I had some of this Jamieson and Smith 25g jumper weight rolling around in the back of my stash just waiting for this Fair Isle bug to bite. At that point I knew just enough to be dangerous but I at least knew this was traditional Fair Isle wool. I ordered a couple more colors from Schoolhouse and started looking at hat patterns. There were some colors I wanted to use but only had one ball of, and all the patterns I could find called for more than one ball of any given yarn. That was the light bulb moment. Most light bulbs come in the form of a question, at least they do for me. Can I make an adult size hat that would fit on my big head from only two balls of this wool? I knew it wasn’t going to be slouchy, I knew it wouldn’t have a brim, but could I make something that would fit and keep me warm with only two of these small balls of wool?
Turns out you can. That was the first. There would be many that followed.
And it turns out they keep you very warm. I ended up with something that was very light weight (less than 50g) but because of the wool and the Fair Isle these turned out to keep me surprisingly warm. Turns out they also knit up super fast and they’re a great way to try out different Fair Isle designs. See that one on the bottom? I wasn’t quite following rule number 1 there (value matters more than color). I experimented with different motifs and length of motifs and how those designs factored into the crown. I didn’t want to get lazy with the crown and change to something that would be easy to decrease. And all this time I was battling with how long can I make the hat and still only use two balls of wool. I think that second hat, the teal on teal, pushed the limits the furthest. Somewhere around hat three or four I thought, maybe I should make this into a pattern. I threw in a third and even fourth color, which meant I made far more than was necessary to answer the original question, but I did end up with this:
Which I think works.
The pattern can be made with only two 25g balls of fingering weight, or more if you prefer.
Pattern published here: Gangbit
Somewhere along the line I thought, hey I kind of like this Fair Isle thing, maybe I should make a sweater. I like the Elizabeth Zimmermann method of instead of swatching for a sweater, make a hat instead. At this point I had many swatches, knew my gauge, and had even worn a couple of the hats for a period of time, so I knew how the fabric behaved after being stretched and worn.
Lession 3: Don’t swatch, make a hat, and maybe even make a hat pattern.