Brioche Practice Hat

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I’m moving ahead with my goals – and I have a new warm hat to wear!

My first (and very short-lived) attempt at brioche was a cowl. I was using a fingering weight yarn and I cast on about 260 stitches more or less. I think I got about 8 rows in before making a mistake and another 4 rows before I noticed it. Ah, fun times! That project provided me with some great opportunities to learn how to fix brioche mistakes. 🙂

This year, primarily because of the Long Shadows shawl by Anke Strick, I decided to put brioche on my knitting goals list. Of course, given my previous experience, I thought it would be better if I did a small practice project first. And, since the weather has turned a bit cold, I decided a hat would be a great small project.

I’m fairly happy with how it turned out. It is warm and cozy and I’ve worn it plenty over the past couple of days. Still, there are a few things I’d change – no surprises there!

Hat Cuff Dilemma

I began with a two-color Judy’s Magic Cast On so I could have 1×1 rib cuff in contrast color for each side. After completing the rib halves, I joined them for a rolled cuff effect using brioche stitch. That was a mistake. The join left some gaps between the columns of knit and purl stitches. I think if I’d just joined in rib pattern then switched to brioche that might have minimized the problem. I supposed I could also have done corrugated rib but, at the time, it didn’t occur to me. Next time! 🙂

image shows gap between stitches of 1x1 rib cuff and brioche stitch transition
gap between columns of knit and purl stitches

Stitch Count Challenges

I cast on with 90 stitches. A typical cast on for a hat at this gauge would generally be 84 stitches and that would have been fine for someone with a smaller head! Or, at least that was my thinking. I have a 22.5″ noggin and I don’t like a snug hat. I was worried that casting on only 84 stitches would result in a snug fit. I should have swatched.

I hadn’t worked with this yarn before so I didn’t realize how much the gauge would change after blocking. Before I wet blocked it, the hat was a good fit. After blocking, the yarn felt a little slack and the hat ended up being a bit looser than I liked. I threw it in the dryer to tighten it up a bit. I knew I was taking a risk, but it turned out ok.

The other problem with casting on 90 stitches was more about my pattern. I wanted to have 3 sections of 30 stitches each so 90 was good for that. But, since brioche is decreased in pairs of stitches, I ended up with 9 stitches to decrease at the end. Since I was winging this whole part of the process, I didn’t have a great plan for the final decreases. That, added to my lack of brioche knowledge, gave me a slightly strange top of the hat in terms of design. Casting on 84 stitches may have worked better.

So, given how the yarn blocked and the decreases issue, I think I’d definitely change to an 84 stitch cast on next time.

Stay tuned for the free pattern!

Your Thoughts?

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