Since posting pictures of my Red White and Ewe Elf hat on the facebook page, I have had multiple requests for ordering one through the Etsy store. As much as I would love to be able to accept those orders, and knit candy cane elf hats for all the world's children (and trust me I really would)...I can't. This year I have decided to close the Etsy shop for the month of December so I could concentrate on what truly matters to me during the holidays, my family. Believe it or not, I actually begin knitting my family's presents during the summer months when I am less busy with custom orders. This year however I was unexpectedly, and gratefully, busier than most years so there still was not enough time. Now, with Christmas/Yule only 3 weeks away, I am knitting like a fiendish old granny in my Ikea rocking chair trying desperately to finish gifts for all on time.
My first inspiration for knitting has always been the ability to knit wonderful and whimsical items for the people I love, from teeny hats for the newest members to comfy cardigans for my Grandma. I know it seems counter productive to close down shop during the busiest season for hand knits, but I decided in lieu, in the spirit of giving, to post my pattern for the hat on the blog for free. This way anyone that would like to make a gift for someone special this year can. There is something gratifying in making a gift for someone you love. From the planning, to the buying and choosing of colorful materials, to the agonizing over fit and taste, and the smiles that exclaim, "you really made this? for me?" the gratification is real.
Knitting and crocheting are really very simple skills to pick up, with a little patience, and rewarding ones. Youtube videos and yarn stores are all over, and they can teach you to make a handmade gift if you'd like too. Something specially made and gifted, invested with the time and thought taken to produce it, is always a welcome change to the mindless consumerism that plagues the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I buy as well as make gifts. Nobody wants the crazy aunt that only sends homemade socks and scarfs. I always tell myself not to be the Aunt from the Christmas Story movie that sends the handmade pink bunny suit to a 10 year old boy who wants a air rifle. But I'd like to think a warm knit beanie would be a great accompaniment to said rifle. I understand that children love toys, men love electronics, and women love shiny. :) And I'm not trying to rewind to a time before online shopping, which I am absolutely addicted to. I'm just trying to keep the gift giving in balance and I think most people do too.
I've posted a few pictures below of some of the gifts I've made so far. If anyone would care to share what gifts they're making this year in the comments feed or on our facebook page I would be honored. I draw inspiration and a warm holiday feeling from seeing all the beautiful things that others take the time to hand make and gift.
Red, White and Ewe Elf Hat
Size: 0-3 months 14" head circumference
(If you want to make a different size, message me with the head circumference measurement and I will help you adjust the pattern)
Materials: Worsted Weight Yarn (5 sts per inch, stockinette worked in the round).
I used Cascade 220 for the hat (which is more 5-6 sts per inch depending on the knitter) but I love Malabrigo's Worsted yarn because it is super soft, the same price point, and because it is a nice full single ply it fills out the spots between the color changes. I have made most of these hats with that yarn so that is the gauge I gave. Please don't just take my word for it and knit a swatch to check your gauge. Honestly, I can't be trusted. :)
-Get one skein of a red or white, or red or green. Although 75-100 yards of each color for a baby size hat is more than enough.
Needles: US size 7 in DPN's or 12"-14" circulars. OR whatever size needle you need to achieve the gauge listed above. You may also want to use a smaller size needle for the ribbing, not entirely necessary though. As well as a crochet hook size H (5mm) to chain tail or 2 DPN's to work an I-Cord.
Extras: A pom pom or two, bells (for older children and adults only) or a felted ivy and holly embellishment.
Also, a yarn needle to weave ends in.
Techniques: You must know how to K1, P1, K2TOG, crochet a chain or knit an I-cord.
-CO 70 stitches in a stretchy cast on.
I like the Twisted German Cast on or a tubular cast on in the round. Any stretchy cast on is fine though. Even a long tail cast on cast loosely would be just fine. I find that when it comes to babies though the more stretch in the cast on the better. They absolutely will not tolerate anything too tight on their heads, and a stretchy cast one will allow more give in the brim so they can grow into the hat.
- Place stitch marker at beg of round.
-With white yarn begin working in the round, knit a 2x2 ribbing (K2, P2 rep around) until hat measures 1-1.5 inches from cast on edge. Use needles one size down, like a US 5 or 6, to knit ribbing. If you don't have them handy don't worry. It's a baby hat. They won't mind. :)
-Switch to red yarn and bigger size needles (size needed for 4-5 sts per inch) and begin knitting stockinette (K every st, around) until hat measures 4" from cast on edge.
-Alternate using red and white yarn every 5 rows or be random in your striping to get the look of the hat pictured above.
There are many ways to avoid a jog in your knitting when switching colors. I like to slip the first stitch on the second round of after switching colors. You can also just live with the little step in your knitting when you switch colors. It's really not that big a deal, and adds to the homemade charm really. I'm just a bit of a perfectionist.
Begin Decreases, Keeping your stripes correct as you work:
Rnd 1: K5, K2tog; rep around. (60 sts rem)
Rnd 2-8: K every st, rep around.
Rnd 9: K4, K2tog; rep around (50 sts rem)
Alternate knitting 7 rows, then decreasing every 8th row until you have 10 stitches remaining. So...
Rnd 10-16: Knit
Rnd 17: K3, K2tog (40 sts rem)
Rnd 18-24: Knit
Rnd 25: K2, K2tog (30 sts rem)
Rnd 26-32: Knit
Rnd 33: K1, K2tog (20 sts rem)
Rnd 34-40: Knit
Rnd 41: K2tog (10 sts rem)
Rnd 42: When you have 10 sts rem, begin next round by K2tog 4 times, then K2. You should have 6 sts rem. If this step seems complicated don't worry just get to the point where you have 6 sts remaining.
-Divide the 6 sts over 2 DPNs. So 3 sts, of each color, on each needle.
-Work an I-cord on each set of sts, 6-12 inches long.
I recommend 6 inches for a newborn for safety's sake. If it's just for pictures you can make it longer but only let baby wear hat UNDER ADULT SUPERVISION. The cord could pose a strangulation hazard.
(FOR THE I-CORD CHALLENGED: If you really can't work an I-Cord then you can crochet a chain to a similar effect. Work decreases above until you have 4 sts left. Use these 4 sts as a base to chain 4 lengths of crocheted chains, 2 red and 2 white.)
- Break yarn, secure and weave ends in.
- Twist the cords around each other to achieve candy cane stripe look. Tie at end and secure/weave in ends. To keep them from untwisting take both ends and manually wrap them around each other. Don't spin hat. For adults you could also thread a piece of floral wire though and make a funny Seuss-like loop as well.
-Attach pom poms or any other embellishments at end. Bells are quite festive but only recommended for older children and adults....again choking hazard.
Ta DA! All finished, now wrap and gift.
If you see any typos or need help please feel free to message me. Remember this is a free pattern so be nice when requesting changes or asking for help. And have a happy holiday season! :)
K2TOG- knit 2 stitches together
DPN- double pointed needles
RND- round, referring to a row of knitting when working in the round
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