Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Roots: The Process

In this post I'll try and explain the process behind the Roots hat design - which was far more extensive than you may expect!

The original inspiration was to create a ribbed hat with a fractal branching structure, reminiscient of tree root structures. This meant that the shaping had to be placed amongst unusual lines. I toyed with the idea of working bottom up, using left and right leaning decreases to shape the crown, but quickly realised that a top down construction would give me greater control over size and length, and also provide something a bit different to knitters than the literal hundreds of ribbed hat designs already available!

This pattern has been a long time in the making, being prototyped and tweaked to get it just right for knitters. In fact, the first version was knit way back in December, as a Christmas gift for my Uncle Stu!

I then made a second prototype for the Leaf Litter show back in March;

Both of these hats taught me a few important lessons about this design. I was able to modify the pattern to remove the pixie like point you see in the first version, and with the second, which was knit in Debbie Bliss Glen, reaffirm how fantastic a yarn Malabrigo Twist is for working rib in (actually, any multi-plied worsted weight yarn should be a good fit, most of the problems I had with this version were with the single ply of Glen). The first hat is more complex in it's shaping than the final knit, and I was able to see that in fact this was unnecessary, and simple is best for both fit and ease of knitting.

The third and final version (so far, I really want one for myself!) is the sample knit. This version of the pattern contains all of the features I wanted in this pattern from the start - a smooth, round crown, a soft slouchy drape, a firm rib contraction for a secure fit, and a striking branching rib pattern that is unusual but subtle enough for even the most fussy of our male gift recipients!

We had a lot of fun doing the photoshoot in my Mam and Dad's yard. The model is my little brother Dominic, who was perhaps not quite in the mood for having his photo taken less than 24 hours after running the Great North Run!

But he consented eventually, even posing with a book (can you tell Sherlock Holmes isn't exactly his favourite!) I love this version of the hat, it fits great, the colour (Zinc) really shows off the texture pattern, and it suits my brother so well!

The first hat was knit to a length of around 10"/25cm, and the second to 8"/20cm. This is quite a bit shorter than the 13" used for the sample, and this is what really proves to me the benefit of knitting hats from the top down, there's no way my uncle would want a slouchy modern beanie, and similarly Dominic, who was given the sample as a graduation present, would have no use for such a utility garment as the first prototype!

If you would like to knit Roots the pattern is available to purchase through Ravelry.com, or you can buy now

Happy Knitting! 

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