept urging me to chew for energy (they forgot to mention that those are the same leaves cocaine is made from! Are you kidding me?). I could swear I was dressed in a mop head and sponges. At one point I contemplated stripping my clothes off and continuing the hike nude. I figured if I could fool myself into thinking I was taking the world's longest shower than maybe I could relax a bit.
The only things that were not soaked through and cold were my Alpaca and Merino blend earflap hat and socks. And so I learned a beautiful truth, wool is life changing.
The natural characteristics of Alpaca made it the only material suitable for a 4 day hike through the Incas. It is extremely warm but not itchy, hypoallergenic, and water repellent blended with wool. It is also naturally fire retardant, just in case I passed out from exhaustion while sitting too close to the campfire. Even my waterproof poncho sprung leaks in the seams and left me shivering underneath. But the double knit, bulky, alpaca and wool things I was wearing were warm and surprising repellent. Marvelous, even if I did smell a bit like wet goat. No wonder that the wild llamas, vicunas, and alpacas were happily prancing about and looking bucolic. They were dressed head to toe in wool!
|A Llama and I get friendly at Machu Pichu, Peru|
Well ok then, you made it this far so here is the pattern as promised. I decided that every baby needs a hat like this to keep their ears and adorable little heads warm after my wet weather excursions in Peru and Missouri. However, if you don't knit (or haven't the time) you could also buy your own custom knit hat at our Etsy store, Knit While He Naps. Earflap hat patterns for babies abound on the internet. The patterns are all very similar and produce almost identical looking hats. This one is not any more special than the rest so I thank you for choosing this one to make.
The pattern is written for worsted weight, 5 sts to the inch but the blue hat picture also shows a version knit up in bulky weight for extra warmth. If you choose to modify the pattern to use a bulky yarn remember the great Elizabeth Zimmerman's advise; when using a bulky weight the circumference of the inside of the hat is smaller than the outside because of the thickness of the wool so cast on more stitches than you think you would need.
I could list all the different instructions for different weight/gauge yarns but I have a 9 month old running around here so my blogging time is brief, but please feel free to message me or email me at Vania@knitwhilehenaps.com if you need help adjusting the pattern and I will be more than happy to oblige.
|A very wiggly Max models a multi colored blue version.|
Baby Inca Trail Earflap Hat
Size: 0-3 months
Gauge: 5sts to the inch
Needle: 12" circular needle or DPN's to achieve above gauge (I knit very loosely so I use a size 4 but a US size 7 could do the trick if you knit more to the guage or tight)
Optional: Pom Pom maker, yarn needle, and some freshly baked cookies
Techniques Used: Knitting in the round, simple decreases (K2Tog), and provisional cast on. Tutorials abound on youtube.com, the TechKnitting blog, and Knitty.com.
Advanced Beginnner and up knitting level
-CO 72 sts using a Provisional Cast On
I use an easy method taught to me when I was learning to knit. I don't know the name of this version but it is pretty simple. Using waste yarn, and a crochet hook, chain 70. Then flip the chain over and going through the back loops only (they look like a row of purl bumps), pick up a loop of the working yarn and transfer it to the knitting needle. Repeat. It's not the best way but maybe the easiest.
-Join for working in the round
-Knit every row, continuing in St St until piece measure 3.5-4 inches from cast on edge. Or you could knit about 1.5 inches of 2x2 ribbing then switch to stockinette for another 2 inches or so like in the hat shown on the picture below. Either way, with or without the ribbing that hat has enough stretch to fit a growing head.
|A newborn photography prop version knit especially for|
the fabulously talented ladies at LeLe Photography.
Row 1: K6, K2tog rep. around
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: K5, K2tog
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: K4, K2tog
Row 6: Knit
Row 7: K3, K2tog
Row 8: Knit
Row 9: K2, K2tog
Row 10: Knit
Row 11: K1, K2tog
Row 12: K2tog
-Break yarn and thread through remaining sts. Pull tight, fasten off, and weave in end.
-Pick up provisional stitches, placing them back onto your knitting needles, and pull out waste yarn, if you're me this requires a some careful cutting, picking, and pulling.
-BO 18 sts, then working around place the next 18 sts on holder/scrap ofwaste yarn (carry the yarn by weaving it through back loops of stitches on holder), then BO the next 18 stitches, then place the last 18 sts on a holder. Fasten and weave in any tails to get them out of the way.
- Rejoin yarn at the beginning of the first group of 18 sts.
Work Ear Flaps
Row 1: K1 row.
Row 2: Turn and purl back
- Repeat last two rows again
Row 3: K1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, KI
Row 4: Turn and purl back
- Repeats rows 3 and 4 until 4 sts remain.
Row 5: K1, YO, K2tog, K1
-Break yarn, pull through rem. 2 sts, secure, weave in tail.
-Rejoin yarn at the other group of 18 sts waiting for you on a holder and repeat the Work Ear Flap section.
-For cords on either side you can work i- cords or follow directions below.
- Cut 6 pieces of yarn 36" in length
-Thread through hole made by YO in flap
-Fold in half, and braid.
-Repeat on other side.
*If using for daily wear for a young baby and not just as a photo prop shorten cords to 6" in length to reduce risk of strangulation or always use hat under adult supervision.*
I added 3 pom poms of varying size or a giant pom pom on top in the pictures above, you could also add I-Cord loops, felted crocheted flowers, a tassel, a knitted ball or anything else you think would work best.
Thanks for knitting/reading along and good luck! Please feel free to email/message me with any errata, questions, or sizing issues. :)
Feel free to use, copy, share, link, or sell hats made with pattern with my permission. Please just include a note or link that credits me with writing the pattern. Thanks!
YO- yarn over
CO- cast on
BO- bind off or cast off
K2tog- knit two stitches together
SSK- slip, slip, knit (slip 2 sts one at a time, then knit together)
ST ST- stockinette stitch