Sunday, November 23, 2014

November Deadline Photos of 513 Hats

A brief history lesson about Hats for Sailors.  Our first year was 2010 and Lynne had planned for it to only be one year and she took pictures but it was of boxes overflowing with hats.  If you want to read what she wrote at the time, you can here on Shanti's blog.  I read about Lynne's project on another blog and emailed her for her address.  We discovered we only lived a few miles apart and I volunteered to help sort and pack.  It was such a great idea and we wanted it to continue.  Lynne is such a busy and amazing woman that she needed some help with the logistical details to make it work.  I was happy to help out.

In 2011 it was Lynne's idea to take a picture of all of the hats together.  I was able to display them on top of my bedspread and get a picture.

In 2012, it took the floor of an entire room!  By 2014, I was precariously perched on top of a ladder trying to fit all of the hats in one picture.

This year, I wanted to make some changes.  I didn't think the pictures did the gorgeous hats justice.  And maybe I don't like perching on a ladder.  I had several ideas.

First, I thought I would lay them out on a staircase.  I started to do it and thought that bare stairs with slippery wool hats was probably not any better than being perched on a ladder.  I placed hats on the bottom step, did some calculations and knew they would never fit!

I had another idea.  I live in California and we have recently had some badly needed rain so I had to wait for all the dampness to dry out.  I was cutting it close because the hats need to get in the mail in the next few days to make it to the ship before Christmas (ship announcement to follow soon).  Fortunately, the skies cleared, the grass dried and the sun came out.  Here are a few pictures of your gorgeous hats!  I like these much better than last years and I didn't have to perch anywhere that made me nervous.

There are more photos on our Facebook page.

Friday, November 14, 2014


#100 is Fair Winds and Following Seas Beanie designed for Hats for Sailors by Deb Buckingham and is this month's KAL on Ravelry.  It seemed appropriate for the finale.  I knitted 100 hats from 100 different patterns in less than 100 weeks.  I am very glad I did.  I found great patterns that I really love.  I learned a lot that I don't think I could have learned any other way.  I am a rule follower and that makes me more inclined to knit anything strictly to the pattern.  Even when my mind is telling me this won't turn out well, I just keep plugging along.  It is challenging for me to knit outside the lines.  I should probably say "was challenging" because it has made me far more willing to be creative.

Knitting all these patterns has made me realize that there are some generalizations to hat knitting.  I wrote about them in this posting.  I would add one more item to the list.  I now always cast on one extra stitch.  After I knit the first stitch in the first round, I pass the last cast on stitch over that first knit stitch.  I think it makes for a more even brim. 

I also realized that there is so much possibility within those guidelines.  I knitted a lot of plain, simple patterns and even they had a lot of variation.  There are so many different ways to make a brim or decrease for the crown.  And then there is the body of the hat which is absolutely overflowing with possibilities!  I plan on using this knowledge and newly found creativity for good for HFS in 2015. 

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!!!  It was a great learning experience.  Hats are small and a great laboratory for knitting experimentation.  How wonderful it is that I can experiment AND provide a hat to keep a Sailor's head warm.

That said, I think I learned everything I needed to learn somewhere around Hat #67.  I am so happy to have knitting freedom again!  What do I do with that freedom?  I'm not sure but I probably should start thinking about my Christmas knitting... 


I am so excited to be so close to 100!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I have all three of the last hats on needles.  One is just cast on and I haven't even finished the first round, but it feels really good.  I will be glad to finish, but I will also be really happy to go back to some of the patterns I enjoyed.  I'm still hoping to finish by Friday.  The one hat on #6 needles may slow me down a bit but I will be close.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


One of our members dyed yarn for a hat using KoolAid.  I loved the way it looked.  I have a lot of white yarn in my stash and I never knit hats from it because I always think it may not be the best color for a Sailor.  I decided to experiment and dyed this yarn using two colors of KoolAid.  I really like the color.

Monday, November 10, 2014


I was able to squeeze one more out of the Ella Rae Chunky Superwash that I had in my stash.  All chunky yarn is gone now so I am down to Aran weight yarns.  I have already planned out the next 5 and 4 of them are from Aran weight and one is worsted weight.  I am hoping I can finish one per day and have them all done by Friday.  I can't wait to get to other knitting and that is keeping me motivated.  I would also be happy to have finished 100 hats from 100 different patterns in less than 100 weeks.

Friday, November 7, 2014


I am making fast progress partially because I am using larger needles with thicker yarn.  I ordered this Ella Rae Chunky Superwash when it was on sale recently.  I only have enough for one more hat and I'm now wishing I had ordered more!

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I am not allowing myself to knit anything except Hats for Sailors until I reach 100.  My goal is getting so close.  I am definitely motivated now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


After my last post, I decided that I really had to focus entirely on hats and producing them as quickly as possible or I had no hope of reaching 100 by the end of the year.  I also figured they had to be concentrated up front.  Things will pick up soon around here with the deadline for hats approaching.  I LOVE this whole process but it is time consuming.  Packages need to be opened, hats counted and sorted, repacked and sent to the ships.  And it all takes much longer than it should because I can't help but look at all the hats.  I do it every step along the way.  It all reaches a pinnacle when Lynne comes over to pack them up.  We both spend so much time admiring your work and it takes longer than it should.  But that is what makes it so much fun!

Since October 24th, I have finished 10 hats.  I haven't knit anything else and my Christmas knitting is quickly backing up but I really want to finish 100.  I am confident that I will.  I will begin counting each hat on the blog until I get to 100, so check back to see my progress.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Momentum in My Library?

I have lost my momentum again.  I had an incredibly fun, but busy summer and fall.  It changed my habits and I don't reach for my knitting needles as often.  I have finished hat #80.  To reach my goal of 100 hats by the end of the year, I need to change my momentum.

I mentioned months ago about organizing my queue, which has helped.  Although I still love those patterns, I needed something new to get me back on track.  This time I turned to my Ravelry library.  Did you know you can search your own library?

Included in my library is every pattern I have purchased or downloaded along with every book I own.  Keeping it up-to-date has helped a lot when I am trying to figure out where I have seen the pattern before and if I have it somewhere.  But now it is bringing me new ideas for hat patterns.

If you go to your library page and scroll down a little bit, you see "search patterns in library" in the lefthand column.  I clicked on accessories, which brings up more patterns than I want.  To narrow it down to hats, I click on the check for all accessories to make it disappear and then click on the "hats" box to check it.

Now I can look at every hat pattern that I already have.  I can narrow my search further by many options - age or gender - yarn weight - yarn yardage - hat characteristics like cables or color work.  It is a great place to look for inspiration or to find something specific in patterns you already have.

Stay tuned.  Do you think I will make it to 100 by December 31st?  I'm not so sure.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Finding Inspiration

You can tell I am hitting a creative block when it comes to my 100 different hat patterns.  Somehow, I am having problems coming up with new inspiration.  Thank goodness for the monthly Hats for Sailors KAL on Ravelry or I would have nothing!  I need a kickstart.  One of the ways I am hoping to get that is Hats for Sailors and the Summer Giveaway.

Hats for Sailors on Ravelry

Usually we giveaway something every month to someone who has posted a picture of a finished hat on our Ravelry Hats for Sailors group.  This summer we are going to combine all 3 months into something a little different.  Here are the rules:

1.  You must have mailed in at least one hat to Hats for Sailors since the beginning through August 31, 2014.

2.  You must post at least one picture of a hat you have knitted between June 1st and August 31st and will be sending to Hats for Sailors for the November deadline.

3.  You must post one pattern to one of 3 discussion threads in the Ravelry Hats for Sailors group.  These groups are:
      Great Travel Knitting Hat Patterns meaning easy and/or fast
      Favorite Patterns
     Wacky Hat Patterns

Anyone who fulfills those requirements will have one chance to win one of the prizes.

All About Me

Looking to the Hats for Sailors group for inspiration will take a little time and I need something to get me started in the mean time.  Lately I have noticed that I find patterns I like and they are already in my queue.  Obviously I need to look through there for inspiration.  My queue is 17 pages long!!!  I have a short attention span and that gets too long for me to look through and I get bored before I get inspired.

Did you know you can organize your queue like you can organize your patterns?  I did take the time to sort through them and put all the hat patterns into a group with a tab.  I discovered that I have almost 90 patterns!  I was shocked and I should be able to find some inspiration there.  Now that they are all grouped together in one tab, it is only 3 pages and much easier to peruse.

I hope you will join us on Ravelry this summer and be inspired!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Have You Heard About Us?

We have been receiving some great publicity lately so I thought I would have a post summarizing who we are.

Back in 2010
We started with this post on Shanti's blog by her mom Lynne.  It was an ambitious hat drive with a short time schedule to provide a hand knitted or crocheted hat to every sailor on the USS Decatur.  Shanti (who is a knitter and quilter) would be commanding the ship and was hoping to have the hats when that happened.  The response from knitters and crocheters all over was amazing and hundreds of hats poured into Lynne's home.  Not only did they supply the USS Decatur with hats, they supplied many others with hats too.  It was such a great idea, it just couldn't stop there.

Fast Forward to 2014
I was one of the knitters who joined the hat drive for the USS Decatur.  When I emailed Lynne for her address, I discovered that I live only a few miles away.  I was very excited to join these two amazing women in their project.  Many others have joined them too.  We now have almost 500 members in our Ravelry group and hundreds of hats arrive every year at my home to be packed and sent to the ships that Lynne and Shanti have arranged.

Interested in Joining Us
We have several places where you can read about us.  We have a web site at .  We have a Facebook page and a Ravelry group.  You can read about us in any of those places and join us in our current hat drive or the one for November.  Have a question or two or just don't like social media, then please email us at  If you aren't a knitter but want to help, please tell your knitting and crocheting friends about us.  If you just want to keep up with what is going on, you are welcome to join us on Ravelry, like us on Facebook or just check into our website or blog periodically to see what is going on.

Welcome to Hats for Sailors we hope you will join this amazing group of generous men and women!


Monday, April 14, 2014


I have been slowly chipping away at my 100 hats in 100 patterns.  I am now on #66 so I am almost 2/3rds of the way to my goal.  Yay!  I am getting a little tired of being restricted to new hat patterns especially since we are having monthly KALs over on Ravelry.

If you haven't checked it out then take a look at our Ravelry group and the KALs we have done so far. Each month has added a new technique that we have not tried before.  We are learning together and having fun while doing it.  I had already knitted some of the patterns so know the technique but I am learning a lot from the other knitters and modifying my own approach to make it better.  We have a new KAL starting on the 1st of each month, so click on the link on this page to our Ravelry group and think about it joining us.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hats in General

The Ravellenic Games are over and I have now completed 64 hats.  Almost 2/3rds of the way there.  While I was frantically knitting for the Games, I thought a lot about hats in general and about my personal preferences.  I doubt you are interested in my minor, personal preferences but for those of you who are just starting to knit hats, I thought I would share the general things I have learned.

General Observations:  Almost all of my hats are knit with worsted or light worsted weight yarn (most commonly Cascade 220 superwash).  I always use a 16" size 6 Addi Turbo circular needles.  I don't notice a significant change in gauge if I just go up or down one size needle.  I knit a little loosely, I think.  I do change the needle size when the type of yarn I use changes significantly.  I will go down to size 4 for DK weight or up to an 8 for Aran weight.

I generally cast on between 88 and 120 stitches.  DK weight on 4's would be closer to the 120 and Aran weight on 8's would be closer to the 88.  Usually with worsted on 6's I cast on 94 or 102.

The pattern can change the number of stitches I need.  Patterns that pull stitches closer together mean I will probably choose 102 and with another pattern or with stockinette that doesn't pull stitches together I would choose 94.  A complicated pattern that requires even more stitches means that I would add them in on the first row of the body.

Most of my hats are between 8 1/2" and 9" in length.  This is generally made up of 1 1/2" ribbing, 5 1/2" of body and 2" crown decrease.  I usually don't knit a hat with a fold up brim.  That would change these measurements.

These are all my personal preferences.  I am sure many of you have other needles you prefer, or you like hats in a different size or length.  I am just describing what I do because all of these things change the outcome.  If you want them wider or longer, then you would need to make adjustments.

Hats in Sections:  Hats are generally made up of 3 sections and they are Ribbing, Body and Crown Decreases.

Ribbing:  This section is usually k1, p1 or k2, p2.  One variation of this is the twisted rib and it is k1tbl, p1.  There are lots of other variations and some hats without any ribbing at all.  But these 3 will carry you through a lot of hats.  Most of the time my ribbing is between 1" and 2".  That varies by how much space I need for a pattern in the body or just that I am sick of ribbing and want to move to the body of the hat.

Body:  This can be anything you want, including stockinette.  My body is generally 5 1/2" long so that I begin my decreases at 7" in length (again not with a brim).

Decreases:  I divide my hat by an even number of stitches.  That's why most of my stitch counts are divisible by 8.  I'm not sure I will describe this well, so I will give an example after the explanation.  I divide the total number of stitches on my needles by 8, markers can be handy.  I knit until 2 stitches before each marker and then k2tog.  On the next row I just knit.  I continue this 2 row pattern until about half of the stitches are left on the needles.  At that point, I decrease on every row.  I decrease each row until I have a small number of stitches, usually 7-12.  Then I cut the yarn and use the tail to pull it through the last stitches twice and tighten up the hole and weave in the end.

So, if I had 88 stitches when I want to start my decreases.
Row 1: k9, k2tog
Row 2:  knit
Row 3:  k8, k2tog
Row 4:  knit
Row 5:  k7, k2tog
Row 6:  knit
Row 7:  k6, k2tog
Row 8:  knit
Row 9:  k5, k2tog  (48 stitches)
Row 10:  k4, k2tog
Row 11:  k3, k2tog
Row 12:  k2, k2tog
Row 13:  k1, k2tog
Row 14:  k2tog
Run the yarn tail through the remaining 8 stitches and pull tight.

Knowing the basics of hat construction means that I don't need a pattern to knit a hat.  Your results may vary as your gauge will be different from mine.  But trying a few different hat patterns and noting your gauge and the end result will help you tweak a pattern or create your own and get the results you want.

Knitting so many different patterns and understanding my knitting and the structure of a hat means that as long as I have yarn and my trusty #6 needles, I can knit a hat.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I finally finished the hat I started in December.  The pattern is Seaman's Cap by Brenda Zuk.  It is a great basic pattern, simple and straight forward.  I used Cascade 220 superwash for the ribbing and then switched to Liberty Wool for the main part of the cap.  I have a lot of Cascade in my stash so it is a good way to make my Liberty Wool stretch further and I like the way it looks.

I have slowed down my hat knitting and am focusing on knitting some other projects.  But I am in training for the Ravellenics.  We have Team Hats for Sailors and I am on the Team.  During the London Olympics, I knitted 7 hats.  I plan to exceed that number this year.  It will be a little bit more complicated.  During the London Olympics, I could knit the same, simple pattern over and over again.  This time I need to knit a different pattern each time which will slow me down.  I am currently mulling over my pattern choosing strategy.  Do I choose simple, quick patterns that are basically the same hat?  Do I choose only patterns that have been sitting in my queue?  Do I choose patterns that are interesting and keep me going?  Do I choose them all in advance and just live dangerously and choose one at a time?

How ever I decide to approach it, I really have to tamper down my eternal knitter's optimism and be realistic about what I can accomplish.  I have to admit that I can't just whip out quickly a very complicated cable pattern with a 12" brim!

If you aren't already on Team Hats for Sailors, think about joining us.  Your goal can be anything you want it to be.  All we ask is that it be a hat for a Sailor.

Monday, January 13, 2014


We now have a web site Hats for Sailors.  It is still under development, but that will be the new place to go for information and news in addition to our Facebook and Ravelry pages.

We have a great KAL on our Ravelry site.  Each month we will knit a different hat pattern. We are still looking for volunteers to lead KAL's throughout the year.  No experience necessary.  Just pick a pattern and invite our members to knit along with you.  Easy Peasy!!!  Check Ravelry to sign up.

I have passed the midway point in my quest to knit 100 different hats from 100 different patterns.  The month of December was chaotic and hectic and I was not sure I was going to make it.  Somehow my knitting brain (that thinks I can do amazing things in no time at all) seeped into the rest of my life!  I planned and hosted a Christmas at home in California and then flew to London with my husband and sons to meet my daughter for another Christmas.  No problem, I can pull off two Christmas's in two countries.  And all that extra time to knit on the airplanes, I can make even more gifts than I had planned!  I had to finally admit that my plans were too ambitious and I needed to scale back.

It is funny that even though I scaled other things back, I was able to meet all my knitting goals (sometimes only by minutes)!  Maybe being confined on airplanes for long periods of time with nothing to do helped.

My hat goal was to finish #50 before the end of the year.  I had posted a picture last month of #50.  That hat still isn't finished, but two other hats skipped in front of it.  They are both watch cap patterns and very similar, so it was interesting to knit one right after the other.

Both are great patterns and easy to knit.  The length was determined more by the amount of yarn and time I had than exactly what the pattern called for.  In both cases, I was sure that they were long enough and tested them others to be sure.  I would happily knit either pattern again and they will be my "go-to" patterns for watch caps.  I used the same yarn for both hats, Cascade 220 superwash.  Lorne's Hat was knit on size 4 needles and Sandoval Hat was on size 6 needles.  Lorne's hat was tighter, more dense and probably a little warmer.  Sandoval Hat was wonderfully squishy, stretchy and soft.

One pattern was Sandoval Hat by Robyn Devine (#50)

The other pattern is Lorne's Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee #51

After all the chaos, I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu right after I returned home.  I am so lucky that I could recuperate at home in my own bed!  But now I'm a little behind on my 2014 hat knitting.