Friday, 16 December 2016

Knitting Humdrum Helix Hats with Ten Colours

I designed the Humdrum Helix Hat Pattern to make use of small amounts of yarn. Until I started digging through my plant dyed yarn, I hadn't realised quite how much was stashed away. The oldest skeins at the bottom of the basket were varying weights of Texere 100% wool, which I used to buy by the cone before I started spinning. Since many of them predate this blog, I've no record of what plants I used for dyeing this selection, though the shades of beige reminded me how often I accidentally boiled dye baths, mysteriously failed to get the colours I expected or found they faded fast.

Helical hat knitting is quick and easy and quite fun. When my brother asked for a hat for Christmas, it sounded like a perfect stash busting opportunity - until he said he would like lots of colours. Well, beige is a colour, in my wool basket, 'beige' covers quite a variety of colours, so I gathered up ten balls of double knitting weight Texere wool and decided to see how they would look all knitted into one helix. With a gauge of 18 stitches to 10 cm, I cast on 90 stitches from the largest skein, aiming for a 50cm hat circumference. After knitting 8cm of brown brim, I added another colour every 9 stitches, working the same method as the original pattern for four colours. I was soon spending more time untangling yarn than I was knitting it. Things went better working with all the balls on a flat basket in my lap, periodically turning the whole basket in the reverse direction to the knitting.

Having such frequent colour changes requires a little more concentration than I gave this hat. Once or twice, I must have missed a colour change and picked it up in the next round, because the sequence of stripes changes. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised by how how much interest and subtlety the stripes of beige added to each other and how well they enhanced the brighter colours. The accidental changes of sequence also gave me pause for thought about the importance of which colours are put next to each other.

Once I got to the reductions for the crown, I reduced five stitches each round by knitting one then knitting 2 together on the even colour changes in one round and the odd numbered colour changes in the next. Having ten colours makes a far more dramatic helix than only four. It also means you need very little yarn in each colour - apart from the brim, there only has to be enough of each to knit five rounds. Having plenty of small skeins to use up, I've decided all my male relatives are getting a helix hat for Christmas this year.  Plus four bottles of excellent Welsh microbrewery beer. Here's the next Happy Helix, there's yarn for many more to come.


  1. I'd have a ton of small balls of odds and ends in my "dyed earlier" box - only, apart from DH no male member of my family wears hat:( come to think of it, very few of the females would... neither do they wear scarves or gloves or even mittens! I should not live in such a poor family - knitwise:) the result is that I tend to make larger projects for them - but only once in a while! can't knit a cardie each every year... I hope you'll finish all your hats in time - happy knitting - and have a lovely christmas, together with your naughty ewe:)
    Bettina (from ireland, where it feels less christmassy every day:()

    1. How very annoying. I haven't revved up for a big project in ages. Elinor is staying in London this Christmas, she seems to have made great friends with the cast of her musical, it's one party after another, from what I hear. Considerably quieter here in Wales, pending the family onslaught. Hope the festive vibes build up in Ireland, have a happy Christmas :)

  2. Ohmigosh, these hats are sooo yummy <3

  3. Thanks :) - hope the family agree ...

  4. What a lovely hat! I saw the pattern on Ravelry, I hope you'll put this one there too, to show people there what happens when you use a lot of different colors. It's in my library for future use, I also have lots of little skeins laying around.
    Thank you for the pattern!

  5. Good to know what to do with mounting small balls! Thank you!

  6. I think this would work nicely for socks. And since that's all my family seem to want for Christmas presents, socks it is!