Friday, 31 October 2014

Snakes and Ladders Hat Pattern

This yarn is spun from a 100g batt of North Ronaldsay fleece from The Spinning Barn at Spotty Pig Farm. It had a soft, short grey base mixed with a halo of fine dark hairs and was lovely to spin, so good tempered.  I brought it to spinning camp and learned how to tear off a 10cm length, lay on a few tufts of coloured fluff and roll the whole lot into a sort of rolag.  The coarser, coloured fibres drafted out in random clumps, adding texture and setting off the grey.
Two ply came out around aran weight with a gentle handle, low bounce, medium drape. Samples felt fine next to the skin, despite the hairs.   Dropping a single stitch on a 4mm needle and letting it unravel down the fabric gave a ladder about 2cm wide. This interesting effect maximises the yardage and minimises the knitting.  I'd think this hat could be made from the average single 50g ball of aran yarn.  My spinning doesn't show off the snakes to best effect.  Cable type patterns really need a round yarn made of three singles in a plain, pale colour.  Even so, I'm quite pleased with how the hat came out.

Snakes and Ladders

Take care when playing a bunch of self serving worms, lest you find yourself knocked off the ladder.  A hat for anyone out in the cold.


70 to 80m aran/worsted weight yarn (about 50g)
4mm circular needle and cable needle
darning needle for weaving in ends.


18 stitches to 10cm in stocking stitch


Cast on 60 stitches - a long tail cast on gives a stretchy edge - take care to keep it loose.  I put the other needle in between the cast on stitches to ensure I don't pull them too tight.  Join and knit rounds in a rib pattern of (knit 3 purl 1) repeated, until work measures 7cm.

At the beginning of the final rib round, place a marker before the second stitch in the runs of knit 3, missing every third set.  As the whole round has 15 repeats of knit 3 purl 1, you will end up with 10 markers dividing the stitches up into a group of 4 followed by a group of 8.  

Keeping the markers in place, purl all the stitches except the middle two in each group of 8, which are the knit stitches beginning each of the five snakes.  Repeat for 8 rounds.

Round 9  Make each snake start to bend to the left by holding the two knit stitches on the cable needle at the front of the work and purling the next stitch, before knitting the two on the cable needle.
Round 10 Purl or knit the same type of stitch as is on the left needle from the round below - just copy, same as before.
Repeat rounds 9 and 10 another two times, at which point the knit stitches for the snake will have a marker immediately on their left. Repeat Round 10 one more time.

Round 16 Make each snake bend to the right by holding the purl stitch before each pair of knit stitches on the cable needle at the back of the work.  Knit the two knit stitches and then purl the stitch off the cable needle.
Round 17 As Round 10.
Repeat rounds 16 and 17 twice more, until the knit stitches for the snake have one stitch between them and the marker on their right. 

Round 22 Make each snake bend to the left again by repeating Rounds 9 and 10 three times, so that the knit stitches for the snake have one stitch between them and the marker on their left.

Round 28 Make each snake bend to the right again by repeating Rounds 16 and 17 twice.

Now to drop the first set of ladders.
Round 32 At the same time as shifting the snakes right for the third time, as per Round 16, drop the purl stitch after the second and each alternate marker.  This is the stitch just before the one you put on the cable needle to bend the snakes right.  Gently unravel each column of dropped stitches to make a ladder to the bottom of the work.
Round 33 as Round 10 on the remaining 55 stitches.

Round 34 Make the snakes bend left by repeating Round 9 once, then Round 10 twice.

Round 37 At the same time as bending the snakes right by repeating Round 16, drop the purl stitch before the first and alternate markers to make the second set of ladders.  50 stitches remain.

Round 38 As Round 10, with the addition of purling two stitches together before each marker. 40 stitches remain.
Round 39 As Round 10, with the addition of knitting instead of purling the stitch on either side of each snake's body, to widen it to form the head.
Round 40 As Round 10, keeping the 4 knit stitch pattern for the snakes' heads and also purling 2 together before each marker and taking the markers off, except the one for the beginning of the round.  30 stitches remain.
Round 41 As round 10.
Round 42 As Round 10, except in each run of four knit stitches, knit 2 together through back of loops then knit 2 together, to narrow the snakes' heads.  20 stitches remain
Round 43 Purl all the purl stitches and on the pairs of knit stitches. knit through back of loop then knit 1, to slant each snake's head to a point. 
Round 44 Purl 1, (knit 2 together purl 2) repeat to last stitch and purl 1. 15 stitches remain.
Round 45 (Purl 1 purl 2 together) repeat.
Cut the yarn, leaving a length to thread onto a darning needle and pass through the remaining 10 stitches, pulling them tight and fastening off.

Now all you need is a lovely niece to wear it.

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