The Ordinary Hat

My husband lost his hat.  He had it stuffed in his coat pocket along with his gloves and it fell out.  “Can you knit me a hat?” I told him I didn’t have any yarn.  We’re spending the year in the Netherlands and I am away from my stash.  He looked at the three shelves of yarn in the corner of our tiny apartment and said, “What do you mean you don’t have any yarn?”  “I don’t have any yarn for a hat.” I clarified.  He was staring at a pile of British Breed Wool (36 skeins) for the Marie Wallin’s Fair isle Club and the fingering weight yarn (24 skeins) for the Stephen West Painting Bricks shawl. 

I mistakenly asked him what he wanted.    A plain black hat.  Ugh.  Who asks a knitter who is totally immersed in colorwork for a plain black hat?  Someone who doesn’t knit.

I decided to use Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed in the colorway “soot” which wasn’t quite black but close enough.  I found a free pattern “The Classic Cuffed Hat” by Purl Soho, ordered the yarn and started the project. 

The pattern called for a tubular cast-on.  I had read that this type of cast-on was stretchy and perfect for a hat.  Since I’m trying to advance my knitting skills and since I haven’t strayed from the one cast-on I had been using for fifty years, I decided to try it. I watched the videos, attempted it multiple times but I couldn’t make it work.  It was a mess on the needle.  The voice inside my head said you can’t do it.  Another voice inside my head told me to keep trying, start again.   I started again and again and again until finally I had 88 stitches on the needle joined together to make a perfect circle.

Whenever we try something new, it can take multiple starts to get on track.  Each time we start, we learn something new, make some adjustments and hope for a better outcome.

Many years ago, I tried to start a regular prayer practice during Lent.  I set up an unrealistic schedule for myself.  I was going to say the Daily Office (prayers and scripture readings) four times a day – Morning, Noon, Evening, and Compline (prayers before bedtime).  I failed the first day and pretty much every day after that.  Something kept happening each day that would keep me from my schedule.  I was working full time and meetings ran late, unexpected things would come up and I was running around feeling guilty.  When I expressed my frustration to an elderly priest, he smiled and suggested that I spend a minute in front of the microwave when I was reheating my coffee in the morning and pray for that one minute.  He called it a minute with God. That one minute a day was just what I needed.  I needed to begin with a good first step.

I finally was able to conquer the tubular cast-on by slowing way down and doing one step at a time that lead to one stitch that lead to the ribbing of that ordinary hat.

Rows 24-28 and Rows 1-4 of Pattern #26 from the Japanese Stitch Bible.

Published by Julie Cicora

I'm an Episcopal Priest that loves using knitting as a spiritual discipline.

2 thoughts on “The Ordinary Hat

  1. Thank you for this gentle reminder, Julie. I fell into that same trap again this year and need to pay heed – again.


  2. We often approach something new with great enthusiasm and set goals that are too difficult to achieve thereby setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. Over and over in my life I have done this and even now as I approach 70 I find I still do it sometimes. But over the years I do it less and less. I am more realistic in what I can reasonably acheive in a give amount of time. I am a work in progress and as such I will strive to set realistic goals that are a stretch to help me grow but also achieveable. Thank you for the guidance down this path.


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