Are you sick of knitting the same old hat pattern over and over again?  If so, then now’s the time for the next baby step – time to add a little bit of challenge!

I have NOTHING against stockinette stitch (the beautiful flat knitting that we’ve been working on at our YarnFest gatherings) – but after a while one can’t help hope for some variety!

One of the truly great things about working a pattern that is written for stockinette stitch, is the fact that you can very easily add some texture with very little effort.  It gives a step up on the challenge level, and a significantly different look!

If you think you’ll hurl if you knit another hat right now – then now’s the time to knit a practice swatch!

Time to pull out your needles, some yarn, and give yourself a few minutes to try out something new.

Since we all have Size 8 circulars for our hats – go ahead and use those – you can always use circulars for a piece that is knit flat (i.e., not in the round, like our hats were).  As to the yarn – if you’ve got some left over from your hat project(s), then drag it on out – a nice worsted weight gives one some substance to work with.

First – go ahead and cast on 30 stitches.  Remember casting on?  We did the long-tail cast-on method at our gatherings.  (Here’s a video reminder.)

The first thing we need to do is make sure you know how to purl.  A few of us ended up with a few purl rows in our hats – so I know some of us know how!  🙂  But for some really lovely and concise directions – see this video and a simple illustration.  In short – when you knit, your yarn is held BEHIND your work.  When you purl, your yarn is held IN FRONT of your work.  That simple delineation is something that escaped my attention for too long – and then someone was kind enough to help me understand that!  You all are probably way ahead of me when I was at that point!

Okie dokie – let’s talk texture!  There are LOTS of different types of sets of stitches out there that make up a “pattern” or texture.  Some of them are extremely simple.  Some of them are extremely difficult.  I like the simple ones!  Wanna know why?  Cause I can set them down, do something else for a while, come back to it and know exactly where to pick up!  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind a challenge now and then – I’m working on a beautiful aran style hat right now that’s really complex and I’m loving it – but I’m going to be ready for something much less complex next!

If you’re going to buy any knitting book at all – let me recommend you look at some different “stitch dictionary” type books.  I recommend going to Amazon.com and doing a search – like this one.  But before you jump off before it’s advisable – once you see a title you like and think you have an interest in – hop onto WILI and do a search at the library to see if you can borrow it first and determine if it’s something you want as a resource for years go come!  In the meantime – there’s nothing like a Google search to get you started!  See here for an example.

But for now – let’s try something simple like the Seed Stitch.  It’s a simple repeating pattern of Knit 1 (K1), Purl 1 (P1).  So, with your 30 cast on stitches, let’s give it a whirl!

Row 1:  K1, P1 to the end.  If you end with a knit stitch – totally fine!

Now you turn your work.  Up until now we’ve been working in the round, not flat – so you may not be sure what turn your work means.  But if you’ll think back a little, you’ll remember that when you start your knitting, the stitches to be worked are on the LEFT hand needle, and the worked stitches are on the RIGHT hand needle – right?!  Same here – only you’re not going around and around and around.  Here you’re going to knit a row, turn the work over, and then knit the next row.  The great thing about a Seed Stitch is that it’s a reversable pattern – i.e., there’s no “right” or “wrong” side of the work!  Woo Hoo!

Row 2:  P1, K1 to the end.

When you see a knit stitch – it looks sort of like a V – right?  Here’s a nice illustration.  When you purl – it looks sort of like a bump.  Here’s an illustration of a purl stitch.

 The great thing about the Seed Stitch is that when you come to the next stitch to work – you work the opposite of the stitch that you see.  For example, if the next stitch from the prior row was a knit stitch, then this row, you will work a purl stitch.  Got it?

So – for your swatch – continue to repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you’ve got a couple of inches of stitches worked.  Now – sit back and admire your handiwork!

Yes, it’s a lot of moving the yarn from the back to the front and back.  But, it’s different, it gives a lovely texture, AND, it’s kinda cool.

I’ve kind of tricked you, I should confess…  If you wanted to – you could go ahead and keep on knitting this swatch – oh, until it’s say, a scarf!  It would make a very nice child’s scarf for our project for the Kazakh Orphange!  🙂

For those of you who are adventurous – you could VERY WELL incorporate this seed stitch in the second hat pattern that we’ve got – the one with the ribbed edge.  Just remember that when you’re knitting in the round with the seed stitch you want to make sure that your row ends with one stitch and starts with the other.  I.e., you don’t want a K1 as the last stitch of your row if K1 is the first stitch of the next row.  Okay?

I’ll show you a hat that I just finished this morning – it has a slight variation of the Seed Stitch – it’s worked in the round in Double Moss Stitch.

Double Moss Stitch Hat

Lots of fun, huh?  TONS of potential!  And 200 kids in an orphange in Kazakhstan who need some nice warm little gifts to get them through next winter!

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