Earlier this summer, I found out that a young friend of the family would be undergoing chemotherapy. I’d never made a hat for anyone in that situation, but I did some research and asked around, and decided to make the Polka-Dot Alien Hat out of Polarknit Polartec fleece. I thought it would be the perfect combination of silliness and practicality. I’d heard that fleece was kind to sensitive, newly-hairless heads, and that aspect made up for the yarn’s lack of give.
I knew that the hat would take me out of my comfort zone, but that was all right — Peter and his family are well out of their comfort zone, what with this diagnosis and treatment — so we’d all have at least that much in common. I’d never done colorwork, other than striping. I’d also never used Polartec yarn before.
So, how should I do the colorwork? Fair Isle wasn’t a good choice — I’d have to carry the color too far, and there were also numerous color changes on purl rows. Duplicate stitch? There was just too much of it. No, I’d have to do intarsia. In the round.
Not having a clue as to how to do intarsia, and in the round, I searched the knitterverse for help, and found some helpful video tutorials on Planet Purl. Thus armed, I set to work making the butterflies and getting cast on.
I determined pretty quickly that I’m not crazy about intarsia. I don’t like the little butterfly thingies. (True, I could have bought some neat little bobbins, but not for this experimental project). I found the color changes to be tedious, and I didn’t like how the many different strands hung down and often tangled, like pumpkin guts in a jack-o’-lantern.
The tedious color changes aside, I finished up reasonably quickly and then faced a whole lot of weaving in of loose ends. I fortified myself with vodka and a funny movie and expected to be done by the time the credits rolled, but no such luck. Weaving in took about four hours(!).
The rest of the finishing went quickly. The I-cord eye stalks and the eyeball casings went fast. I crocheted around the base of the hat, which helped it hold its shape. I used straws inside the I-cord to help support the eyeballs, which I think will work pretty well.
I used the lasso technique to close up the seam in the back (because intarsia in the round really isn’t). The photo above is a detail of the seam. There’s a helpful video tutorial for this technique on the Planet Purl website.
Detail of the eye stalk, eyeball casing, and ping-pong eyeball.
The final result: A silly but warm hat, modeled by my DS #2.
While I wasn’t crazy about the intarsia, I do like the results, and I hope Peter does, too. Would I do this again? Well, I’d probably change the dots so that they’re smaller and can be done in Fair Isle or duplicate stitch. If Peter likes it, it will be totally worth it.
Not enough details for you? More information is on my Ravelry page.