STRAGGLER FISH AND QUESTIONS

Some folk have written to me privately with questions about the Fish Hats:

What yarn did you use, and at what gauge?

We used oddballs and leftovers for the set of four – all acrylic mostly given to me by a dear family friend (Hi, Jean!). She is a big fan of yard sales and flea markets, and accumulates yarns of all sorts over the course of a year, to use as packing material when she sends gifts to the kids at holiday time. Some of her yarn I knit up myself, and some I donate to charity or to schools. Not all of the yarn I used for my fish hat retained its original label, but the skeins that did included Red Heart Classic, Lion Jamie (which I used doubled), Sears Best Worsted, Caron Sayelle, Woolworth Worsted and Phentex – a regular salad of mass market acrylics.

With the exception of Jamie they’re all marked as worsted, but they’re really not. Except for Jamie they all work up (normally) at 4 stitches per inch, which makes them sort of in between bulky and light Aran weight. (Textbook worsteds knit up at 5 stitches per inch.) I did the fishes on US #7s, at the specified 4.5 stitches per inch, knitting these acrylics down in gauge somewhat. In this case the tighter gauge is acceptable, yielding a denser and stiffer and slightly more windproof hat. Also in this case – for kids’ sledding/snowboarding hats – washable acrylic is a good choice. I’ve seen how muddy play mittens and coats can get when the snow gets melty and worn down to grass. These hats can be thrown in the washer and dryer.

Did you make any mods to the Fish Hat pattern?

No. I knit it up as written, with only a couple of minor elaborations:

1. After finishing the stockinette stitch mouth, I worked one row of the head color before leaping into the Shape Mouth section. I did this so that any wraps I did would be embracing stitches of the same color. (You can see red wraps on white stitches in the pattern’s close-up of the pink-headed fish).

2. On one of the hats I did the knit the wraps trick. It made little difference in the overall appearance EXCEPT in one spot. I strongly suggest knitting the wrap along with its carrying stitch on the last two stitches wrapped – the leftmost and rightmost ones. Otherwise you get a slight gap in the row behind the fish’s grin. It’s not necessary to do the others, but working the wraps formed on rows 15 and 16 does avoid holes.

3. When picking up the fins I identified the point on the body specified in the pattern for the first stitch to be picked up, then counted down the requisite number of stitches towards the tail. I held a length of yarn the same color as the fin on the inside of the body, and using a crochet hook, picked up my stitches. Once I had enough on my needle, I joined my working yarn on the outside of the fish and finished the fin. This left four ends per fin to finish: two of the scrap yarn on the inside of the body; and two of the working yarn on the fin itself. I found that picking up towards the head rather than towards the tail was much easier.

4. When working the fins, I did them entirely in twisted ribbing (k1b, p1b) to give them a bit more body and stiffness.

5. To sew up the fins, I used mattress stitch for the vertical seam and whip stitch for the cast-off row.

Are you fished out?

Not yet. It’s a fun form, easy to play with, and faster than a sock. I’ve got a request from an adult pal for a hat. This one I’ll make out of some other all-wool leftovers. I’m pretty sure this set of remnants is Jamieson Aran weight 100% wool, bought as an experiment for a pullover that I ended up deciding not to make. I’ve only got four skeins of the stuff – these and a deep plum, but the recipient asked for no purple. Lovely stuff with great stitch definition. If these colors are not to her liking, I think I’ll keep this hat for myself.

fishy-5.jpg

I’ve decided to rip back the small teal and gold scales shown, and restart the head section using a larger scale pattern. I’ll use a smaller scale variant closer to the tail (click on thumbnail below for full size). And yes, I use my wire Strickfingerhut for stranding at this weight, too.

fishscale-v2.jpg

Contemplating any other mods?

Possibly. It would be easy to knit on a segment of sawtooth edging instead of the picked-up and knit-out-from-the body fins. I see a shark in the future. Or if I use a lacy edging for all of the fins, end of the body blunt and add a tail of the same lacy edging, perhaps an angelfish variant. But why stop there? I’ve got a body shape now thanks to this pattern. Fantastic fins, tentacles, catfish style whiskers – all manner of body mods are possible. Perhaps I’ll end up working some sort of sea monster. But to do that, I’ll have to find someone willing to wear a (woolly) aquatic nightmare through the winter.


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3 responses

  1. thanks for writing this up for the blog. I plan to make the fish hat for my niece when she’s a little older and your comments are helpful.

  2. Or be willing to send said monster to the Alice Springs Beanie Festival…

  3. I am in the planning stages of knitting up a fish hat to go over a ski helmet for my friend Gayle who’s SCA armory is 1 fish,2 fish, red fish, blue fish. She is hard to spot on the ski slope and we had been talking about making a fish crest for her helmet. I am thinking to just upsize to a bulky yarn and a bigger guage, do you foresee any problems with upsizing it this way?

    Hope you have a great new year

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