I don’t know about the rest of you (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least!) but from where I sit, winter doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. The days are (thankfully!) getting a bit longer, but the cold, wind, and damp are very much alive and well. And the hat I keep reaching for again and again is my recently completed Bracken Beanie, which I was lucky enough to test knit for the very talented Jenni Barrett. And good news — if you need a scrummy hat to keep you and yours warm during the winter that’s still to come, the pattern is now available on Ravelry!
When I spotted Jenni working on her beautiful prototype for this pattern, I knew I had to knit it ASAP. The pattern features a really cozy combo of broken rib and beautiful, sculptural cables that I just loved. So I was delighted when Jenni asked if I’d be interested in testing the pattern. I loved the onion skin-dyed skein of Northern Yarn Poll Dorset that she’d used for the original, but alas, didn’t have a store of onion skins standing by to try dyeing up my own skein. Instead, I chose a lovely ball of Ardalanish Natural DK in Manx from Kathy Knits when I visited Edinburgh — I loved the natural, milk chocolate-y brown of the skein!
The Ardalanish is robust and woolly in the hand, and at first, as much as I loved knitting with it, I worried that it wasn’t going to quite have the stitch definition to show off Jenni’s lovely design. The more I knit though, the more the bold cables came through, and in the end, I’m really happy with the result — it makes for a snug, warm hat that also, I’ve found, is quite waterproof — it kept my head quite dry just the other day as I climbed the hill to our little house in the most unrelenting heavy drizzle!
I made a very few modifications — I think my yarn was a bit heavier than the ones Jenni used for the samples, so my row gauge came out a bit bigger. So I only worked three cable repeats, rather than the pattern’s recommended four, which gives me a snug beanie that fits just as I was hoping — I have plenty of slouchy hats, so I wanted a watch cap-like fit from this hat.
I also decided to add a little brim lining to the hat. This was mostly an aesthetic decision — I’m confident that the Manx wool of the hat wouldn’t have bothered me for next to forehead wear. But I liked the sort of 1970s-vibe of this bit of Long Dog sock yarn (leftover from my Cross Country Fade shawl) with the warm, natural shade. And putting in a brim like this can be a great option if you are more sensitive to more robust wool for next to skin wear!
To work the brim, I cast on (around) 134 stitches, and knit about an inch and a half in the sock-weight yarn on a US size 2 needle. I then worked one round of purl stitches to start creating the brim’s fold, and then switched to my gauge needle and the DK wool and knit one round, decreasing evenly as I knit to get to the brim’s required number of stitches. I then worked a final row in purl in the Ardalanish to complete the fold of the brim lining, then carried on following the pattern. When I finished the hat, I steam blocked the brim lining and then sewed the edge up into place. I’d never knit a brim like this, and I was working on it on the flight from the UK to the US for Christmas, so I couldn’t look it up. I’m not positive that this is the best way to do it, but it worked for me and I love that I feel like I have a little colorful secret whenever I’m wearing the hat 😀
The whole thing is topped off by a pom pom — for me, it totally makes it!
It’s a fab and very clearly written pattern and the combo of texture and cables make it a totally addictive knit. So obviously I highly recommend it — if you fancy your own version, get thee over to Ravelry and scoop up the pattern. You can see more of Jenni’s gorgeous knitting over on her blog, Wool is My Bread, or on her droolworthy Instagram. This is her first paid-for pattern on Ravelry, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!