Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cunning Jayne Cobb hat, revisted

It's been over two years (wow!) since my first Jayne Cobb hat (hereintoforeafter referred to as "The Cunning Hat"). Like any good book, movie, or TV show, this hat has offered me additional insights every time I've created a new one, read other people's patterns and thoughts, or re-watched the episode, and I've been wanting to update both my musings and the first pattern I wrote. I don't want to completely obliterate my initial reactions, though, so I'm "revisiting" the Cunning Hat with this new post, instead. This is still under construction, and I welcome comments!

* Cast on technique: I believe the cast-on is Twisted German, or Estonia, due to the small but distinctive bars that cross the bottoms of the knit stitches near the cast-on edge. In addition, I think the row was joined with the yarn-ball side needle to the right, then, after some ribbing, I think the needles got flipped inside out. At that point, the unintentional "short row" thus created would account for the shorter orange stripe in the front (discussed below), as well as the visible texture of the Twisted German edge, which looks different depending on whether you're looking at the the right or wrong side.

* Stitches per round: First, having counted the rows and columns of stitches from the middle of Jayne's forehead to the middle of the earflap (Why yes, I do have OCD and a widescreen HD TV, why do you ask?), I conclude there are approximately 50 stitches in each round. To check this, I counted the stitches in the ear flaps (12) and the stitches at the visible front of his head (12-14). Two ear flaps make 24 st, the front and back add another 24 to 28, bringing the total to 48 to 52. In order for a hat to be around 21" in circumference with 50 stitches, gauge would be about 2.5 st/in.

* Stitches per row: There are about 8 rows of orange above the ribbing, for the FRONT of the hat (this distinction is important). The size of the stitches indicates that the 1x1 ribbing is, at BEST, two rows tall, or one row of ribbing on top of a visible cast-on edge.

My face is 5" from eyebrows to chin (stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this, I promise), which, after extensive study (don't ask), I have concluded is about average. Making Jayne's face exactly 5" from eyebrows to chin via the magic of zoom, the "front" orange stripe is 2" tall. 10 rows in 2' gives us 5 rows per inch. However, the same view shows 6 stitches across in 2 inches, albeit a slightly stretched 6 stitches. This means either my estimate of 2.5 st/in is wrong, or my level of zoom is. I had believed the hat was just stretched, but various views, plus watching Jayne easily put the hat on, makes me think it's my zoom.

*Yarn weight: If any of my estimates are anywhere close to being accurate, 2.5 st/in and 5 rows/in puts the yarn squarely in the bulky category. My own attempts at using bulky yarn and US size 10 needles are still giving me a smaller gauge than I'd like, which means I may need to run out and buy bigger needles. This hat has also been sucessfully created by using 2 strands of worsted weight, which appears to give greater stitch definition than a single bulky strand.

* Orange stripe height: While the stripe in front may be slightly more than 2" high (the zoom being inaccurate as just proven,) the width of the orange stripe seems to increase over at least one earflap. In some shots, at least, the orange stripe is exactly about 11 rows tall over the ribbing, and the ribbing has increased to be at least 3 rows tall. I *think* the hat is even on one side, but has about 3 extra rows on the other and 3 rows ribbing in back.

Observations: The hat is symmetrical (ish), but it's been pointed out to me that the hat seems to occassionally be worn backwards. My previous thought that the ear flap points nearly always points forward, is not accurate... the right earflap yarn ends point forward, but the left points out or back, which would be the same if the hat were bckwards. Also, there is an observable decrease (where the color change occurs?) just below the first yellow row, just right of center in the orange stripe, and seems to be on both sides. In the top picture, you can kind of see there is little to no ribbing, but down a few pictures, there IS ribbing in front. Which may be the back! And the flaps are closer together in some pictures than others.

There do not seem to be any other signs of shaping: no jogs of color from orange to yellow, no other visible decreases, of any sort, anywhere on the hat body including the top, so any increases to row height must have been added after the orange left the needles. It is possible that the extra height is illusion caused by stretching, but it's a remarkably consistant illusion.

There being distinctly fewer rows of ribbing at the "front," Ma Cobb may have added a row or two of ribbing to the sides and back after finishing the tube portion of the hat, but I suspect she simply didn't mark her rows. If she cast on, hid the tail by knitting the two together, and just knitted a bunch of ribbing, she might not have realized where she started, and instead accidentally knit say, 2 and 3/4 rows of ribbing instead of 3, especially if the piece got flipped accidentally. This would acount for the extra ribbing on the sides and back that is not seen in the front. In addition, an accidentally flipped work-in-progress (easy to do in the beginning stages of a ribbed work for an inexperienced knitter...) would create a short row when the work was resumed and got knit in the opposite direction. (Go ahead, ask me how I know!) If she continued then to knit around, and still did not see where she started, she may have joined with yellow before the last round was complete, which would make the stripe slightly shorter on the incomplete side- the front.

* Top decrease: The hat does not lie smoothly on top of Jayne's head. There being many folds but no decreases on the top, Ma Cobb was probably not a decrease kind of gal. I believe she knit the entire hat as a tube, wove a strand through the open stitches at the top and pulled the whole thing closed. She then cunningly hid the closure with a pompom.

Ear flap width: The ear flaps are tricky to see, at best. They appear to be 12 stitches wide at the top, and they then curl inwards as stockinette does if you do not add garter edge. The bottoms are problematic. (The stitch count was done, for those interested, both directly, by extreme close ups and counting blobs, and re-checked by counting the ribbing above each flap.)

Ear flap length and shaping: After much studying and disregarding my favorite "no decreases for Ma Cobb" theory, I believe the flaps are knit for 4 inches, then decreased from 12 stitches to 1, maybe 3. The abrupt decreases then make that bottom triangle curl up. The remaining end is knotted together with two other strands (one of which might be the end where the color was picked up, but I'm not sure where the other one came from) three times, and all three are cut approximately 3 inches long.

Observation: Because the flaps are stockinette, the rolled edges give the illusion of curves. It appears as through she may have run the yarn through the bottom edge and gave a little pull to tighten the bottom and corners. Furthermore, she did not weave in the ends, but cunningly left the ends to dangle should the wearer wish to use the lengths to tie the flaps down under the chin.

All of these, ah, interpretations of a hat design lead me to conclude that this was Ma Cobb's first hat. Not only was it her first hat, but she designed it herself. I deduce this because, if she used a pattern, the pattern designer probably would not have incorporated the...choices...Ma Cobb made. The hat would have had even ribbing, at least in front and back as opposed to the sides, and would have had a garter stitch (knitting a few stitches every row, as previously described) edge to the ear flaps, but may or may not have had a gather and pompom. Therefore, it is my contention that Ma Cobb designed and knit her very first hat- to mail across the galaxy to her boy Jayne.

A mother's love, my friends. In addition, Jayne immediately put on and wore the hat-- as jarring as it may have been to his tough-guy image-- which speaks volumes about Jayne's own love for his Mama (even without the letter that tells us Jayne sends money home for his sick sister). I find their love heartbreakingly sweet.

In my first blog about this hat, I proposed a few questions which arose from these musings: Did the Joss intend such implications? Who did make the hat? Was the hat designed to exact specifications, created precisely to convey the emotional impact I have proposed? Or was the hat just found somewhere, to be snapped up by an excited costume designer with a squealed, "Oooh! Perfect!"?

It turns out, I wasn't the only one with these questions. Joss gave a great crafting interview here: I'd quote the relevant pieces, but I want to get all the credit they deserve for this awesome interview!

I will update this post with the exact pattern I'm using now, as I do it. I will be commenting on my choices later. (Needle size, cast on choice, number of cast on stitches, etc. There are reasons. Have some faith, people!) Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Cunning Hat Pattern:


For the hat in the picture, I used single ply, bulky yarn in three colors. I have seen excellent results that used 2 strands of worsted, and that may be the better choice.

I humbly present the colors I used for orange, yellow, and rust respectively:

  • Lamb's Pride bulky, colorway "Orange You Glad"

  • Lamb's Pride bulky, colorway "Wild Mustard"

  • Mirasol Sulka, in the cunningly named shade, "208." (This is a single ply, bulky yarn, despite Ravelry's insistance that it's a 10-ply Aran.)

Circular size 10 US needles (No dpns required.)

Tapestry needle
Pompom maker or cardboard circles.

Gauge: 3.5 st/in; 4.5 rows/in.

(Note: Ideally, I would like to knit this over 54 st with size 10.5 or 11 circs, but I don't have the needles yet. Pattern may be updated later to reflect ideal hat.)

With orange, CO 60 with Twisted German. (For larger sizes, just add 4 stitches for approximately every inch larger than 21" you want it, totaling any multiple of 2.)

Join, with yarn on right needle, being careful not to twist. Place stitch marker. Replace stitch marker with scrap yarn or coil-less safety pin on the next round.

Round 1: K1, p1 around (60 st).
Round 2: (K1, p1) 22 times (44 st). Place 2nd stitch marker (replace later as with first marker). This is the new beginning of the row.

Flip the hat inside out and turn the needles around. You will now be knitting over what you just knit, instead of proceding to stitches you haven't ribbed a second time. This adds height to the sides of the hat without adding it to the front, which is designated as being the short distance between your stitch markers. I suspect Ma Cobb put the hat down to rest her hands, and when she picked it up, she didn't know where she left off.

Round 3-11: Knit around (60 st). (Height should be approximately 2 1/2" in front, and 3" on sides.)

Round 12: Join yellow yarn and k2tog for first st. Knit around (59 st).
Round 13- 37: Knit around (59 st).

Cut yarn 12" long, thread onto tapestry needle, and weave through all loops. Pull closed to form gather. On WS of hat, run yarn around the gather a few more times and fasten securely. Leave end hanging inside WS of hat; do not weave in.


Row 1:(RS) Pick up 15 stitches beginning with the stitches directly after your stitch marker. Join rust yarn, knit across. (15 st.) (For larger sizes, pick up 17 instead of 15 stitches, then 2 more for every 2 extra inches you've added. For example, if you're making a 22-23" hat, pick up 17. If you're making a 25" hat, pick up 19.)
Row 2: (WS) Knit across (15 st.)
Row 3: Knit across
Row 4: Purl across

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until flaps measure 5", then begin decrease rows:
Decrease row (RS): K1, ssk, knit to last 3, k2tog, k1.
Decrease row (WS): P1, p2tog, purl to last 3, p2tog, p1.

Repeat decrease rows until 3 st remain. Pull yarn through all three loops.
Add yarn to create three ends. I threaded a needle, stuck it in near the the existing end, left an end out, then wove the needle's yarn up and down the dreased edging, before pulling the yarn out next to the other two ends. Tie the thre ends together in a series of three knots.

Repeat ear flap for other side.

Create pompom for hat, using mostly rust with only some orange and a tiny bit of yellow. Thread the two ends from the pompom's tie, and insert needle into top of hat. Pull yarn through to WS. Weave the ends in on the WS, and securely fasten to the existing yellow end.

Wear hat.

How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't ya think?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Drum Skirt

The picture shows my drum, not the drum stand the skirt is made for, so the fit looks kind of bad. The band is very stretchy, though, and would probably accomodate several drum sizes. I should note here that I'd never heard of a drum skirt and couldn't find a picture of one, so all I had to go on was the rough sketch my friend verbally outlined. He hasn't seen it yet, so I can only guess it's close to what he wanted. If the name confuses you, yes I'm both Keiyla and Katla. *grin*

Katla's Drum Skirt:

Materials needed:

Trellis or laddered yarn (1 skein)
10.5 US needles (Straights)
Crochet hook (to make fringe-adding process easier)
Tapestry needle
I-cord machine, ribbon, or a whole lot of patience

Finished measurements-

30" X 2" band
60" total length, including 16" ties
22" height, including band

Step 1:

Cast on 12 st. Knit every row (garter st) until band is desired size. Bind off loosely.

Note- You want the band to have enough negative ease that it won't fall off the drum! My band is 32" long for a 36" circumference drum (not pictured.) The large size needles means the band will be quite stretchy.

Step 2: Cut lengths of yarn twice as long as drum, one length for every other row of garter, or however many you'd like. Mine were 40" long. Fold these lengths in half.

Step 3: At the bottom of your band, RS facing, slide a crochet hook in back of first st in the corner, left side, then out the front again. Hook your length of yarn in the middle, and pull a few inches through. With the hook still in the hole you've created in your length of yarn, hook the main body of the yarn and pull through the hole. Drop hook, and pull the length, which will tighten the "knot."

Repeat around the bottom of the band. I placed mine at the edge of every other row.

When all are attached, lay the skirt on a flat surface and trim edges. I hung mine so the edges I wanted to cut were off the edge of a table, and all I had to do was trim the excess!

Step 4: Make four lengths of I-cord for ties, leaving the tails on one side of each cord. Using the tails and a tapestry needle, securely fasten the cords to the top and middle of each end of the band. There will be no bottom tie.

Step 5: Tie your new drum skirt around a drum, and watch the pretty patterns as the fringe "dances" to the rhythym!