Felted Alpaca Dinnerplate Beret: Version 1
I had to post this because a friend of mine kept asking for an easy link to the pattern so she could share it with friends.
This is my trademark hat. Once I get the direction written up, I have several versions of it, that all basically make the same darn hat. I have knit it in almost every feltable worsted weight yarn known to humankind, and it works in every one so far. Looser knit or looser felting yarns give more of a Scots Bonnet feel to the hat rather than a beret. Either way, I'll add lots of examples.
Felted Alpaca Dinnerplate Beret: Version 1, bottom to top. (Version 2 can befound here)
Size: One size (to fit an average woman’s head; but see gauge notes)
~About 100g (2 hanks) of worsted weight alpaca yarn (wool can be used but may not felt down as tightly) This comes out to about 200 yds of feltable worsted weight yarn. Note: Superwash wool doesn't work! (See notes at the very bottom for what does work) The model is knit in Araucania's Atacama Nature Alpaca.
~Size 7 circular needles (16” long); and/or 1 set of 4 or 5 size 7 DPNs [OR SIZE NEEDED FOR GAUGE] (I prefer knitting on circular needles for as long as possible; though it is certainly possible to knit the entire hat with DPNs. Because it decreases to only 8 stitches you need to use DPNs for the smallest rounds.)
~8 markers; 1 must be different from the other 7
~11 inch diameter dinnerplate (preferably plastic)
~Size “H” crochet hook (for optional loop top)
Gauge: US size 7 (20 stitches; 26 rows = 4inchesx4inches)
As this hat will be felted very thoroughly, gauge is not extremely crucial; however when I used size 8 needles I get a hat that more comfortably fits a larger head (man’s). However increasing the needle size brings me dangerously close to running out of yarn in the final few rounds; and once I had to bind off a round or two early.
1. Cast 112 stitches on the circular needles using the long tail cast on. Place the different colored marker at the join.
2. Work 4 rounds of K2, P2 ribbing
3. Work 1 round of purl
4. Work 4 rounds of P2, K2 ribbing (The purls should line up where the knits are beneath them, the purl where the knits are)
5. Work 1 round of knit, placing a marker every 14 stitches, which should give you 8 sections.
6. Knit next round, increasing 1 stitch in every section (to make 120 stitches, 15 stitches in every section). In order to avoid a noticeable spiral around the hat; work the increases and decreases randomly from row to row and not always in the same place.
7. Knit next round evenly next row even
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7, increasing by 8 stitches (one stitch in every section) until you have 25 stitches in each section (200 stitches total)
9. Knit one row evenly
10. Knit next round, decreasing 1 stitch in every section to make 24 stitch in each (192 stitches total)
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until you have decreased all the way down to 1 stitch per section (8 stitches total). Switch to DPNs when the work gets too small to handle on circulars (usually between 8-10 stitches per section)
12. Break the yarn without binding off the last 8 stitches; leaving an 8” tail (leave a 16” tail if you want a little ‘loop’ at the top of your beret for decoration) Thread a yarn needle with the tail and pull the tail through all 8 loops. Pull the tail tight, and the little hole should close up neatly. If you want a loop top, go to step 13; otherwise tie off the yarn and weave in the end.
13. To create a loop at the top, bring the tail up to the outside of the hat and create a small slipknot in the tail as close to the top of the hat as you can. Chain 12, and slip stitch the end of the chain to the first stitch (or to the top of the hat) to create a loop. Tie off yarn tail and weave in yarn ends.
14. Thread the yarn needle with a length of yarn. Fold the bottom ribbed brim together at the line of purls. (It should flip easily to the inside of the hat, creating a double-thick band.) Sew the band in place using a running stitch; pull the fabric every 4-6 stitches to make sure it stays stretchy. Tie off and weave in yarn ends.
15. Fill your washing machine with a ½ load of cotton laundry (towels, jeans and/or t-shirts work well. You need the extra stuff in there to increase the agitation). Set the machine to heavy soil (don’t use the delicate cycle!), the water level between medium and high; and the water temperature to HOT. Put in a ¼ to a ½ measure full of laundry soap. (To protect the hat, use soap without bleach or additives. Ivory flakes are the best if you can find them). Throw your hat in there with the laundry and let ‘er rip.
16. Check the hat ½ way through the wash; and again at ¾ of the way. Alpaca can felt very quickly. The goal is to felt it all the way down until the stitches disappear into fabric. If in doubt, put it back in. Stop if the hate shrinks so small that it won’t ever fit around your head.
17. Take the hat out. When first out of the wash it will looks like a wrinkled, tiny, matted mess. Don’t worry. Grab your dinnerplate!
18. Stretch your hat over the dinnerplate, and adjust so you get one flat round side, and so the head opening is centered on the other side. While it is still wet you can stretch the head hole larger or smaller and shape it with your fingers until it is the size and shape you want it to be.
19. Let your hat dry – it will take between 24-36 hours to get it completely dry. You can touch it and flip it over halfway through, but don’t be tempted to take it off of its plate too early! It has to completely dry in order to retain the nice shape you stretched it into.
20. When its dry, take the hat off the dinnerplate carefully, and viola! Hat!
Note on yarns:
Alpaca is a hollow core fiber, meaning it will felt incredibly well. Some people argue that alpaca is a luxury fiber, and you should not be felting it, but I started out with an alpaca hat because the lite lopi was too itchy against my forehead. Besides, if you've never used alpaca this hat is a good first project - it only takes 2 hanks and you're done!
Wools that are more loosely spun tend to felt better than those more tightly spun. Of all the wools I have tried so far, Plymouth Galway felts the tightest, to the point where I lost all stitch definition and it turned into a wonderfully textured fabric. I was very pleased. I also had to stretch it quite a bit to make it fit the ginormous melon it was going on.