Katamari Damacy hat
Last spring I decided to learn how to crochet. When my sister heard about that, she asked if I could make her a Katamari Damacy hat like the ones sold at Mad Teaparty. I said sure, once I felt more comfortable with crochet. Before that happened, I taught myself how to knit and discovered I enjoyed it much more than crochet. As Christmas drew near, I remembered Phaedra's request for a Katamari hat and decided to try knitting one. I used Cascade 220 in burgundy on size 7 circular needles for the main hat. The bumps were Cascade 220 (white stripe), Knitpicks Wool of the Andes dyed with pink lemonade Kool-Aid (pink stripe), and Knitpicks Wool of the Andes dyed with black cherry Kool-Aid (red stripe). I also had some multicolored Cascade 220 (a blend of pink, orange, and red) and LB Fishermen's Wool dyed with orange and Tamarindo Kool-aid, but I ended up not using those colors.
the base hat
I found a great top-down earflap hat pattern/tutorial at The Knitting Fiend that I used for the basis of the hat. I failed to take any in-progress photos of the hat construction, but I did get photos of the completed-but-bumpless hat. I also learned some new tips and techniques, including a waste-yarn cast on, knitting with two circular needles, yarn over short rows for the earflaps which I frogged and reknit using Japanese short rows, and how to do an attached i-cord edging. (For part of the hat, I even practiced knitting Continental.) I did have to switch to larger sized DPNs for the i-cord because the cord knit with the size 7s was too tight and caused the earflaps to curve into a distinct cup shape. Even after I used size 9 DPNs and knitting the i-cord fairly loosely, the earflaps cupped a bit.
The finished lining
Edge of the lining
The finished hat came out a little large, and the elasticity of the wool let it stretch even more. My husband, Dale, is modeling the base hat, which fit him comfortably, and he has a huge head. I figured adding a lining would make it a little more snug. Plus it would give the hat more stability, and it would make the hat warm enough for Phaedra to wear in New York during the winter. I couldn't find a fleece I liked that was in the same color scheme as the hat, so I just picked a fun pattern. An obnoxious blue floral pattern. Making the lining was simple. I figured Phaedra's head was about the same size as mine, so I wrapped the fleece around my head then cut it where it overlapped. I then folded it right side in and stitched up the long side. (Note: fleece is hard to machine-stitch!) I turned the knit hat inside out, set it on a styrofoam head, then slipped the fleece tube over it, sliding it down until the bottom edge of the tube met the bottom edge of the earflaps. Then I pinched and pinned the fleece at the top, creating four curved darts. I machine-sewed the darts, refitted the lining over the hat to make sure it fit, then cut away the extra fabric. Once I had the lining shaped, I pulled the tail from the center of the hat (that I'd left loose for this purpose) through the small hole left in the center top of the lining. This allowed me to make sure the centers were aligned. I then smoothed the lining and hat together, pinning at intervals. Next I carefully trimmed the lining using the inside edge of the i-cord as my guide. I didn't have to hem the lining since the fleece wouldn't fray. I used regular sewing thread to hand-sew the edge of the lining just about the i-cord. I pulled the i-cord slightly away from the hat so that when it was released, it naturally rolled back over the edge of the lining, hiding the stitches nicely. I was a little worried that the lining would show through the hat, but it doesn't. The roll of the i-cord hides the stitching on the outside too. I should note that I only sewed the lining to the front edge of the hat at first. This was so I could reach the inside of the knit part when the time came to sew on the bumps.
a perfect bump!
8 finished bumps
Once the hat base was knit and lined, it was time to work on the bumps. I kinda winged the bumps and it shows in my first few attempts. First, I tried a three increment increase. This led to an extremely pointy bump. I moved up to four. This made for a neat looking knit pyramid, but it was still way too angular and pointy. So, I tried a six increment increase. This worked beautifully, but I ran into another problem. The knit into the front and back (kfb) increase I was using leaves a horizontal bar. That didn't bother me, but the way the increases coincided with my color changes resulted in very visible bars. I solved that issue by changing the number of rows for each stripe so that the increases landed solidly within a stripe. Now that I had the proper bump pattern and I was happy with the color scheme, I made seven more bumps.
blocking the bumps
I decided to block the bumps before attaching them. I bought a six pack of styrofoam balls that were the perfect size. I then tied the balls inside lenghts of old pantyhose to keep the yarn from snagging and breaking off little bits of foam. Then I dampened the bumps, shaped them over the balls, pinned them, then let them dry. I only had six styrofoam balls and eight bumps. I found a rubber ball that was the same size as the foam balls so one bump blocked on it, but the eighth bump had to wait until the others were dry before it was blocked.
sewing on a bump
a finished bump
After the bumps were blocked, I put a generous pinch of polyester fiberfill into each of them. Then I held them against the hat and used T-pins to tack them in place. I tweaked their positions until I was happy. I had left fairly long tails on most bumps, so I was able to thread the tails onto a tapestry needle and use them to sew the bumps to the hat, making sure to tuck in the fiberfill as I went. I left the hat on the styrofoam head while I sewed on the bumps, removing the T-pins as I came to them. This worked well to keep the loose bumps in place and out of my way while I worked. Since the inside of the hat was going to be hidden by the lining, I cheated and knotted the yarn on the inside before weaving in the ends. The seams between the bumps and the hats blend pretty well since the colors are so similar. I'm glad I only partially attached the lining before sewing on the bumps. Once all the bumps were in place, I finished sewing in the lining, then I was done!
Phaedra and her hat
Phaedra was quite thrilled with her hat and spent most of the rest of her vacation wearing it. I'm quite pleased with it too. I had a lot of fun making this hat, learned some new things, and even wrote my first pattern (for the admittedly simple bumps). I'd like to make another of these some day, using more stripes in the bumps and a different color palette. I just don't know who I'd give it to.
[Crossposted from Easily Amused]
Or you can go directly to my gallery and see more pictures with less text.
Update: I've posted the bump pattern (it's just a simple mini hat) to my blog at http://strangepath.net/archives/2006/01/the-bump-pattern/. And many thanks for all the compliments and nice words!