Crochet Chunky Flowered Cloche Pattern

I made up this pattern a few winters ago after a failed attempt to replicate a crocheted beanie/toque I’d found at Nordstrom Rack, made by some fancy jeans company – Seven for all mankind or lucky or something else I’ve never purchased.  I spent weeks creating the pattern, and when I finally perfected it, I proudly put it up for distribution, only to have the mass majority of people comment that they “didn’t know how to wear slouchy hats”.  Noses were turned up, hats sat forlornly on shelves.

So, a few months after said failed sales attempt, I took apart one of the hats and recreated a ‘regular, smash down on my head’ hat that I could wear out and about.  Ironically, for all the hats I had made, none really fit me or looked good on me, and my head was getting cold!  It was charcoal gray, very neutral, but I liked how the chunky yarn made my really huge head look not-so-huge.  Seems rather counterintuitive but there you go.  I distinctly remember waiting at Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C. after work for a friend’s birthday gathering, and out of excessive boredom, I whipped out a ginormous mustard flower. It was a hugely bold move for me (large statement pieces + large heads = extreme fashion failure)… I even left all the strings on the flower dangling and shoved them inside the hat for weeks, ready to rip it out at any moment.

The summary of said experience since, however, is as follows: of all the hats I’ve ever carefully crafted, designed, tested, modeled, sold, displayed, etc., this hat, by FAR, has received the most compliments, “where did you get that”s, and “Can I please buy one” than any other I’ve ever made.  I suppose I should pay closer attention to supply and demand and provide on a more timely manner.

However, timely or not timely, here’s the pattern, available for your own fine creation, and modified to also include children and baby sizes.  Hooray children and baby sizes!  (Make a matching set for mommy and daughter – I’ve witnessed the cooings firsthand!)

Buy your pattern from Etsy, Ravelry, or Craftsy.  Email me at classycrochet@gmail.com with any questions.  Enjoy!

Crochet Chunky Flowered Cloche Pattern | Classy Crochet Crochet Chunky Flowered Cloche Pattern | Classy Crochet

Fabric Adventures in Beijing

A few months ago, I wrote a post about making a sweater for my adorable new nephew.  It was one of my first articles of actual clothing, and I was just happy it fit.  His parents, bless their kind and generous souls, loved it – they raved about it several times, saying it was his go-to for outerwear, church wear, and just about any dapper wear.  Hooray!  While on a rare visit to the U.S., his mom (my sis-in-law) commented “y’know what would be even more awesome?  Elbow patches.”

And thus a mission was launched – I simply HAD to add patches to my next item in my mini-haberdashery line.  I mean, seriously… shawl collar baby sweaters with little Dr. Doolittle patches?  AAAAAAH TOO CUTE!  The question was, how do I accomplish this in Beijing?

First, I had to decide on a type of fabric.  I had an idea of what I wanted, but China, being the land of plenty-and-inconvenient, wasn’t going to just have a Joann’s I could hop in and out in a ten minute spree.  After asking around a bit, one wonderful local friend offered to take me to The Fabric Market.  They had an upholstery section singularly dedicated to covering furniture, it would be easy to find something there, right?

Yeah, you already know the answer.  The thing is, everything is available in China. Obviously.  The question I’ve learned to ask myself is, how complicated will it be to find what I want?

Finally, one rainy fateful afternoon, we finally set out to the market (only the upholstery section, mind you, which apparently is only a FRACTION of the size of the entire market – airplane hangars, remember?), me with my yarn and a suede sample in hand to say, “I want something like unto this”.

I couldn’t find photos of the upholstery section, but here is a quick sampling of what accosts you when you reach said market:

In a lot of ways, Beijing can be a scavenger’s DREAM.  Imagine these stalls, multiplied by approximately four hundred, all staffed by people willing to bargain and give you a good deal.

Before I continue my story, I want to share one of the few useful things I learned in grad school and still retain today.  I studied survey methodology, which is a really fancy way of saying “how to ask people really mundane questions”.  One of the most pertinent pieces of information I took away was a summary of decision making.

People (according to my graduate studies), tend to make decisions in two general camps:  satisficers and maximizers.  As the labels would imply, satisficers look at their options in the order they are presented to them, until they see the first one that satisfies their basic needs.  (Pretty much all men I’ve ever met when it comes to underwear shopping.)  Maximizers, on the other hand, need to see ALL of their options, weigh them out, and then, based on the total selection, carefully choose the one that maximizes all of their decision making criteria. Yes… I am a maximizer.

The problem with maximizers (other than the agonizingly long amount of time you have to wait when you’re at a restaurant and have ordered your dish and your maximizing friend is still hemming and hawing over two choices) is that, at some point, there are just simply going to be too many choices to choose from.  The amount of options, multiplied by the different potential combinations, is just beyond an average human brain to comprehend.

So, if you haven’t already figured it out, please let me make this very clear: shopping in Beijing quickly turns into a maximizer’s worst nightmare.  Whatever you want, there will be five thousand stalls of it, all selling the same stuff, all approximately the same quality, for all approximately the same price.  BUT, a few stalls will have something just a *wee* bit different, so in your mind, you’re inexorably pulled towards each one, checking juuuust to make sure you haven’t missed a total treasure.  Just writing this brings me stress.  My brain simply shuts down after about 58 minutes (I’ve timed it).

Okay, back to my story.  Knowing that I would be confronted with a conflagration of fabric options, I went in with three basic criteria:  it had to match my color palette, it had to be a reasonable price, and it had to be a reasonably close fabric to microsuede (whatever that is).  My ideal would be all three, if I got two out of three I’d have to consider the day a success.

To spare you the excruciating details of my shopping saga, I’d like to impart the knowledge I took away from that day:

  • Chinese people really love velour.  I mean like, really, really, really love velour, and not just the kind that says Juicy across your butt, but the shiny, shimmery, Austin Powers leisure suit purple kind of velour.  Bolts and bolts and pallets of it.
  • Not only is each stall filled with bolts of velour (and other jacquardy things), each stall also has five million little sample swatches of fabric that you can special order to your heart’s content.  My mind was overcome.
  • Despite the quadrillions of options, I’ve come to discover here in Beijing that when you say “I want this type of fabric, in this color, for this price”, for some reason the answer is always no.  I mean, really?  NOBODY had suede-like synthetic, machine washable fabric among your five zillion options??  Sometimes I feel like they say no just because your request sounds complicated and they don’t feel like looking.  Because honestly, if I was managing a store with eight hundred thousand swatches, I wouldn’t feel like looking either.
  • One of the stores I entered I happened to pick up a fabric swatch and there it was: the most gorgeous, perfect, suede polyester in the most gorgeous, perfect, beautiful colors.  How much?? I demanded.  “Oh… THAT’S imported from Taiwan.  $25 a yard.  Oh you only want one yard?  No we won’t order it for you.” *face palm*

Finally after three hours, I stormed back into the first shop I’d entered, found some less-nappy, minimally shimmery, velour-esque stuff in more or less the colors that I wanted, and the one bright shining star was that it was $1.50 per half meter and in total I spent $6.50 for what I wanted.  Aaaand really… at the end of the day, the material worked out just fine.

So let that be a lesson to all who shop in China… sometimes China just wins.  But aren’t the patches AWESOME??

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Free Pattern: Knit Fisherman Ribbed Hipster Hat

One day (like, back in December-when-it-was-still-cold one day), as I was trawling across Pinterest like I do, I came across this pin:

The caption of the pin read: “DIY Incredible Knitted Mustard Hat – Super Easy and Awesome”.  Ooh!  I thought.  Super easy awesome free knitted hat pattern!  So I clicked it.  The link took me here: a fashion design blog written in French, with beautiful designs, gorgeous handmade products for sale, and nary a knitting pattern in sight.

So, being the masochist that I am, I decided to figure out the pattern by myself.  It couldn’t be that hard, right?  Just some sort of rib with a wide wale, and a huge pompom on top?

As my not-so-subtle leading question would imply, with any pattern I attempt to replicate, the project took me many, many, many evenings of researching knitted rib patterns, figuring out how they work in the round, how to decrease them, the appropriate gauge, etc etc etc.  However, after many dribbling tears, I think I’ve finally got this hat (more or less) in my adult head size.

The trick to this hat is a stitch known loosely as “brioche”, or “fisherman rib”, or “prime rib”… honestly, I have no idea what the technical term is, because each of those stitches has a few different variations.  Plus, the skills behind each stitch varied excessively widely from one source to the next.  There were all sorts of skippings, slippings, knitting fronts and backs, etc.  But, the one I found to be the easiest was the most straightforward: k1, k1 below, repeat.  The end.  The result is a very stretchy, giving fabric.

(I think *technically* the stitch in the pictured hat above is a “brioche“, vs. the stitch I’m using is “fisherman rib“, or a “brioche rib“, but whatever, my version is easy and it gets the point across, yes?)

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(Please excuse my ghetto-fabulous styrofoam head purchased for $2.99 at a thrift shop.  It suffered major structural damange in the move to China.  At least the hat covers the giant dent in the top of the head…)

I’ve used my ever-favorite Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick N Quick yarn, and size 13/15 16″ circular needles for this project. To replicate the beautiful smooth design of the original photo, I assume you can use a nice fancy thick single ply roving alpaca wool.  One of these days I’ll actually pony up and buy some.

To knit this hat, you will need to know the following:

  • k1 below
  • p1 below
  • k2tog
  • ssk

K1 below and p1 below sound waaay scarier than they really are.  Here is a picture tutorial on how to do both from the ever-dependable Purl Bee.  Here is a great video for k1 below, and here is a great video for p1 below.  Read/watch through them, be ready to try them out.  Ready? Okay!

Cast on 42 stitches with size 13 needles (16″ circular).  Join to work in the round and place marker.

Rows 1-5: k1, p1 rib

Row 6: switch to size 15 needles.  K2tog, p1 below, repeat around. (28 st left)

NOTE 1: On this row, when you p1 below, you will be purling into a knit stitch every other purl due to the stitch groupings of 3.  Do not be alarmed.  Purl into the knit stitch (BELOW, drop that top loop off!) and continue with faith.  You will also have what seems to be now a ridiculously small hat.  Again, faith, my friends, and carry on!

Row 7: k1 below (into the k2tog stitch), p1 as normal into the p1 below stitch from previous row.  Repeat around.

NOTE 2: this row is going to look like a hot mess. You’re going to wonder if you’re doing it right, because it looks really ugly; there will be weird lumps and loops everywhere.  Keep that faith going – it’ll be about four rows of ribbing before the hat pattern starts to look ‘right’.  I promise it looks better on your head.

A quick photo tutorial on “k1 below into k2tog stitch”:

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Here, I’ve just purled normally, and am ready to k1 below into the k2tog from previous row

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I’ve circled the two loops of the k2tog. Insert your needle through both loops to k1 below.

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Insert your needle into the aforementioned loops…

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Knit and draw your loop through…

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Now the scariest part: lift the top loop off of the needle and drop it. Yes, drop it!

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I like to give the back of the loop a bit of a tug to loosen it up. It will feel like you’re intentionally dropping a stitch and pulling it apart, but you’re NOT. Have faith!  This extra yarn is what creates the nice stretchy fabric between ribs.

Row 8: k1 as normal (into k1 below stitch), p1 below.  Repeat around.

Row 9: k1 below, p1 as normal (into p1 below stitch).  Repeat around.

Rows 10 and on: repeat rows 8 and 9 until hat measures about 6.5-7″ in length.  (This was about 12 rows of fisherman rib for me.)  Make sense?  You’ll be alternating k1/p1below and k1below/p1 every row.

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This is what your hat will look like after several rows. It looks way too small, but it will magically stretch. A lot.

Decrease sequence: (transfer onto DPNs at this point)

Row 1-3: k1, p1 in a regular rib around. (Keep these rows loose otherwise they bunch up from the fisherman rib)

Row 4: k2tog, repeat to end of round.

Row 5: knit

Row 6: ssk, repeat to end of round.  Draw tight, fasten off.

Make extremely large pompom.  (As always, I tout my extra large pompom maker from Clover.) You’ll have two tails from tying it together; use these to thread into hat, sew a few stitches to secure, and then tie a square knot.  Secure some more, and fasten off.  The very top of the hat will look a little off from the fisherman rib.  The pompom should cover up any weirdness.

Squash hat on head and proceed to feel very hipster.  Hooray for hipster hats!

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FINAL NOTE: you can probably make this hat easily using a real brioche stitch and you will probably end up with better results.  Be sure to let me know if you do.

Follow along with the project gallery on Ravelry!