Monday, December 13, 2010


I love Annie Modesitt's book 1000 Hats. It's so inspiring! I took one statement from her book and ran with it. She said, "Gansey technique isn't seen as often in hats as it should be." I love Ganseys (also called Guernseys) because they are more simple than cabled sweaters but just as intriguing in their own way. The combinations of knit and purl stitches can be surprisingly beautiful, given that they start with such a simple concept.
I first learned about Ganseys from Beth Brown-Reinsel's book Knitting Ganseys. After reading Beth's book I put together the Raibeart for my first grandson Preston (Robert is his first name and Raibeart is the Gaelic translation).
For my youngest daughter Natalie's birthday hat this year I designed a Guernsey hat that features the Tree of Life motif because Nat has a thing for trees. After searching for just the right version of this stitch motif, I settled on the one in Karen Hemingway's Super Stitches Knitting. I only had to tweak it a little to make it work with the Stockinette Stitch Flags panel in the same book and a third little knit/purl panel that I've had my eye on for a while from the book by Gisella Klopper called Beautiful Knitting Patterns (one of my absolute favorites).
I decided to add in a couple more characteristics of Gansey construction--a knitted hem (this one patterned) and the owner's initials.
Here's Natalie modeling the first medium-size sample that I made from the resulting pattern.

And here I am trying to model the large-size one I made for myself.
Both of these samples were knit on size 5 needles with Hazel Knits DK Lively--Nat's with the Evergreen colorway and mine with the Equinox. I love this yarn so much. It's a dream to knit with and produces a gorgeous fabric. Go Wendee!

Here is a closeup of the initials on my hat, situated just inside the knitted brim. The surprise of this hat was that when the brim is hemmed it gives the hat a bit of a cloche quality. The brim section flares out just a bit. It's also a deep hat, just the way I wanted it.

These last two photos are examples of Natalie's photographic skills. It's very nice to have another artist in the family (Jess is an oil painter and Emily is an actress, singer and dancer)--especially when she can take such fabulous pictures of finished knits! You can see lots of her work around the Figheadh and Mirth sites and on the patterns. Obviously I am proud of all three of my very talented daughters!

The N-26 Guernsey Hat is completely charted and written out for both sizes (medium and large) and includes an alphabet chart for adding the initials.

We hope you like it!
Next time I'll be back to talk about my Grandaddy Dexter. Yep, more family lore. Have a great day and stay warm in your wintery neck of the woods!

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