Grading Hats

When I write a hat pattern, I like to make sure it can be made for just about any size head. I notice this is something not all designers do. Quite often, patterns will be for one size only (e.g. average woman’s size) and I wonder whether there is much value-added if I produce a hat in a range of sizes? Do people actually want hats scaled for babies all the way up to adults? Certainly, if a stitch pattern doesn’t allow for small grade changes, fewer sizes might be appropriate. Usually though, stitch patterns just aren’t that big or can be tweaked to accommodate patterns with a range of sizes.
Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Kildare Beret in size Women’s (22 inch)
Kildare Beret in size New born (12 inch)

Here is a table of my existing hats (7 different patterns) and the sizes they are written for.

On average, the circumference of a head of a Baby (Toddler, Child, S Adult [Teen], M Adult [Woman], L Adult [Man]) is 14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24) inches or 35.5 (40.5, 46, 51, 56, 61) cm

Hat Pic Pattern Name Sizes in Pattern
P9010109_medium2 Kildare Beret New born, Baby, Child, Small Adult, Woman, Man
PB090126_a_medium2 Roxbourne New born (Baby, Child, Young Adult, Woman, Man)
PC150123_small2 Uppingham Hats (2 hats in 1 pattern) New born (Baby, Child, Young Adult, Woman, Man)
petals_and_plaid_hat_small2 Petals And Plaid Hat Newborn (baby, child, Adult S, Adult M, Adult L)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Abbye Hat Preemie, (New Born, Baby, Toddler, Child, Woman)
image_small2 Loom Band Hat Baby (Child, Teen, Woman, Man) To fit head circumference: 15.25 (18, 20.75, 22, 25.25)in/39 (45.5, 52.5, 56, 64.5)cm
Corona Beret Corona Beret Baby (Toddler, Child, Small Adult, Medium Adult, Large Adult)

Diary of a Design: Day X

I’ve forgotten what day I’m on, but things are progressing well after a crazy month. I have booked a photo shoot for next week, but I have a bit of catching up to do. My front is complete, and the front and back have both been blocked.

When I was making the front, I decided to make the neckline wider and this had the knock-on effect of making the shoulders narrower, so I frogged back some if the back and redid the shoulders. No biggie. I pinned the pieces together with safety pins and had a little try. I’m loving it so far.

I also have half a sleeve

Sorry about the woeful lighting, I’m blogging this from my local swimming pool!
All that’s left to do is the other sleeve and a half, sew it up and the neckline. Getting there! Need to get cracking with my knitmas gift too, so plenty of knitting for the month!

New pattern: Corona Beret

I have just released my Corona Beret, a slouchy, warm ray of sunshine for Winter.


Corona Beret is available to for £3.


This oversized regal beret in gorgeous Skein Queen Blush yarn is slouchy, soft and warm. The interesting stitch pattern is made using just knit and purl stitches. The textured effect on this hat will look especially well under oblique winter light. From different points of view, the Corona Beret can look like a star, a crown or a flower.

The gold colour of this skein of yarn inspired this knit. The idea was to create a crown of stitches, but to emphasise the softness of the yarn I made the beret oversized and slouchy. It was only when I started the decreases that I realised the back was going to look like a multi-petalled flower. I’m delighted with the end result and I hope you are too.


Head sizes vary widely. These measurements fit average sizes for Baby (Toddler, Child, Small Adult, Medium Adult, Large Adult).
To Fit Head Circumference
35.5 (40.5, 45.5, 51, 56, 61)cm/
14 (16, 18, 20, 22, 24)in
Finished Circumference
34 (38, 42.5, 46.5, 51, 55)cm/
13.25 (15, 16.75, 18.25, 20, 21.75)in
Finished Length (Brim to Crown)
14.5 (15.5, 19, 19.5, 23, 26.5)cm/ 5.75 (6.25, 7.5, 7.75, 9, 10.25)in


28 sts and 38 rows to 4in/10cm over stocking stitch using larger needles.


Skein Queen Blush (4-ply (plump); 80% merino, 20% cashmere; 400m/100g skein)
Gold 1 x 100g skein

Needles and Accessories

1 set 2.75mm (UK 12/US 2) circular needles
1 set 3.25mm (UK 10/US 3) circular needles
1 set 3.25 (UK 10/US 3) DPNs


DPNs Double pointed needles
inc Increase/increasing
K Knit
K2tog Knit the next two stitches together
Kfb Knit into the front and back of the same st
P Purl
Pfb Purl into the front and back of the same st
rep Repeat
Rnd Round
st(s) Stitch(es)

On reading books

I remember now why I don’t read books any more.

I used to read them all the time. Up a tree, in a fort, in my bed with a torch, under my desk, in the loo at a boring party, in the arches waiting for a program to compile, on the train to work, making an excuse and reading instead of going on that blind date.

When I read, books suck me in, own my life, hold me mercilessly, don’t let me go. I cannot physically leave them until they’re done. I cannot sleep, I eat without tasting, wee only when I really have to and then rush back before my hands are dry. I ignore the television, the phone, my children.

And when they’re all done, gone, evaporated, I am bitter. I am affected. I write in melodrama, like this. They leave me here, go on to other adventures, fight to the death, make endless love, tragically go down in flames, get reborn in ashes. But they don’t tell me any more about it. Turning that last page shuts the window and draws the curtains. Off they go about their crazy, risky lives, and they never think about me again.

Here I am, I feel like I’ve just woken up. Get out of the cosy, warm bed, go about my day, prepare the meals, figure out how to avoid doing the hoovering. Wonder what they’re up to, those madcap, fictional characters. Yearn to do something big, dangerous and exciting.

Maybe I should go on an adventure.

But that’s not allowed any more, is it? It’s too big, too dangerous, too exciting. I have people that need me now.

And what should it matter? I love my life. I love my babies, my husband, my job, the suburbanality of it all. It’s safe, comforting, warm, cuddles, soft, quiet except when we’re laughing or cheating at scrabble or tickle-chasing each other round the house. It’s the present pluperfect.

But still. I don’t window-shop when there’s no budget. And I don’t read books anymore.

An interview with Skein Queen and some yarntastic events


In anticipation of my next pattern coming out, Corona Beret, I got in touch with Debbie Orr of Skein Queen, who dyed the yarn for it.

Debbie’s yarns are dyed with beautiful depth of colour, I fell absolutely in love with this gold Blush when I was at her open house over the summer. It was a particularly unsummery day, but we were safe from the rain with a load of scrummy cakes and even scrummier wool.

Debbie has just opened a new workshop in Newbury. Go check out the pics on her blog, it looks lovely! Here’s one I copied…


Here are a few question I asked Debbie about her new space and her plans for the future.

1. First of all, how are you? The pics of the new space look fab, has the hummingbird landed on her feet?
Thank you, you’re very kind. It’s been hard work, but I think the hummingbird has finally nested. The new studio space is the attic area of an old barn above a craft shop and is basically all my show stuff permanently set up along with many yarn storage shelves, product displays, electric skein winders and a whole area dedicated to packing parcels (plus a sofa for added comfort knitting). The dyeing is still done from my old workshop at home, about a mile from the studio.

2. What are you going to do in the new space that you couldn’t do before?
The biggest change is that I have a bit of space dedicated to retail, so if customers want to squidge the yarn in person, they can now do so. Although I have an employee a couple of days a week, it’s always best to make an appointment in advance as I might be dyeing in the workshop or away at a show and wouldn’t want to be the creator of a wasted trip.

3. How has 2014 treated you so far? I see you’ll be at the pom pom quarterly Christmas party, any other plans for the rest of the year?
It’s been a year of changes. We launched a jazzy new website at the beginning of the year, got my first proper staff member in April, have introduced much new non-hand-dyed stock, held the first ever SQ Open Studio at home in June and now have another Grand Open Day planned at the new studio on Saturday. After that is the Pom Pom party – which was a lot of fun last year – looking forward to seeing the new venue – and then dedication to clubs and shop updates for the rest of the year. And then a large glass or two of mulled wine over Christmas by way of celebration.

4. Are you planning on going to any yarny events in 2015?
So far, have only booked my perennial must-do show and that’s Unravel at Farnham. In my head I’m planning to concentrate on more shop updates to bring more hand-dyed yarn to those who can’t shop in person.

5. Finally, what’s on your needles right now and what’s in your queue?
Just cast off the bottom edge of the Lush cardigan by Tin Can Knits leaving only the sleeves to do and then… oh I think maybe a Corona Beret!

Thanks for your time, Debbie, it would be great to see another Corona Beret in your gorgeous yarn!

Skein Queen is hosting a workshop-warming party on Saturday, I can’t make it myself unfortunately, but I’d love to hear from anyone who does go! Here are the details


Then the Pom Pom Quarterly Christmas party is on the 6th of December and I’m definitely going to that! I think a whole bunch of us Harrow Knitters are, in fact.


But in the meantime, I have this beauty to work with

200g of “Oosie”, a 100% Scottish Down Cross Dk weight. Sumptuous berry-burgundy in colour. Itching to cast on, but have a few other things in the queue to get through first!

An Afternoon with Shamu Makes: Art Dyer

I had great craic yesterday with Karen of Shamu Makes. She was dying up lots of yarn, some for a very special charity, more of which later.
Karen’s yarns are all one-off art yarns. She will kettle dye about 4 skeins at a time, each a different base. In one pot yesterday, she had a regular sock, a sparkle sock, an alpaca aran, and a tweedy dk.

Karen dyes according to “what the pot tells me” which she hopes doesn’t make her sound barmy, but it’s a very fluid, unscripted process. She can’t repeat colour ways, because what goes into the pot and how she treats the yarn can vary in so many ways; depending on her mood, the light, how the yarn picks up the dye, whether the yarn goes into the pot first or last, how long it’s in there, whether Karen feels like it needs more colour and how that gets overlayed – dying again or syringed or speckled.

Yarns that come out of the same pot are called “sisters”; and they can be very similar, but no two are ever identical and colour ways cannot be repeated. Karen may dye several skeins of the same base together to order, but along the lines of “something in pink and green”, not “25% cerise and 59% pistachio with a marled effect”.

Check out the gorgeous two-tone effect in the foremost skein! These four are all sisters.
Karen was dying in pink and purple for a very special cause. Another member of one of Karen’s online crafting communities has tragically lost her baby after 23 weeks of pregnancy. Karen is organising a fundraiser for SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, by holding a raffle with her yarn and some other lovely bits as the prize. More details at

After a chat where karen and I decided we were both going to the Edinburgh yarn fest in March (Karen as a stall holder and me as a helper/designer/co-conspirator), we hung out some more yarn. Isn’t the pinky-purple-turquoisey-orangey one gorgeous? Believe me, those are colours I would never put together myself in a month of Sundays, but Karen seems to have the eye!

I left with one forlorn look towards the slow-cooker, where a navy and spring green confection was still bubbling away.
If you like the sound of Shamu Makes yarns, then you can get in touch with Karen through her facebook page or etsy shop.

New Yarn Alert: Westcountry Tweed

My grapevine tells me that Blacker Yarns have a new yarn coming out next month, November 14th.

It’s a DK weight yarn, coming in 4 colours: natural grey, heathery-purple, denimy-blue and sagey-green. It’s a small palette, but I think all the colours are going to work well together. Definitely that green and purple would look great together, and I can easily imagine a fab cabled man’s jumper in the blue.

I haven’t had any in my hands (yet), so I looked up the sheep breed information to get an idea of how it will feel.

The yarn is a blend of

Teeswater (actually, a crossbreed thereof) – staple length: 20-30cm; fibre diameter: 32-36 microns

and Welsh Black Mountain – staple length: 8-10cm; fibre diameter: 48-56 microns

by comparison:

Merino – staple length:~10cm; fibre diameter: ~15-25 microns

Corriedale – staple length: ~9-15cm; fibre diameter: 24-31 microns

Shetland – staple length: ~8-9cm; fibre diameter: 25-35 microns (10-20 for neck wool)

Staple length will tell you how long the fibres are in the yarn, and how much twist the yarn needs to hold together (longer fibres mean less twist). Fibre length also contributes to the strength of the knitted garment. Larger diameter fibres are also stronger, though they don’t tend to feel as soft. The larger diameter fibres are also harder wearing, but fewer people can wear them next to the skin.

So my best guess is that Westcountry Tweed will make great hats and cowls, and winter jumpers. It’ll look and feel good for many years, and while I might not use it for baby gifts, I reckon it’s going to be perfect for keeping warm when it matters, for a gift that will keep on giving. I’m actually thinking house-warming and wedding blankets. I will let you know when I get a chance to try it!

What is really interesting about the yarn though is that both sheep are rare breeds, from farms that are less than 100 miles from the mill, and Blacker yarns are continuing to do what they do best, bringing us great British yarns that celebrate the qualities of native and lesser-known breeds.

Keep your eyes peeled on their website for more news:

Would you like to Test Knit my Corona Beret?

Corona Beret

Hello! I have a new design coming out soon, and I’d really appreciate some help in the form of test knitting.

Corona Beret

This is a slouchy, textured beret in a plump 4-ply. The yarn I used is the stunning Skein Queen Blush, which is crazy soft and warm. Even if you don’t try it on this project, get some to play with, you won’t be disappointed. I fell in love with the colour in this skein when I went to Skein Queen’s Open House during the Summer. There was no way I was leaving without it, even though I’d already filled up on Jamieson’s of Shetland (which Debbie also sells). (You don’t have to use this yarn if you’re doing the test knit, you can sub in a different yarn. The tension to get is 28 sts x 38 rows per 10cm over st st).

Corona Beret

This hat is all about the texture of the star pattern. The coronal pattern under different lights and points of view, can look like a star, a crown or a flower. The texture is created just with knit and purl sts – no cabling or slip sts here!

Corona Beret

If you would like to test knit for me, just get in touch. I’m catchloops on ravelry, twitter and gmail, so drop me a line!

Test Knitting is: you get the pattern for free, but it might have mistakes in it. You agree to knit it by a certain date, tell me anything that jars you about the pattern and put up a ravelry project linked to it when it goes live. Since there’s a group of us doing it at the same time, it feels like a KAL. I update everyone with any changes along the way and help out if there are any ambiguities or techniques new to you.