Tuesday, June 29, 2010



Skill level: intermediate

Materials: One skein Malabrigo Rasta (150 grams and 90 yards), 16 or 20 inch circular knitting needles size #13, double pointed knitting needles (or another circular needle) size #13. A large size yarn needle is useful. To make the dreadlocks topknot you can twist the yarn by hand, but it speeds things up a lot if you have an electric mixer or drill handy!

Size: Hat circumference 19 inches (small). Herringbone stitch is thick and warm, but not very stretchy, so care must be taken to get the correct fit. Measure the circumference of your head around where you like to wear your hat, and make the hat one inch smaller so the fit will be snug, but not too tight. If you need a larger size hat you can go up to size #15 or #17 needles, or cast on more stitches (any odd number will work, but you will have to modify the crown shaping instructions accordingly).

Gauge: in Herringbone stitch, 4.16 stitches per inch on #13 needles
in stockinette stitch, 2.35 stiches per inch on #13 needles

Using your 16 or 20 inch circular needle, cast on FIRMLY 79 stiches. Join, being careful not to twist.

Row 1: Slip one stitch, knit one stitch, pull the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch, but before you let it go, knit the slipped stitch through the back loop. Repeat around. You will have one stitch left over, and this becomes the first stitch of row 2.

Row 2: Knit one, but return this stitch to the left hand needle. Pull the 2nd stitch on the left hand needle over the stitch you just knitted, but don't pull it off the left hand needle until you've knitted it in the front loop (the usual way). Slip the next stitch (the one you knitted first) to the right hand needle. Repeat around.

Repeat these two rows until you have about 3 inches of hat body, enough to cover your ears, and end by finishing row 1. Knit two together (k2tog) around, knit the last stitch (40 stitches). Continue in stockinette stitch (knitting every round) until the hat body is about five inches deep.

Shape crown: As your hat circumference grows smaller, you will have to switch to either double pointed needles, or work with two circular needles of the same size.

Row 1: Knit 6, k2tog. Repeat around, 35 stitches
Rows 2-3. Knit around without decreasing.
Row 3: Knit 5, k2tog. Repeat around, 30 stitches
Rows 4-12: Knit around without decreasing.
Row 5: Knit 4, k2tog. Repeat around, 25 stitches
Row 7: Knit 3, k2tog. Repeat around, 20 stitches
Row 9: Knit 2, k2tog. Repeat around, 15 stitches
Row 11: K2tog around, knit the last stitch, 8 stitches
Row 13: K2tog around, 4 stitches

Cut the yarn leaving a 12 inch tail, thread and pull up the remaining four stitches, and secure.

Dreadlocks topknot:

Rasta does tend to kink a bit, but not enough to make dreadlocks consistently. I added a lot of twist to the yarn by cutting about a five-yard length (or just use up whatever yarn you have left), attaching one end to a chair, and the other end to an electric mixer. Before you twist the yarn with the mixer, make sure that the mixer is turning in the direction the yarn is already naturally twisted, or your yarn may fall apart. When the yarn is twisted well enough to kink, firmly wind it up around a book- mine was about five inches wide, but your mileage may vary. Tie the hank of twisted yarn tightly in one spot, and then slide (DO NOT CUT) it off the book. Now you will have lots of kinky loops that can easily be worked into dreads with a little patience!


Monday, June 28, 2010


A few weeks ago I happened by my local yarn store in Charleston, Knit.

Sometimes there is yarn there that gives me happy tingles when I pick it up. This turned out to be one of those times. There was a massive new shipment of Malabrigo Rasta, so pretty I wanted to eat it. It was pricey, but the colors were SO BEAUTIFUL! Even though I am not at all a fan of super bulky yarns (lace and sock weight yarns are more my style), the colors were stunning, so I took a skein home just so I could play with it (and maybe drool on it a little too).

As soon as I had wound it into a ball, I discovered how Rasta acquired its name: it does tend to kink and worm a bit. It gave me the idea to make a scarf with dreadlocks. These scarves are incredibly fast and easy to make.

For the one on the left, cast 8 stitches onto size 17 needles, and knit every row (garter stitch) until there are about 18 inches of yarn left. Drop the first two stitches, bind off the middle four stitches, and drop the last two stitches as well. Carefully unravel the two edge stitches and gently twist into dreads. The scarf on the right was made exactly the same way, except the scarf was knit in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row). This causes the scarf to gently roll up a bit so that all of the dreads end up on the same edge.

As cute and promising as these scarves were, I was really looking for something a bit more practical. I played with a scarf pattern in Herringbone stitch (HERE). This stitch really makes the most of the pretty texture and short color changes of Rasta, but the scarf was too thick and firm for my tastes, even though I used #17 needles.

Bulk and firmness are not particularly good qualities in a scarf, but they are great qualities for warming up cold ears- yes, a hat!! (top photo) Success! And of course I had to top it off with dreads!

I promise to post the hat pattern in my next blog entry!