Thursday, December 16, 2010


Dexter Orville Alford was my mom's father. He was one of the most interesting characters I have ever been privileged to know--and I got to spend quite a lot of time with him when I was growing up, thank goodness. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for 17 years.
Here is my mom's assessment of him in her blog post from this past summer. He was an offhand occasional singer, as mom says, and the one song I remember the most was "Take Me out to the Ballgame" (especially the peanuts and Cracker Jacks part--I love peanuts and Cracker Jacks, because that's a double dose of peanuts, right?) That's why when this knitted ball cap came together, I knew it had to bear Granddaddy's name. Since one of my grandsons, Malcolm Dexter, has been gifted with Granddaddy's first name as his middle name (and so there will be a Dexter design at some point, because there already is a Malcolm), I decided to use his middle name. Whew--convoluted, I know, but I thought I'd let you into the maze that is my brain...just a little. Not too much, or I'd scare you away!

The first part of the hat that popped in my head was the front panel. I knew I wanted to do this horizontally corrugated panel flanked by 4-stitch cables. The rest of the hat just naturally followed as a vertical match to that. The widened "garter" front panel has a purl stitch every four rounds and the sides and back of the cap have a twisted knit stitch every four stitches--like a backward mirror effect.

Okay, come on back (light facial slap)! Here we go with the more interesting part. At first I just whipped up the hat, not knowing it would eventually have a bill. When it came out like this, however...
...I knew that front section needed something. It had a little lift just waiting for another part. A bill!! Yea! So I went in search of how to add the bill. I have several books with knitted ball caps, as it happens, so after perusing them all I decided to make it easy. Well, what I really did was just look at pictures and then I set about to wing it. Luckily, the first method I tried actually worked.

The bill is worked as an attached flat piece around a moon-shaped plastic canvas section for which I have included a template in the pattern. (This orange hat is made with Quince & Co Puffin in Nasturtium on size 11 needles. Fun yarn to knit!)

At first my rib on the bill wasn't coming out very symmetrical so I had to tweak that...a bunch. I ended up making about half a dozen of these caps to get it right--that and the decreases and such. Grandsons Preston and Declan each have one because last time I saw them we were taking family pictures and I asked them to try them on. They didn't want to take them off, so I let them keep them. That was great! Approval from rough and ready little boys is a boost!

Here's Emily modeling one I made a little differently by accident because I ran out of yarn. This Fuchsia Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky Orville only has the first half of the brim and with no canvas. That's where the yarn ran out. I think it's okay and provides another option--in case you run out of yarn, too! Just bind off when the bill decreases down to 14 stitches.

After that I decided to try one more option and cast on for the extra large size with worsted weight yarn instead of bulky to see if it would make a baby cap. The first one I made was for Lucy with Quince & Co Lark in Dogwood on size 7 needles, but the yarn is more of a DK so it came out a little small. Then I tried one for Malcolm in Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Worsted in Navy Olive on size 8 needles. Here he is wearing it. It fits perfectly! Lucy and Malcolm are just over six months old in this picture to give you an idea of fit.

(Yes, they are gorgeous, aren't they? And yes, Malcolm is wearing a Sean.)
Here is Lucy in her more well-fitted Orville made with Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Worsted in Peony. I think it should be named Strawberry Cake, but I'll allow Peony, Claudia.
(Yes, Lucy is super jaunty in her pink onesie and pink heart leg warmers and pink Orville Cap!)
Last but not least I give you a sample of the Orville made with BS Lamb's Pride Bulky in Persian Peacock on a wonderful statue that we found for a model in Wright Park here in Tacoma. The sculpture is "The Leaf" by Larry Andersen. This guy looks a little like my grandaddy, as a matter of fact.

Thanks for inspiring the Orville Cap, Grandaddy! It's fun to make. I'd make one for you if you were still here to wear it. Then we could wear our Orvilles to see a baseball game and have some Cracker Jacks. What good times that would be!
Thanks so much to Natalie and Kelli for doing such superb tests on this pattern to help me get out the kinks!

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