The Amy Irving Was Not Wrong To Put Her Faith In Richard Dreyfuss Hat

The Amy Irving Was Not Wrong To Put Her Faith In Richard Dreyfuss Hat

Not every hat name rolls off the tongue. I knit most of this while watching The Competition, a movie made in 1980 about a piano competition, in which Amy Irving and Richard Dreyfuss play rivals who fall in love. There’s a lot of romantic tension about whether the male lead can handle being a boyfriend to such a talented fellow piano player <eye roll> and there is definitely one unfortunate scene where Irving’s character tries to placate the guy’s bruised ego by pleading that she really isn’t as talented as everyone thinks <eyes roll back farther, circle all the way around, come back>, but other than that it’s not a thoroughly awful way to spend two hours and three minutes.

I get this nostalgia sometimes when I’m flipping through movie options, I’ll turn one of them on just because I know that most of the scenes will be filled with artifacts from days of yore, like cars with pop-up locking mechanisms, rotary phones (or phone booths!), stacks of books, desktop computers the size of our Labrador, or totally unlikely situations like where person A is at home and won’t be able to reach person B all day because B is driving. In a car. Somewhere. And there are no phones in cars. Back then we just had to hope people eventually decided to come home. It was a tense time.

Greg is making some weird sandwich with his own homemade mayo. I thought this was peanut butter toast but clearly I wasn’t paying attention, he has the pickles out.

Lol, I just realized in this photo you can see A PILE OF WATNEY BISCUITS off to the side, on the left, on the counter, just tossed in front of the toaster. Hahahahahaha.

ANYWAY, this hat: Same ‘ole, same ‘ole! I’m still doing the same thing, and it’s getting to be more meditative and enjoyable each time. Friends are starting to take note of the rapid pace at which I seem to be pumping these out. One friend asked if I’d knit her a hat, and I thought sure, until I realized she had been on Ravelry and was thinking maybe I’d make one of those patterns. I had to explain that I’m currently in this phase where I have created my favorite basic hat pattern, cobbled together from bits of other patterns and Kate Atherley’s book Custom Fit Hats, and that I’m just doing that one thing right now.

What I didn’t say, but what I realized later when I asked myself why learning a new pattern felt like such a giant, impossible task, is that I think we’re all doing what we can to hold ourselves together, and I think this is my thing. And it must be done the way I do it, it’s like casting a spell. On myself, on the world. I’m trying to calm down. I need consistency right now. I need to something to rely on, something to steady myself against.

I was asking him a question and he has to read my lips because his hearing aids aren’t in, so he is looking at my face, away from the camera. I mean I know I’m biased but he’s one handsome kid. His microphone was live, so all his friends got to hear about how adorable I think my hat models are.

It’s meditation, for sure. I love everything about it. I love that I can just pick up two sticks (well granted these are circulars so it’s really “pick up four sticks connected by two lengths of plastic tubing,” but that’s way less poetic) and walk over to my yarn stash, grab anything worsted, and just sit down and cast on. Whether I’m parking in front of the computer, the tv, or just sitting on the floor with the doggos, my hands know what to do. Cast on 8, join in a round, use the increases Kate taught me (in her book, we aren’t actually friends, although I WISH), until I’ve got a few rounds, and then put in my favorite stitch markers, and start knitting away.

As the crown takes shape, a lovely spiral forms by the increases (you can do increases so this spiral doesn’t form but I mean why), and I get pretty mesmerized watching that take shape – I have to remember to stop and check the measurement, which I do by laying my hand over the top. When it gets to the top of my ring finger, stop increasing, and knit on until morning. Or the end of the movie, or the end of the playlist, or the podcast, or until the dogs tell you there is someone at the door, probably a murderer. It’s definitely not someone delivering a package. Murderer, for sure.

I tried to put this on Cal and he jerked his head back and looked at me like, “What do you take me for, ONE OF YOUR DOGS??” So I just set it down in front him, and he sniffed at it in his usual attitude, and then curled back up.

This time I added in a purl in between each increase, just to see what would happen. It added a pretty little divide to each spiral. And then I got partway down and knew I needed some different colors, so I added in some of the leftover yarn from the Aracorn hat, and then some old blue Malabrigo, and then some soft blue stuff I don’t remember the origin of.

And then at the end is just this warm, fuzzy little hat-beast you can wear on your head, it will keep you warm and toasty. Yes, I adore knit hats. I have ideas for about three dozen more, all of them based on this one simple pattern. The next hat is neon orange, for a friend who hikes on trails in parks that allow hunting. Hers is the first hat I’m making for someone else, and her head is much smaller than mine (hello, ALL your heads are smaller than mine), so I’m hoping I can break out of casting my hat spell long enough to remember to shorten the diameter of hers up a bit.

This hat definitely looks best on Greg, and he really likes it, so now it’s his.

The Watson Hat

The Watson Hat

I know this will be a shocking development, but….I knit up another hat. Finished it last night. Roo and I are rewatching Sherlock, and I knit most of this while watching Watson get married and then become a widower. Poor guy. He’s been through a lot. Also Roo and I agree that Molly remaining single is just a travesty, because that girl is a catch.

I really like basic knitting recipes that I can reproduce over and over, adding my own little embellishments whenever I feel like. I enjoy knowing that I can just pick up my favorite needles (which we should really write as kneedles) and just grab a ball of yarn and go to town. I’m emphatically not trying to say that gauge swatches are useless or shouldn’t happen: for some projects you’re doing yourself a huge favor and learning a lot by making one (and in many cases not making one is tantamount to self-sabatoge). But I really like knowing that there are some projects where I can just pick up, cast on, and stitch away while I watch a movie or listen to a podcast or audiobook, or sit in some waiting room somewhere. I’ll make a post here in a bit that has my basic hat recipe.

I am going to try stranded colorwork soon. Just working up the nerve.

This is my favorite hat so far, I think. It’s close to The Salmon Hat, but the brim is wider, and the crown was more nicely done. I like this style because it’s warm, easy to wear, easy to embellish, looks great on most people, and having that long brim means you can adjust the length to easily fit variations in head length. It’s simple to stuff in a pocket, too, no bobbles or pom-poms to bulk it up. Certainly this colorway won’t get lost at the bottom of a bag. My friend is looking for a safety cap to wear while hiking in areas where hunting happens, this might be a good hat for her!

I used my usual Size 4’s with this, and the yarn is Noro Kureyon. I scored two 50 gram skeins for $5 each, and so this hat works out to about $8. I used one skein plus roughly 60% of the next skein. I’m saving leftover yarn for use in some other wacky yarn scrap hat to be made later. For years I’ve heard about how wonderful Noro is, and at first I used to wonder how any yarn could be that amazing, but then I got a skein, and yeah, it’s that amazing. These two skeins I got on sale were the only Noro on the sale table, and I wasn’t even that crazy about the colors by themselves, but something about how they were put together sucked me in, and yeah, I totally love this hat.

Finn was having none of it today.

The Aracorn Hat

The Aracorn Hat

The name is a portmanteau of Aragorn and corn, as this hat was finished mere minutes after we ended The Return of the King, and it looks like Flint corn (rainbow corn). The yarn is Malabrigo Mecha, in the colorway Archo Iris, and I love it to bits. It’s soft as heck, just butter through the hands, and it knits up in this gorgeous muted jewel-toned rainbow.

A couple nights before the new year, we were sitting at the dinner table mulling over our New Year’s Eve plans, and our son Miles said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we could time it just right, so that Sauron’s eye would be falling right at midnight?” We usually watch Lord of the Rings every year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and after The Hobbit movies came out, we watched those too. This year we’d been a bit late and still had The Return of the King to get through before the clock struck midnight on December 31st. We loved Miles’s idea.

Greg scrolled through the movie and got the timing:

It worked perfectly! At midnight Sauron’s eye fell and exploded, and we all held up glasses of sparkling cherry juice and yelled, “FUCK 2020!!”

Earlier that day I had started a new hat, and then found myself knitting furiously all through the movie. I began to see that I could actually finish the hat if I knit fast enough and I loved the idea of having a souvenir of these last hours of the year. I had to stop for all the parts of the movie that I really love (and make me cry). Every scene with Eowyn of course. When Aragorn asks her what she fears, and she says, “A cage.” And of course her “I am no man,” moment! But oh, after that, battered and spent, when she crawls over to Theoden with the last of her strength, and he says, “I know your face,” and she says she’ll save him, and he says that she already has, and then makes that little speech about how he goes now to his fathers, in whose mighty company he will no longer feel ashamed. <weeps>

Oh here, you can watch it on YouTube if you want:

I also love the scene in the night before the great battle, when death seems certain. Pippin is afraid, and maybe for the first time understands that this is truly likely the end, and Gandalf looks at him with such gentleness, and describes what death is like. The rain-grey curtain of the world falling away, and then you see it: the white shores, and the far green country beyond. And Pippin says, “Well, that isn’t so bad.” My knitting slowed down a few times to soak these (and some other) moments in.


Bulky yarn that I chose to knit up on size 4 needles, because apparently my hands needed a workout (and got one, hoo boy). But the fabric is tight and warm and windproof, so that’s a fine trade (won’t try that with a sweater, though, ow ow ow).

Pattern was simple, just CO 8, join, K1 M1, then K2 M2 for the second row, and then knit, then place markers. Knit one row, then knit an increase round (spiral increases, I love that effect), keep going until the circle is almost as long as my hand, then straight on until Sam marries Rosie. I found some worsted weight green yarn from somewhere to make the little line of green at the brim, but next time I ought to make that section longer, as it rolls up and disappears. CO with Jenny’s stretchy cast-off.

And then make everyone wear it:

The Salmon Hat

The Salmon Hat

Insert obligatory hand-wringing about blogging, here: It’s such a pain in the ass! I have such a terribly inconsistent history with it! I have made no fewer than a dozen blogs and abandoned them all, I can’t imagine why anyone would read them anymore, and indeed I hear blogs are dead anyway. Because now we have social media, and everyone is posting everything on social media, which is fine (I do love Instagram), but everything I post just disappears into an archive I can’t easily dig through, and with companies coming and going I’m never sure what will happen to projects I post about, and I require a way to keep track of these things. Thus: a hat post. Blogging.

I want to remember this hat. It will likely end up on someone else’s head soon, because it doesn’t quite fit me and I refuse to put anything hand knit at the bottom of a storage tub in the attic. Hand knits must be worn, and loved (and every few years left at a restaurant somewhere, and then cried over, and then found by someone new).

The Salmon Hat:

Knit on #4 needles (two circs), knit from the crown down. Bound off with Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. Spiral increases.

Okay that light is crazy orange, I think it’s the plant light on the shelf behind me, but that’s okay, it’s a pretty good example of the hat’s color in bright light. I almost didn’t put this picture in because you can so clearly see the scar on my nose from my car accident twenty-nine years ago, but then I remember that this nose was once mostly removed from my face, and I decide that a little scarring is okay (maybe even slightly badass) and who wants a perfect nose anyway.

Hat adventures:

The hat is ever so slightly too short because I didn’t have enough yarn. The ball was only so big, and there was nothing I could do about that. I found it in a bin at the Eugene Textile Center, under a sign marked “handspun, half off”, which is possibly the only sign that will make me move fast (other than “corgi puppies, half off” or “small boats, half off”). And there it was, just a little ball of salmon-colored yarn, spun by someone who had clearly been learning how to get their singles even, and was now learning to ply. I could see their hands working it, I could imagine them cursing them when they had this long even part and then a few accidental hills and valleys. Several sections were badly overspun, and I worried they would create a few hard nodules of yarn in the finished hat, but no worries there. It’s very soft.

It isn’t long enough, but then it’s also a little too wide, too big around my already giant skull. My head is 24″ around, which is apparently ginormous in women. I’ve never seen a women’s hat pattern that wasn’t 22″ or less, usually 24″ hat patterns are “XL” or “Men’s”, which is basically my life, lol. There’s the ideal size of a woman’s anything, and then there’s me, living outside all the lines.

So how did I get this hat to be too big? Once, a long time ago, I read something about body proportions, like how your height is the same as your wingspan, that kind of thing. And one of those was how your hand, from the bottom of your palm to the tips of your fingers, was the same as the diameter of your head. So even though I had a perfectly good book on making hats filled with tables on how to figure out when to stop your increasing, no, I like to knit by the seat of my pants, so I just knit until the circle’s diameter was the same size as my palm.

In my defense, this worked, sort of – the hat IS the same size as my head, but I forgot the crucial part of knits: EASE. I needed some negative ease for the knitted garment to actually stick to my head. In other words, the hat is too loose because it’s the same size as my head. It should have been slightly smaller, so it has to stretch slightly and grip.

I still love the hand trick though. I’ll use it again, I’ll just stop at the top of index finger to build in some ease. Who needs a pattern anyway?

From there it was just knit, knit, knit, watch a watch Two Towers, then knit some 2×2 ribbing, and then cast off with Jenny’s stretchy bind-off, and DONE!

It’s too big for my adorable husband, but I think he’s cute in anything.

Too big for my oldest teenager, although he says he’d love one his size, in dark blue! So that’ll have to happen.