I am sure that I am not the only one who can't walk by a silky skein of alpaca yarn without giving it a little stroke. The fiber is so tempting - a bit of sheen, smooth fibers, silky and warm... So when I was given a skein of a new alpaca yarn from Juniper Moon Farm and asked to write a pattern for it, how could I say anything but, "Absolutely!"?
Here's the part that had me stumped for a little while: Herriot Great yarn is bulky weight (which is not my usual "thing"), and one skein is 131 yds. It's enough for a hat or a pair of mittens, but probably not enough for a good-sized cowl. And due to the fact that alpaca yarn is not a good fit for a project that needs some stretch - like a hat or mittens - it took me a while to figure out what to do with this single skein!
But in the end, the answer was in the stitch. I wanted to make a hat. The yarn would make a fantastic hat for shoveling snow, taking walks in cold weather, or giving to my son to use this winter when he has to walk 4 blocks home from the bus stop on windy, cold days. The thick yarn paired with the warm fiber gives you yarn that will keep your head warm even when the temperature dips below freezing. To make up for the lack of stretch in the yarn, I picked the stretchiest stitch I knew for the brim - a smocked stitch that begins as a 2 x 2 rib and alternates pulling different groups of stitches together with a bar knitted across the ribbed stitches. Instructions for the smocking stitch are written in the pattern, and there is a video at the top of the video page of this blog (click the "videos" tab above) titled "Charlotte Dress Smocking Stitch" that will demonstrate exactly how this stitch is done.
The result is a hat that is warm, with a snug fit, and is fun to make. And did I mention that the 20" size (smaller adult size) only took me about 3 hours to make? This would make an easy weekend project, and it's something you could whip up as a gift if you only have a couple days' notice.
Give it a try - I'm offering the pattern for free, and the recommended yarn can be purchased here or you can substitute your favorite bulky-weight fiber!