FO Log: Bracken Beanie (2018 FO-08)

After my no-swatching disaster of Glendalough, I promptly decided to cast on another hat - without swatching. You’d think I’d learn, wouldn’t you? Well, I’m happy to report that my second hat-knitting-without-swatching adventure had a decidedly better result than my first: I proudly present my finished Bracken Beanie!

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The Pattern

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I’m a sucker for a good cabled hat pattern, so when I saw Jennifer Barrett’s Bracken Beanie on Instagram earlier this year, I knew that it had to go into my favorites right away.

Jenni uses a combination of broken rib and luscious large cables to give the hat texture and interest. The pattern comes with a few different brim options - I went for the single (not folded) brim - and it would look good with or without a pompom.

Honorable mention to the pattern photography here: I love patterns that have photos for the different options that are available in the pattern, and Jenni knit not only one, not two, but three samples! You can see how the hat looks like with a folded brim, with a single brim, with and without a pompom, and in a few different yarns.

I know that this is far from feasible for most patterns and designers, and I would never expect more than one sample for a pattern. Still, when it’s done, it makes my heart sing, even more so because I know how much work that must have been.

The pattern itself is straightforward: A bit of rim, and then it’s on to cables, which are the best kind, aka you don’t have to look at the pattern after a few repeats anymore.

Jenni tells you how many cable repeats her hats have (4), but the cable pattern is designed so that you can easily omit one of them and start with the crown decreases right away. That’s the option I chose - after the Glendalough row gauge issue, I pulled out my favorite hat when I had worked three cable repeats to see how far away from the crown decreases I was, and lo and behold, it was already time!

That’s one of my favorite tricks, by the way, especially for knitted things you can’t really try on while you’re knitting them (hats, or socks on mini circs): Pull out a similar garment or accessory that you love and that has a similar shape, lay it against your WIP and guesstimate how much further you have to knit / increase / decrease in order for your WIP to achieve a similar shape.

That trick comes in handy also when you decide to go completely rogue with the yarn weight and substitute something else entirely:

The Yarn

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The original Bracken Beanie is knit in a DK weight yarn - Jenni recommends one of Northern Yarn’s DK weights, or Blacker Yarns Westcountry Tweed - but I wanted to knit from stash and I knew that I had the perfect color in my stash already: Mendip by Marina Skua in the colorway Bloom on her Stormy base.

Now, Mendip is a 4ply / Fingering weight yarn (I personally think borderline sport almost), so, well, substituting that for a DK weight was going to be a gamble. But! It’s sheepy and rustic so I assumed it would bloom quite well while knitting and I could get away with a needle size that was larger than what you’d usually use for a fingering weight yarn.

Plus: Bracken comes in two sizes, so I decided to cast on with the needle size the pattern calls for and knit the larger size and hope for the best. And it worked! YAY!

The fabric is lighter than what the pattern intended, I’m quite sure, but that’s exactly what I was going for. You see, I don’t really like super warm hats. They’re necessary for the really cold days here, but most days in fall I can get away with a lighter weight hat in a rustic wool.

So! The pattern and yarn combination worked out wonderfully, and I absolutely love the finished object. I’ll wear it without a pompom first, I think, and then possibly add one. Although, honestly, I don’t think I’m much of a pompom person. Convince me otherwise?