Monday, November 4, 2019

Christmas Elf Hats

Last February I ordered five Top This! Elf hats and five Top This! Santa hats from DMC for my five grandkids, vowing I would knit all ten hats by this coming Christmas 2019 and recording the arrival of the kits in my post for 2/6/19. I completed the five Santa hats in July, in a race with my sister for her to read the five romance novels I sent her, before I finished the hats. I won and recorded the competition as well as the knitting details in my post for 7/15/19. I was on vacation in Nashville with some college friends last week and completed three of the five elf hats while there – simultaneously enjoying seeing the Washington Nationals win the World Series. I finished the final two elf hats yesterday after arriving back home to California. They make quite a cheerful work crew for Santa.

The middle three elf hats will be going to my two granddaughters and grandson living in Southern California, ages 5½, 3½, and 1½ respectively; the widest green edge (top left) will go to the oldest, the medium width green edge (top right) will go to the middle girl, and the narrowest green edge (bottom middle) to the youngest boy. This way they can tell them apart – in case it matters. They are all the same size. The other two hats at either end of the bottom row with all white ribbing or all green ribbing will go to my 4½-year-old grandson and 7-year old granddaughter in Oklahoma. For reference here are the five Santa hats completed several months ago in July. They too had designated recipients but have yet to be gifted.

Since my February post addressed the kits themselves and my July post detailed aspects of the knitting process, this post summarizes what I learned in case I ever... ever... make some more of these hats. They are fun and relatively easy but it will be a while. I need a break.
  1. Use the pull skein of yarn from the inside out. Even if difficult to find the end buried within, it unfurls nicely once started and any inner "clump" that may pull out prematurely is quickly used up. I believe I used the Santa yarn from the outside and it rolled allover while I was knitting. I had to corral it in a bowl. The sequence of the yarn transition is consistent from ball to ball. It is solid, fuzzy, tri-color when used from central core, and the reverse, tri-color, fuzzy, solid when consumed from the exterior. For consistent multiple hats, draw from the inside or outside, but not interchangeably.
  2. Since the bottom circumference in roughly ½ yard, I found using two yards + 8" (a tad more than multiplication by 4) is enough of a tail margin left behind when casting on.
  3. I used five size 9 double pointed needles, casting on 72 stitches, 18 per needle, and putting each of my four markers after the 12th stitch on each needle.
  4. Be careful with the fuzzy yarn (white for Elf, black for Santa). Since it is a bit thicker, stitches are more likely to drop off the end of the double pointed needles if not compressed inward toward the center portion of the needle. The solid color yard (green for Elf and red for Santa) and tricolored yarns (corded texture) are finer and more well behaved, not needing such close supervision. Keep a crochet hook handy for the occasional dropped stitch. That is why having 12 stitches on one side of the marker and six and the other is a good visual to alert if a stitch has fallen off the deep end, so to speak.
  5. I went from using the counter on my cell phone as I did with the Santa hats to a low tech approach with a piece of paper and pencil to keep track of my rounds and decreases for the Elf hats. The lead pencil method shown has the tracking record for three hats with slants to the right, slants to the left, and circles denoting progress on each hat. It is quite chaotic but functional since I knew what my convention was. I was more tidy with the red pen version, creating the sheet while knitting the fourth hat, and marking it off for the fifth.

Since four hats are going to the four member family in Oklahoma (on the left) and six hats are going to the five member family in Southern California (on the right), even the mom and dad can get into the act. The kids can wear Santa hats while the parents wear Elf hats or vice versa. This configuration allows for spouse matching and sibling matching.

Optionally, the girls can be Santas while the boys are Elves or vice versa. This allows for mother/daughter and father/son matching.

Enough micromanaging! I hope the hats get worn, by the kids at least, in whatever configuration. I plan to update this post or write another, once I have some photos showing the hats being worn. I enjoyed knitting these, and frankly, I am proud that I managed to complete all ten before the holiday season is in full swing.