Elizabeth Zimmermann, in her wonderful Knitter’s Almanac, designates the month of May as the time to knit mittens for next winter. You’re digging in your heels, right? In the northern hemisphere, at least, May tends to bring the first really promising weather of the year; summer is just around the corner and we can finally forget about winter. Who hasn’t had enough of rain, wind and snow? The next winter isn’t for ages, and there are three whole months of lovely long, bright days ahead. Many people I know cease to knit entirely at this point in the calendar. (I call them foul-weather knitters. We fair-weather knitters have been seized by an addiction so bone deep that blistering sun and wilting humidity cannot keep us from the wool. I shall be joining squares of a thick wool blanket in the summer heat this year.) Anyway, it’s understandable if even year-round knitters are turning to swishy summer skirts and breezy tops in linen or cotton. And yet, Elizabeth was as practical as they come. “It is better not to make mittens in a hurry,” she wrote. “When snow flies and small frozen hands beg for warmth (sob), the actual knitting tends to be perfunctory and possibly scamped; one economizes on the number of stitches; one does not make the cuffs sufficiently long. The main object then is to turn out scads of mittens to appease the demand, and enjoyment of production is not what it might be.”
The same is true of winter hats — who hasn’t, in a hurry to be done, started the crown decreases too early and left the ear lobes exposed as a result? — and my daughter has just outgrown both her warm ones. Also, I am not optimistic enough to expect real warmth in the month of June, particularly at daybreak when my husband often buckles our girl into her pack and heads off to the coffee shop. (They bring me coffee in bed. I know. It’s an excellent arrangement.)
My kid has an enormous head. It’s in the 97th percentile, while her weight is 65th. Having spent many years looking at her father, I am not surprised that this turned out to be the case. (And I’m very grateful she was willing to start small at birth and then grow that noggin really rapidly once she was out.) But the hats sized for children 1-3 years old don’t fit any more, so I thought I’d best take an actual measurement before knitting her a new hat to make sure it would fit for next winter. Eighteen and a half inches, my friends. This translated to the Adult Small size of the pattern I’d chosen. Not the Toddler size or the Child size, the Adult Small. Ada is wiggly in general and also wanted to pull the measuring tape off her head to examine and taste it, so it’s possible I was off a little bit, but I thought I’d better play it safe. Adult Small it was, though I did go down a needle size because, really, Adult Small? An apprentice teacher at my school taught her class to use their own Reasonableness Detectors to check answers to math problems (you subtracted and got something bigger than the original number… does that make sense?), and this was pinging mine. But I didn’t go so far as making a swatch or anything. Another thing I’ve learned from Elizabeth Zimmermann is that a hat is an excellent swatch its own self. Plus the yarn was so delicious that I had no choice but to knit it RIGHTNOW.
Mopsy, from Blue Moon Fiber Arts… it’s my new favorite. You’ll never believe it’s only 10% angora. Cozy doesn’t begin to describe it. I want to knit a sleeping bag out of this stuff. And it loves to cable. I felt compelled to cable all the ribs on the hat even though the pattern doesn’t call for it.
Here we’re wearing it Dutch Girl style, with the ear flaps turned up. But turned down and pushed back is pretty hilarious, like Princess Leia on a wagon train. (I think the flaps will lie flatter if I actually give the hat a bath and a bit of blocking, but it’s tempting not to.)
And yeah, it’s plenty big for next winter. And the one after that.
P.S. This grown-up girl said “Mama” yesterday and I think she may actually have meant it. She was in bed with me, clambering about and practicing standing up, looking pleased as punch with herself when she managed it. I could see the wheels spinning as she thought, “The only way this situation could be more excellent is if I were also nursing right now.” So she huffed and puffed and bumbled herself sideways, stooped for the attack, then looked up at me with a big, milky, toothless grin and said, “Mama!” I’ll take it.