Niece the Elder requested a thin, warm hat to wear under her hockey helmet, so I headed to the internet and found this free Swirl Hat pattern by Mandie Harrington.
This is one of those great free patterns one finds sometimes. The directions are written for a wide range of sizes, from preemie to adult. The writing-up is very clear, and includes colour coding so you can easily keep track of the numbers for the size you are making. I'm not surprised at all that as of this blog post the pattern is available in eight different languages. In itself it's a great example of the internet glomming onto a truly cool thing someone's done and running with it.
The spiral rib design means that the fabric will stretch comfortably to fit lots of different heads. When I was making it I kept calling it the "Jiffy Pop" hat — the swirl is similar to the aluminum foil top of the Jiffy Pop pan before the popcorn puffs it out. I like that it was written for fingering weight yarn instead of the usual worsted or chunky — not everyone wants or needs a thick hat for all winter occasions! The nieces do play a lot outside during the winter, but they also spend a lot of time sitting in cars in full winter gear. It makes sense for them to have thinner hats for when they might be cold but not necessarily braving the elements.
This hat is a great example of a project that is fun to knit up, but also very quick. The regular rib at the lower border bothered me more than usual. Nothing to do with the pattern — I just wasn't into it. The first few rounds of the spiral rib were confusing, but once I learned how to read the fabric it was very easy to do. The rhythm's a little different from the sorts of texture and lace I'm used to. One thing to watch out for: the spiral lace means that the start of round is not obvious after the work gains some height. As always, I'm reluctant to use stitch markers, so I noted where the yarn tail from the cast-on was, and traced that rib up to where I was working to determine where I was in the actual round. I was using dpns instead of a circular needle anyhow, so I had a backup indicator.
The top of the hat is completed via a stitch pattern modification which decreases the stitches over several rounds, bringing the hat's swirl to a graceful close with a flat, non-lumpy finish.
The bubblegum pink sock yarn was originally bought as embroidery yarn for the Hello Kitty-style boot cuffs I made Niece the Elder back in 2012. That only took a miniscule amount, so most of the skein has been sitting in my stash ever since, making me wonder what on earth I was going to make with bubblegum pink sock yarn. Turns out the remainder of the 100g ball will make at least two, possibly three hats. The nieces are prone to lose hats, so I'm going to keep making bubblegum pink ones until I run out of yarn.